Class Act

Institutions in the region are interested in enhancing the education process by integrating new technologies to the teaching environments, relying on a next-generation network capable of supporting collaboration, e-Learning and seamless connectivity.

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Class Act
By  David Ndichu Published  February 28, 2016

The way education is delivered in the region is undergoing momentous change driven by technology and the rise of the Smart Campus.

Maan Al-Shakarchi, head of Avaya Networking, EMEA & APAC notes that schools are changing their models of learning, and quite rapidly at that. This is because the current generation expects much more out of technology as they are much more familiar with it. The modern campus, Al-Shakarchi asserts, therefore needs to accommodate students’ requirements like eLearning.

The foundation for the smart campus starts with reliable basic connectivity, before progressing to the next level of availing tools that allow collaborating amongst students, says Al-Shakarchi. “Students are increasingly collaborating with each other over tools such as Skype, so institutions need to provide them with the tools that allows them secure multi party video conferencing for example or being able to share documents among each other,” says Al-Shakarchi.

The next step is to offer more advanced features such as location services in a smart campus environment. Such services will for instance enable teachers register attendance in a class without the traditional pen and paper method. As soon as students get to class, their attendance is automatically registered using such technology.

Through dynamic policies, institutions can enable BYOD because students want the flexibility to use their devices. It’s however important to secure the network from those devices and at the same time apply policies that allow students access to campus resources. “It’s a combination of network requirements along with additional security and flexibility required by this user group,” Al-Shakarchi explains.

To face the growing challenges of enabling a more digital e-learning experience for students, Education institutions need evolving network technologies that can facilitate teaching and research, while improving the daily lives of people on campus, notes Kamran Shaukat, head of Education Industry Solutions, Huawei, Middle East.

Over the years working with educational institutions in deploying education solutions, Huawei has identified six main requirements for developing an effective Smart Campus Network, says Shaukat. These include a requirement for centralised monitoring of the network infrastructure. This saves the IT from physically running from campus to campus to fix network issues. Instead, technical issues and updates can be made from a central location, which can then be automatically updated across all the campuses, says Shaukat.

The second requirement is better network security, ensuring l that there are no rogue devices that can be connected to the network that could allow for dangerous virus’s to compromise the school network. Huawei’s Smart Classroom solution includes the latest BYOD built in with wireless security provisions to ensure that the school’s network is protected, says Shaukat.

Third, says Shaukat, is a necessity for an enhanced student experience through better wireless coverage across the entire campus. “It is important for educators that want to encourage an open and digital learning environment to ensure that there is widespread secure connectivity across the whole campus. This extends beyond classrooms into dorms, gymnasiums, libraries etc.,” says Shaukat.

Shaukat also highlights the requirement for easier IT management with fewer resources. Introducing an Agile Education Campus Network instead of having ICT teams at each campus location, will streamline network management through one team, says Shaukat. This helps to offer operational cost savings and improves efficiency of the campus network, he adds. “The Huawei Education Cloud (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure – VDI), which can be built on an Agile Education Campus Network can offer more flexible management of the school network,” he says.

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