This year, educators and administrators are going beyond standardized testing and looking for exciting new ways to improve learning outcomes. As instructional technology grows more sophisticated and effective, it becomes ever more important that schools at all levels are fully equipped to deliver a premium learning experience backed by the latest online methods.
Standard “hard-wired” networks are no longer sufficient to meet the needs of today’s growing, tech-savvy schools. Instead, many schools are harnessing the power of wireless networking to ensure a top-quality networked experience for students and teachers. Wireless networking can empower a school to grow, expand, and evolve its technology far faster than older networking solutions.
That said, wireless networking brings with it a new set of technical challenges that the learning community must be prepared for. Just as schools are beginning to reap the full value of wireless, the very “state of the art” is undergoing dramatic changes.
Let’s look at some of the key challenges faced when implementing wireless networking for education:
Campus Wi-Fi Needs to Scale Effectively
In many areas of the country, student enrollment is skyrocketing. At the same time, schools are exploring innovative solutions to maintain reasonable class sizes and facilitate access to key resources. Campus wi-fi needs to be designed with both today’s and tomorrow’s needs in mind. Otherwise, performance issues could significantly reduce the value of classroom technology.
“Bring Your Own Device” Goes to Class
One of the biggest technology challenges of the modern era is developing IT security policies and procedures that effectively service the vast array of different devices owned by many different stakeholders. Since most districts are not in a position to issue standardized laptops or tablets to students, the campus technology strategy needs to take into account an extremely diverse and ever-changing set of mobile devices: That may include tablets, laptops, phones, and much more.
Confidentiality and Security of Testing
Although much of the data that flows through a public school campus is not sensitive, networks need to facilitate full compliance with regulations like FERPA – and with the high standards of student conduct the community expects. This means ensuring high-level security capabilities such as encryption are integrated into the network at all levels rather than as an afterthought. It also requires that attempts to manipulate the network from within are recognized and stopped.
Wireless Networking Analysis and Improvement
From small businesses to Fortune 500 enterprises, organizations are looking for new ways to capture and quantify performance data. Schools must also collect certain kinds of usage data to ensure instructional technology is living up to its promises and not being misused. This calls for sophisticated tools that can help network administrators visualize usage at a glance. Having a consistent plan in place to evaluate and use that data is essential to ongoing process improvement.
802.11ac and the Future of Education
Wireless networking is ubiquitous in today’s world, but that doesn’t mean it has reached its final evolution. On the contrary, the 802.11ac standard now under development stands to accelerate wireless network performance beyond anything now available. To enjoy its benefits, however, schools must begin to plan for a significant update in how technology is deployed. The sooner this planning begins, the easier and more effective the overall 802.11ac upgrade process on campus will be.
Technology is essential in today's schools, and wireless networking is the key to delivering the capabilities that will help students learn and grow. To discover more about wireless networking and how it can transform the classroom, sign up for the webinar at Extreme Networks: Contemporary Challenges and Solutions for Wireless Networking in Education.
Topics: Wireless Networks, Erate, Technology for Education