Over the last 25 years, the cost of a college education has increased nearly eight times faster than the average U.S. wage. Therefore, it’s no surprise that student loans make up the largest amount of U.S. non-housing debt. This higher education cost shift has left many students with the tough task of finding a quality education without breaking the bank.
While this may be daunting to any hopeful college student, not all hope is lost. Some schools across the U.S. are determined to give students a high-quality, affordable education, regardless of their background. One such example is the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP), which aims to change lives through education by offering students exceptional and affordable college experiences. As an NC Promise campus, UNCP offers students in-state tuition of $500 per semester and out-of-state tuition at $2,500 a semester, ensuring that all students have access to great education that they can afford.While cost is a very important factor, UNCP knows it is only one piece of the puzzle when striving to provide the best college experiences for students. The next step is to provide the best technology solutions to support learning everywhere on campus.
To better meet student expectations, Kevin Pait, Interim CIO and Associate Vice Chancellor (AVC) for IT, and his 5 person IT team deployed 700+ Cisco Meraki MR access points across the UNCP campus. This provides three main benefits for the school:
Improve Student Connections
“Since deploying Meraki in the residence halls and academic buildings, I never hear complaints. Right out of the gate, the student experience was excellent and our support tickets really dropped.” – Kevin Pait
With access points deployed in academic buildings, dorm rooms, common spaces, and outside, students have reliable, seamless coverage everywhere they go on campus. This has dramatically reduced the number of help desk tickets and complaints from students, and illustrates how much the Wi-Fi has improved since switching to Meraki. This enables students to focus on learning and collaborating, rather than using their time to troubleshoot access issues.
Save Time and Resources
“Meraki is simple. You’ve got the analytics, troubleshooting, errors, all of those things in the dashboard that have really helped to simplify system administration.” – Kevin Pait
With a cloud-managed wireless solution, the UNCP IT team was able to greatly simplify the wireless deployment and dramatically reduce the amount of time they spend on day-to-day network management and troubleshooting. This has saved the IT team countless hours, freeing up their time to focus on more impactful projects such as using data and analytics to inform decisions in other business units and make adjustments across the academic and residential departments.
Identify New Opportunities
“At the beginning we were really focused on what Meraki could do in terms of the infrastructure and the ease of management, maintenance and operations. But it’s just really opened up another world of opportunity.” – Kevin Pait
Now that the school has a reliable wireless solution in place, Kevin and the IT team can spend more time building new solutions and experiences for students. With increased network visibility, access to analytics, and a customizable platform, there are endless possibilities for the school to continue enhancing the technology experience for their students and employees on campus.
Today, UNCP uses Cisco networking, security, VoIP, collaboration, and wireless to provide an outstanding education for all students. To learn more about UNCP, watch the video and read their story.
The classrooms, libraries, and stadiums of the future offer endless possibilities. Today, we see students mainly carrying only laptops and smartphones with them to college and university campuses. But tomorrow? We will see students with as many as 10 devices on them at all times as they work, learn, and collaborate everywhere on campus. And if that wasn’t enough, more IoT and high-bandwidth devices are being incorporated into campus plans for smart lighting, smart parking, security, immersive learning, and more. Because of this, the number of devices hitting the network and the amount of bandwidth they need will exponentially increase. Are higher education leaders ready for this drastic shift?
Many higher education institutions today are already preparing for what the future of technology will bring. Wi-Fi 6, the latest wireless standard, not only promises to bring higher density, throughput, and reliability to higher education networks, but also ensures that students and staff can focus on collaborating and learning, rather than losing connections or having technology troubles.
Identifying where bandwidth problems already exist, learning what the new standards offer, and thinking through a Wi-Fi 6 strategy are great first steps. With bandwidth requirements approximately doubling every three years, in addition to serving inherently high-density environments, the Butler University IT team has had a constant challenge to provide always-on, reliable connections for students and staff. For example, each large lecture hall currently has three 802.11ac wave 2 access points (APs) to accommodate around 100 students. But with several large lecture halls right next to each other, the APs end up cannibalizing each other. Michael Denny, Network and Security Architect at Butler University, explains, “By deploying a Wi-Fi 6 AP, we hope to have a single AP that can handle all of the students load at the same time without needing as many APs to accomplish the same job.”
