How networking tech can save our struggling schools
The digital revolution has transformed education, with cloud computing, AR/VR, and AI revolutionizing teaching. The pandemic has also accelerated the shift toward remote and hybrid learning. When adapting to this changing landscape, schools face major challenges, including faculty and staff shortages, learning losses, and increasing cyberthreats. Overwhelming device numbers and aging networks are also worsening network sluggishness, downtime, and security risks.
Technology may be a cause of these difficulties, but it also holds the key to the solution. In this post, we look at how networking choices can empower schools.
Next-Level Campus Networks: Unlocking Enhanced Learning Experiences
By 2027, 60% of higher education institutions will use a hybrid physical-virtual teaching model, while 70% of all K-12 institutions will be utilizing a product built on or enhanced by AI by 2028, according to Gartner.
The most pressing need facing schools today is a wireless network that can support large numbers of IoT devices and bandwidth-intensive applications. This is the bedrock on which all other educational progress will be built, including digital tools and AI-based technologies to enrich students’ learning experiences, engagement, and outcomes. Given its importance, the network should be able to operate smoothly in high-density environments such as classrooms, auditoriums, computer labs, and libraries.
WiFi 6/6E and 5G are both reliable options for immersive learning via AR/VR tech that could enhance classroom experiences. These technologies also support simultaneous student access and interaction for better remote learning experiences with minimal lag times.
In addition, 5G could support high-quality video conferencing and live streaming, creating new possibilities for distance learning. This capability greatly facilitates remote attendance for students who are unable to participate in person due to distance, health issues, or other reasons.
Network switches are also critical in connecting devices like digital whiteboards, PCs, access points, printers, security cameras, and IoT devices. They ensure reliable and high-speed connectivity and can create virtual LANs to keep bandwidth management optimized as needs change throughout the day.
Cloud Networking: A Lifeline for Short-staffed Schools
Cloud technology could be the key to a more productive and innovative school environment, helping faculty and staff work more efficiently and remotely. Managing school networks via the cloud is a similar time- and effort-saver, providing high visibility so issues can be caught and fixed remotely in real time, without on-site visits. Additionally, the cloud technology enables IT staff to streamline and automate routine tasks such as network monitoring and troubleshooting, allowing for smaller teams and giving members time on more important tasks like maintaining network security and developing innovative educational software.
Some advanced solutions, like Zyxel’s Nebula, provides proactive networking management features such as WiFi Aid and Wireless Health, facilitating faster and more convenient troubleshooting while minimizing the need for manual detection and resolution of connection issues. WiFi Aid proactively identifies potential problem areas, while Wireless Health automatically optimizes connectivity when a connection problem is detected.
Shut Down Cyberthreats: Measures to Keep Education Safe
It’s critical that schools take all possible measures to protect themselves from cyberthreats. Education is one of the industries most targeted by threat activity.1 The shift to remote learning has increased the potential attack surface, worsened by the large numbers of devices and users. School employees and students can be easy prey for phishing and social media-based attacks. Ransomware has caused disruptions to in-class learning of up to three days, while some school districts have experienced permanent learning loss and had the personal data of faculty and students leaked onto the dark web.2
Some measures you can take to address this challenge include:
- Develop backup and incident response plans for continuity
- Check equipment to ensure it has sufficient security measures and up-to-date firmware
- Segment student and faculty/staff networks and apply multifactor authentication
- Remain vigilant with patching and vulnerability management
- Implement strong network monitoring with traffic analytics and cloud-based AI via security firewalls
- Use endpoint protection, application control, and content filters to limit the lateral spread of malware
By embracing these cybersecurity best practices and leveraging technology, schools can protect their networks and connected devices from cyberthreats, keeping data safe. This creates a more resilient and secure learning environment for faculty and students alike, ensuring their safety and privacy.