Managed Wi-Fi technology is having a profound, transformative impact on K-12 classroom environments. Although wireless access technology has been in schools for several years, earlier-generation solutions have not been robust enough to keep pace with growing mobility requirements.

Today’s more advanced managed Wi-Fi technologies now provide the functionality, scalability and bandwidth to support an ambitious set of classroom mobility requirements.

There are several K-12 education trends and initiatives driving the need for Wi-Fi:

Distributed Content & Shared Information: To remain competitive in the digital learning world, K-12 schools are developing ways to share educational content throughout the district over their high-speed networks by distributing live music classes, recorded video art lessons, video chat, virtual field trips and other educational content. Even social media channels have become learning tools for the creative classroom.

One-to-One Learning Initiatives: Many districts are empowering their students by opening a whole new world of learning by swapping traditional, printed textbooks for tablets, laptops, and computers, giving students the latest technology and access to the internet and building new curriculum in and around this marriage of education and technology.

Standardized Testing: By putting down the No. 2 pencils and adopting online testing, schools have faster access to results. This enables educators and parents to quickly assess students’ progress and better understand their strengths and areas needing additional focus.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): As mobile device ownership becomes more pervasive, students and teachers want to bring their own devices into classrooms. This trend has influenced schools around the world to consider BYOD as a way to leverage technology for enhanced teaching and learning.

(Next page: 4 wireless network goals for schools)

Wireless Network Goals for Schools

To fully leverage mobility initiatives, school tech staffs must strive for any time, any place network access from any device. Accomplishing these access goals requires:

1. A Scalable Network

Your network must be able to handle twice the number of users as you currently support, as well as four-to-six devices per user.

2. Higher Bandwidth

Your network must support bandwidth-intensive resources such as e-textbooks, video streaming, homework servers and cloud-based applications.

3. Wider Coverage

Network access must extend beyond the classroom to cover the entire campus, including high traffic areas such as auditoriums, cafeterias and gymnasiums.

4. Security at the Edge

Wireless networks must be protected with stringent endpoints security and RF-intrusion detection tools.

Network Challenges

For many educational institutions, meeting these goals with in-house staff becomes a tall order. Striking the right balance between pervasive access and security can be challenging.

Another challenge is ensuring network availability since learning is becoming so dependent on wireless network access during the school day.

To satisfy mobility requirements and achieve the necessary wireless network goals, schools that may be constrained by available internal resources should consider managed wireless LAN systems. These services extend a school’s LAN infrastructure without the cost of network wiring, and support school and personal devices with secure wireless access to data and applications. They also free school tech resources from daily operations and management of wireless infrastructure.

Many school districts struggle to keep up with rapidly changing network requirements that are exceeding the limits of existing Wi-Fi deployments, as well as the capabilities of their in-house staff. A cloud-based, managed solution can help schools meet growing demand for bandwidth while reducing management complexity, addressing security concerns, and ensuring high availability.

About the Author:

Patrick McHugh is the New Hampshire State President for FairPoint Communications, a position he has held since 2011. In this position, McHugh works closely with schools and universities in providing advanced voice and data solutions that address their classroom and administrative needs.