Views & Opinion What are the three new requirements of
Wi-Fi in education? Comment by Perry Correll, Principal Technologist, Xirrus
IT teams in schools and higher education often need to onboard thousands of new users—each with multiple devices—several times a year. This means that these IT teams are, undoubtedly, the superstars of Wi-Fi. While either high performance or high-density coverage may be top of the list for corporate IT, campus IT needs both.
Curriculums change and develop at an increasingly rapid pace – meaning IT teams must do the same to meet the growing demands for reliability. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and the Internet of Things (IoT) are constantly increasing network load. The only way to overcome these challenges is to find a solution that complies with the ever-changing requirements of Wi-Fi in education.
Requirement 1: To provide a reliable experience, regardless of how many devices are connected to the network
Wi-Fi has become an integral part of the learning experience, with schools and colleges are turning the classroom on its head. Students are often assigned to watch video lectures with teachers integrating interactive tasks into lessons.
A reliable Wi-Fi network should provide these three key capabilities:
• High-density coverage in highly populated areas. Bear in mind that, if one device connects in a gymnasium, it gets 100% of the bandwidth. If 200 devices connect, they
each get just .5% of it. So, challenge vendors on how many users can connect to their access points with a good experience. • Flexible ratio of 5GHz to 2.4GHz radios.Us
er experience is best when you have enough 5GHz radios for every capable device— usually 70-90% of the total. Look for access points with software-programmable radios that you can configure for either band, and you can gradually increase the percentage of 5GHz radios as newer devices are more widely used.
· The ability to prioritise educational applications. You don’t want students downloading Apple’s new iOS and sucking up all the bandwidth. Use application control or traffic management to assign application priorities based on the type of application and time of day. You could limit application downloads to 5-10 percent of network traffic, or limit the use of social media within certain times and locations. Application control simply favours the campus traffic relevant to learning, without blocking web traffic entirely.
Requirement 2: Ensure onboarding is simple It’s the first day of the next school term. Students are arriving on campus with multiple Wi-Fi devices— tablets, smartphones, gaming devices, fitness trackers… And they all want to connect immediately, and share their new tech with their peers.
It would be highly impractical for every student to register every device they have with the IT department. Xirrus provide an innovative solution, which provides students with an individual passkey before the first day of class, allowing them to register their devices online. This means that students can independently register all of their devices, with no IT department involvement. Similarly, if a device- per-student limit is set, any student who attempts to register more than their limit will be required to de-register another.
Requirement 3: Ownership costs must be low An ideal solution provides wide coverage with few Access Points. Some solutions require dozens of Access Points in large halls, where others provide the same coverage with only a few. The difference is in the number of radios per Access Point. Deploying fewer Access Points with greater numbers of radios inevitably means lower hardware, installation, and maintenance costs.
The challenges for Wi-Fi networks increase with the reliance on them for learning. Educational institutions need innovative Wi-Fi solutions that overcome these challenges. Choose a solution that is reliable in high-density areas; provides the option to assign priority to traffic, self-service registration, and software-configurable radios.
Inspiring the next generation of scientists Comment by David Hammerson, Managing Director of Science Boffins
Celebrities such as Professor Brian Cox, Sir David Attenborough, and even music sensation Will.i.am
, are on a mission to make Science and Technology more accessible, interesting and popular, but there is still a long way to go on the journey to inspire a new generation of young scientists, engineers and inventors.
Professor Cox has said he wants the UK to become “scientifically literate”, going on to add that he believes that schools hold the key to driving this change. In a recent interview with the TES, he said: “we need to make sure students are inspired and have the right skills to go on and do A-levels and go on to universities, or go and do an apprenticeship.” At Science Boffins, we couldn’t agree more! Despite such high-profile support, Science is often seen as an unpopular career choice. It can be seen as “too difficult” and the typical image of a science boffin can be a little uncool, even nerdy. A recent report from the Institute of Physics, London, found that teachers are
unwittingly deterring female students from studying Science and Maths, simply by implying that they are harder than other subjects. While it’s true that Science can be challenging, as can Maths, this shouldn’t deter students from getting involved and forging careers as inventors, engineers or scientists…or anything they put their minds to! At Science Boffins, our core purpose is to engage young children and show them that Science is a part of their everyday lives and that it affects everything we do. We provide a wide range of real-life, interactive experiments which bring scientific concepts to life. Our school workshops, assemblies and events are linked to the KS1 and KS2 Primary Curriculum and we provide clear sign-posting to literacy, numeracy and PSHCE opportunities. We aim to show that Science is everywhere and that Science is for everyone.
British Science Week (11th – 20th March 2016) provides a perfect opportunity for capturing the hearts and minds of young
scientists. Science Boffins’ interactive workshops and experiments showcase the full potential of Science and leave lasting memories. Since 2006 we’ve been reaching out to schools all over the country as part of British Science Week, bringing topics and experiments to life and delivering the “wow” factor. This year, to celebrate British Science Week, we’re offering an even wider range of new experiments and experiences, making it easy for teachers to grab the imagination and enthusiasm of their students.
Every year, British Science Week offers grants of between £200 and £700 to support events and activities during the week. These grants can be used in a number of ways, including booking an inspirational speaker, organising a trip, providing Science resources and even funding a Science Boffins’ Workshop! The deadline for grant applications is 5pm on 23rd November 2015 and full details are available on the British Science Week website, www.britishscienceweek.org
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