As your school works to reimagine traditional classrooms, you will need to ensure students have access to digital devices and reliable, high-speed connectivity.
As the last year has shown, not every family or every student has access to a smartphone or laptop or lives in an area with reliable network connectivity. Many schools across the country have tried to address these challenges by purchasing devices for students in need and by using mobile hotspot (Mi-Fi) solutions to allow students to connect to the internet securely from virtually anywhere.
It's important for your school to keep access in mind as you try to build out your smart classroom components and infrastructure. You can begin by assessing both hardware and software needs in your school district—which, in some cases, may mean upgrading older laptops or transitioning away from desktop devices that lack portability in favor of tablets and newer laptops that enable educators to teach from virtually anywhere. This is especially important if the need arises for your school to once again engage in hybrid or distance learning.
Secure connectivity is just as important. Your school can consider using a Private IP solution to scale connectivity while protecting your data. This secure virtual private network (VPN) solution allows authorized users, devices and applications to securely access an internal network. In addition, cloud-based software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) allows schools to enhance network security, performance and management. This virtualized approach, which is typically offered via a managed service, can help your school gain more visibility into the traffic coming into your network, expand network bandwidth and prioritize certain traffic (such as the data transmitted via a video conferencing solution during a virtual math or science lesson).
Once your school has established a robust device and network infrastructure, you then can incorporate other software-based solutions—whether it's an interactive whiteboard or interactive gaming app—to deliver an engaging learning experience. Though this may require a significant investment, your school may be able to take advantage of E-Rate eligible services from different technology providers to offset some of these costs. Additional federal aid may also be available to help your school make this worthwhile investment and build your smart classroom components and infrastructure for the future.
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