School networks must be able to meet teaching and learning demands

school-networksCapable networks are an essential part of even the most straightforward school technology program, and now school technology leaders can follow seven steps to build strong and reliable school networks.

The guidelines offer a look at education networks in general and examine how data, devices, and connectivity all impact networks’ performance. The guide, which offers examples of how different districts are creating and sustaining strong networks, is part of the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) Smart Education Networks Design initiative (SEND), released in conjunction with Qualcomm Technologies.

“Smart education networks must be resilient and durable, and are a critical investment in maximizing student achievement and ensuring continuous progress in classrooms across America,” said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger.

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The guidelines include seven core recommendations:

  1. Recognize that education networks have become one of the most critical infrastructure components of any school’s operations.
  2. Recognize that 1-to-1 or many-to-1 and Bring Your Own Device/Technology programs are becoming mainstream, and plan for bandwidth capacity accordingly.
  3. Start every education network planning and upgrade process by closely consulting with teachers and administrators regarding intended classroom technology use and ensure that network hardware and services are capable of supporting peak loads.
  4. Plan for substantial and sustained training and support of teachers and staff as part of any technology rollout.
  5. Understand that accessing content and resources while outside the classroom is as critical to effective learning as in-class connectivity.
  6. Ensure that rigorous security measures, regardless of the connection type, are built into the network design to prevent unauthorized access to network content and resources, as well as comply with federal and state student protect on laws.
  7. Make design choices that lay a foundation for the future – both scalability and the ease with which new device capabilities and technologies can be supported.

School leaders should also be aware that many students might not have access to high-speed internet at home, and the guide advises schools to use Wi-Fi and cellular networks as they design initiatives and purchase devices to reinforce teaching and learning goals.

The SEND initiative, which will release more information and guidelines in the coming weeks, will highlight new and forthcoming technologies that impact school network design, including safety and security, identity management, broadband, mobile, and more.

In addition, it will identify best practices for strategically designing networking to be scalable, affordable, and reliable. It also aims to develop vendor-neutral resources and tools that school technology leaders can use to assess their current school networks and plan for improvements and future implementations.