Poor Wi-Fi at schools is hindering students, say IT managers

‘Schools cannot afford to fall behind in digital learning’

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Half of IT managers in schools around the world believe poor Wi-Fi access is negatively impacting student-learning experiences.

A global study of 560 IT decision makers in schools found widespread dissatisfaction in the current deployment of Wi-Fi services to meet the needs of students and teachers.

Despite 92% of survey respondents recognising the importance of high-quality Wi-Fi for the learning experience of students, only 41% had deployed Wi-Fi with enough visibility and control to do so.

According to the research, while access to budgets remains competitive, investment in Wi-Fi and bring your own device (BYOD) connectivity solutions will be a major priority for a large proportion of IT managers in 2016.

The report, which was commissioned by Aerohive Networks, confirmed that devices and mobile technology have permeated the teaching environment in recent years.

Schools have invested heavily in laptops and tablets to enrich the learning experience, with 75% of educational institutions embracing and actively encouraging BYOD.

With global demand for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills continuing to grow,

Survey respondents said high-quality Wi-Fi will likely improve learning outcomes in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects – a significant finding given the growing demand for such skills. 

>See also: 29% of schools now allow pupils to use their smartphone during lessons

However, only 42% of respondents said they have the controls in place to manage this influx of new devices, and a lack of network intelligence means many cannot meet their school’s Wi-Fi demands.

Consequently, nearly all (95%) respondents said teachers and students aren’t satisfied with school Wi-Fi systems.

The underlying problem is revealed to be poor visibility over the portfolio of devices being used, and how they are being used, leading to a lack of control.

Without this network of intelligence, IT managers said that they are unable to plan for Wi-Fi demand to ensure they are meeting the teaching needs of their schools.

More than three quarters (78%) of educational establishments think they will need to review and update their Wi-Fi provision within the next year to compete with the best schools in their area.

For some, the need is even more pressing with 48% of survey respondents saying this review needs to happen now or within the next six months.

“The internet provides schools with an invaluable resource for teaching and learning, but without effective Wi-Fi it can’t be used to its full potential,” said Paul Hennin, senior director of international marketing at Aerohive Networks. “When teaching resources can’t be loaded, or programmes stall and crash, this eats into children’s learning time. Schools cannot afford to fall behind in digital learning.”

“This research demonstrates that better connectivity improves the learning experience for students and provides a more personalised approach to teaching. Having uninterrupted access to educational tools and apps provides teachers with the ability to have full visibility and control over students’ online activity, and keep them focused at the task at hand.

“Wi-Fi and the internet are central to this and should be of high quality to give teachers the platforms they need to teach and the children the best opportunity to learn.”

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