Why Australian schools need enterprise-level internet

August 23rd, 2018

Schools are embracing technology in a big way. Today, students are expected to do most of their work on laptops, while the internet has facilitated educational outcomes well beyond what was achieved in the past.

At the same time, this has affected the way schools approach technology infrastructure within their walls. When you think about the number of people at a school on any given day, you realise they have similar technology needs to enterprises with hundreds, or even thousands, of employees.

So what are some of the ways that schools are using technology?

Cloud computing

One of the most revolutionary uses of technology in schools has been Cloud computing, as it allows students to connect to the school’s servers and resources at any time, from anywhere. This enables collaboration, with students working together on projects even when they’re at home after school. It also allows for faster feedback from teachers and educational support.

Critically for schools, it’s also a cost-effective way of serving the entire student population. With standard computing, the schools needed to establish their own servers and technology infrastructure, but in the context of a student population of hundreds, if not thousands, the cost of a enterprise-sized data centre is prohibitive. Cloud computing allows the school to pay a flat fee to someone else to manage the servers and data centres, based on the number of students and staff at that point in time.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things – or IoT – is a relatively new term that refers to connecting everything together over the Internet – from laptops through to watches, fridges, televisions, and even clothing.

How might it affect a student’s life? Imagine a science experiment where the readings from lab equipment are transmitted to the student in real time, so they can monitor it remotely. Or an alert system where teachers can remind students of the due dates for assignments, or updates to exams.

The IoT also helps to facilitate gamification, to encourage positive results. For example, a central database might hold “points” accumulated by tapping in for attendance, like tapping an Opal card on a train, or getting assignments in on time.

Social media

Social media is something we all use for communicating with friends and relatives, but it’s also a particularly helpful resource for students, allowing them more immediate access to teachers, and facilitating communication between students.

We are, of course, not talking about standard public social media networks here – schools aren’t using Facebook as a communications platform. Rather, schools are building their own educational-focused social networks, or utilising those designed by third parties. Another benefit of social networks is that, at a regional or state level, it can also encourage inter-school interactions.

Smartboards

Forget the days of blackboards and chalk, or even a standard whiteboard with markers. The modern school now uses interactive smartboards. The modern smartboard allows teachers to make the notes available to children after a class, or to play video footage. Whiteboards can also have communication tools built into them such as cameras, that could allow a class to interact with other students in another location.

Smartboards also give students the ability to make more content-rich presentations, which might integrate video, visual imagery, text and web pages. In this way, the smartboards better simulate the kind of presentational environment that the students will experience in the workforce.

What does all this mean for the internet and schools?

All of this technology innovation draws on the power of the internet, meaning that schools have found that they need to invest in upgrading the quality and speeds of internet that they can deliver.

Schools now require a robust and efficient WiFi network and supporting infrastructure to ensure that the students can connect from anywhere, at any time.

Furthermore, this infrastructure needs to be of enterprise standard. One of the risks of tying learning outcomes to technology is that if the technology fails it’s not always possible to simply fall back to using books and paper.

Finally, schools need to invest in enterprise-standard internet security. The days of protecting a website with a basic firewall are long gone. Now, schools need to protect databases of sensitive student records from both outside attacks, and from the computers that students are using every day. This is a demanding IT security task.

The Wideband difference

Wideband is a proud supplier of enterprise-grade solutions to educational institutions in Australia. To find out how we can help your school future-proof your student’s connectivity needs, contact our team here.

About the author

Aaron O'Keefe

Aaron O'Keefe

Aaron works from an office in the tropical Northern Territory, inciting intense jealousy from his Victorian workmates during winter. He’s an expert in IT solutions from the ground up. Aaron is National Sales Manager of Wideband, which specialises in bespoke telco solutions for corporate and government customers.

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