If the Bett 2023 agenda is anything to go by, a huge priority in education is sustainability – both in how schools operate and as an essential topic in classrooms. Advocates such as Dr Sally Uren OBE (Forum for the Future), Professor Dame Alison Peacock (Learning Without Limits originator), climate activists and UNESCO representatives will all attend the show in March.
Schools, colleges and universities are key players in addressing the challenge of climate change, as nurturing grounds for younger generations who will face the increasing consequences of an unsustainable world. It is vital to both educate them on the issues the planet faces, as well as providing an environment for learning that demonstrates a strong effort to tackle them. Campuses are also spaces where young people can be inspired to take action, putting their knowledge to practical, proactive use.
In addition, sustainability on-campus is becoming a huge focus for schools, both to lower carbon footprints and cut energy costs, as well as responding to government initiatives, and public demand for environmentally-focused organisations. The department for education (DfE) writes that “schools perform better when they take responsibility for their own improvement. We want schools to make their own judgements on how sustainable development should be reflected in their ethos, day-to-day operations and through education for sustainable development.”
So how are schools educating on sustainability within the classroom?
- Students can choose a specific GCSE in natural history, to be introduced in 2025. This will see them gain a deeper knowledge of the natural world around us, including the sustainability issues the planet faces, and require students to spend time on field projects and climate analysis
- Environmental education will also be woven more into existing subjects, such as Geography and Business Studies, with an increased focus on urbanisation, ecosystem destruction, climates and CSR
- Schools will focus on recycling clubs/crafts and problem solving exercises focused on environmental issues
- Although initially introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid learning is becoming a commonplace practice in schools. One chief benefit is that it has the potential to hugely reduce the emissions of students and staff commuting to school through supporting remote learning
- If students and staff must travel to campus daily, many schools are encouraging cycling or walking
How are schools showing students the way in terms of sustainable campus management?
- Schools will become cleaner and greener with the government’s school rebuilding programme, with the rollout of low-carbon buildings accelerating quickly. By 2025 at least 5 schools will be operating entirely on a net-zero basis
- New measures announced at COP26 focus on building awareness of the environment by shaping schools around them. The National Education Nature Park project will increase the biodiversity of nursery, school and college grounds by building bird feeders, bug hotels and educational resources available, inspiring students to take notice of the environment on a micro scale, whilst learning about the macro impacts in lessons
- Campuses are huge procurers; catering for so many individuals on campus, from canteen food and vending machines to cleaning supplies and sports equipment, means a vast amount of deliveries and waste disposal. Schools are focusing on making more sustainable procurement choices in everything they do, reducing the carbon footprint of operations through smarter purchases with longevity of use in mind and reducing waste. This has a knock-on effect of lowering emissions of delivery and collection
- Schools and colleges are huge purchasers of IT equipment, from network hardware to laptops, tablets, digital white boards and more. Many schools are now only working with more sustainable IT vendors and partners who offer schemes that avoid technology going to landfill. As key players in next-gen networking for education, we partner with Cisco Meraki and encourage use of their ‘Takeback & Reuse Program’, including a free returns scheme, ‘Sent IT back’ mobile app and additional recycling solutions
- Schools are also moving towards more energy efficient technology that offers the same performance with lower energy input required, for example Cisco Silicon One switches using up to 86% less power than predecessors, offering 10.8Tb/s of bandwidth for just 415W of power (a 163x increase in efficiency)
- If the hardware itself cannot use less energy itself, schools are focusing on becoming smarter spaces where energy usage is on a need basis through occupancy-based controls. Sensors, smart cameras and other IoT devices can automate heating, cooling, lighting and much more. Over time, these controls enable schools to reduce their energy costs based on necessity
If you’d like to know more about making your school or college network more sustainable, get in touch with us.
At Redway Networks, we’re delighted to announce our supplier partnership to Everything ICT. This partnership demonstrates our commitment to providing future-ready IT infrastructures that enable schools to provide exceptional, digital learning and teaching experiences with seamless IT management.
