Response from Roger Sands, CEO and co-founder, Wyebot.
Traditional teaching methods are being replaced with eLearning initiatives, smart boards, and 1:1 computing. This tech-forward education is leading to a new, tech-friendly environment that is more complicated than finding room in the budget for new laptops, Chromebooks or iPads.
IT Administrators and schools as a whole need to understand how new devices will impact an existing network, and what work needs to be done to ensure the network grows along with, or faster than, the new eLearning demands.
Today, there are an endless number of devices connected to a school network, including personal devices, classroom devices and school-wide IoT devices, like thermostats, printers and security systems. Each device is unique: some will be only 2.4GHz compliant; some will support higher spatial streams and data rates; some will be used frequently, others only rarely.
Regardless, they will all compete for airtime and impact the performance of the overall network if the proper systems and protocols are not in place. To ensure optimum network performance, schools should:
Provide, and enforce, a BYOD policy. At the very least, schools should limit the amount of personal devices students and staff can use, if they allow them at all. To avoid personal devices from slowing down eLearning initiatives, IT Directors should move personal tech to services that are 2.4 GHz only, while the eLearning activities are on 5 GHz.
Monitor and identify all devices on the network, and what they are doing. Tools that offer device fingerprinting and recognition support 100% network visibility, so IT knows exactly what the network is supporting, and how it needs to grow. It also allows IT to efficiently identify which devices experience problems and how best to resolve any issues. Ideally, the tool will also give historical data on each device, which allows for quick resolution to those pesky intermittent issues.
As IT directors optimize their networks for eLearning initiatives, it’s important that they look ahead and plan for the future. IT Directors should be looking three to five years ahead, and build a network that will support future needs. By defining network needs early, schools will ensure they’re prepared for what’s ahead, while still maintaining the budget.