Monday, 27 June 2022 | 5 min read
Why Australian schools need enterprise-level internet
Written by Aaron O'Keeffe, Chief Growth Officer
Schools are embracing technology in a big way. Today, students complete most of their work – whether in the classroom or at home – on laptops, giving way to educational outcomes and opportunities well beyond what was possible in the past.
This shift has changed the way schools are approaching the technology infrastructure within their walls. When you think about the number of people at a school who need access to the internet on any given day, you quickly realise their technology needs are comparable with those of enterprise businesses who have hundreds, or even thousands, of employees.
So what difference can enterprise-grade internet really make for schools? Here are a few examples of how schools are using technology and how enterprise solutions can make a big impact on the way schools are run, the way teachers teach, and the way students learn.
Leveraging cloud computing
Cloud computing has been one of the most revolutionary uses of technology in schools, offering many benefits from how schools operate to how they help students learn.
On the operational side, cloud computing, particularly a managed solution, can help schools reduce their IT overhead costs. Making upgrades to the network or installing software and hardware is quicker, more efficient, and causes less downtime when using the cloud. As vendors will usually manage the technical environment, it allows the school’s IT teams to focus on other, more pressing, priorities.
With appropriate and secure Wi-Fi connectivity, cloud computing can also helps schools facilitate a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. This is particularly relevant for higher education campuses, private education providers, or for staff and teachers. A BYOD policy brings new challenges to IT teams, so cloud computing makes this approach assessible and safe for anyone using the network.
Critically for schools, cloud computing is a cost-effective way of serving the entire student population. With standard computing, schools needed to establish their own servers and technology infrastructure. However, in the context of a student population of hundreds, if not thousands, the cost of an 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.
On the education side, the technology allows students and teachers to connect to the school’s servers and resources at any time, from anywhere. It enables students to collaborate with each other on projects even after school or remotely from home. It also allows teachers to provide faster feedback and educational support and can offer portals that students, teachers, and parents can access for lesson materials, and managing personal information.
Diverse applications of the Internet of Things in schools
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 of lessons to encourage positive results. For example, a central database might hold “points” that students can earn by tapping in for attendance, like tapping an Opal card on a train, or getting assignments in on time.
In many ways, IoT and cloud computing work hand-in-hand. IoT can connect to your school’s cloud network, and both solutions run more effectively on the faster and more reliable connection of enterprise-grade internet.
Forget the days of blackboards and chalk, or even a standard whiteboard with markers, the modern school now uses interactive smartboards.
Smartboards are an application of IoT that schools are using to great success. The modern smartboard allows teachers to make notes available to students after class, to play videos, to make presentations, and more. They can also have communication tools built into them, such as cameras, that can allow a class to interact with other students in different locations.
Smartboards give students and teachers the ability to make more content-rich presentations, integrating more engaging features like video, visual imagery, text and web pages. In this way, smartboards better simulate the kind of presentational environment that students will experience in the workforce.
Using social media platforms for good
When we talk of “social media” here, we’re not talking about standard public social media networks here – schools aren’t using Facebook or TikTok as a primary communications platform. Rather, schools are building their own educational-focused social networks or utilising third-party platforms.
Social media platforms are a particularly helpful resource for students, allowing them more immediate access to teachers, and facilitating communication between students.
Social networks can also encourage inter-school interactions. This is particularly useful at a regional or state level, as well as getting remote and distance learning students engaged with their peers.
How James Cook University benefitted from enterprise-grade internet
As a higher education provider in rural Queensland, it was important for James Cook University to have a reliable and fast connection to keep students engaged, to provide classes and resources to remote students, and to help researchers and teaching staff do their job.
"For educational institutions, connectivity is non-negotiable. You have to invest in doing it right."
Prof. Sabina Knight, Director of Murtupuni Centre for Rural and Remote Health
So, James Cook University invested in an Enterprise Ethernet solution that allowed the school to scale up their speeds as their operations and needs grow, and gave the school the opportunity to provide a better learning experience for students.
Enabling remote education at James Cook University with nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet
What does all this mean for the internet and schools?
All of this technology innovation draws on the power of the internet. To be able to provide the best opportunities and experiences for students, schools are finding that they need to invest in upgrading the quality and speeds of internet that they deliver.
Schools now require a robust and efficient Wi-Fi network and supporting infrastructure to ensure that 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.
Taking the internet and IT infrastructure seriously has never been more important for schools than it is today. The future only holds more technological advancements and opportunities for schools to save money, become more efficient, and provide better resources. What underpins a school’s access to these advancements is scalable, fast, and reliable enterprise-grade internet connectivity.
Aussie Broadband 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 school’s connectivity needs, contact our team.
Chief Growth Officer
Aaron worked as an IT professional for 10 years before shifting into telecommunications sales. He joined Aussie Broadband as a Business Development Manager in 2008, was promoted to National Sales Manager of the Company’s business division i...See all articles
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