Everything ICT is a cost-effective, compliant and convenient framework approved by DfE as part of its ‘Find a Framework’ initiative. Everything ICT represents more than 6,000 schools, colleges, universities and multi-academy trusts.
As a supplier to Everything ICT, we have gone through a rigorous assessment process that means we are pre-evaluated on areas such as:
- Value for money
- Customer service
- Insurance cover
- Legislation compliance (including GDPR)
- Customer testimonials and reference checks
- Enterprise-grade hardware with an extensive range of features list
- 5-Year warranty for indoor products, 3-Year warranty for outdoor products
- CN-Pilot can be quickly self-installed with zero touch
- Licence free option for low total cost of ownership
- Range of access point and edge switches
- Cambium’s EasyPass access management supports Google G-Suite and Microsoft Azure integration, plus IoT, guest access and more
- Single cloud dashboard can easily monitor and manage your school’s entire network
- Connect a single single with 10 classrooms or expand to a district-wide solution
- Includes zero touch configuration, automatic RF optimisation seamless roaming and a dashboard
- Easy application control with visibility of 2000 + applications to ensure reliable performance for learning applications such as Zoom, Google Docs
- Reduce the cost and hassle of WiFi and migration to WiFi 6
- High density access points reduce equipment requirements associated site prep and labour costs
- Automated management optimizes network performance and IT can manage the network without being on site
- Administrators should never have to touch an AP
- Designed for high density and edge services WiFi 6E extends the capacity of WiFi into the 6 GHz band more than tripling the wireless spectrum available. With a high-speed software defined radio, the XE3-4 Wi-Fi 6E access point enables seamless transition to Wi-Fi 6E with the ability to easily change from dual-band to tri-band (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz) mode when sufficient 6 GHz clients are available.
- The XE3-4 is fully backward compatible with existing Wi-Fi technology, enabling simultaneous support of new high speed clients, legacy clients, low-bitrate IoT devices, and more in a single wireless infrastructure.
- Lifetime warranty on hardware (1 year warranty on outdoor APs)
- All firmware upgrades so you always have the most up to date Meraki features no matter when you purchased your hardware
- All software updates are included
- Full use of the Meraki dashboard
- Meraki is much more affordable than most IT departments realise when you consider that you can get a 10 year licence whilst only paying for 5. This makes the TCO cheaper than many other comparable vendors, whilst offering a superior product that comes with the territory of the Cisco brand.
- On the cost of Meraki, our client Chris Baker from The John Warner School commented, Meraki was slightly more expensive than Aruba, but with Meraki’s licence promotion, we bought a 10-year software licence with 5 years free. Consequently both products worked out about the same price, so I was really pleased that Redway persuaded me to look at Meraki.”
- Meraki also offer 0% financing with their EasyLease offering. Being part of the Cisco family means Meraki can offer 0% finance where other vendors cannot. Get in touch with us for more information.
- With Meraki, you will have all the benefits of a mesh network without the cost of purchasing a controller for environments with just a few access points.
- With the trending of BYOD and faster devices, networks are seeing changing demands that are causing issues on consumer grade networks.
- Not only does the Meraki solution allow you to monitor and limit the bandwidth on applications and devices, but the ability for Meraki to add features to your dashboard as the market changes, giving you complete piece of mind that you are future proofing your investment.
- Meraki’s mobile app means network monitoring and management is accessible on mobile/tablet devices, in addition to being cloud-based and therefore untethered by location.
- Dashboards can often fall into two categories; either focusing on power and control, or on aesthetics and user-friendliness. The Meraki cloud-based dashboard is both incredibly powerful as well as being slick and intuitive – you don’t need to choose or compromise.
- Meraki’s APS are nicer-looking than many other vendors, meaning they blend into their settings and are less obtrusive.
