How to get the most out of BYOD? get infrastructure sorted

August 2016

 

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New Zealand’s largest school, Rangitoto College demonstrates the importance of having a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure in place before rolling out a BYOD programme so that students can use their devices to maximise learning opportunities in and outside the classroom.

 

wifi at schoolWith over 3,000 students, Rangitoto College required a wireless network to support over 10,000 devices connecting at any one given time. They needed a system that would not only work in with its Learning Management System, RangiNet, but support its planned BYOD programme and the implementation of Google Apps for Education and other tools.

According to Associate Principal of Rangitoto College, Don Hastie it was imperative to have a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure in place first, before implementing the rollout of the BYOD programme at the school.

With the Government also supporting a wireless upgrade plan, Rangitoto College made the decision to replace its Cisco network. The school went to tender and looked at various wireless solutions. Aruba Networks ticked all the boxes for Rangitoto.

Following a steady implementation of the BYOD policy throughout Rangitoto College, in 2016 all students in years 9, 10 and 11 are now required to bring a device to school to support their learning.

“Last year we implemented the BYOD programme for years 9 and 10. This year, the programme has been expanded to include year 11. We will continue to grow the number of devices that are connected to the network, with year 12 and 13 following in the coming years,” says Hastie.

Underpinned by the new wireless network, Rangitoto’s BYOD programme supports a wide spectrum of e-learning and blended learning activities that can extend beyond the classroom.

According to Wayne Everett, IT Services Manager at Rangitoto, the college has significantly modified the way technology is used at the school in recent years.

“Over the last two or three years we’ve encouraged students to bring and use their own devices. Before that, the college had IT and computer rooms teachers could book out to allow students to engage and work with technology,” explains Everett.

  

Increased engagement

Don Hastie says they have noticed an increased engagement and task focus among students.

“The ability to work in courtyards of the school grounds, for example, helps increase the engagement of students,” he says.

RangiNet is the college’s online portal for students, parents and teachers. The secure virtual learning site provides access to a wide range of learning materials and organisational information for subjects across the entire curriculum. The portal provides students with a place to access resources to supplement their learning and allows students to submit assignments.

Parents too, have access to all of these pages, as well as information that relates specifically to their child. This inclusive portal is designed to empower parents, engage students in taking greater ownership and responsibility for their learning, and provide teachers with one central place to access relevant curriculum documents.

Hastie says the school uses a range of cloud-based tools to support 21st century learning in the classroom.

“These tools enhance collaboration, communication and creativity. They are also designed to spur innovation, critical thinking and problem solving. Students need to use technology confidently and safely, in a way that supports modern learning and helps them participate in the future workforce,” says Hastie.

Among these tools is Google Apps for Education. The school’s new wireless solution has helped students and teachers to seamlessly use the platform. Teachers can see all the students in their class, share documents with them and take care of all the classroom administration function around managing a classroom – all connected wirelessly across the network.

Hastie says the college is also in the process of looking at access control systems across the school. Utilising a secure card solution that would rely on a wireless system, Rangitoto would have a more secure and simple way of accessing the college grounds.


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