Education Unbound: Leveraging WiFi to realise the universities of tomorrow

The emergence of wireless networking and advanced broadband - especially scalable technologies based on the cloud, has revolutionised how universities view education. Education has transformed - from a one off activity of taking classes, to a comprehensive ecosystem of services. Students these days rely heavily on technology and network availability to carry out the bulk of their academic activities and it is crucial for universities- where students spend maximum of their time, to be prepared: network infrastructure wise, to cope with this increasing and perennial demand. In order to reap full benefits of these emerging technologies, it is important for the leaders in education and policy makers to understand these technologies and incorporate technology as a part of their long term strategy going forward.

The ability to study where and what you want requires access to the Internet and study skills will be enhanced by using a wireless, (WiFi), connection to the Internet. Wireless network adaptors are pretty much standard equipment for laptop computers these days. Most tertiary level education establishments have wireless router broadband connections, which allow several devices to connect to the Internet at the same time. The wireless routers convert and broadcast the signals coming down the telephone wires in a specific area – such as a lecture theatre or halls of residence – and work in the same way as a cordless telephone.

WiFi plays a key role in the lives of university students. Research published by facilities management company, Sodexo, found that 79% of UK students considered WiFi to be the most important service in their university environment.

It’s undeniable that the Internet is an excellent education resource for students. Jisc’s student digital experience tracker surveys university students and their data reveals that 97% of higher education students find information online on a weekly basis during their course. All this data further emphasises the crucial role that a seamless Internet connection plays to facilitate a smooth flow of education content to the students.

We shall now further explain in detail why WiFi is crucial for Universities to ensure an innovative, technologically capable and interactive learning ecosystem.

  1. Mobility boosts interactivity, reduces problems:
    The option of mobility makes traditional, redundant classroom activities more mobile, there is no need to wire the entire room through fire resistant walls. Students can move places within the classroom and still access classroom resources and the university server. This flexibility improves collaboration efficiency by giving students one-to-one access, students can collaborate with other students from the class, outside the classroom or from their houses and can submit their assignments from wherever they find a hotspot or a public WiFi connection.
  2. Wireless connectivity improves learning experience:
    The success of any kind of innovative learning activity and a positive outcome out of that activity depends on strong engagement among the subjects of that learning activity as well as a strong degree of collaboration between the guide and the students. WiFi promotes this kind of engagement that makes teaching and learning different things a fun and simple activity. With a robust, reliable, at-scale cloud based WiFi network, different types of learning activities can be accessed on the go, whenever and wherever the requirement arises.You can conduct interactive dialogues and participative quizzes, once you know that everyone is connected and managed centrally through a robust network management. These activities make the classroom experience a more interactive and expressive one.
  3. Multi Location Resource-Access:
    Wireless networks in schools and universities have enabled students and staff access to information across large sites. This is especially important for universities that are spread across different campuses. Students are able to gain access to learning resources from anywhere – even at home. Staff can share information on portals, ensuring they’re up to date with key news, this kind of a robust network that can be accessed from multiple sources can be used by students to apply for internships and jobs on dedicated portals- anywhere in the campus.
  4. Better understand academic trends and behaviors:
    With a fully compliant cloud based WiFi technology like Cloudi-Fi, you can monitor through a centralized dashboard and you also have an option to grant restricted access to some websites on some particular timings. With a better understanding of what academic content students watch the most, universities can rethink about their Journal Subscription Strategy. By subscribing to customized content that is tailored to the students’ requirements, universities can bolster their cost savings while ensuring that quality educational resources are being imparted to the students. With a clearer knowledge of the students requirements, universities can provide counselling services to students to help them overcome crisis and also to better understand their mental and emotional needs. Universities can use a “Live Chatbot” on the centrally managed portal to get advice from teachers and educational counselors. These portals can also be efficiently leveraged as grief redressal and feedback mechanisms where students have the ability to fill in satisfaction forms and surveys regarding the quality of their academic, personal and professional life at the university.
  5. Realise a comprehensive ecosystem, create a connected campus: WiFi is particularly important on University campus for students that live on-site and can heavily affect their grades if they are not able to connect and carry out the necessary research online. It’s viewed as so crucial that the same Wakefield survey found that 48% of students would give up beer before WiFi as well as a Computer World poll finds that 75% students said WiFi access on their campus sites helps them get better grades.

As more and more students use mobile devices on campus to do things like, working on homework, checking their social feeds and watching YouTube, IT teams have had to rethink how to deliver and manage the growing demand for faster and more reliable campus WiFi performance. In the past few years the volume of mobile devices on college and university campuses has increased dramatically, with little to no signs of slowing down, leaving most schools scrambling to support the increased load on their campus wireless networks. For example, Midland University discovered that mobile devices accounted for over 60% of the total number of all devices connecting to their network. This is a common trend and one that is likely to only increase. To manage this increasing demand in a smooth, transient manner that is also cost effective is the top priority of IT teams at global universities. Investing in a robust, all-integrated, flexible cloud based WiFi service might prove to be the most cost effective solution to meet the rising demand for better WiFi connectivity at the university campus of the future.