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School wifi: the challenges of unreliable connectivity

As technology becomes a bigger part of the learning environment, schools are facing more wifi connectivity challenges. How can teachers overcome them?

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The modern classroom is an interactive space to foster collaborative learning, digital problem solving and increase student engagement. Key to this development is the increased use of technology, but this trend is problematic for unreliable school wifi, dated physical IT infrastructure, and slow school broadband networks.

SecurEdge Networks reports that students, teachers and staff use on average 3.5 devices each. This unprecedented dependence on mobile connectivity and wifi in schools is adding considerable strain to school wireless networks that are buckling under capacity requirements.

Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD)

According to a survey by RM Education, around 30% of UK secondary schools have asked pupils to bring their own mobile devices to class. As a way to increase digital interaction and resources in the classroom, BYOD also addresses budget concerns across the education sector. Those in favour of this approach cite increased information fluidity between classroom and home, and improved pupil motivation.

BYOD, however, may reduce hardware budgets but the strain it places on infrastructure, technical support and licensing can still have a serious impact on costs and the performance of wifi in schools.

Andrew Ferguson, founder of broadband news site ThinkBroadband, identifies bandwidth as one of the primary challenges schools face. He explains,

“A class of 30 pupils doing media-rich research can easily fill a 100 Mbps connection and without sufficient management of the connection it is possible for one pupil to use all the available bandwidth.”

So, how can schools continue to adopt interactive and engaging digital resources for pupils without worrying about increased costs, connection speed and the dependency on physical infrastructure?

Cloud-based solutions

As the complexity of locally-hosted, school-based ICT solutions increases, it can become more challenging to ensure the reliability of network provision in schools. Streamlining and migrating a school’s infrastructure to the cloud eliminates on-premises data storage dependency and streamlines information flow.

The UK Department for Education released a cloud computing guidance document in January of this year that highlights the potential benefits of cloud migration in schools. These include greater efficiency of information access, and better provision of anytime, anywhere, any device access to teaching resources.

An upgrade to the cloud, however, still requires upfront investment in broadband upload speed and smooth connectivity to ensure optimum performance. For schools suffering unreliable broadband and lacking ICT budget to migrate their entire infrastructure, working with cloud-based software like ClassFlow can alleviate the dependency on existing wifi networks.

Offline digital resources

To make the most of your school’s existing ICT resources, without total reliance on high-speed broadband, a software solution that taps offline information is absolutely invaluable.

ClassFlow Desktop is an interactive lesson delivery software that works both offline and online. With its ‘digital backpack’ feature, students can upload and optimise their own resources through cloud-based storage, significantly reducing the strain on wifi in schools.

So, while today’s pupils benefit from advanced digital and collaborative interaction, school wifi networks are suffering as a result and many teachers are cautious to use wifi-dependent resources. Investment is desperately needed in IT infrastructure and school wireless networks to improve student experiences across the board.

In the meantime, tapping cloud-based software solutions such as ClassFlow Desktop can significantly improve the provision of interactive teaching methods and digital resources without adding strain to school broadband capacity. Teachers can focus on fostering pupil engagement and applying modern teaching methods without the fear of unreliable school wifi disrupting their classroom.

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