The Biggest Benefits of Wi-Fi for Schools

Wi-Fi for schools is no newcomer, and although wired networks may still be present within education, the shift towards truly agile connectivity is one that continues to eliminate tethered solutions.

Recent years have cemented the need for agile connectivity that makes no compromise when it comes to performance or security, and whilst local area networks (LAN) can still offer fast speeds, they bring increasing limitations in almost all other areas – from 1:1 learning to outdoor classrooms.

As EdTech evolves and advances, the benefits of a future-ready network that can securely support digital education grow.

So what’s the case for Wi-Fi in education?

Flexible Teaching, Agile Learning

The necessary shift to digital, remote learning in 2020 permanently changed education, and despite students returning to campuses, its impact has led to creative learning experiences and new teaching techniques that continue to be a top priority; 9 out of 10 teachers agree that technology is a great way of delivering higher classroom engagement – whether in school or remote. Since the pandemic, a blend of these environments is emerging, with the number of schools with outdoor classrooms growing rapidly.

Students today expect to be able to learn, research, socialise and create anywhere, on a mix of pupil and school-owned devices. Wi-Fi designed for campuses removes limits on learning, opening up your school so that educating can happen anywhere, on any device, with a fast, seamless student experience.

Meeting Student Expectations

Students are habituated to fast, seamless experiences on smartphones and IoT devices, and the simple fact is that the classroom should be no different if schools want to maximise pupil interaction – an inability to use these mediums is a wasted opportunity and makes education less appealing to today’s students.

A huge number of educators have responded by employing 1:1 learning with laptops, tablets, apps and cloud-based resources for lesson delivery, yet for these tools to meet student expectations, performance must be fast, reliable and seamless. This relies on superior connectivity designed for high-density, high-capacity, rapidly scaling environments like classrooms.

benefits of wifi for schools

We see so many schools struggling to successfully embed digital learning into lessons because slow speeds, drops in connectivity, and changeable performance render these devices useless. Simply put, wireless networks are the bedrock of agile, digital education that engages today’s students more than pads and pens can.

Improved Resources for Teachers

Teachers also rely on mobile access to information, whether they’re accessing lesson plans in different classrooms, marking work remotely or using student management systems and software. High performance school Wi-Fi ensures that educators can securely access the resources they need in an agile way, with no disruption to speed or security.

Screenshot from Promethean 2020 Report: ‘The State of Technology in Education’

Personalised Learning

It’s not just faster, more flexible access to information; Wi-Fi in schools also supports 1:1 learning for students. This enables the use of software that monitors student progress in real-time and allows teachers the chance to intervene to assist students where necessary – before the student shows clear signs of falling behind, such as poor test results. As EdTech develops, apps will adjust their content delivery based on user behaviour, including speed, attention mapping and responses.

Improved Monitoring of Students’ Wellbeing – from Engagement to Emotional Health

Connectivity capable of underpinning agile 1:1 learning also facilitates better monitoring of students’ safety and mental health by teachers and wider staff. Teachers can monitor each student with ease, using AI-powered software for automated alerts, actions and processes where concerning behaviour arises. Students can also reach out to teachers in a secure manner via a medium that feels less intimidating and more familiar.

In recent years, these technologies have helped keep thousands of students from both physical and emotional harm – both at school and at home.

Scalability for 10 Years of EdTech

Only Wi-Fi 6 networks and beyond can offer the instant scalability schools need as Trusts expand, onboarding additional students and a corresponding number of devices. So much so that it was a design requirement of the Department for Education’s Connect the Classroom scheme, funding new networks for UK-wide schools subject to need.

Scalability is vital, but what schools often fail to consider is how easy it can be to streamline and simplify network management simultaneously; scaling networks doesn’t necessitate a scaling IT function. Quite the opposite!

Next-gen networks are designed with multi-site organisations in mind, supporting seamless deployment, configuration and monitoring across an unlimited number of schools or colleges – without compromising performance or security.

Implementing Wireless in Schools

Sadly Promethean reported a clear mismatch between the acknowledged value of EdTech for teachers and pupils, and the amount being spent on it. Nine out of 10 teachers agree tech is a great way to engage students, but half say not enough is being spent on EdTech (46.3%). We imagine this figure will rise starkly in 2020 and beyond as the need to keep learning semi-remote, multi-device and agile continues.

In addition, schools face the challenge of matching devices to infrastructure. It’s not just a matter of buying the latest EdTech and connecting to the network; legacy networks cannot deliver performance in the face of the amount of increased bandwidth needed to support newer devices both on and off-site, and many schools adopting a ‘plug and play’ approach end up seeing slow speeds, dropouts and potential security risks.

According to Promethean, despite the growth in EdTech investment and increased spend on new devices, only 25% of schools are focused on improving IT infrastructure in 2020. This will need to change in 2021 if using Wi-Fi in schools and colleges is to be successful in keeping learning consistent throughout the coming years of post-pandemic education.

If you’d like advice on troubleshooting, surveying, designing or installing Wi-Fi in a school, college or university, you can find free advice, e-books on ‘Wi-Fi in education‘ and contact information on our education sector services page.