Learning uninterrupted
Jaymon Lefebvre
August 28, 2019

Today’s classrooms are transforming into hubs of technology, innovation and experimentation that are constantly asked to “do more.” Teachers are using more video and other tools for instruction, so it is essential that networks have the throughput and capacity to ensure learning goes on uninterrupted.

As director of IT services at Wild Rose School Division, a rural district in Alberta, Canada, I know how critical our Wi-Fi network is to the success of our students, many of whom don’t have broadband access at home. These students commonly rely on the school’s network to download reading materials to complete their assignments offline at home and submit them at school once they’re back online. They’re also using multiple devices and applications. This type of usage requires a robust network and infrastructure.

Future-proofing campuses with Wi-Fi 6
We knew we had to do something different at WRSD to match our infrastructure upgrades with the changing pace of technology. Refresh cycles were not keeping up with demand. Students were bringing 2-3 devices, each, to school every day. Classrooms had their own technologies. It was a lot to support. We had to rethink our upgrade strategy.

We had worked with Cisco Meraki for some time and when I learned about Wi-Fi 6 at an education conference, I knew it would help us. Similar to how telecom companies are deploying 5G in the highest density urban areas first, Wi-Fi 6 allowed us to provide more robust capacity in the areas of greatest demand in our schools. We have higher density and throughput in the areas where we need it most and can support over 15,000 wireless devices.

Other changes include:

  • A cloud-managed dashboard that lets us configure and manage the network -- across distributed sites -- via web browser
  • Cloud-enabled firmware upgrades that happen automatically throughout the network
  • Cloud-based smart cameras that support campus safety efforts

Robust networks will become increasingly important as more schools move toward immersive learning experiences, such as VR, AR and collaborative applications. WRSD aims to be part of that movement. We have created an infrastructure that will let us scale as user demand and learning needs increase. With Wi-Fi 6 and the growth of new classroom technologies, our IT team can start building the classrooms of the future, today.

Jaymon Lefebvre is the director of IT services at Wild Rose Public Schools, supporting 4,700 students and 500 employees across 20 schools in Alberta, Canada.

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