Obama's Plan to Take Our School WiFi Networks into the 21st Century

Developments in educational WLAN (wireless local area network) applications are proliferating, but have been only moderately adopted by American schools. They will, however, be increasingly necessary components of K-12 education, as the 21st century progresses.

Unfortunately, fewer than 40% of American public school classrooms currently have access to high-speed Internet.

Recognizing this, President Obama has called for much-expanded implementation of school wireless networks and classroom technology, with his ConnectED initiative. 

As of this article there are exactly 50 days left until the E-Rate 2.0 funding year window closes; waiting until the last minute however, is not recommended. With the FCC announcing an additional 2 Billion dollars over the next two years, more than 15,000 schools will be given the tools they need to support mobility for over 20 Million students.

The president's remarks expanded upon his Future District Ready Pledge, for implementing expansive school wifi networks throughout the nation's K-12 school system:

President Obama said,"It’s a vision for digital learning in classrooms across America — helping schools and families make the leap to high-speed Internet; supporting teachers and principals who use technology in innovative ways; and helping every student gain access to digital devices and high-quality digital content,"

ConnectED and Classroom Technology

Initiated in 2013, ConnectED's objective is to generate high-speed Internet connections for 99% of America's classrooms by 2018. Among the current applications of classroom technology, here's a list of the most important available tools and trends for your school wireless network:

802.11ac:

Operating at gigabit speeds, educational applications for 802.11ac currently are available at data rates of 1.3 Gbps. Channel-bonding and multiple messaging capacities are considerably faster, clearer and more reliable than any previous network solutions.

Information management improves real-time, leading to a significant upgrade of network connectivity across the system's multiple access points (APs), generating exceptional quality of service (QoS) for all users. 

With students using on average between 3-5 devices each, 802.11ac is the solution to successfuly supporting them. As this trend grows so will 11ac, with future updates of the new standard scaling to meet the needs of higher density environments. 

Personalized learning:

Student-centered learning that leverages e-learning, classroom technology and high-speed internet access to customize and improve each student's unique educational experience. New technology is giving students and teachers the ability to go far beyond 1:1 and BYOD.

With a more interactive approach, teachers can have instant feedback to offer personalized feedback to their students while also having a real-time granular view of their progress. This is all made possible through the right curriculum being supported with the right devices and applications being supported by high-speed internet and a secure mobility-centered infrastructure.

1:1:

Smart classrooms thrive with 1:1 classroom settings, wherein each student is issued a mobile device be it a laptop or tablet, to access the Internet for digital course materials/textbooks. This policy is at the heart of President Obama's ConnectED initiative.

It also is in stark contrast to BYOD strategies, where students are responsible for providing their own mobile devices. While it has its advantages its important to understand it's limitations as well, cost usually being one of them.

BYOD:

Reflecting greater use of personal devices, students and teachers should benefit from expanded Wi-Fi access. Compared to 1:1, BYOD lowers school costs for educational technology. Rather than have students turn-off their smartphones upon entering school, they use them in class for enhanced learning experiences. 

BYOD has been here for awhile, it's becoming less of a "nice to have" and more of an expectation from students, teachers and parents alike. With most colleges supporting BYOD and the business world beyond the classroom as well, your schools wifi network should be no different. 

Flipped classrooms:

Inverting the traditional classroom model, so that the instructional lecture is provided online. Students have the option of viewing the lecture as a webinar at home, or through their mobile devices at some other non-classroom site, absorbing the lesson at their own pace.

Conversely, classroom time is spent doing what would've been assigned as homework in the past. In this way, the teacher can help students grapple with and overcome the practical problems of applying course information.

Anywhere/anytime:

Student-centered learning features online, out-of-school instruction made available at the student's convenience, 24/7 according to their schedules and those of their families. It's an expectation by all students that their devices work wherever they are whenever they want to use them.

With a proper secure mobility system, this can be made possible and scalable so everyone today and tomorrow can access what they need when they need it. As President Obama said,

"We've got to bring the world to every child's fingertips, because, they're already more technilogically savvy than we are; but if they think that the school is 20 - 30 years behind, then they're going to lose interest in school."

Streaming video:

Either in-class or to student devices further expands digitally-based instruction. Streaming video has become an everyday standard for most students, whether it's on YouTube, Facebook, or the web, understanding the power of video and how to support it throughout your school is critical.

The President's Call to Action

School district superintendents are the key to the success of ConnectED. In the President's view: Closing the technology gap is going to take more than fiber-optic cable ... It’s going to take teachers, principals, superintendents who get it — who understand the power of these tools ... and ... are willing to make changes and push reforms and test new ideas.

Obama offered further details of government strategies for facilitating adoption of classroom technology at the local-level, throughout the nation, to ensure the administration's goals can be achieved.

In order to make sure your school is ready for not only today's classroom environments but tomorrow's as well you need to plan and plan again. At SecurEdge Networks we also say to start with what you are trying to do and then develop a technology plan to support it.

With E-Rate here , it's time to get ready for the next level, if you would like us to analyze your current network or have questions regarding upgrading to a new school wireless network, simply contact us here!

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Danny Mareco

Danny Mareco

Danny is the Marketing Manager at SecurEdge Networks. This basically means it’s his mission in life to make sure you have the secure mobility tools and resources that you actually want and can use. P.S. He also loves a good craft beer.

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