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How to bring Wi-Fi technology to the classroom

Editor's note: This, the third video in our three-part series on Wi-Fi in healthcare, retail and education, focuses on the benefits and challenges of wireless networks in the education industry. The first two parts of this video series by ZK Research analyst Zeus Kerravala examine the issues facing Wi-Fi networks in the healthcare industry and retail industry.

Consumer technology is rampant in the education industry as students and faculty bring their mobile devices into schools and want to use them as part of their curriculum. Mobile devices have the ability to create new learning experiences and new ways of collaborating with students.

"The network becomes an enabler of learning," said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst of ZK Research. But many schools struggle with bandwidth needs that come with Wi-Fi technology."

Kerravala said the majority of schools have computers with Internet access, but 75% of schools have old infrastructure that can't sufficiently support one-to-one computing initiatives. Schools that want to support Wi-Fi technology face the daunting task of upgrading their network with limited IT support and budget.

Management controls should be a high priority for a Wi-Fi network. IT administrators must understand the type of traffic that will be running over the network and prioritize important traffic like video and block unwanted traffic coming from unauthorized applications.

Allowing Wi-Fi technology in schools can reap many benefits for educators. Kerravala said schools throughout the country have struggled to achieve an environment where there is one device per student, particularly if that device is a personal computer. But mobile devices like smartphones and tablets can offer more flexibility for educators and students.

Kerravala said tablets in particular create an entirely new educational experience with the availability of a wide variety of educational applications that allow students to interact with multimedia content. The challenge then becomes how schools can adapt teaching methods to integrate Wi-Fi technology into the curriculum.

Watch this video to learn more about updating network infrastructure and best practices to consider for Wi-Fi technology support in the classroom.

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