Personalised & digital learning in education - Top challenges and solutions

5 min read.

News Article
4 June 2020

From the days of paper based learning, excercise books and chalkboards, teaching styles in the 21st century have evolved to include personal devices, digital content, 1:1 computing, classroom smartboards and much more. Recent months have certainly put most secondary schools to the test and we have all started to recognise the benefits of these new resources and tools which are enabling students to thrive.

Checklist – The Challenges of Digital Learning in Schools

Whilst new teaching methods are becoming more reliant on 1 to 1 computing and streaming digital content both in the classroom and from home, schools are seeing benefits such as reduced costs, increased productivity and better results. There are however some IT headaches relating to reliability and security due to the increased pressure on your network to perform consistently. This blog aims to address the ways in which schools can take advantage of emerging educational technology to meet the new teaching requirements, whilst also upholding strict budgetary contraints.

1. Delivering High-Speed Digital Content

The benefits of e-Textbooks and video are obvious – offering high quality learning content at lower cost than traditional textbooks, but requiring high speed, ubiquitous Wi-Fi to connect every mobile device to access them. Edge switches provide backhaul from Wi-Fi access points and connect wired devices to the network. High availability or fault tolerance are important to ensure uninterrupted teaching. To operate smoothly, there can be no bottlenecks from the Wi-Fi access points, back through the wired switches, and all the way to the broadband Internet connection and the data centre.

2. Protecting Student Safety and Privacy

In the era of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and 1:1 computing, mobile student devices have an important role in personalised learning including the delivery of digital content, accessing eTextbooks and creating interactive learning environments which can be accessed anytime anywhere. The network must selectively connect authorised devices and block unauthorised ones. This requires comprehensive policy enforcement based on device type, user, location, time of day, and many more attributes. Network integration with web filters and firewalls is also important. Your network must be capable of controlling all devices and network activity.

3. Monitoring Network Activities and Guest Access

A constant risk to your network, IT resources, and the school campus in general are unapproved applications and rogue devices that may appear on the network and either permit unauthorised access or interfere with other devices. A means to monitor all devices and applications that operate across the network is vital. In addition to easy onboarding of school-owned devices, a simple method for onboarding guest devices and instilling them with the appropriate access to internet resources must be provided.

4. Application Insight

Visibility into application usage, website access, bandwidth consumption, and patterns of activity are important for optimising the user experience and verifying that digital educational content is adequately delivered. This is also vital for short and long term planning.

5. Comprehensive Service and Support

Access to bespoke technical expertise which is tailored to your school’s needs ensures that your network operates efficiently at all times. Prior to installation, it is important to survey and assess the RF characteristics of the site to determine optimal placement of access points and switches. Depending on the network support resources, network training and managed services may be required.

Recommended Network Elements for Personalised Learning

The need to provide consistent and reliable bandwidth where and when it is needed is essential if your school is to offer a more personalised learning approach to pupils. The recommended solution described below will provide your school with Wi-Fi connectivity including an efficient means to onboard and manage both school-owned and guest devices.

Extreme wireless access points and wired switches are easily managed with Extreme Management Center. Access to student and teacher devices, whether they are 1:1 or BYOD, is controlled with ExtremeControl and monitored with ExtremeAnalytics. Connectivity can be assured throughout your site(s), whilst the network policy manages a range of parameters that determine device access rights, based on user, device type, location, time of day, and 40+ other attributes.

Extreme’s network solutions are designed around the human element (Hu), addressing the needs of the IT and network management staff, the teaching and support staff, and students and school visitors.

Pervasive Wi-Fi Connectivity and Bandwidth are provided by ExtremeWireless Access Points and Controllers (Wi), which deliver highly-scalable, highly-available, seamless and secure, easily-managed Wi-Fi connectivity. Device onboarding, network access control, monitoring of the network and all devices, and secure guest access is provided by Extreme Management Center (Ma) and ExtremeControl (Co). These elements provide a single pane of glass management system for wired/wireless visibility and control from the data center to the mobile edge. Firewalls, web filtering, and MDM applications (Ap) can be integrated with ExtremeControl for complete network policy management.

ExtremeSwitching (Ex) and Extended Edge Switching provide high performance wired backhaul, cross-platform stacking, embedded application controls, and PoE+ for IoT devices.

Fabric Connect (Fc) leverages simplicity to create an agile network infrastructure that empowers rapid and seamless service delivery. The ability to monitor bandwidth and usage of devices and applications is enabled with ExtremeAnalytics (An).

Watch How It Works!

Educational technology is enabling secondary schools to reshape how students are taught. New styles of more personalised learning increase the need for a reliable, secure, and easy-to-manage network tenfold.

Luckily, the recipe to make your school a smart school has never been easier thanks to NETprotocol’s managed service incorporating Extreme’s networking technology. With digital transformation and the transition to building a smart classroom, the need for hyper-reliable, easily-managed network infrastructure has never been greater.