Learning environment

Keeping EdTech Tools Connected in an Evolving Learning Environment – PCR

Will Liu, Managing Director of TP-Link UK, explores how to simplify bringing technology into the classroom.

As one of the first sectors to be called back, education has been hit with continued disruption and uncertainty. There is not a teacher in the country who has not experienced a form of ‘hybrid’ learning and for many it has become a permanent fixture. For many of us, this blended approach represents an opportunity, but there are wider social implications that need to be considered when delivering digital teaching and learning.

In achieving digital inclusion, the experience of the pandemic has shown us that basic connectivity is essential for learning, working and functioning in modern society. In any hybrid, distance, or blended learning environment, the need for digital access is exacerbated and poses increasing challenges as students progress through education.

A report released by the British Academy during the pandemic suggested that students from lower socio-economic backgrounds are on average 18 months behind their peers at GCSE age. This is underscored by Ofcom’s report that a fifth of UK children still lacked access to an online learning device as schools closed in April last year. While we see progress in addressing the need for digital inclusion, there is still a long way to go to make blended learning work for everyone.

As we emerge into a more permanent state of blended learning, it’s clear that those without adequate connectivity are struggling to reach their full potential. However, we must ensure that the next generation of children have the means to participate. As educators seek out the next wave of learning tools, the vital need for a strong, secure, and seamless wireless network at home and in schools illustrates its importance.

Educational organizations are now acutely aware of the critical role a transparent wireless network plays in their computing setup, to create new ways to connect, learn and collaborate. From the evolution of interactive whiteboards, cloud-based platforms for distance learning, and more sophisticated audio-visual equipment, it is now nearly impossible to pinpoint one area of ​​education that has not been transformed by new and emerging technologies.

Tools for the future
Therefore, schools must ensure seamless connectivity and improved networks to meet the demand for more sophisticated technologies at their sites, while giving students access to the tools that will allow them to learn successfully outside the classroom. of class. The good news is that the rapid shift to remote learning imposed on students, teachers and parents by the (ongoing) school closures has paved the way for a whole host of EdTech innovations, making learning online more interactive and accessible.

The rise of the virtual classroom
Keeping the classroom atmosphere alive during the pandemic has been a huge challenge for teachers. At the same time, parents have also been given the added responsibility of creating a positive and productive learning environment in their homes. This paved the way for the rise of the virtual classroom designed to recreate the collaborative nature of physical space and engage students in real-time, immersive learning.

In order to provide the highest quality teaching and learning environment, many schools have standardized the use of virtual tools, such as Google Classroom accessible through Chrome Books. For many, this has been a vital lifeline to enable peer-to-peer teaching and student engagement during times of physical distancing. This shift to online classrooms has been supported by a number of government and charity initiatives aimed at providing millions of devices to the country’s most disadvantaged students, enabling them to participate.

E-learning digital libraries
Reading material is of course an essential part of the learning experience at any age or level. Textbooks and physical materials remain the cornerstone of education. If you go to any college or university, you will always see huge brick-and-mortar libraries of essential works on every topic, topic, and time period.

However, in a world of blended learning, providing digital access to these materials is crucial. Online learning platforms have bridged the gap of physical textbooks, hosting millions of reading materials and resources that can be adapted to Lexile levels and easily accessed on almost any device. As hybrid models are increasingly promoted, we can certainly expect a greater mix between traditional textbooks and digital reading tools.

Beyond the learning itself, students, teachers, and parents have a number of additional responsibilities that work together to create a successful learning experience. The last two years have increased the dissemination of information outside of a basic classroom. Managing schedules, schedules and assignments across multiple learning sites is no easy task and this is where student and learning management systems (LMS) come into their own.

Integrated management systems offer a version of the truth, which can be updated live according to new requirements. It’s safe to say that systems like this will bring much-needed visibility, transparency, and structure to educators and learners, and will continue on their upward trajectory for a long time to come.

Of course, integrating and managing so many new tools is not without challenges. As education technologies provide an enhanced learning experience, securely maintaining confidential data and enabling effective communication between teachers, students and parents, networks continue to be stretched to capacity. .

Naturally, the deployment of digital platforms like Google Classroom has imposed changes for teachers, students and network administrators. Networks need sufficient capacity, and administrators need tools to manage the network in real time to avoid bottlenecks and unnecessary disruptions in the classroom. In addition, institutions are no longer solely concerned with their own networks, but must also be aware of the potential risks associated with students accessing school portals on their home Wi-Fi network.

As educational organizations increasingly balance a mix of on-premises and portable connected devices, the flexible deployment of wired and wireless systems will be essential. Centralized management should also enable network operators and site managers to identify and resolve problems remotely, ensure that high-speed wireless signals cover an entire campus, as well as access secure to school networks for kids learning from anywhere.

Software-defined networking integrates network devices, including access points, switches, and gateways, along with intuitive centralized cloud management, is key to highly scalable networks that protect and respond to growing pressures on our integrated education services.

That’s why, when educational institutions are assessing whether their network is up to the task of digital learning, there are some key things to look for in the business that will help them get there:

  • In the pre-installation phase, make the most of site surveys and heatmap data to identify potential issues and create an accurate diagnosis on how to install the best possible networks for their needs
  • Ensure centralized management so that each site has the same configuration. Many teachers have to travel between locations frequently and therefore seek to simplify this process so that they can focus on teaching, instead of thinking about their WiFi network.
  • Create a guest portal for regular visitors and clubs/societies
  • Make sure there are no ongoing license fees
  • Source of high quality manufacturer support to ensure the best value and high performance solution

As a result, technologies such as WiFi 6 are taking up more and more space. A key benefit is the ability to support much higher density clients, which means educational spaces can have more devices connected to an individual access point at any one time.

These much-needed faster speeds will prove increasingly vital to WiFi experiences, contributing to better performance and student interactions, while reducing the number of access points organizations need to serve more devices. . When a class takes their tablets or laptops to complete e-learning tasks, students won’t be held back by unstable connectivity or slow Wi-Fi speeds, and can reach their full potential.

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