September 28, 2018
In the first of a series of blogs discussing WiFi networks in education, we start out by looking at the need to get the infrastructure right so that the potential benefits of WiFi can follow.
Hands up if you remember chalk and blackboards in your primary school? How things have changed, with nothing more obvious than the use of technology. Nowadays, most teachers cannot even take the register without internet access, with every classroom, from Reception to Year 12, jampacked full of gadgetry intended to enhance and enliven the education experience.
But as technology in schools has bloomed, the demands on keeping everything connected has increased. Just as in business, hooking devices up to a network provides flexibility to share, to work in different places and at different times. It means the teacher does not have to sit on a particular PC to check all students’ work, that pupils can save a piece in one place and return to complete it in another. The quality of that connection can have a big impact on how smoothly a school runs.
WiFi vs Wired
Schools seem to have been slower than the business world to cast off wired connections and go WiFi, but there are a few good reasons why WiFi makes better sense.
One is safety. Wired connections require lots of, you guessed it, wires, which is not always the best idea with lots of busy little feet buzzing around. Want to just move that laptop to a different desk to browse via an ethernet connection? You have just created a trip hazard.
Which leads on to the next benefit of WiFi – mobility. Wired connections are location-dependent; with WiFi, you are free to move wherever you like. And that ties in with point three – mobile technology. Tablets and smartphones have transformed how people use the internet. They are the devices children are most familiar with and, thanks to their ease of use and the number of educational apps available, have been warmly embraced in schools. They also need WiFi to operate.
Like any organisation, schools are only as good as the tools they have to teach with. We all remember lessons when a teacher spent 15 minutes trying to get the video player to work. Today’s teachers stream their video clips from the internet, so rely on the quality of the internet connection to avoid that excruciating experience.
The same applies to children’s learning. One of the great educational benefits of the internet age is the freedom it has given children to find things out for themselves, rather than always rely on instruction from the teacher. Schools are embracing this by providing more and more internet-ready devices, with many aiming to achieve a one-per-child policy, or running BYO initiatives so children can be on-line as much as possible.
But having hundreds of eager learners all surfing and researching in one place at once poses a problem – it puts enormous strain on the WiFi network. Sadly, many schools are investing heavily in fantastic hardware like iPads without considering their WiFi needs. What they get left with is a lot of frustrated children whose devices can’t get on-line.
Next time we will explore what kind of benefits WiFi can bring to education.
At Simpli-Fi we provide schools with state of the art wireless networks, make sure they are fast, secure and kept up to date, we then manage the technical side with remote monitoring and support all for an affordable annual cost. We are currently supporting over 250 schools within London and the surrounding areas giving teachers and students all the benefits of wireless networking without headaches.