Technology is fundamental to the learning experience while also helping staff perform their jobs efficiently and improving student life. Great education technology (EdTech) depends on great network connectivity to keep information flowing, people communicating, and systems working. The current environment also requires network technology flexible enough to adapt across in-person and online situations, or a hybrid of both.
However, there’s more beyond flexible and reliable performance: networks also have to meet an increasing need for privacy and security while also fitting within limited budgets. In an ideal world, networks would also be painless to install and maintain, as well as expand to cope with growing traffic volumes.
That last point is an important one, as EdTech is moving towards more use of data-hungry applications, including video and new innovations such as adaptive learning, gamification and immersive technologies. On-campus, everyone expects to connect to personal devices wherever they are, from the dorm to the cafeteria to the staff room. The volume of those devices and the data they consume is also growing.
On top of that, the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) means that other kinds of devices need connectivity, including sensor-based lighting, door entry and other smart building systems, IP security cameras, and interactive digital signage, to name but a few. Networks that are already struggling today are not going to be able to keep up.
Wireless saves the day
Fortunately, EdTech is not the only market that has evolved. So has network technology, particularly wireless, which matches the performance of wired networks in many situations. WiFi 5 and the new WiFi 6 standard (more on that later) can be configured to provide up to 1.7gbps or 2.4Gbps. That’s more than enough for many education applications.
Apart from speed, the latest in wireless technology brings other benefits, including cost-effectiveness, fuss-free set-up and management, and the flexibility to adapt and grow simply and quickly. For instance, locations where connectivity is needed often, have complicated layouts and restricted access. Installing network cables may be time-consuming and expensive, if not impossible, making wireless the answer.
Need to set up some pop-up classrooms during a renovation project? Or support some classes where there are a few students needing high-density WiFi at the same time? Consider it done in a matter of minutes – no data cables required. Even reduce power cables when using WiFi access points that have in-built Power over Ethernet (PoE).
Modern WiFi access points such as NETGEAR WiFi 6 WAX610 can be easily connected to create multi-unit access point networks. The Insight cloud management portal discovers and manages all WiFi access points, switches and other Insight managed network devices.
Once installed, Insight makes it simple to monitor, troubleshoot, and reconfigure wireless networks remotely, whether from a web interface or the Insight app. That’s ideal for an IT manager looking after multiple schools in a district, or for a reseller located hundreds of miles away, providing a virtual managed service for its education customers.
Furthermore, PoE features such as remote power cycle of a PoE port means that the WiFi access point (AP) to which it is connected can be rebooted from anywhere, solving the majority of typical issues. Another advantage of PoE is its scheduling feature, which can be used to switch off WiFi outside of school hours. Plus, connecting APs with PoE allows seamless and consistent roaming between them, without thick walls being a barrier.
Turn your WiFi up to 6
Providing between 30-70% faster wireless transmission, WiFi 6 is perfect for more bandwidth-hungry apps and devices, such as surveillance cameras, conferencing, video and high-quality image transfer, and very dense WiFi user hotspots. Most importantly, WiFi 6 treats every device (and user) equally, so schools and colleges can more effectively achieve consistent and universal wireless connectivity. Furthermore, the improved coverage of WiFi 6 means that up to 50% fewer wireless access points are needed, so more can be done even with tight education budgets. WiFi 6 Access Points are also fully compatible with existing WiFi 5 Access Points and devices for complete flexibility and easy upgrade. For example, NETGEAR customers that already deployed WiFi 5 networks can add a WiFi 6 outdoor Access Point (WAX610Y) in a seamless connected network.
Keeping safe and secure
Wireless also comes with some powerful privacy and security features. Wireless Protection Access (WPA) is part of WiFi Standards and continues to evolve. In addition, NETGEAR users can create up to four separate, secure WiFi zones within the same system, so there can be one for administrative staff, one for tutors, one for students, and one for visitors. Schools can also prioritize who gets access to bandwidth. NETGEAR products also have additional security features to protect users even more.
Of course, there are some situations where wireless is not quite enough, at least not yet. To complement our WiFi range, NETGEAR also has a comprehensive range of network switches ideal for education customers and partners, across copper and fiber, Power over Ethernet (PoE), 1Gbp, 10Gbps, and beyond.
Whether wireless or wired, NETGEAR has something for just about every educational customer and reseller, and its products can be found in schools and colleges all over the world. Our global support team is available at no additional cost to all customers, and we also offer free, no-commitment site surveys.
EdTech is developing so very rapidly, but network technology — and NETGEAR — have its back.