But it’s not just about supporting the students of today, it’s preparing for the lecture halls of tomorrow. Pete Williams, Associate Vice President of IT and Chief Information Officer at Butler University, highlighted, “Classroom requirements are changing. Just take a look at 4K, VR, AR, and the capabilities and the requirements they’re going to drive from a throughput perspective. We believe that Wi-Fi 6 is going to help us meet that need.”
At Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC), their new Meraki Wi-Fi 6 APs not only provide better connections for students and staff, but prepare them for the increasing number of IoT devices they predict will hit the network. Over the last year, the PPCC IT team has received a dramatic increase in requests to implement more technologies on campus to improve student experiences. Wireless door locks, medical devices, AR/VR, Apple TVs, security cameras, and other devices continue to be added to the wireless network. With Meraki Wi-Fi 6 APs, PPCC is ready for this increase in IoT devices, while being able to do more with less hardware. Cyrille Parent, CTO at PPCC, explained, “We’re able to actually cover more ground with the new Meraki Wi-Fi 6 access points than with previous technology, which will provide a better experience for students and faculty.”
Soon, higher education institutions will need to make a choice: To support the increasing number of student and IoT devices by either deploying more 802.11ac Wave 2 APs and turning down the bandwidth on each to minimize interference, or by deploying a smaller number of 802.11ax APs.
Albany State University (ASU) chose to embrace the new standard and has less APs with better performance by deploying Wi-Fi 6 compatible Meraki MR55 APs. Students noticed an immediate difference. With APs deployed in the student union, housing common rooms, and gaming areas, students could tell that the internet no longer slowed down, even when at capacity in these high-density areas, allowing them to watch videos, stream music, and use social media with their friends, all at the same time. Noore Ghunaym, Director of Infrastructure, added, “Students have a much faster experience. They can watch videos, have their headphones in, stream music, snap — they’re able to do all the things that college kids do. Wi-Fi 6 helps us meet those throughput and speed challenges and allows us to scale our network accordingly.”
Meraki cloud-managed Wi-Fi 6 compatible access points raise the bar for wireless performance and efficiency in higher education and beyond. Designed for next-generation deployments, with high throughput and enterprise-grade security, higher education IT teams can experience easy deployments, central management, intelligent troubleshooting, and greater scalability. As bandwidth requirements and the number of devices continues to increase, higher education institutions will need to be ready for whatever technology comes their way. To learn more about how higher education institutions are deploying Wi-Fi 6 and embracing new technology, watch this on demand webinar with Albany State University.
If you have experience managing Apple devices in the enterprise, then you’ve probably used Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP), which helps administrators deploy Apple devices seamlessly throughout an organization.
Large organizations such as school districts, managed service providers, and business conglomerates often procure company-owned Apple devices through various entities which requires multiple DEP accounts. This can create a logistical nightmare when trying to deploy devices at scale.
Previously, admins could only manage one DEP server per organization in Systems Manager. This led to network admins having to create separate organizations in order to support multiple DEP servers.
Taking these user experiences into account, it is with great excitement that we announce that Systems Manager now supports Multi-DEP!
What does this mean for you?
Customers can now add, remove, and edit multiple DEP servers within the same organization in the Meraki dashboard. This gives more flexibility to deploy devices that are being procured under one subset. The experience will be more seamless, efficient, and granular; an admin can specify which DEP server should be visible for management and syncing under each network.
For instance, a school district with 10 schools can manage all of the 10 schools under one organization, with each school network having its own DEP server. Similarly, a managed service provider could manage different customers’ networks simultaneously, with each customer network mapped to its own DEP server.
For customers in education using Apple School Manager (ASM), the ASM sync can now also handle multiple DEP servers at the same time. When an ASM sync is initiated, it will automatically run for all DEP servers assigned to that network. DEP servers will now sync in-the Apple server display name, and the Meraki dashboard will display that metadata along with a timestamp of the last update of the DEP server.
If you are already using Systems Manager, give it a try today by going to Organization > MDM in the Meraki dashboard to see the new ‘Apple DEP Servers’ section. Let us know what you think of it; we love getting feedback!
In a variety of different industries, Apple TV is helping provide better guest experiences and increase user engagement.
