When the pandemic hit, educational institutions faced the urgent need to go digital. From there, we’ve seen the rise of online courses, virtual exams, and even review apps.
Now that our country is on the mend, many education hubs may want to retain elements of their virtual setup for blended learning.
The fact is that our digital learning infrastructure is still imperfect. Local educational institutions, from kindergartens to universities, constantly face many challenges.
This is the glaring reality observed by Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) company that offers a suite of networking solutions. They know that our local institutions still need a lot of help with the infrastructure and technology needed for blended learning.
So here are 4 of those pain points in education hubs with large numbers of students, and Aruba’s solutions to overcome them.
1) Ensure permanent connectivity for effective learning
To work and be updated with their courses, higher education students depend on their devices which require an online connection and access to a university’s learning management system (LMS).
Higher education students know this struggle well. Wi-Fi is often spotty, with the connection only strongest in some classrooms or lecture halls, then almost non-existent outdoors or in larger faculties.
If the Wi-Fi connection drops while you are working or moving around the university, any unsaved work will be instantly lost.
This is quite a common occurrence because not all institutions have a large IT management team or centralized control to cover all essential network bases.
With Aruba Unified Infrastructure, campuses can take advantage of Wi-Fi 6 technology (the latest Wi-Fi networking protocol). Its high density capabilities mean that even large classrooms, auditoriums and outdoor facilities can get a good network.
Meanwhile, its live upgrade capabilities mean IT teams don’t need to schedule maintenance windows (and cause downtime).
With good network connectivity, students do not necessarily need to be in faculty buildings to do their work. As long as they are traveling on campus, they will always be able to turn in their assignments on time.
For example, Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland uses Aruba to provide roaming access across its entire campus and can provide an all-digital student experience without interruption, from classes to library access.
2) Support countless IoT devices without compromising cybersecurity
Data security is more crucial than ever, especially for personally identifiable information (PII), due to the growing number of devices and new Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives such as keyless door entries , security cameras, building automation, etc.
Managing this data and accessing it securely is not an easy task, and traditional security solutions create a perimeter from which they detect attacks and malware based on patterns or signatures.
But this model is not suitable for schools and campuses where there is no perimeter: students and staff move frequently on and offsite, and still need network access everywhere.
Aruba’s ESP Zero Trust Security assumes that neither the endpoint nor the network is secure unless proper authentication and authorization is applied.
ClearPass Device Insight simplifies identification and onboarding of new devices, while ClearPass Policy Manager authenticates and authorizes network access.
This means that users and devices have restricted access only to network, computing, and application resources for which they have been approved.
For universities that have a larger student database containing confidential information, it would make sense to restrict the data and make it accessible only to certain departments or teachers of specific courses.
This is to prevent staff or other students from taking advantage of the database for personal use outside of the university.
In the Nederlands, Utrecht University used these solutions to provide secure network access to its 35,000 students and 7,400 employees, with different rights granted to students, visitors and research teams.
3) Keep students comfortable for conducive studies
Beyond coursework, education centers that hope to compete for enrollment numbers must be able to deliver great student experiences, both physical and digital.
Part of student comfort also lies in an institution’s ability to provide location-based services that will help them navigate campus, including self-guided campus tours, mobile panic buttons, personalized notifications, and student engagement initiatives.
One example is Universiti Putra Malaysia, which has over 1,000 hectares of land.
As one of the few local universities to have its own Olympic-sized swimming pool, 18-hole golf course, archery range and equestrian centre, a smart navigation system would benefit students as they move around campus, especially the newer ones.
These aspects add to a student’s overall happiness on campus and can affect the conduct of their studies.
To ensure all of this can be accomplished, Aruba AIOps helps universities monitor and manage network performance user experience.
It uses AI to detect and fix issues before they impact the end user, and makes specific recommendations to an IT team for performance improvements.
For example, if a campus realizes that their dorms’ network connectivity is low but doesn’t know why when it’s up and running in every other way, they can log into Aruba Central and view their AI Insights dashboard. .
From there, he can see where the probe requests are coming from, and if the majority of the requests are coming from outside the dorms (like passers-by or visitors), he can configure settings to only allow legitimate requests. (such as registered student devices).
4) Stick to a budget when implementing new technologies
Innovative technologies are not cheap, especially for higher education centers such as universities that need powerful and secure networks.
It’s not just the costs of these networks and devices that put a strain on a university, but there’s also the cost of an efficient IT team to consider.
Therefore, many institutions choose to outsource their IT operations to reduce their total cost of ownership (TCO).
This is where HPE GreenLake for Aruba and HPE Financial Services come in to provide network-as-a-service (NaaS) solutions and flexible financing, respectively.
They address several things such as:
- Immediate cost reductions through the sale and leaseback of equipment;
- Preserve the value of equipment and limit waste by reintroducing it into the life cycle;
- Free up IT staff by leaving it to NaaS and intelligent operations experts;
- Reduce the risk of network breaches with trained resources that always keep systems up to date.
Before our local universities can confidently carry out effective digital learning, these are the areas they need to address.
Going forward, it’s no longer about having tech-dedicated (or smart) classrooms. Instead, these technological and intelligent systems should be extended across the campus for inclusive and seamless learning.
- Learn more about Aruba’s solutions here.
- You can also obtain Aruba’s solutions through Techdata Systems Sdn Bhd, one of Aruba’s official distributors here.
- Read more edutech content here.
Featured Image Credit: Aruba