Wireless coverageThe broader community has rapidly adopted the use of wireless devices for everyday personal use.

As schools strive to incorporate these new devices in their learning environments they quickly discover that a robust wireless network, accessible by all staff and students, is critical for the success of any associated learning programs (or administrative functions) integrating mobile technologies.

Planning for the development of a school’s wireless network should consider:

  • the number of wireless devices used by staff and students;
  • the locations in the school where these devices will be used;
  • the number and location of wireless access points (WAPs) required to support these devices;
  • the bandwidth of the fixed network to support these wireless access points;
  • the number of users that can be supported by each WAP.

Installing a robust, high-capacity wireless network across a school campus can be an expensive exercise. Most schools are likely to stage the implementation of a new wireless network in phases, the application of such a process varying from one school to another, in response to the particular environment in individual schools. The ‘answer’ isn’t necessarily a ‘one-size-fits-all’ response.

One should also be realistic about the capacity of shared wireless networks, compared to wired networks that are connected directly to a computer – and the suitability of online tasks that might be pursued in each environment.

See also:

Here are some general suggestions for how each phase might be implemented…

Phase 1 – Coverage in key areas
  • Installation of wireless access points in classrooms where ‘pioneer’ or ‘early adopter’ teachers are stationed, or where leading-edge classes are located;
  • Installation of WAPs in staff study and administrative areas of the school. This is where formal or informal teacher PD is likely to occur;
  • Updating of network switches in these areas to provide gigabit (Gb) and Power over Ethernet (PoE) connections to WAPs.

    WAPs - Phase 1

Phase 2 – Extending network coverage across the campus
  • Coverage of all buildings in the school, albeit with maybe just one or two WAPs in ‘central’ rooms of the building to provide at least some wireless access to most rooms in the building;
  • Updating of network switches in these areas to provide Gb and PoE connections to current and future WAPs throughout each building.

    WAPs - Phase 2

Phase 3 – Increasing network capacity & eliminating ‘blackspots’
  • Installation of additional WAPs to provide one WAP per classroom, catering for 30 concurrently connected devices in that room;
  • Additional WAPs installed in meeting rooms and halls where there are likely to be more than 30 simultaneously connected devices;
  • Elimination of network ‘blackspots’.

    WAPs - Phase 3

wazmacWireless network deployment in a K-12 school