- Meraki’s extensive footprint in the networking industry means you can have a full-stack solution all from the same vendor, including switches. This simplifies network management and saves time
- 24/7 proactive phone support from qualified engineers
- Break-fix guarantee
- System management and monitoring
- Remote access troubleshooting
- Wireless network maintenance
- User training
- Bullet proof security with 6 complex devices built into one; branch router, firewall, site-to-site VPN, content filter, load balancer and WAN accelerator
- The most secure cloud-based network available. Only config data passes through the cloud. Your user data remains on your local network
- Meraki are the only vendor offering a low TCO 10-year licence exclusively to the education sector, including support, updates, break-fixes, software licences, and a lifetime warranty on products
- Their superior licence future-proofs your network for the next 10 years, giving you the certainty that your school(s) can adopt emerging EdTech
- Meraki’s 10-year licence also guarantees scalability that can accommodate a growing number of devices throughout the lifetime of your licence
- Meraki solutions are fantastic in high-capacity situations, which makes them an excellent proposition for schools and colleges where students and staff have multiple devices all streaming, roaming and accessing digital resources constantly
- Automatically optimises and delivers superior performance in the highest density wireless environments and under intense interference conditions
- The only networking solution that offers holistic management of the network-entire, as well as all devices, including BYOD, from a centralised cloud dashboard
- Network monitoring and management can be done from anywhere, anytime on the Meraki app
- Real-time location statistics
- Meraki can offer a full stack solution that can be holistically, easily managed from a single pane of glass
- Networks are constantly growing, evolving and need updating/upgrading. Meraki is the only leading vendor that offers a high-performance full stack solution, with the backing of Cisco engineering, for an affordable cost. By choosing Meraki wireless and/or switches, you leave the door open to move towards a full stack solution in the years ahead, saving you budget, management time and hassle.
We understand the process involved in working to frameworks and can offer an end-to-end service around your needs and timescales. From your initial conversation with us, through to ongoing network support, our extensive experience in education means we understand the specific financial, operational and educational requirements of schools. We have the insight to recommend the best-fit products for delivering secure, scalable networks that can be managed through one pane of glass.
We help schools replace their outdated legacy equipment and disjointed networks with the latest cloud-networking solutions that deliver a robust digital education experience for the next ten years. We can help you improve your education IT and school technology including WiFi networking switching, firewalls, cybersecurity and physical sectary. We pride ourselves on being customer focussed and will work with you to recommend the best solutions for your school to achieve its digital vision.
So if your school has been offered funding for a new, future-ready campus-wide network via DfE’s Connect the Classroom programme or you have a ICT procurement need, we’re here to help.
To find out more, please get in touch!
What is IoT and why has education moved to adopt it?
The learning landscape has been changing slowly for many years, with pencils, paper and chalkboards being supplanted by digital devices, platforms and applications.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, this change was not consistently happening across all educational organisations. C19, and the ensuing move to remote learning for many months at a time, caused this digital divide between schools equipped to handle this shift, and those not, became starkly visible.
Schools, colleges and universities were forced to see education in an entirely new light, placing a huge focus on IT foundations, networks and connectivity beyond the classroom. Huge investment of time and budget has gone into schools making this digital shift, ensuring staff can maintain teaching standards and students are not limited by poor connectivity; as this shift continues to happen, the potential of inter-connected devices (IoT) becomes increasingly apparent.
From 1:1 laptops and tablets, interactive white boards, voice-to-text technology, smart cameras, sensors and so many other devices, the impact of edge tech is profound.
How is the mass adoption of IoT in education changing schools?
Promoting collaborative, inclusive classrooms: during the early months of the pandemic, it became evident that many students did not have laptops or tablets to allow them to attend digital classrooms. These students were disadvantaged not only from a learning perspective, but also from a socialising perspective, unable to connect with teachers or fellow students.
A rush on these devices for necessity has lead to a huge rise in 1:1 learning post-pandemic, changing how classrooms see syllabus delivery in the classroom as well as remotely. 1:1 devices became a tool for facilitating digital collaboration, which has continued.
Improved classroom concentration and engagement: kids of all ages are increasingly tech savvy, so schools need to digitise and be adaptive to the best ways to harness curiosity and interest. Outdated teaching methods will progressively prevent students from engaging and result in a faster loss of concentration, decreased attendance, and declining results.
