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Building mobility into the future of education

Gary Newbold, Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, Extreme Networks | July 11, 2014
In this article, Gary Newbold, Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, Extreme Networks, touches on how schools and universities can handle the major challenges that BYOD has brought to education, while ensuring visibility and control of their network.

The BYOD trend is gaining popularity in Asia Pacific and the region will continue to witness strong growth, driven by burgeoning consumer demand for smartphone and tablet. According to IDC, in 2013, mobile devices utilized under the BYOD model accounted for 22.5 percent of all consumer smartphone sales, followed by notebook PCs (11.7 percent) and tablets (4.9 percent)[1]. One sector that is impacted by this trend is education. In today's connected environment, students are bringing three to five mobile wireless devices on campus, including smartphones, gaming consoles, tablets, music players, laptops, and cameras[2]. The faculty and administrative personnel also have their wireless devices that need safe access to secured institution resources.

This influx of personal smartphones and tablets on campus, and the resulting data deluge, imposes a new set of security challenges. In order to manage the escalating mobility needs of students and teachers, educational institutions have started deploying new network solutions that provide the necessary controls and automation to make their campus networks secure, flexible and easy to manage. Schools and universities are now testing out more dynamic learning environments that can provide faculty and students with access to school resources regardless of where they are located. This has become a top priority for IT decision makers in education today[3].

Enabling seamless access for students and teachers

Network traffic has risen dramatically on campus in the past few years. Today, the ability to access the network, exchange both structured and unstructured data seamlessly and quickly from anywhere on campus, is a basic requirement.

In Asia Pacific, many institutions have already started investing in new wireless technologies and networks that not only provide high performance and full coverage, but also enable adaptive, cost-effective classrooms and learning spaces that provide greater accessibility to both faculty members and students, alike. In India, the Aga Khan Academy, a 100-acre campus with 45 buildings, recently deployed networking solutions to connect students and teachers throughout classrooms, dormitories, research labs and athletic facilities. This has resulted in a robust and secure network for the academy. The resulting network infrastructure enabled students to use their own devices to access network resources and the Internet from anywhere in the campus.

Advanced infrastructure

A Forrester report on technology in education underlined the idea that teaching focused on interactivity and engagement sparks creative learning and emphasizes the importance of pupil-lead learning in effective personalized learning experiences[4]. Being aware of the benefits of interactive education, the Aga Khan Academy decided to enhance interactivity in the classroom by supporting the delivery of notes and lessons through real-time video applications and thus, providing students with a flexible approach to studying. More than just a modernization of teaching methods, this supports the idea of a best-in-class education network experience.


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