A lesson in digital learning

 Paul Hennin has been Director of Marketing International at Aerohive Networks since January 2013. As part of his role, he is responsible for demand generation, PR, AR and channel marketing across EMEA, Asia and ANZA. He has previously worked for Proofpoint,  Fortinet and  FilFree Networks and has built up an extensive knowledge for working for interesting, dynamic, disruptive technology companies at a senior level.

Ed Vaizey’s vision for a truly digital UK economy by 2020 is fast appearing on the horizon, with education high on the government’s agenda. Britain’s classrooms have experienced a considerable makeover in the past five-to-10 years, but in his mind there is still some way to go; envisaging a future where schools can engage more children at a lower cost.

The range of technologies at our disposal is already re-imagining the classroom of the future. And this is only heading further in one direction. Significant headway has already been made in the shape of bring-your-own device strategies, interactive whiteboards, e-portfolios and virtual learning environments – with many new innovations developing by the day.

But it’s clear that more could be done to make the most of connected devices and resources. These innovations are all underpinned by Wi-Fi and internet connectivity. When this is poor it hinders the delivery of a lesson. As such there is a growing importance for schools to ensure the right level of infrastructure is in place, to guarantee seamless interactions with technology in the classroom. Otherwise, this could impact a student’s digital learning experience.

So what steps can educators prepare today to help them thrive in an increasingly digitised classroom?

A new playground

The way students learn has undertaken a significant transformation, as teachers are now challenged to be innovative and make use of cutting edge learning practices. UK schools  spent £900m last year on technology and recognise the benefits that it delivers, both in terms of the classroom environment and in keeping students engaged.

A major change is the ability to further personalise learning. The age-old concern of how to engage a classroom full of varied abilities is becoming a thing of the past. Today a range of platforms are available that help teachers to better assess student capabilities enabling them to develop personalised learning plans. This allows the student to work with the core content and curriculum in a format that is exciting and impactful to them. Similarly, a teacher can now remotely provide materials, should a pupil be unable to make it to the classroom for any reason, or require additional coaching.

From a collaboration perspective, technology development has meant that connected devices and applications can now help group work be more effective in the classroom. Using dedicated applications, students are able to communicate with each other, work in teams and contribute to a project in groups. Skills considered increasingly important in modern working environments

The proliferation of devices in the classroom has also altered the face of learning. A recent study by Aerohive found that 75% of schools encourage staff and pupils to use their own devices to establish a better connected learning experience. A teacher can register personal devices and enrol them within the assigned lesson plan, including screen sharing, pushing resources, monitoring and more.

The benefits to the learning experience and engagement are certainly vast, but don’t come without challenges. Both in terms of the connectivity issues and the fact that very few schools will have the resource to check programme settings on every device on the network.

Working for smooth connectivity

So how can schools ensure that teachers are focussed on the lesson and not troubleshooting connectivity issues?

IT decisions and network-management strategies are key to ensuring academic success in a digital era. The increased use of Wi-Fi by multiple users, on multiple devices has created a ‘network of the unknown’ in many schools. Whilst most schools encourage students to use their own devices, only 42% have controls in place to manage this influx.

It is therefore of little surprise that the biggest frustration with Wi-Fi is the need to balance flexibility with security. Almost two-thirds of IT managers experience pain in this area.

Of course schools want to provide flexible learning through Wi-Fi-enabled technologies and applications, but this can raise complex security issues. Often adhering to the highest security standards is neglected in favour of maintaining user experience, meaning that at times it can be unclear who is using the network for what - and with which device. Such poor network visibility is simply unsustainable in an evolving digital climate, calling for schools to introduce newer authentications methods such as a PPSK (Private Pre-Shared Key) to provide a simple yet secure solution to this problem.

Most significantly, our study uncovered that half of IT managers believe poor Wi-Fi is holding back children’s digital learning. There are steps that can be made today to ensure that this doesn’t continue into the future.

Towards a digital future

At BETT this year the Education Secretary agreed that there is undoubtedly a place for technology in helping to raise standards, whether it is helping teachers plan lessons or allowing schools to better measure pupil progress. Technological development will continue to create new educational opportunities for students and teachers alike.

Schools now have the ability to personalise their approach and keep disruption to a minimum. But they need to act fast to ensure the best possible teaching experience that will help students develop. 

After all, the delivery of a lesson plan impacts a student’s learning experience.

Each educational institution has its own tech projects and priorities, and will experience varied challenges. But with the right infrastructure in place, teachers can rest assured that they are using technology to its full potential, and focus in on a successful teaching experience.Paul Hennin has been Director of Marketing International at Aerohive Networks since January 2013. As part of his role, he is responsible for demand generation, PR, AR and channel marketing across EMEA, Asia and ANZA. He has previously worked for Proofpoint,  Fortinet and  FilFree Networks and has built up an extensive knowledge for working for interesting, dynamic, disruptive technology companies at a senior level.

     
   
   
 
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