Creating smart spaces focused on the learning experience: school and college campuses are rapidly becoming smart spaces where cloud-based dashboards allow control of every connected IoT device from classroom temperatures and CCTV to 1:1 devices and WiFi access points. The benefits both to the learning experience and school budgets are becoming increasingly hard to ignore, whether saving costs on energy bills by turning off dormant equipment to automating network performance according to usage.
Harness IT technology to improve the student experience: school and college campuses are no longer just buildings; combined with IoT and high-performance networking, they offer educational institutions the ability to keep students safer, happier, and engaging with their school at many more touch points throughout their time on campus. Possibilities are becoming endless, from booking available library desks, checking washing machine availability in universities, mental health apps, even the use of drones to walk students home safely. This all serves to push up student engagement, wellbeing, and satisfaction scores.
Keep students safer with cloud-controlled, edge security: Student safety has become an absolute priority in recent years – whether we’re talking digital or physical security. IoT has the capacity to improve the physical safety of students on campus in increasingly integrated and automated ways. Door lock systems can be fully customised and monitored, smart cameras offer always-on, cloud-managed CCTV with automatic triggers and actions to remove blind spots, emergency management can be fully automated in situations like fires to ensure safe evacuations and services alerts. All without the need for additional storage, servers or software.
Building management that reduces costs, interruptions and time taken to resolve issues: campuses need to evolve into smart spaces that can deliver excellent learning, working and socialising environments, without scaling resources and costs required to operate them. This is where IoT excels, enabling estates managers to monitor equipment and hardware performance, identifying where maintenance is required before issues occur using AI and machine learning that means no additional work for teams.
Saving costs and the environment by through occupancy-based energy usage: IoT sensors can reduce the cost to both budgets and the environment by progressively lowering energy wastage with automated, occupancy-based controls that monitor footfall site-wide and adjust lighting, heating and cooling accordingly. At a time where these costs are sky-rocketing, investing in long-term solutions to lowering energy usage and expense is a step many schools, colleges and universities are taking.
Migrating to personalised education with 1:1 learning: The rise of 1:1 learning is about more than just teaching students via a medium that holds attention; it’s about giving educators the ability to deliver learning in a targeted, personalised way. Each student using a tablet or laptop places a huge demand on networks to support increased devices, but the opportunity to tailor lesson content to each student, without multiplying a teacher’s workload, is a big one. Once 1:1 IoT devices are distributed, software also makes it easy for teachers to see clearly which students are focusing or falling behind, and where in the lesson in relation to other students.
Monitoring the mental wellbeing and focus of students through automated means: Linked to 1:1 devices is the opportunity to use classroom monitoring software, such as Lightspeed. To receive additional support, struggling pupils do not need to ask for it, or express to classmates that they are finding lessons challenging; teachers can help these students before their learning or their confidence is impacted. Triggers can be set to identify concerning behaviour relating to mental health, as well as bullying. In short, classroom technology can help safeguard the mental wellbeing of pupils and improve the student experience in a way that teachers alone never can due to time constraints.
In summary, although the widespread shift to digital education happened in response to the pandemic, its effects are longstanding; in the last year, schools have been considering how the adoption of digital learning and cloud-based technology can continue to transform education well into the future.
The shift to embracing and harnessing IoT in education has not only made learning omnipresent and untethered, it’s continuing to evolve into a medium that can enable teachers to keep a closer eye on students wellbeing and progress without adding to workloads. IoT is enabling schools to reduce energy usage, save on operational costs, and keep campuses safer.
The shift, however, isn’t without challenges. The sudden, mass adoption of edge devices places a huge strain on networks, and schools need to lay the foundations for successful adoption of IoT. Primarily, this means a wireless network for schools that is capable of handling huge amounts of throughput without compromising on speed or capacity, but also encompasses deeper depth of defence to ensure additional edge points do not offer additional breach points to hackers. A network capable of supporting data collation and analysis at the edge will also give schools an advantage when implementing IoT.
With the complexity of school networks increasing, IT teams also need to be conscious of the risk of increased network management time – a huge challenge in the face of shrinking resources. Next-gen networks take advantage of cloud-based management, as well as automation and machine learning, helping IT teams do more with less. Our client the Forest of Dean Trust have decreased network management time by 50% thanks to a new IT solution – read the case study here.
