Posts Tagged ‘K12’

Keeping Students Safer with End-to-End Security

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:

Endpoint Security

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.

Network Security

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.

Physical Security

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.

To learn more about Meraki security solutions for education, read our ebook, Making the Grade: End-to-End Security in Education, and watch the on demand webinar recording, Keeping Students Safer with End-to-End Security. You will hear a deeper dive and see a demo of several Meraki security products, including Systems Manager, MR access points, MX security appliances, and MV security cameras. Watch today.

Enhanced 911 Visibility for MC

E911, or Enhanced 911, is a system in North America that provides the caller’s phone number and physical address to the emergency responder when an emergency call is made. In the rest of the world, a similar feature is often called caller location.

For customers that like to be prepared in case of emergencies, Dashboard will now display the exact street address associated with each MC74. If there is a mismatch between what is configured in Dashboard and what the provider is reporting, the following error will appear. This way, IT administrators can ensure that locations are always up-to-date if 911 is called.


Default addresses can also be configured in Dashboard to update the network in bulk – this is handy when moving buildings, or adding to your deployment. This setting can be found under Network wide -> Configure -> General and will update all the phones in your network that do not have a customized address.

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If you’re curious about this feature and would like to try MC for yourself, get in touch with your Meraki rep or check out a webinar to learn more.

How Alvin ISD Exceeded Expectations for 1:1 and BYOD

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Have you ever wondered how simple it really is to create a custom network with Cisco Meraki devices that supports nearly 20,000 users daily? We were too, so we invited John Wilds, Network Manager at Alvin ISD, the fastest growing district in the Houston, Texas area, to join us for a live, interactive webinar to answer your questions.

John spent the better part of an hour describing the deployment of his network as well as its daily use, and we’ve highlighted some of his story here.

Why were you looking for a network change and why did you choose Cisco Meraki devices?

JW: We were running about 530 HP Procurve APs in the junior high schools participating in our 1:1 initiative, but we knew the wireless system wasn’t going to support the demand the initiative would generate. We were having a lot of dropped connections and problems with band-steering. 

We compared Cisco Meraki products, Aruba, Motorola, and HP in a WiFi stress test. We set up two classrooms side by side with 1 AP and 90 HP Netbooks each, simultaneously imaging all of them. The Meraki APs were clear winners with no problems running 180 HP Netbooks on only 2 APs.

Can you explain what the deployment process was like?

JW: Well we currently have 23 school buildings in the district with plans to construct more in the near future.  We had only planned to provide wireless to the 5 schools with  1:1, but with the affordable pricing of the Meraki products, we were able to do the entire district.

For the actual deployment, I simply hired student workers to install throughout the district.  I configured the settings from the dashboard and they simply plugged the APs in.  We were done in less than three weeks!

How have the Cisco Meraki devices changed the day to day within the district?

JW: Having the district covered in wireless has let us do more with technology.  And the reporting lets me see how the network and different devices are being used.  For example, in the dashboard, we discovered that Netbooks were utilized more when they stayed in a classroom, instead of with a student.  We altered our 1:1 plans and created Netbook sets assigned to classrooms.

We’ve also extended our purchases to other devices, matching devices to an educational purpose: Kindle Fires for reading, Chromebooks for content creation, Android, iOS, you get the idea.  It’s a device-neutral environment, we’re building the network to support whatever device needs to connect to it.

Last year we started allowing BYOD in our high schools and quickly expanded it down through 6th grade because of its success.  In response to security concerns, I can ensure network security and limit access to appropriate content with custom rules – it’s like having a firewall at the AP level. 

But the best part is the response to the WiFi.  The high schools were interested in which areas were strongly using BYOD and how.  Were students bringing in their own devices?  Were the devices being used for educational purposes?  What applications were being run?  It became a competition to see which of the two schools could utilize the network most!  I want them to try to hit the roof with network usage, it would mean that the network is being used!  We can always add more Meraki APs if needed.


What has been the best part of management with the cloud management platform?

