Intelligent CIO Europe Issue 9 - Page 39

+ EDITOR’S QUESTION ///////////////// PETE HANNAH, HEAD OF CHANNEL UK AND IRELAND, ZYXEL A cademies and secondary schools are no longer just places of teaching and learning. The classroom and campus environment is immersive and interactive, with students and teachers expecting to readily and reliably connect to the school network during and after the school day. The focus on technology to supplement traditional teaching methods has risen dramatically over the past 10 years. Indeed, recent research by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) found that the demand for EdTech solutions in secondary schools is higher than that in primary schools, with significantly more demand for classroom content (39%), training (35%) and assessment (28%). Students are also expecting the school environment to support t heir personal use of technology which is so intrinsic to their lives. Schools are experiencing a surge of personal devices connecting to the network as students arrive on campus and again at the end of the day when they check their social media accounts. 2. However, secondary schools are still finding themselves struggling to deliver the consistent and secure service that students and teachers require, due to IT networks not fit for purpose. 3. Future-proofing the network The strain on bandwidth will ultimately impact a teacher’s ability, which should be the first priority for the network, so it is vital schools ensure that network users experience a high-level of service and pose low-levels of risk. So, what’s the answer? Flexible, future-proofed and easy to manage networks. Schools require a fast, secure and stable Wi-Fi service to ensure high teaching standards, but this can be a challenge to manage around other IT pressures. The following elements should be the foundation of every school’s IT network strategy: 1. Clear visibility and understanding of pressure points. Knowing what access points and areas of the campus are under 4. 5. strain and at what time of day will help the IT team to make provision for peaks and troughs in usage Centralised and remote management capabilities. This will make it easy to react to network traffic jams, by managing bottle necks and boosting access to optimise the digital learning experience and make performance enhancements where it’s needed most Secure and resilient access. Security controls are essential to help mitigate threats to the network and ensure the best user experience. Automated controls make it easy to filter content and restrict access as necessary. Segmenting the network will also ensure it remains secure, no matter who is accessing it Classroom mode. Although a school environment needs to cope with numerous users, the demands will be different from that of a similar sized enterprise. Any networking solution needs to cope with peaks and troughs in usage and the specific demands of school life, from teachers and students, through to the needs of visitors accessing the network Energy efficiency. Powering the network can be costly. The ability to power off (or down) elements of the network when necessary will help save electricity and reduce unnecessary running costs By focusing on these areas, academies and secondary schools can ensure that technology continues to successfully underpin life and learning, rather than undermine schools’ efforts to enhance the learning environment. n INTELLIGENTCIO 39