Maximize the ROI of your edtech investments by ensuring that your school’s wireless networks can keep pace with growing bandwidth demand.
Any school that’s looking to integrate innovative edtech solutions into the classroom will find itself at an impasse if its WiFi networks aren’t equipped to handle a sudden jump in traffic and/or bandwidth demand.
WiFi has become the primary point of internet access for many schools, which is why it’s more important than ever for schools’ wireless networks to be designed with the demands of educational applications, student information systems, learning management systems, and data warehouses in mind.
That said, optimizing your school’s WiFi network needn’t be an expensive or overly arduous process. With strategic planning and the right partnerships, getting a school’s wireless network up to speed is relatively simple. To that end, here are four tips for optimizing your school WiFi and achieving better connectivity in the classroom.
1. Think Strategically About Network Capacity
Instead of thinking about their WiFi in terms of gigabit speed per user, schools should ensure that users, devices, and applications in aggregate have the necessary throughput to keep digitally-driven classrooms running smoothly. This requires careful monitoring of overall, average, and peak network usage, as well as bigger picture traffic patterns.
While every application contributes to overall network traffic, few standalone apps consume more than a gigabit of data per second. That said, video streaming and similarly resource-intensive edtech tools do need to bit of headroom to function without lags, so schools will need to tweak their network settings as their specific application and device mix evolves.
2. Plan for the Short- and Long-Term
Because classroom technology is continually evolving, schools always need to be planning ahead. As a school grows, it will require additional access points to supplement its coverage and capacity. While schools should plan three to five years out, they should also revisit their plans annually to make accommodations for emerging technologies.
Mapping out technology plans is also a great way to make sure your school is maximizing its return on the technology in which it has invested. Without a strategically formulated plan in place, edtech tools tend to either gather dust or not be used to their full potential.
3. Use the E-Rate Program
Schools concerned about staying on budget as they upgrade their wireless networks should see if they qualify for the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate Program, which awards need-based discounts for schools and libraries attempting to upgrade their telecommunications and internet infrastructure.
The program provides discounts of up to 85 percent on Category 2 equipment like routers, switches, and access points, making it a great option for schools operating on a particularly tight budget. If you wish to use E-Rate funding, it’s especially important to plan ahead, as the process for obtaining funding typically takes around 18 to 24 months.
4. Partner with a School IT Expert
Supporting a top-of-the-line edtech portfolio can be challenging for anyone, but it’s especially daunting for educators who are simultaneously managing the day-to-day operations of their schools. That’s why partnering with an educational IT expert like Epiphany Management Group is the most surefire way to ensure that your wireless infrastructure is prepared to handle the demands of any and all edtech with which you wish to experiment.
Reach out to Epiphany today to learn more about our services and begin the process of optimizing your school networks for the dawning digital age.