Shaun Sen, head of education UK, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise looks at how education is changing and looks at a project in West Virginia
The days of pure book-led learning are well and truly over. Education has become enriched with technology which allows for interactivity and creates a fully immersive student-centric learning experience. And, while the digital transformation of education began long before the global health crisis, it has, without doubt, been accelerated by the events of the past year.
However, a successful digital transformation involves more than a basic upgrade of software or hardware. It comprises a physical and philosophical change, creating an intelligent campus, designed to meet the ever-growing demands of the students and faculty, digitally transforming into an intelligent campus that empowers student success. However, faced with the demands of 21st century learning, educators must ensure the network infrastructure that underpins this transformation is secure, efficient, and enables business innovation and academic success.
The power behind an intelligent campus foundation
An intelligent campus foundation provides the agility to securely embrace new teaching methods, support academic research needs, automate operations, and enable cost reductions. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has empowered numerous institutions as they transform their teaching and learning offerings to meet the demands of today’s students.
At the heart of a smart campus foundation is a secure, robust, high-performance network, essential for delivering the information, applications, and IoT connectivity that power a university’s operations. Such a network provides the tools needed to meet the business and academic needs of the campus, including high performance LAN and WLAN products and architectures, and network management that provides predictive analytics and supports automation tools securely and efficiently.
In short, it wouldn’t be possible to bridge the digital gap and produce interactive learning experiences without an autonomous network foundation that combines technology, services and security.
The foundation to level-up with IoT
With a secure network foundation in place, campuses are primed and ready to take their education experiences to the next level through the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT technology has the power to transform how schools, colleges and universities gather data, interface with users, and automate processes. Through embedded sensors, actuators and other devices that can collect and transmit information, the IoT facilitates a new model for education establishments; one which reacts to real-time campus activity, user mobility, and data analytics and ultimately creates the education experience expected from the digital age.
Enabled by IoT, schools and colleges can reimagine education delivery and achievement testing with smart audio-visual equipment, digital video recorders for lecture capture, and online testing. Data gathered by devices such as smart whiteboards and other interactive digital media can be analysed to help teachers improve learning outcomes. Students can also enjoy personalised dynamic learning methods with immersive digitalised textbooks and gamification, again creating a learning experience in keeping with the expectations of our digital age.
What’s more, from an administrative outlook, IoT can simplify operations by proactively monitoring critical infrastructure and creating more efficient, cost effective processes for HVAC, lighting, and landscape management. Smart temperature sensors for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning not only reduce cost through automation but through reduced energy consumption they also benefit the environment.
And finally, in terms of security, IoT connectivity enables enhanced protection of both staff and students. Monitoring student whereabouts is simplified with the use of smart student ID cards, attendance, and school bus tracking, while connected surveillance cameras, wireless door locks, and facial recognition systems provide an extra layer of security protection which isn’t prone to human error.
In short, leveraging IoT solutions promises to make schools and universities smarter and more successful, yielding benefits for students and staff alike. Furthermore, with IoT innovations constantly progressing, failing to take advantage of the opportunities IoT offers today could impact education progress further down the line.
Empower student success
Educating our future leaders and decision-makers requires schools and universities to embrace new technology for teaching and learning. This begins with a reliable, secure network that supports your intelligent campus and its evolving needs, including cutting edge IoT technology. Making such investments today encourages student success for the future and will allow those education establishments that digitally transform to thrive.
Case study: West Liberty University
Steeped in a rich history, West Liberty University is one of West Virginia’s oldest institutions. Despite its impressive heritage, the university is a forward-thinking establishment, ready to embrace digital transformation and support ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) learning with a cutting-edge network in the classroom and across campus.
In order to realise the university’s BYOD aim and support unlimited interactive learning across campus, the implementation of a new high-performance network was required to replace the current ageing and fragmented system. With this also came the responsibility of securing this network against cyberthreats and ensuring the safety of users and their devices. It was important that West Liberty’s investment would deliver improved connectivity for both students and staff and enable them to benefit from the advantages of a future-proof network and smart campus.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s business partner Dagnostino implemented a full Wi-Fi network with unified networking architecture for simplified management and maintenance, and opened the door to future automated operations. The deployment of efficient core and edge switches resulted in a doubling of network capacity, including reliable connectivity outdoors. And finally, segmentation of the network for students, faculty and staff ensures controlled access to bandwidth and protection against cyberbreaches.
The digital transformation undertaken by West Liberty University has allowed professors to implement new teaching tools and expand education opportunities to outside of the classroom walls. Students enjoy interactive collaborative learning, with each student connecting an average of three devices to the network. Moreover, from a financial point of view, the updated infrastructure has resulted in lower maintenance and operating costs, and has proved to be a future-proof investment for this historical institution.
James Clarke, CTO, West Liberty University: “We went from having an underperforming network to being a leader in our state for on-campus Wi-Fi. The impact this has on our students and faculty is nothing short of amazing.”