If your school, trust or college is interested in advice on implementing IoT into classrooms and campuses, get in touch with our education team.
At Redway Networks, we’re specialists in WiFi and known for our great WiFi design. It’s in our DNA and is the building blocks to a superior wireless network as however great the products, its the WiFi design that underpins the network performance. Wireless that’s poorly designed won’t be an asset but will affect the performance and security of your school’s network.
We focus on the finer details and our in-depth knowledge of school wireless networks, quality of our professional onsite surveys (performed using Ekahau) and WiFi reports delivered in an extensive but easy to digest format, that sets us apart from other IT vendors.
A post-installation professional, onsite WiFi or troubleshooting survey will highlight coverage and if capacity meets your school’s requirements in addition to giving you the assurance moving forward that your new wireless network has been properly designed for current and future usage.
Extensive WiFi experience
Our certified network engineers have extensive experience within the education sector and will deliver a ‘gold standard’ service for WiFi surveys using Ekahau’s heat-mapping software – recognised as the world’s leading analysis tool.
Accurate WiFi Signal
When performing a post-installation Wi-Fi survey or a troubleshooting survey we can conduct both an active and passive WiFi survey. During an active survey, the WiFi adapter is connected to the WiFi access point to measure signal strength and noise levels, as well as round-trip time, throughput rates, packet loss, re-transmissions and roaming performance. However, an active survey will give your school a more accurate indication of WiFi signal. During a passive survey, the site survey application passively listens to WLAN traffic, measuring signal strength and overlap between adjacent WiFi access points. By performing both an active and passive WiFi survey, we can report on potential issues beyond just signal coverage and an active survey will give a more accurate indication of WiFi signal.
We can provide a complete spectrum analysis which includes the detection, measurement and recording of RF interference that could degrade the performance of your wireless network. Interference such as microwaves or legacy wireless devices can have a serious impact on your WiFi network . During a post-installation survey we perform a spectrum analysis to highlight any interference detection from devices that are not transmitting constantly. We will conduct WiFi throughput testing which enables us to go one step further in verifying the actual capacity of your school’s WiFi network. Whilst a WiFi survey accurately determines connected data rate, performing a throughput test is a more accurate method for determining your WiFi network performance. We will provide all relevant configuration settings to maximise the performance and stability of your WiFi including radio channels, antennas and transmit power levels of each wireless access point to provide the most stability for your new WiFi design or new wireless network deployment.
If your school or college would like to book a WiFi survey, contact our sales team today.
With an increased focus on security within education, keeping your school safe is easy with our end-to-end network security. With today’s students always digitally connected and preoccupied with completing online school assignments, they’re unaware that an entire network in the backend is making all this possible. Education IT teams are tasked with not only keeping the network secure but also with protecting end-user devices and ensuring the physical and online safety of students and staff. All these serious responsibilities, paired with limited resources, create a challenge for education IT teams.
So how do you protect endpoints, networks, and students, all at the same time?
At Redway Networks, we partner with Cisco Meraki to provide our education customers with solutions that span all three areas for the safest campus environment. We can help your school or college manage all its security solutions from a single, web-based dashboard. This means you can simplify device, network, and security camera management through remote configurations, video monitoring, and application deployments. Your network will be safe from vulnerabilities, student data will be protected, and students will be safe walking around campus.
Nearly 80% of headteachers believe their school faces and increased risk of a cyber incident and schools and colleges are becoming regular targets for cyber-attacks and many schools lack a cyber-security policy or the right training. Cyber criminals often gain access to private student data or important research, and threaten to share this sensitive information. The first line of defence comes by creating group or user-based policies for students, teachers, and staff, and restricting who can access various parts of the network. With integrated intrusion protection and malware scanning, users can easily stop malicious threats and files before they enter the network while prioritizing trusted educational applications with Layer 7 firewall and traffic shaping rules. With increased network visibility, you can track and shut down rogue access points, set up email alerts when rogues are detected, and contain rogue SSIDs, AP spoofs, and packet floods. Most importantly, with Meraki’s cloud-managed MX security solution, you can ensure the latest firmware updates are pushed to the network automatically to guard against the latest security threats and vulnerabilities.