Educational environments around the globe, including classrooms, hallways, and entire campus structures, are becoming more technologically integrated. Apple TV is a common tool used by instructors to share information. Teachers are able to better engage with students while seamlessly sharing content from their iPads to on larger screens, enabling easy collaboration and spontaneous sharing between students.
In the hospitality sector, making the guest experience an “at-home” experience has always been a top priority. Today it is more common to see technologies like Apple TV provide a platform for proactive and efficient communication. Employees can easily share relevant information with guests and other hotel staff, resulting in simpler and more automated hotel operations. Local recommendations, amenities, and seasonal offerings can be featured in guest rooms and around an entire hotel, allowing guests to constantly be in the know, without it interfering with their stay.
Having received a ton of requests for Apple TV support from our customers, Cisco Meraki is happy to announce that Systems Manager now fully supports Apple TV (tvOS). With the addition of tvOS, Systems Manager now supports six operating systems, with tvOS joining iOS, MacOS, Android, Chrome OS, and Windows.
The new Systems Manager feature allows customers to manage Apple TV-enabled devices similar to mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and other endpoint devices.
With the way these verticals are using Apple TV and how it contributes to their business, any downtime on these devices can be costly. Not being able to get alerted when an Apple TV is offline, locate and erase a lost device, or enroll hundreds of devices at the same time results in a stressful and inefficient experience for IT admins.
In order to optimize technologies like Apple TV for better student engagement, larger revenue streams, and improved customer experience, managing these devices needs to be intuitive, fast, and to-the-point.
Systems Manager caters to these needs by:
Supporting new out-of-box enrollment (OOBE) capabilities using Apple DEP for easy Apple TV onboarding
Providing remote troubleshooting tools (such as locking devices, selectively wiping, erasing a device, and rebooting)
Allowing device restrictions — now made easier with an updated user experience and more security for AirPlay and Single App mode
Enabling easier addition and synchronization of tvOS apps via VPP
The list doesn’t stop there — if you are familiar with Systems Manager, the experience is built to be on par with the management of other Apple operating systems such as iOS and macOS.
Whether it’s completing a complicated math test, giving a science presentation, or going on a virtual field trip, students from kindergarten to college are always connected. And while they are preoccupied with completing online school assignments, video chatting with friends, and streaming TV, there is an entire network on the backend making this all possible, which they may not even be aware of. Most importantly, not only are students used to seamless connections across campus and in the classroom, they expect high bandwidth, easy on-boarding, and data security.
Today, IT teams at K-12 schools and higher education institutions are tasked with not only keeping the network secure, which is challenging enough on its own, but also with protecting end user devices and ensuring physical safety. All of these serious responsibilities, paired with limited resources, create a challenge for education IT teams. How do you protect endpoints, networks, and students, all at the same time?
Meraki is uniquely positioned to help education IT teams do just that. With solutions that span all three areas, you can ensure student and staff devices are secure, the network is safeguarded from vulnerabilities, student data is protected, and everyone is safe walking around campus — all from one, easy-to-manage location. Here are a few examples that illustrate what Meraki endpoint, network, and physical security can do for your school:
As 1:1 programs continue to grow in school districts and college students continue to bring tens of devices to campus, endpoint security has become increasingly important. With an endpoint management solution, you can protect students of all ages from seeing inappropriate content, accessing blacklisted sites, and downloading unknown applications by using content filtering, group policies, and advanced malware protection. If a device is lost or stolen, especially one holding sensitive information, you can easily identify its location and retrieve it or remote wipe its contents. Most importantly, by protecting all of the devices that students and teachers use every day, the network can remain secure from common endpoint security vulnerabilities.
Schools and colleges big and small have become regular targets for cyber attacks. Cyber criminals often gain access to private student data or important research, and threaten to share this sensitive information. The first line of defense comes by creating group or user-based policies for students, teachers, and staff, and restricting who can access various parts of the network. With integrated intrusion protection and malware scanning, users can easily stop malicious threats and files before they enter the network while prioritizing trusted educational applications with Layer 7 firewall and traffic shaping rules. With increased network visibility, you can track and shut down rogue APs, set up email alerts when rogues are detected, and contain rogue SSIDs, AP spoofs, and packet floods. Most importantly, with a cloud-managed solution, you can ensure the latest firmware updates are pushed to the network automatically to guard against the latest security threats and vulnerabilities.
