Beware…technology may be moving faster than you are prepared for. Keeping up with and having the ability to successfully support the latest learning trends and initiatives is an imperative aspect of your school wireless network. Administrators, parents and students alike want to take advantage of the latest and best technology to enhance the learning experience.
The way schools are approaching learning today is being transformed through mobile devices, smarter more intelligent personalized learning systems (Google Apps for Education), and powerful, secure mobility ecosystems.
On average today’s students are using between 3-5 devices and it’s becoming the expectation that our schools not only support those devices but to utilize them to enhance the curriculum being taught inside the classroom.
The new classroom is becoming more about personalized learning and less about whether to go 1:1 or BYOD; although that’s still a conversation to be had. According to EdNet Insight, 65% of school districts say they need tools to analyze all of the data being generated through these new personalized initiatives, and 55% say they want and need more modularized content.
In order to design and deploy the right wireless network for your school or district, you have to know what we’re trying to support, or what you are trying to do with technology.
Here’s a new infographic from TalentLMS, revealing the top 10 E-Learning trends you need to follow in 2015.
So what’s being left out of this conversation?
How do you actually support all or some of these trends and make them a reality.
What to Upgrade
There are 5 different areas you should consider when upgrading your school’s wireless network.
If you’re planning on moving up to 802.11ac from 11n or even older then you will need to make sure your networks wiring and switch infrastructure is up to par as well. Old wiring causes your AP’s to power down to the slower speed of the outdated wiring, meaning your awesome new AP’s aren’t so awesome anymore. We recommend at least Cat5E but preferably Cat6 and switching that is able to handle Gigabit speeds.
With the amount of mobile devices and different applications running on your network, your internet connection itself has become a critical factor of your school wifi networks performance. Upgrading your connectivity is probably in your best interest as well as implementing some tools to start monitoring usage. Another great option is having an agreement with a service provider that can upgrade on the fly if needed.
It’s all about visibility into what’s happening on your network. Where are your users, what types of devices are they using, how many ap’s are being over utilized? These types of analytics are what need to be used to manage a school’s wireless network across and throughout an entire campus.
First, it must be said that proper security has to be the backbone of your wireless network; without it, wifi leaves you exposed and vulnerable. Having a clear understanding of how your network should perform from a security standpoint is critical from day one.
The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) guidelines on content security are the obvious but also what and how your users are able to behave on the network and what kind of access they have both on the internet and on your network (Role-Based Access Control). Basically you need to know should have the ability to go where and from what type of device.
Related Article | "3 Ways to Use NAC to Support Your School Wireless Network Strategy"
School’s (especially with many of the trends above) are running many different kinds of applications on their network. Many of these applications are critical applications (Moodle, Google Apps) and need priority over say applications like YouTube, Pandora or Twitter.
The problem is that on school wireless networks there are so many applications running it’s hard to direct the traffic, much like a congested highway. Application visibility and control is the principal that when you build your network you should also have the ability to direct the traffic on that network.
Related Article | "Unique Answer to Solving Your Wi-Fi Performance Problems for Good"
With the E-Rate 2.0 funding process in full swing, (time is running out though) it’s time to take your school’s wifi to the next level and not only support all of the latest technologies and trends above but fund them as well.
As an experienced E-Rate service provider, SecurEdge Networks has helped hundreds of schools take advantage of E-Rate to successfully design, deploy and support a new secure wireless network. If you have any questions regarding your E-Rate deployment or would like to discuss your current wireless network simply contact us here!