As 1:1 programmes continue to grow and students bring more devices to campus endpoint security has become increasingly important. With an endpoint management solution, you can protect students of all ages from seeing inappropriate content, accessing blacklisted sites, and downloading unknown applications by using content filtering, group policies, and advanced malware protection. If a device is lost or stolen, especially one holding sensitive information, you can easily identify its location and retrieve it or remote wipe its contents. Most importantly, by protecting all the devices that students and teachers use every day, the network can remain secure from common endpoint security vulnerabilities.
Schools are tasked with providing safe learning environments for all students and teachers, without fear of trespassers, poor behaviour, or unforeseen incidents. With smarter security cameras, you can quickly identify when a person is where they shouldn’t be and view video analytics of school activity to identify high-risk areas. You can also help deter threats and incidents with the ability to quickly search recorded video and easily share with parents and law enforcement. With granular access controls and visibility from any Internet browser, teachers, principals, chancellors, and even the fire department can view groupings of cameras, or a single camera, and act accordingly. Plus, with video data encrypted at rest and during transport, you get even more protection against cyber threats.
To find out more about our portfolio of security solutions for schools, contact us today.
Across colleges and universities of all sizes and types, the need for modern WiFi solutions is clear. Further and Higher education caters to some of the UK’s most tech-savvy citizens – students. As part of the first generation to be digital natives from childhood, today’s college students have never known a world without the internet. In fact, 94 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 own a smartphone. As students arrive on campus, they expect instant connectivity — from streaming Netflix and playing video games to receiving notifications from mobile apps that guide them to their next class or inform them of relevant campus activities.
Just like the students they serve, college campuses are becoming more digital. Blended learning is booming (90% of college and university deans say their campuses will increase online learning over the next decade) and even traditional lecture halls and classrooms are suffused with digital content, such as video, lecture notes and other online curricular materials. Smart campus initiatives are automating a range of functions, and growing concerns about student safety are prompting a redoubled emphasis on both physical and cybersecurity.
WiFi is no longer an option
Tech-savvy students and smart campuses require a new kind of network, one which provides superior performance, scalability, reliability and manageability, while providing advanced analytics and automation. By addressing their network challenges, further and higher education institutions can position themselves to meet the needs of students and faculty for now and in the future.
Meraki meets the needs of today’s students and staff.
Colleges and universities are actively competing for students and confronting questions about the sustainability of the campus, all while tackling complex technology challenges. These key challenges include:
Student demands and expectations. Studies show students now bring an average of seven connected devices to campus, including mobile devices, laptops and computers, smart TVs and gaming consoles. One university, for example, has capped the maximum number of devices per student at 12 — a number that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.
Students expect seamless connectivity everywhere they go on campus and enough bandwidth for work and play. As institutions compete for incoming students, reliable digital access is a must-have.
The campus experience. While connectivity is a requirement, digital services that accentuate the campus experience can be the differentiator that helps colleges and universities attract and retain students and faculty. Students expect simple online processes to register for classes and receive relevant information as they go about their daily tasks. Many colleges offer applications that notify students when their laundry is done, allow them to send assignments to the library printer remotely, and provide them with location-enabled alerts about events, directions and coupons as they walk by the bookstore or dining facilities.
Academic needs. Colleges and universities are developing plans to integrate digital content into traditional lecture halls and classrooms. Plus, online programs and blended learning opportunities allow students to livestream or view captured video
of lectures, removing worry of missed classes or snow days. For example, DeVry Education Group, a collection of eight institutions offering programs in business, health care, law and technology, plans to roll out video-connected classrooms where students can wirelessly connect to the whiteboard on their devices — whether they’re in or out of class.