Schools are tasked with providing safe learning environments for all students and teachers, without fear of trespassers, poor behavior, or unforeseen incidents. With smarter security cameras, you can quickly identify when a person is where they shouldn’t be and view video analytics of school activity to identify high-risk areas. You can also help deter threats and incidents with the ability to quickly search recorded video and easily share with parents and law enforcement. With granular access controls and visibility from any Internet browser, teachers, principals, chancellors, and even the fire department can view groupings of cameras, or a single camera, and act accordingly. Plus, with video data encrypted at rest and during transport, you get even more protection against cyber threats.
With the perfect blend of endpoint, network, and physical security, Cisco Meraki helps provide the safest environment for schools and colleges. By managing all of your security solutions from a single, web-based dashboard, you can dramatically simplify device, network, and security camera management through remote configurations, video monitoring, and application deployments. The full stack of Meraki solutions work together seamlessly to provide a secure offering for schools. Meraki keeps devices protected, data encrypted, and students safe, while enabling the IT department to spend more time on impactful projects and less time managing and troubleshooting their security solutions.
Summer is coming to a close faster then we would all like to believe. Families are slowly returning from weeks at sandy beaches and crystal clear lakes, postponing their back to school shopping trips for as long as possible. But soon enough, students will need new backpacks, stylish clothes, and the latest gadgets for their first day of school.
While parents are busy checking items off of their back to school shopping list, IT teams at K-12 school districts nationwide have a technology list of their own to attend to. With blended and personalized learning, 1:1 device programs, and BYOD continuing to have a growing impact, IT teams need to make sure their networks are ready to handle the increase in traffic for the 2018/2019 school year.
Luckily, with a new school year comes a new round of E-rate funding, with around $3B available for K-12 schools to use for networking infrastructure. As the last year in the five year funding cycle, now is the time to take advantage of this opportunity and invest in powerful new solutions.
Here are three E-rate eligible products that you should add to your back to school list this year:
Meraki MR access points: Deliver superior performance in high-density wireless environments with Meraki access points. Easily throttle bandwidth hogs, filter content, block unwanted traffic, and prioritize educational apps for 1:1 or BYOD programs, with no network slowdowns.Let teachers spend more time teaching and students spend more time learning with seamless access to digital learning resources and no shortage of bandwidth.
Meraki MS switches: Provide a seamless network experience for students and staff with access and aggregation switches that can be managed and configured from anywhere. With zero-touch provisioning, enhanced network visibility, and the ability to troubleshoot network issues remotely, Meraki switches are the perfect backbone for K-12 school districts.
Meraki MX security appliances: Secure school networks with group policies, automatic firmware updates, and intrusion prevention. Stop malicious threats and files before they enter the network, while analyzing files retrospectively to spot compromising behaviors in the future. By building a strong security system, schools can stop cyber criminals from gaining access to private student data.
It’s time to figure out your school year priorities, what new technologies to invest in, and how to fund your plans. Attend one of the webinars in our E-rate webinar series to learn more about how you can better support students and staff with improved networking infrastructure with E-rate funding. We will have technical deep dives into Meraki access points, switches, and security appliances for K-12. Register today!
Your parents probably urged you not to spend all of your time playing video games or you likely limit the amount of time your kids can spend with a controller in hand. But what if I told you that kids nowadays get into college, even with a scholarship, for playing video games?
eSports has taken the college sports scene by a storm, with more and more colleges and universities offering eSports teams every year. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) was formed to support this growing program, and ESPN broadcasts video game competitions. Different video games have specific competitive seasons, making this an exciting year-round sport. Games include Dota 2, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Halo, and many others. Believe it or not, more people watch eSports competitions in a year than the NBA finals.
Different capabilities are needed to support an eSports team than for a more traditional sport like baseball or football. Ditch the large stadiums and bleacher seats; complex computer labs are required to support the high-quality computers and accessories needed to play the games, with viewers tuning in online to watch the matches take place. To support this, a high-density, reliable, and secure network is necessary to ensure eSports games can go on without hitting the network client limit, experiencing bad latency issues, or having the network go down altogether. And a strong Internet connection is imperative to making sure eSports competitions can go on without a hitch.