JW: How simple and reliable it is.  We actually have a part-time student worker that’s maintaining the network.  When we first deployed, I noticed that some of the APs were acting in mesh mode rather than running in gateway mode.  The Meraki APs were diagnosing our bad cables for use.  How long were our old APs running on bad cables and we never knew it?

Since installing the Meraki devices, we’ve spent no time at all on wireless issues, and we’ve had no complaints about laptops not connecting.  Wireless coverage is expected everywhere now, regardless of how remote the location.  The Meraki APs give us the ability to provide that reliable coverage anywhere.

Check out the case study to see more of how John is using his network to optimize how technology is used for education within his district.

Solutions for Your K-12 Networking Challenges

Are you ready for the K-12 deployment season?

Summer months at schools can be the busiest and most hectic months of the year.  The IT team is scrambling to update networks, roll out new technology initiatives, and prepare for the next school year.  We know that K-12 environments have unique challenges, but the Cisco Meraki solution can make networking simpler for schools.

We’ve put together a special webinar series just for our K-12 crowd, featuring an array of customers as well as technical deep dives into our wireless solution.  In our deep dive webinars, we focus specifically on the challenges faced in K-12 school districts, including how to easily support high-density usage, manage thousands of devices, secure your network for different user groups, and more.

Check out how hundreds of schools are making the grade with Cisco Meraki.  Take a look at the schedule for this summer’s K-12 series below, and sign up for a webinar at

May 15

10am PT

High-Performance Infrastructure at Queensbury UFSD

Bernie Capron, Network Coordinator, supports thousands of devices with a Cisco Meraki network, enjoying deep visibility into users and remote sites

May 16

9am PT

Wireless for K-12: A Technical Deep Dive on Security, Scalability, & More

Demos of RADIUS integration, one-touch provisioning, applying policies by device type & more

May 21

11am PT

Round Table: Exceeding Expectations for 1:1 at Alvin ISD

John Wilds, Network Manager, shares how cloud management supports Alvin’s 1:1 initiative

June 11

11am PT

Wireless for K-12: A Technical Deep Dive on Security, Scalability, & More

Demos of RADIUS integration, one-touch provisioning, applying policies by device type & more

June 18

11am PT

Round Table: Deploying a Scalable Network at Bremerton School District

Steve Bartlett, Director of IT, shares how Bremerton’s cloud-managed network enables educational technology programs for 5000 students

July 2

11am PT

1:1 and BYOD for K12

Best practices for managing mobile devices and solving security and bandwidth challenges

July 9

11am PT

Round Table: Higher Reliability, Lower Cost at Wild Rose Public Schools

Ask Jaymon Lefebvre, Network Architect, about how his Cisco Meraki switch and AP deployment improved network reliability and high-density usage

July 11

11am PT

WiFi Security & Cloud-Managed Switching at Mead School District

An easy-to-manage switch network enables David Willyard, Network Administrator, to support over 5000 client devices in the district

A Collaborative and Mobile Learning Environment at Milpitas USD

Preparing students for the future is what every educator strives to do.  As society continues to innovate new ways to experience and understand the world around us, it is only natural that learning techniques change too.

On February 14th, Chin Song, Director of Technology at Milpitas USD, joined us to share how he created a custom wireless network from scratch and bolstered his existing wired network.  Spanning 14 schools in Silicon Valley with over a half million square feet of indoor classroom space, Milpitas USD has begun implementing numerous technology initiatives, including 1:1 with Chromebooks, iPads in the classrooms, and BYOD.

Deploying more than 600 Meraki access points and over 100 Meraki switches, Chin now has granular visibility into how 10,000 students and 800 faculty members are using the network, what devices they’re on, and the types of applications they’re using.  Cloud architecture gives Chin increased control over his network from anywhere with real-time management, for both wired and wireless, from a single web-based dashboard.

Milpitas USD Dashboard View

Interacting with guest speakers via live video streaming, collaborating with fellow students in another school, broadcasting district news on location instead of in a studio – these are just some of the ways that Milpitas USD is now embracing technology to promote a higher level of education.

Watch the video – See how Chin quickly deployed the Meraki solution, created a custom network for his district, manages and troubleshoots on the fly, and most importantly how he’s created a mobile and collaborative campus.