September 28, 2018
Wireless technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Devices no longer need to be connected to the internet via cables and wires; instead, they’re able to access the internet from anywhere. There’s just one problem: in order for those devices to be useful, there has to be wireless internet available. In the education sector, in particular, wireless technology is rapidly becoming more important than ever before.
Easily Accessible Information
As early as Primary school and Secondary school, many students now have their own wireless devices. Tablets, mobile phones, and laptops are less expensive than ever before and now widely available for many students. Those devices are invaluable in a school setting, particularly in the realm of higher education–but they’re useless without that all-important wireless access. Many students do have data plans and devices that are able to run off of 3G, but it’s much slower than connecting to WiFi. With WiFi access throughout the school, information is just a quick Google search away. Working on a research paper, double checking the information provided by the textbook, or seeking out more information on an interesting topic becomes simpler than ever.
Students today are used to having that easy access to information. They’re no longer concerned with cramming names and dates into their minds in an effort to develop their knowledge; instead, they want to know more. They want to understand the answer to the all-important “why,” and textbooks don’t always provide that information. The internet, on the other hand, provides all the information any student could ever hope for, right there at their fingertips.
In a traditional school setting, there are often only a couple of rooms where students can access the internet: the library and the computer lab. Access is strictly controlled at these points, with many sites blocked in order to prevent students from visiting sites that they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, this means that students who aren’t in a class that is using one of these rooms might not have the ability to do research when they need to. During a research project, many teachers only book the computer labs for a day or two–hardly adequate time for a student who has chosen to take their research to a deeper level. In-class time to work on the papers, however, may stretch for as much as a week. For students who already have their research in hand, this is valuable time. For students who, for whatever reason, have not yet done that research, the time becomes essentially wasted.
Creativity in Instruction
Many schools are now providing all of their students with tablets and other internet-accessible devices. This allows teachers to connect with their students in a way that was previously impossible. They can show videos, allow students to take surveys on their devices, and use games and other media as part of normal classroom instruction. A biology teacher who is struggling to come up with the materials for a traditional lab can use a virtual version instead. An English teacher who needs access to a short story or poem that isn’t in the book can allow students to read it on their devices instead of printing out a copy for everyone in the classroom. Students aren’t the only ones who are using wireless connectivity, either. Teachers who can access WiFi from anywhere in the school have an unprecedented ability to share images, videos, and information with their students. A teacher who is caught off-guard by a student’s question can quickly and easily look up the answer.
WiFi can revolutionise the classroom–and it’s becoming more critical with every year that passes. Today’s students expect information to be readily accessible, and they quickly become frustrated when that’s no longer the case. Students who are able to access information freely are better students who are able to engage with their learning more fully–and WiFi is a critical part of that process.