The IT team at Illinois College knows this all too well. When deciding to launch their eSports program in the summer of 2017, they knew they needed a robust network to support a room full of gamers eager to win League of Legends championships. But first, they had to build a brand-new facility in the middle of campus, stocked with several computer and console gaming stations. Equipped with Cisco Meraki MR access points, MS switches, and MX security appliances, the Meraki Gaming Center was born. Students can now receive full-ride scholarships to join the Illinois College eSports team, a part of the school’s overall athletics program.
Think you can go back to college for your Mario Kart skills? Probably not. But when incoming students start pressuring your college or university to provide an eSports team, will you have the network to support it?
Watch the webinar recording with Illinois College CIO and Assistant CIO, Marc Benner and Patrick Brown, to hear how they are supporting their eSports program with Meraki. They also have a full-stack Meraki solution that supports all students and teachers on-campus, complete with access points, switches, security appliances, security cameras, and endpoint management, for a robust network for all students. You will even see a demo of their Meraki dashboard.
Imagine managing your school’s security cameras from an intuitive, web-based dashboard with no NVR, no software downloads, and secure remote access to video footage from anywhere. Sound too good to be true?
Cisco Meraki MV security cameras are changing the way schools think about video surveillance. With Meraki MV, schools can keep students safer by proactively helping with threat detection and security and IT teams can make informed decisions with integrated analytics, which require no servers. MV is easy to deploy and manage, and specifically built with lean IT teams in mind. Here are five reasons why you should consider Meraki MV security cameras for your school or campus’ next deployment:
Simple Deployment: Withzero-touch deployment, using just serial numbers an administrator can add devices to the Meraki dashboard and begin configuration before the hardware even arrives on campus. Ship cameras directly to each school site and have them up and running quickly.
No NVR: All of the video footage is locally stored and encrypted on the camera, removing the need for expensive and complicated NVRs or DVRs. This not only adds additional security, but allows for simple camera deployment and management. It also means districts can easily scale from one school deployment to 50, without breaking a sweat.
Web-Based Monitoring:Manage your security cameras from thesame intuitive, web-based dashboard where you manage the rest of your Meraki products. MV removes the need for a security monitoring room or complex VPN configuration; all you need is a web-browser to watch and monitor video footage. Easily make custom video walls and find important events with Motion Search all from the dashboard. Plus, the dashboard cuts down on training time for the administrators and staff interfacing with the system.
Granular Access Controls:It’s not just the security guard who needs access anymore. From the principal or president down to the teacher or custodian, give different people customizable levels of access to all of the school’s cameras, or select cameras by tag, in just a few clicks.
Built-in Analytics:MV goes beyond just security; it utilizes a powerful onboard processor to analyze video and provide valuable insights without the need to send those video files to the cloud or a local server. Easily see where students are congregating or walking with motion heat maps. Detect how many people are in a classroom or hallway with people detection.
Schools across the world are deploying Meraki MV to simplify security camera management and keep their students safer. At Reading School District, CR Hiestand and his team use the Motion Search tool to isolate incidents and find what they are looking for in under 20 minutes, rather than searching through hours of video footage. Plus, security guards, principals and school administrators can view footage from a tablet or PC, without having to go to the video monitoring room. At Sweet Briar College, Aaron Mahler has indoor and outdoor MV security cameras deployed across the campus to keep students safe, while providing network admins with an easy to manage solution through an intuitive web-based interface they can access from anywhere.
From May 9th until October 27th, 2018, Meraki is offering exclusive pricing for MV security cameras for education in the United States. Just contact your Meraki sales rep to get started!
1:00 pm: Students trickle back into class after a well-deserved lunch break. Eager to get started with their next lesson, they grab their school-issued laptop out of their emptying backpack, log on, and start their next assignment while patiently waiting for the teacher to bring attention to the front of the room. Unbeknownst to the students and teachers actively participating in classroom activities, the network deployment team paces the halls, double checking that each new access point has a home, and that each switch will be comfortable in its new closet.
