How Schools Are Leveraging E-Rate for Digital Success
Schools and school districts are looking to apply E-rate funding to affordable, state-of-the art technologies, such as high-performing access points, centrally managed gigabit Wi-Fi platforms that leverage the cloud, and switches that can easily scale up as demand increases—which it inevitably will.
A case in point is Columbia Public Schools, a sprawling Missouri school district that covers 300 square miles between St. Louis and Kansas City and serves 18,000 students. As Christine Diggs, director of Technology Services for Columbia Public Schools, points out, “Fast and reliable Wi-Fi access is now simply an imperative for delivering a twenty-first century education.”
Columbia Public Schools provides a device for every two students, with the eventual goal of equipping each student with their own Apple iPad. School-issued devices and use of other mobile devices were placing a heavy demand on their existing network, which could not be counted on to reliably deliver digital educational content when needed.
The district resolved these challenges by investing in gigabit Wi-Fi—1,400 Wave 2 access points and 100 controllers. This new, robust Wi-Fi network architecture fully supports more than 20,000 Wi-Fi connected devices and a wide range of applications and services, including teacher evaluations, classroom collaboration, guest access, student information systems, Google Apps, scientific simulators, video streaming, and IP-based security cameras.
Just north of Silicon Valley, the world’s epicenter of technological innovation, San Francisco Unified School District replaced its legacy Wi-Fi network to serve 9,000 staff members and 56,000 students in the 49-square-mile area of the City and County of San Francisco.
The new architecture now boasts 1,500 state-of-the-art dual-band Wi-Fi access points and WLAN controllers, which are deployed in a fully redundant configuration. The new Wi-Fi network is four times faster than the old system, supporting 10,000 or more concurrent Wi-Fi connections on any given day.
Schools and school districts have the opportunity to take full advantage of E-rate funding to improve and expand their digital learning curricula. The deadline for submitting the application (Form 470) is April 13, 2017.
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