Education Expands Use of 4G LTE
Every year schools find new ways to integrate wireless technology into the day-to-day learning culture. One of the most popular applications is WiFi-equipped buses that turn long trips into rolling class sessions (Part 1: School Districts Use In-Vehicle Networking to Improve Learning, Safety) — but there’s much more. Applications such as on-campus 4G LTE failover, tablets and connectivity for all, and telemedicine for students are changing the way schools operate.
Schools Need Backup for Wired-Line Connectivity Failure — Not unlike the distributed enterprise, schools now rely on constant Internet access more than ever. With classrooms, staff lounges, administrative offices, maintenance buildings, repair shops, nurse offices, and more connected, every network failure presents major challenges.
With Cradlepoint’s 4G LTE failover solutions, schools are utilizing broadband networking as backup Internet in case of wired-line connectivity loss. Service disruption in schools affects learning and staff productivity. It’s not an option.
In schools located in extremely rural areas, some districts find that the 4G LTE connections are actually faster than the traditional wired line — and are a fraction of the cost.
Delivering Computers and Connectivity — School districts are becoming increasingly creative in how they leverage wireless technology — especially with budgeting always a concern. Some schools provide laptops or tablets for students. However, it’s a counterproductive opportunity for families that can’t afford Internet service. Without connectivity, students can't submit homework or conduct research online.
In response, some districts are giving families both a computer and a mobile routing device, then paying for the monthly cellular service cost. These districts find broadband WiFi to be more cost-effective than cable — and it doesn’t involve drilling holes or running lines for cable installations.
Another newer development idea is putting WiFi-equipped school buses in low-income neighborhoods. They park the buses in central locations, staffing them long after school hours so neighborhood students can use Internet for a variety of education-related activities. (As we discussed in Part 1, Cradlepoint solutions enable [content filtering]( http://knowledgebase.cradlepoint.com/articles/Support/OpenDNS-for-Series-3-Cradlepoint-routers retURL=%2Fapex%2FknowledgeHome&popup=false&c=All_Products&lang=en_US) to prevent students from accessing harmful sites and from streaming inappropriate audio or video. Districts can use OpenDNS to configure the browser on Cradlepoint devices.)
M2M-Delivered Healthcare — at School — Telemedicine is on the cutting edge of wireless use in education, as school districts strive to extend the reach of their onsite nurses. A school district in Texas has been considering using machine-to-machine (M2M) devices to connect schools to medical groups across town.
If there were an emergency, the nurses at schools utilizing telemedicine could use wireless connectivity to work directly with local hospital staff to determine best treatments, decide if a student needs be transferred to a medical facility and, if so, to automatically call an ambulance. This is a prime example of the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT).
Wireless Helping K-12 — and Beyond — The potential for wireless connectivity in schools is expansive, and the applications are ever multiplying. WiFi-enabled surveillance can help prevent bullying and monitor bus driver performance. Failover solutions prevent network downtime. Tablets with Internet access can help improve learning for all students, regardless of income.
In everything from aiding student healthcare to ensuring a safe, secure online environment for children, wireless technology is changing the way education is delivered.
In the final part of our series, we’ll share what’s going on at the higher education level as administrators uncover opportunities for cost-effective connectivity on college and university campuses.