3:30 pm: The bell rings. Students rejoice; jumping, dancing, and skipping out of the building, excited to get to their study group, sports practice, or friend’s house. Some stay behind to attend an after-school course, work on homework, or attend a teacher’s office hours. Behind the scenes, the deployment team sneaks inside empty classrooms and offices, unmounting old access points and seamlessly swapping them for brand new, inconspicuous access points to take their place. From the gym to the cafeteria, no space can be left unconnected. With great attention to detail and swift hanging capabilities, the team goes room by room, replacing and adding APs, making sure no classroom is left behind.
4:30 pm: The last of the students head home for the day, with tired eyes, full brains, and superb stories. Once everyone has left the campus, and the school buildings start humming in their normal emptied silence, the real fun begins. Operation: the complete switchover. The deployment team speeds through the remaining AP installation. They move onto the closets, and in a sea of cables, sweat, and servers, they unrack and uninstall the legacy switches, tossing them into a corner of their already forgotten memory. Installing the new switches is faster than a cheetah lapping the school, with an organized, lit up rack of switches foreseeable on the other end.
5:00 pm: Testing. Testing. 1, 2, 3, testing. The devices are online. The computers are connecting. The tablets are connecting. Even the phones are connecting! The intrusion detection system is working. The security cameras are on. We are a go! Network complete.
This nonfiction tale tells the story of Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), the 9th largest school district in the United States, with around 208,000 students spread across 200 schools. And yes, they continue to flip schools left and right in four hours, moving them off of their legacy equipment and onto a Meraki network of MR access points and MS switches. Originally a project that David Overton, Senior Director of Information Security, thought would take several years to finish, is on pace to finish in under two years, with the deployment team transitioning three schools a week. And, for the schools that have already moved onto Meraki, not only has student learning through their 1:1 device program continued to work without a hitch, but the simplified management through the Meraki dashboard has been a lifesaver for the IT team.
To learn more about OCPS and their Meraki deployment, watch a webinar recording with David and a Meraki product specialist. They discussed why David chose Meraki, how they are able to install a new network in 4 hours, and why a robust network is imperative to supporting their 1:1 device program. Watch here!
In a rural public school district in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, Scott Miller, Director of Technology, had a vision: to set up a 1:1 iPad initiative for his students, flip his district’s classrooms, and ensure that every child had the same access to technology no matter their economic background. With a 1:1 initiative, the Wayne Highlands School District IT team knew they could improve student engagement, understanding, and enthusiasm with personalized learning, peer interactions, and new communication methods. But with more than 20,000 students supported by a 10-year-old network, how could Scott make that vision a reality?
With chalkboards and hand-written essays, cramping hands and tired eyes were all too common in schools of yesteryear. But classrooms today are tasked with providing a different learning experience — one that incorporates technology in all aspects to enable more impactful lessons, easier peer review, and new ways of understanding traditional topics. Hector Reyna, CTO at Socorro Independent School District knew this was a priority, but when his district started to explore implementing a 21st-century learning model, complete with digital literacy, collaboration, and problem solving tools, they discovered that their access points and underlying network were not going to make the cut. How was Hector going to provide the foundation for the education his students needed to thrive in today’s digital world?
From four schools in 2013 to 13 by the end of 2018, Ascend Public Charter Schools has rapidly expanded over the last five years to accommodate more teachers, more students, and more opportunities for learning. But the growing pains from exponential expansion quickly became a reality — each school had its own network, with different vendors, separate controllers, and slow VPN connections. The mythical wireless coverage was practically useless, making it hopeless for teachers to conduct digital lessons and preventing students from participating in digital curriculum. Managing Director of Technology, Emeka Ibekweh, knew he needed to consolidate all of the schools’ networks into one and provide adequate coverage, but with what budget?
IT leaders at K-12 schools across the United States face a similar challenge: to provide the best learning experiences for students, even with aging infrastructure and limited technology budget. Although this challenge is unlikely to fade in the short-term, IT leaders can address it today. All three of these schools were able to make their networking dreams become a reality with E-rate funding. With funds received through the E-rate program, Wayne Highlands deployed a reliable network to support a 1:1 device program, Socorro implemented district-wide wireless to provide equal access for all of his students; and Ascend rolled out a full network refresh to simplify network management.