Today, the need for higher density, higher throughput and higher capacity are critical to wireless networks. These are the things that everyone wants from their wireless network–especially schools. These are the promises of Wi-Fi 6.
Wi-Fi 6 (known in more technical terms as 802.11ax) is the latest emerging wireless standard, offering several new improvements to make it the highest performing set of wireless protocols to date. Not only will Wi-Fi 6 boost overall performance on paper, but it is specifically designed to perform efficiently in real-world scenarios that Wi-Fi currently struggles in, such as when 25 students all hop on the classroom Wi-Fi at the same time. This allows end users to experience always-on connectivity without bottlenecks or performance degradation.
While every industry can benefit from the promises of Wi-Fi 6, one in particular is ready to benefit from this change: education. While most of us remember those school days spent searching through binders of papers, sharpening pencils in the middle of a test, and carrying heavy books from class to class, classrooms of today are transforming into central hubs of technology innovation and experimentation around the world. This shift has led to the need for secure and persistent Wi-Fi.
So what challenges will Wi-Fi 6 help the schools of tomorrow solve?
With an expected 50% increase in networked devices per person by 2020, equivalent to about 3.6 connected devices per person, schools are in for more of a bandwidth challenge than most. Additionally, more schools are deploying Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to increase school safety, improve operations and save costs. Together, this changes the requirements for many school networks. Traditionally, schools would add more access points to high density areas to try and combat reliability issues, but this has been found to cause congestion with overlapping signals. Plus, just having connections in classrooms is no longer enough; high density access points will be required everywhere on school grounds in order to accommodate students roaming with several mobile devices and wireless IoT devices.
Who are the first people to generally test out new technologies? Students. As a result, school networks are the first to handle hundreds of new devices at the same time. Not only are Wi-Fi 6-supported mobile devices already hitting the network, but the traffic per smartphone is expected to grow 10x by 2022. And if that isn’t enough, bandwidth-intensive video is expected to grow from 3% of all IP traffic in 2017 to 22% in 2022, already challenging networks with high throughput demands. To top it all off, 8K streaming is just on the horizon (and we know students will pick the highest streaming video quality they can!).
In the classroom, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), collaboration applications and other bandwidth-intensive technologies are already starting to provide a more immersive learning experience. With teachers already using video and other wireless technologies for instruction, having higher throughput will ensure learning goes on uninterrupted and teachers have more freedom to bring new capabilities into the classroom.
All this change will come faster than you think. For Jaymon Lefebvre, Director of IT Services at Wild Rose School Division (WRSD), the rapid increase in student and IoT devices poses unique networking obstacles for the district to overcome. As a rural school district in Alberta, Canada, WRSD has many students who don’t have Wi-Fi access at home. Therefore, WRSD is not only accommodating devices for learning, but also students’ personal devices, which they use to download content and homework while at school so they can continue using their devices at home.
Additionally, learning no longer just takes place in the classroom. At any given time, students are learning wherever they go, using high-bandwidth applications in the hallways and outside. Teachers are starting to use tiny, single-board computers more regularly, like Raspberry Pis and VR headsets for instruction. With up to 30 students per classroom, each with several devices, Lefebvre’s team wants to make sure there are no limitations to new and creative learning techniques.
The IT team has started deploying Wi-Fi 6 compatible APs to continue supporting the current technologies used by students and staff, while still getting classrooms ready to support new technologies. The Wi-Fi 6 APs not only provide higher density and throughput to support students and staff, but also enable the team to support over 15,000 wireless devices and focus on providing better experiences for the school division.
In the face of a new digital era, reliable connections allow students at WRSD to have the same learning experience as kids anywhere in the world, opening up new opportunities that were not possible before. To learn more about WRSD and how they are using Wi-Fi 6, watch the on demand webinar.
With over 16,000 students and 31 schools, Nash-Rocky Mount Schools (NRMS) in North Carolina is continuously growing its technology stack in order to provide the best experiences for students. The IT team started this journey with a 1:1 program, but with an aging network that provided limited visibility and control, the team needed a new, more reliable wired and wireless network. They chose Cisco Meraki, not only because they knew a cloud-managed solution could support the increased technology demands, but because Meraki was also easier to manage and maintain.
NRMS has paved the way for schools across the nation by pioneering a cloud-managed networking solution to support new digital learning technology. But don’t just take it from us — hear directly from Tremaine McQueen, Chief Technology Officer, and James Williams, Senior Network Engineer at NRMS about how they transformed digital learning with the help of Cisco Meraki. You’ll learn:
Why NRMS chose a cloud-managed solution over a traditional, controller-based network
How their revamped network is able to support a district-wide 1:1 device program, giving teachers the confidence to bring new technology into the classroom to improve student learning
How NRMS used E-rate funding to upgrade their Meraki network several years after their initial deployment to continue supporting new digital learning initiatives
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!
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.