As digital technology takes a firmer hold on every aspect of life, so the ways that schools’ communicate, interact and educate is evolving. With more and more classrooms adopting web-based learning in one form or another and the increasing proliferation of mobiles and tablets alongside traditional desktop PCs, so the demands on a schools’ Wi-Fi network grows.
A school may indeed be ‘connected’ with Wi-Fi available for staff and students across the site. But if it cannot cope with the demands of many simultaneous users, the repercussions can be significant. Slow internet speeds can lead to disruption to learning, with classes unable to gain swift access to essential online materials; or no access at all. And in a results oriented age, the need for students to remain on-track in their education is an imperative.
In this article we’ll take a look at a few ways that a school can optimise their Wi-Fi connection to maintain speeds that can cope with everyday demand.
1. Review Your Bandwidth Needs
In a 2014 survey, the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) reported that almost two-thirds of UK primary and nearly half of secondary schools suffered from inadequate Wi-Fi connection. In many cases this may be attributed to schools installing more ‘consumer’ type networks due to budgetary pressures.
Unfortunately this is often a false economy.
Schools these days are complex environments, with staff and students all seeking access to the internet from a variety of locations and devices. In order to sufficiently accommodate these needs, you need appropriately sized bandwidth.
Understanding your site’s requirements should be an important step in assuring your network can cope both now and as demand increases.
2. Install Appropriate Filtering
As schools move more and more towards a situation where, more or less, everyone has a device connected to the Wi-Fi network, so the strain on the network increases. As a place of learning, first and foremost you need the capacity to be sufficient to deliver teaching materials, without fear that it’s being drained due to other, more social uses.
Social media sites or video streaming, for example can seriously drain bandwidth capacity which can contribute to slower performance in the classroom.
To overcome this, consider applying robust filtering systems to your school network. Modern filters which work across different devices can block or restrict access to social media apps, streaming sites or any other potentially inappropriate platforms, providing extremely effective measures in ensuring bandwidth is available exactly where it’s needed.
3. Suitable Access Points
Another critical area that impacts the speed and efficiency of a school’s Wi-Fi concerns the general design and architecture of the network. You may have signed up to a provider offer lightning fast Wi-fi speeds, but if your access points are poorly located then you’re unlikely to get the speeds required.
Knowing the best locations for your access points is a fundamental step in ensuring that your classrooms and other important areas are receiving the fastest connection with the minimal levels of disruption.
The internet is a crucial part of a school’s culture both in learning and daily operations. And will continue to be so in the years to come.
For the most efficient and cost-effective results, consider working with suppliers who can:
- Survey current bandwidth needs
- Deliver appropriate capacity to cope across all devices
- Be scalable so that capacity can increase (or decrease) according to demand