Whether it’s smartphones, tablets or laptops, providing a comprehensive digital learning environment has shown to improve engagement, allow better collaboration and help workers of the future to remain tech-savvy.
In Australia, technology and education have become increasingly entwined, as more schools look to take advantage of E-learning capabilities.
Sacred Heart College Geelong, a Catholic secondary school for girls, is no exception and was keen to improve its IT infrastructure, having been spurred on by the federal government’s Digital Education Revolution program.
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Mark Pleasance, director of ICT at the school, says they aimed to move from 300 wireless devices to a 1:1 initiative, which would involve more than 1,500 devices.
However, not only would this overwhelm Sacred Heart’s existing wireless network, there were a number of other challenges specific to the school’s setup.
“We had to investigate solutions that could handle large numbers of devices roaming through our buildings,” Mark explains.
“Our site comprises heritage-listed buildings, some of which are over 150 years old – so adding data cabling and power was very challenging and in some cases not possible.”
The school’s new solution would need to have minimal cabling, while also allowing up to 250 users to log on in one location at peak times.
Mark Pleasance highlights coverage, density, speed and cost as the main considerations when researching the school’s options.
After completing some online research, the school decided that Xirrus’ Wi-Fi Arrays seemed to tick all the boxes.
“We read the marketing material from Xirrus and thought it was too good to be true, so we did a demo that proved the solution did work,” he says.
“At the time, other vendors required more cabling and could not handle 250 people in one location. This excluded them from our thinking.”
Xirrus was new to the Australian market when the solution was implemented, so there were delays during installation, but Mark claims the reliability of the system means there are now few problems and these are quickly resolved.
“Teachers can expect to watch video over the Wi-Fi and classes can expect to be online together without issues or congestion,” he adds.
Sacred Heart staff and students are also avid users of Google Drive and the Xirrus solution provides a solid connection that facilitates the process.
According to Mark, as many as 30 people can access a single document at the same time without it causing any problems.
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Xirrus’ high-performance 802.11n Wi-Fi Arrays
The Xirrus Wi-Fi Arrays offer Sacred Heart the ability to support more than 30 students per classroom with a single cable drop.
Using the solution, the school was also able to save money on switch ports, cabling and labour by avoiding the need to install expensive wired Ethernet to the desktop in its Digital Computer Labs.
Having worked with CompNow for a number of years, it was natural for Sacred Heart to procure the Xirrus solution through the company.
Mark Pleasance states that the school is confident that CompNow will deliver on its promises, which is why their working relationship has continued for so long.
“We have found them knowledgeable and responsive to our needs, especially when such large-scale deployments have been completed,” he explains.
“We rely on them to ‘come through with the goods’ and they do.”