The Biggest Benefits of WiFi for Schools
The introduction of WiFi in schools is no newcomer to education, with many institutions opting to create a new network for learning through wireless technology in recent years. Whether due to budget restraints or choice, there are – however – still many schools with traditional wired networks. While these can still offer fast speeds, they come with a lot of restrictions, primarily the fact that learning is tethered to a specific location by a cable and is not mobile, agile, or versatile. With the extreme challenges education has faced in 2020, the need for a network that can support the new learning landscape is at an all-time high.
So what’s the case for WiFi in education?
Flexible Teaching, Agile Learning
WiFi in schools, unlike traditional wired networks, does not impose limits on teaching; it removes the need for tethered devices and opens up your institution so that learning can happen anywhere, on any device, with an immediate response time.
Creative learning experiences and new teaching techniques are top priorities after school results, and nine out of ten teachers agree that technology is a great way of delivering higher classroom engagement – whether in school or remote.
Students are used to accessing information on-the-go outside of lessons thanks to smartphones and connected devices, and it’s no secret that the younger generations have a much better grasp of technology. The simple fact is that the classroom should be no different if schools want to maximise pupil interaction – it represents a wasted opportunity to not educate them through this medium. A hugely increasing number of educators are using laptops, tablets, apps and cloud-based applications for lesson delivery, with a dramatic surge since the COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020. All of these applications and tools rely on wireless networks, making them the bedrock of your whole strategy.
It’s not just faster, more flexible access to information; WiFi in schools also opens up communication within education. Students can interact with fellow pupils more easily, including teachers. This proves helpful in schools by increasing the likelihood of feedback, participation and students voicing concerns in a much more secure and comfortable manner. In recent months, the level of communication that is made possible by enterprise-grade networking has helped keep students safe from both physical and emotional harm.
Communication between staff is also easier with high performance wireless compared to wired networks. This is especially useful in multi-academy trusts where teachers, IT managers and SMTs can be spread across several schools or colleges.
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 WiFI 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’
Implementing Wireless in Schools
Sadly the latest Promethean report highlighted 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 WiFi 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 WiFi in a school, college or university, you can find free advice, e-books on ‘WiFi in education‘ and contact information on our education sector services page.