While talking with a friend the other day about our kids’ school experiences, I realized how rapidly schools are adopting or will adopt instructional technology and applications to improve student learning outcomes. Our pervasive use of technology is not only changing how we work and live, but it is also transforming primary education in new and innovative ways.
In the past, learning was mostly about taking notes and memorizing things. For project research, we would make multiple trips to the library and spend hours to gather information. We still use libraries, but much of our research and learning is now more Web-based. While students still carry books and three-ring binders to keep all their handouts organized and secured, they also use Chromebooks or iPads for online learning materials. This blended learning is the new and current hybrid method of collaborative learning and teaching.
If you are the district superintendent, or chief technology officer, are you confident that your wireless and wired network will be able to support the transition to digital learning? Is your network infrastructure future-ready to make the learning and teaching experience as seamless as possible?
Future ready schools depend on an infrastructure that scales and provides an effective transition to digital learning. Many districts have run into problems with insufficient bandwidth to support all students, staff and faculty accessing the network at the same time. Another significant problem is poor planning in managing the escalating number of devices and bandwidth hungry applications.
Just having Wi-Fi and sufficient bandwidth is not enough. It’s becoming more important to design a network with key wireless and wired technologies in place. Doing so allows you to scale and deliver teaching and learning services which depend on consistent Wi-Fi experience, as mobility and digital learning requirements grow.
Last week, our leaders in the education market held a webinar on network scaling – the first of the series of 3 webinars that discuss the top challenges facing K-12. In the webinar, they discussed best practices to handle growth, BYOD, and new instructional technology and applications. They provided information on key wireless and wired technologies and device on-boarding and management for scale. They shared lessons from K-12 district peers.
Here are my notes on key wireless technologies for scale:
802.11ac wave 2 (MU-MIMO) delivers higher throughput per access point and up to 4x concurrent device connections
Transmit beamforming improves coverage and performance via adaptive signal transmission technology, and avoids interference
Airtime fairness and QoS ensures equal access per device and allows prioritization of multimedia traffic
Scalable management options for distributed sites (cloud-managed Wi-Fi, virtualized control)
On the wired side, key technologies to consider are:
Flexible stacking simplifies network deployment and administration
40G uplinks to the school site core via existing cabling infrastructure
PoE technologies such as PoE, PoE+, and PoH to support new AP technologies and other new applications
Campus Fabric simplifies management by turning the entire switching network into one single virtual big switch
If you missed last week’s webinar and would like to learn more about the technologies for scaling your network, here’s a link to the webinar recording.