Graduation dates loom and summer is fast approaching. Along with the pool days, and ice cream trucks comes a much anticipated time for schools to prepare their classrooms for the next year ahead. That preparedness includes (more so every year) a checklist to help plan for technology in the classroom. What classroom technology solutions should be used?How do I choose the right program or cloud based learning apps to enhance the curriculum for the fall? Do I need the newest technology on the market in my classrooms? Is my infrastructure ready to support all the devices students and staff will be using?
It’s no secret anymore that enabling students and teachers with mobile technology in the classroom has tremendous benefits. According to Open Colleges, 81% of U.S. teachers think tablets can enrich classroom learning. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in California showed that students using iPads saw their math test scores increase 20% in one year compared to students using traditional textbooks.
There is just one catch. Before implementing any mobile program, whether it’s 1:1 or BYOD, if your school’s infrastructure is not ready to support these new initiatives then the foundation will be unstable, causing frustration and school wireless disaster!
To have all the benefits of what technology in the classroom can bring, your infrastructure must be built or refreshed, well in advance of putting those laptops or tablets into student’s hands. We’ve created a checklist for you to know what to accomplish this summer in regards to your wireless infrastructure to be truly prepared for mobile learning in the fall:
1.) Bandwidth – A critical factor with any school’s wireless infrastructure is bandwidth. The bandwidth should be robust enough to handle the growth of applications and devices coming onto the network in the next 2-3 years. If you’re thinking about upgrading your pipe we suggest using 100mbps/1000 users as your guide. It’s very important to be clear on how many users you have currently, how many you plan on supporting and then making sure you have a large enough pipe to comfortably support expansion.
2.) Signal Strength - Your wireless network needs to be reliable, strong and evenly distributed throughout the entire school. Since we know that smartphones run on a -65Db signal level your design should match this. It’s a good time to note that your access point quantity and placement also plays a huge role in the ability to have full connectivity on any device.
3.) NAC - Your wireless solution needs to be able to have the ability to create a separate policy that identifies student devices v. admin devices, allowing for rules and policies to be built around the specific user. For more detailed information regarding NAC we recommend reading “What is Network Access Control (NAC)”
4.) Firewall - The use of application visibility with a Next Generation Firewall to be able to whitelist and blacklist apps students can use.
5.) MDM - A proper Mobile Device Management Solution is in place to manage and secure devices students are using “Making Classroom Technology Safe with Mobile Device Management”
6.) Solid Core - Up to date edge switching and core infrastructure to handle proper uplink capability. Your design should have a minimum of 1 gbps to the edge and the inner core of the network should have 10gbps.
We have been helping schools complete this checklist for close to a decade and would love to be a resource for you! We offer each of our schools a custom design that includes access point layouts, mobility project plans, RF coverage maps and much more. Classroom technology holds the promise of enabling more personalized learning but only if we have the proper mobility strategies in place to support this new learning environment. Contact us today!
If you happened to miss it the first time or would like to watch it again, our latest webinar "Creating & Implementing My Mobility Strategy" is now available!