Smart campuses. Today, more than eight in 10 higher education institutions are either using or plan to use Internet of Things (IoT) technology, according to CDE research. Many start with low-hanging fruit, such as adding internet-enabled controls to lighting, HVAC and other building systems to save costs. Plus, IoT will drive the connected services students and staff expect in their day-to-day experiences, from targeted notifications from appliances like washing machines and printers, to automatic notifications that can help students navigate academic buildings and learn about nearby activities and events. Doing so will dramatically increase the number of connected devices, increasing reliance on the network.
Security. Across campuses, there is an expectation to assure the physical safety of students and staff, as well as to protect both campus networks and the
confidential student information and research data they contain. Implicit in this is securing student and staff devices, as well as the growing number of IoT devices
— all of which are targets for malware and other cyber attacks. Institutions must balance the need for security with the need for students and staff to have access to relevant information.
Data, analytics and the cloud. As in the corporate world, the volume of available data on campuses creates new opportunities for analytics. In a 2017 CDE survey of 138 higher education officials, 46 percent said they were interested in implementing data analytics solutions and 64 percent identified data- driven decision-making as the top perceived benefit.
By choosing Cisco Meraki wireless access points, your college will benefit from increased network capacity and speed and central and local IT staff will have better network visibility through the web-based Meraki dashboard.
Contact us to find out how we can help your college with its Meraki deployment.
Pencils, paper and textbooks have been replaced with tablets, interactive boards, streaming video, augmented reality and building infrastructure IOT. Your schools and your students need robust and reliable WiFi to connect them to the world. They need a low risk path to migrate to WiFi 6 and integrate IOT networks, students, staff, faculty and guest access. And technology that is easy to use and affordable to meet budget constraints. WiFi is a means for students to grow their knowledge according to their capabilities. Online education resources enable personalised, self-paced learning to keep every student challenged and engaged. As a result, teachers can easily identify those who may be falling behind. Cambium meets all the expectations of WiFi for primary schools as a low-cost solution for delivering a great digital learning environment.
That’s why we partner with Cambium Networks as combined with our wireless design expertise for a modern school, Cambium makes digital with WiFi easy and affordable.
Cambium makes it simple to maximise learning
Cambium is scalable with a variety of access point options
Cambium is an affordable solution with a low total cost of ownership
Latest technology with Cambium’s XE3-4 WiFi 6E Access Points
If you would like more information on a Cambium Networks solution for your primary school, or WiFi 6E access points, contact us today.
We frequently come across schools, businesses and organisations who are well aware of Cisco Meraki, but are unaware of its competitiveness against its industry peers. As a Gartner Magic Quadrant company, Meraki solutions come with the kind of superior experience you’d expect from a leader in networking and wireless technologies, but contrary to assumptions this does not mean exclusionary pricing or policies.
Below we answer the most frequently asked questions when it comes to Meraki licences, pricing, total cost of ownership (TCO) and security.
What options are there for licences with Meraki?
Meraki offer 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 year terms, which include the total cost of ownership during these timeframes. One reason we highly recommend Meraki particularly to UK schools is because they only pay for 5 years when taking out a 10 year licence.
What does a Meraki license include?
A Meraki licence incorporates many line items you would see in other solutions wrapped into one, including:
How does Meraki compare in terms of affordability?
Why should I choose Meraki over a less expensive consumer grade solution?
Is Meraki secure?
Yes! Only configuration information passes through the cloud and all user data stays on the local network. If the internet connection goes down, the local area network (LAN) will stay up and running and you will still be able to access shared printers, files, etc. Configuration changes will just be queued until connection is restored (though changing configurations is usually not a priority when the internet is down).
What is on a Meraki BOM?
Each piece of hardware requires a license. For example, if you purchase 10 wireless access points, you will need 10 licenses.
What support will I get?
If you’d like to speak to us about a Meraki wireless solution, please get in touch with us so we can advise.
As experts in WiFi for schools, Redway Networks partners with a number of vendors to offer cloud-based wireless solutions with education environments in mind. We always focus on offering vendor-neutral, bespoke advice on each so that you can make the right choice for your school, academy or college, but it’s also important to consider that each partner has particular strengths.
