If the continuing disruption of Covid-19 has proved anything, it’s that we now rely heavily on digital technology to drive learning outcomes (and the patience of parents for the time being).
Yet for those of us who focus on the demands of school networks, we’ve long known how crucial digital technology is within the teaching and learning environment. Very few elements of today’s school education don’t involve connected devices in one form or another.
So, what is the relationship between a school’s network and the learning outcomes they need to drive? What advantage can a next-generation wireless network offer in terms of improving these outcomes?
Linking technology to learning
A 2018 study by the Brookings Institute found that when technology is used to individualise a student’s pace of learning, the learning outcomes overall are vastly improved. The same study also found that increased access to technology in school was associated with improved proficiency with technology overall.
When we consider that access to technology outside of school is still unevenly distributed across socio-economic lines, this is particularly important. If we allow every student to experience the same digital learning experience, we can ensure that no student experiences a “21st-century skills and opportunity” gap.
For this reason, a school’s network cannot be the reason that students miss out on valuable opportunities to learn and adapt to technology. As we see technologies such as VR and 3D-printing entering the classroom, we need to ensure our wireless networks have the capacity and bandwidth to cope with these new learning tools.
We already see the effects of large amounts of unstructured data as it proliferates throughout a school’s network. Think streaming high quality video and audio formats on thousands of devices – with these types of content becoming more common in learning management systems (LMS) each day. Facilitating these richer forms of content is now a key determinant of learning outcomes delivered by networks.
The new handheld calculators
Research by the World Economic Forum estimates that 65% of children entering primary school currently will find themselves in occupations that today do not exist. Many of these occupations will involve working with technology and data, often through the augmented use or direct supervision of artificial intelligence (AI).
In the classroom, there will clearly be continuing debate about the role of AI in learning. After all, we still want children to learn to think for themselves. But we should remember there were similar complaints made about the use of handheld calculators in the classroom.
Regardless of the debate, AI and machine learning applications will soon become commonplace within various aspects of daily learning, so our networks will need to respond to these demands. Luckily, network administrators are already deploying AI-enabled policies themselves for utilisation and authentication across school networks.
The world is the classroom
Many conversations will be spurred by the remote learning circumstances arising from Covid-19, and one of them will be the structure of traditional classrooms. Although schools will be reluctant to forego the traditional classroom environment completely, we will increasingly see students being empowered to choose their own location for learning throughout the school – similar to the movement towards hot desk within enterprises.
Network administrators have already been putting the tools in place to facilitate these more mobile learning styles with dynamic switching and segmentation allowing them to seamlessly and invisibly transition devices and users to one access point to the next.
Keeping these dynamic and mobile learning environments secure is an ongoing challenge. With agentless visibility and dynamic role-based access control within Aruba ClearPass, IT leaders within schools now have the solution for creating seamless security enforcement and response across wireless school networks.
As part of Aruba’s industry-leading network technology, these are the ideal solutions for managing and securing the next-generation of education networks – to safely and effectively drive the next generation of learning outcomes.
At Trident, we have extensive experience in designing and deploying high performing education networks for institutions of every size. As an Aruba Gold partner, we bring a consultative approach to creating the ideal network solution for driving secure learning outcomes. If you would like to discuss the network challenges your school faces, please feel free to get in touch with us today.