One example is Cisco Meraki, who we often recommend to schools, academies and colleges for a number of reasons. Below our summary is Meraki’s video on why their solutions are aimed at the UK education sector.
Full stack solution
Video: Meraki for Education in the U.K.
From a wireless engineer’s perspective, I’ve found that designing WiFi for schools has changed considerably over the years. In the past, networks were designed so that every classroom had WiFi coverage. And coverage is still important, but with today’s education environment you also need to consider how many devices are simultaneously connecting to an access point. A single access point might be able to provide coverage to 3 or 4 classrooms, but can it provide capacity? With 1:1 computing you could easily have over 100 devices inside 3-4 classrooms, with a single access point being the bottleneck for all those devices. So, for this reason it’s vital that you consider capacity when designing your school’s new wireless network.
Which WiFi standard is right for 1:1 Computing?
There are 2 main choices when choosing a new WiFi network today. WiFi 5 (also known as “IEEE 802.11ac Very High Throughput”) or WiFi 6 (known as “IEEE 802.11ax High Efficiency). The clue is in the name, WiFi 5 was designed for high throughput whereas WiFi 6 was design for high efficiency. Whilst WiFi 6 does actually have higher levels of throughput it’s real strength is in capacity and being able to efficiency serve many more devices. Therefore, WiFi 6 is a must for 1:1 computing.
Let’s talk about data rates for a moment and let’s consider how much data a client device actually needs. For example, if you’re watching a YouTube video here is the recommended speeds:
As a simple example if we decide to limit a classroom to 5Mbps (1080p Video) and we have 30 devices in the classroom, that is a total of 150Mbps per classroom. So, it’s important that your access point is firstly able to cope with these speeds and secondly the signal strength inside the classroom is strong enough to deliver those speeds. We work hard to ensure our wireless designs meets the requirements needed for classrooms. This often involves using several different AP models to match the level of throughput required with each area.
How many APs is too many?
A false myth is that adding more APs is the solution to a high-capacity network. A popular example of this is the cookie cutter design of 1 AP per classroom. This is not true, WiFi has a limited number of channels that can be used so you have to carefully consider channel widths, channel re-use and interference when planning your network. The solution to a high-capacity network is a good design.
The importance of AP placement.
In schools I often see APs placed on walls and whilst this works it’s not the ideal placement for most APs. APs are mostly designed to be ceiling mounted and this does have an impact on performance. Below is a sample throughput reading taken from a Meraki MR36 access point (simulated in Ekahau). The first is mounted on the ceiling and the second is mounted on the wall. As you can see it has real impact on the performance of the access point.
Ceiling Mounted AP
Wall Mounted AP
School WiFi is unique
I’m often asked to explain the difference to installing WiFi within a school than say an office and I always say the biggest differences are capacity and security. Schools need to make sure their wireless network has the capacity to deal with high-density demands whilst still delivering a superior performance that will not interrupt teaching and learning. Also, in an office environment it is common to have open SSID for guest users, with trust given to employees that this SSID will not be abused. In a school the levels of safeguarding and security must be raised to ensure the network is being used in the way it was intended. Our highly technical consultants focus on supporting our clients at every stage of a WiFi project to guarantee the WiFi performance the school needs not just for now but in the future. With WiFi 6 you can literally future proof your network for years to come so it’s a great investment for education.
I always get asked which enterprise wireless technology is the best fit for education and there’s no answer to this. That’s why we spend time with our clients to determine their exact requirements and select a product that fits their exact needs and budget using our partnerships with the world’s leading vendors. However, I have summmarised the strengths of each vendor here.
The Meraki Dashboard gives excellent visibility of the network and despite the vast amount of information gathered it remains one of the most intuitive and easy to use controllers on the market. What’s also really appealing about Meraki is its range of networking products include access points, switches, firewall and others. These are excellent products and can all be managed via the Meraki Dashboard.
Extreme has an exceptionally feature rich solution which gives you a huge amount of flexibility with your WiFi deployment and configuration. Extreme also has a free cloud offering for schools that don’t require the advanced feature set, so you get the best of both worlds.
If your school is planning a new wireless network and would like advice from Lee please contact us.