Technology in Education

It is widely agreed that technology is the essence of innovation in today’s society. Every day, a new app or gadget is brought to the market that serves to make our lives easier in some way, and the education system is no exception. In fact, technology is moving at such a pace that in schools ICT is no longer a lesson to be taught, but a tool that is imperative for the teaching and learning of other subjects.shutterstock_143627581.jpg

Laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices have become essential learning tools of today’s classroom in all subjects, providing easy and fast fingertip access to a world of knowledge unavailable to previous generations of pupils. With the increase of BYOD – the umbrella term describing the learning method by which students and teachers take in their own mobile device – school supplied computers are becoming less important, possibly in a similar way that the advance of classrooms’ interactive whiteboards rendered blackboards obsolete. Moreover, the concept of 1:1 learning, which refers to every pupil having a device that they can take home at the end of the day and continue to use for both educational and personal purposes, is becoming a growing trend in classrooms across the country.

With BYOD and online learning aids becoming the norm, pupils in lessons will undoubtedly need vast network capacity, as they simultaneously require broadband access, and may also have multiple devices running multiple applications, all using network resources. To support this demand, many schools are beginning to implement a Managed Wireless Network (MWN). A MWN is a system that allows for a more powerful and capacious network through the use of faster access points, a wireless AC standard and band steering.

Furthermore, virtual reality is also a now growing aspect of classroom learning and can contribute a key role in providing students with an active rather than passive experience, through fully immersing them in an engaged learning experience with minimal distractions. From William Shakespeare appearing before students’ eyes in order to provide an analysis of one of his plays as students watch it, to students feeling like they are in a real life laboratory when performing a science experiment, virtual reality enables students to be transported to another world through the use of feedback headsets, tactile gloves and motion sensors, helping create a memorable learning experience.

It is important to consider that the security that schools use to protect their staff and pupils is also evolving, in line with new-generation networks. IP surveillance is paving the way for the future of school security systems, in particular IP surveillance, which is the digitalised, networked HD version of CCTV. With IP surveillance, authorised users can see recorded video from any camera, accessing images via their PC, or any mobile device. Such a system provides the flexibility of multiple views and angles, unlimited storage and easier search and retrieval.
However, a greater amount of technology in classrooms may also have some drawbacks.
For instance, it is unknown if a network will be able to cope with an influx of devices and what upgrades, improvements or complete rebuilds would be necessary to future-proof any systems installed or considered. Not to mention the fact that new technology drives significant change in the relationship between teacher and student and this also needs taking in to account. D-Link networks are easy to set up, use, and understand, serving to overcome this issue.

Inevitably, increased time spent online also leaves children more vulnerable to cyber bullying, offensive material, and radicalisation. Therefore, it is vital that policy emphasises issues such as permitted sites and devices, agreed hours of use, mandatory check-in procedure for student’s devices, and the consequences of inappropriate use. There is also the need for constant reconsideration of policy content and adaption to changing circumstances by renewing it regularly, as technology continues to evolve.

Overall, the future of technology in education appears to be about access, anywhere learning, and collaboration, both locally and globally, as well as a network robust enough to support the new demands placed upon it. With the introduction of many innovative systems and a changing attitude to the importance of technology in the classroom, it is apparent that technology has the power to transform how people learn.

Why your business should upgrade to Wave 2 Standard

Recent government figures have shown that Britain’s productivity rate revealed a gap of 16% compared with the other six members of the G7 group of industrial nations according to international comparisons published by the Office for National Statistics. This productivity gap – which is measured by economic output per worker per hour – indicates that businesses, their employees, and their equipment are not working in the most efficient way possible.

Wave 2 can help to combat this as it enables workforces to connect more and work faster, making them overall much more productive. Paul Routledge, Country Manager of D-Link UK and Ireland, commented ‘If organisations that are dependent on speed of access to information do not upgrade to Wave 2, there is a real danger they could be left behind.’

D-Link Wave 2 Wireless Network

Wave 2 is an addendum to the original 802.11ac wireless specification (Wave 1). It features MU-MIMO technology (Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) that enables access points to talk to multiple devices simultaneously, without experiencing a lag or delay that can hinder productivity.

‘MU-MIMO means that all four antennas can speak to many devices, and that essentially means that a single Wave 2 device acts as multiple Wave 1 devices’ – commented Craig Kirby, a Technical Engineer at D-Link. ‘It is like having a couple of access points in one.’

MU-MIMO allows more devices to be added to the network, with Wave 2 access points allowing up to four devices to be connected at any one time. As the number of devices and cloud-based services that employees use is gradually increasing and is estimated to grow further, businesses are even more dependent on reliable Wi-Fi Solutions. Wave 2 ensures that all employees can achieve a steady and consistent connection.

While Wave 1 allowed for 20MHz, 40MHz and 80MHz channel widths, Wave 2 can accommodate up to 160MHz. The channel width determines how broad the signal is for transferring data: the wider the signal, the more data can pass through. Increasing this channel width therefore increases the speed and throughput of a wireless broadcast.

Furthermore, Wave 2 provides increased flexibility by introducing a fourth spatial stream. As the Wi-Fi Alliance says: ‘Device speeds are proportional to the number of spatial streams’. The more spatial streams that are available, the better the device’s performance will be’ Craig Kirby adds. ‘As you are introducing a fourth spatial stream with Wave 2, this means that you could have an 88MHZ and a 160MHz broadcast at the same time.’

Businesses should be aware of how many devices each of their employees is using. The number of connected devices that are now connected in a business environment has grown exponentially, often leaving wireless networks grinding to a halt. Sharing files or online applications can start to reduce productivity of the work force. Inevitably, this demand is only going to increase as time passes which is why most forward-thinking businesses are looking to upgrade their network before severe problems arise.
Why D-Link?
The breadth of wireless products D-Link has remains unrivalled. As you can see from our consumer portfolio, we are expanding quite substantially this year with a number of consumer routers being launched that feature Wave 2 technology, and we can expect to see the same for business wireless very soon. With 31 years of industry experience behind us, we have a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the market place, which is why businesses across the UK have come to trust D-Link to provide bespoke solutions they can rely on. A UK based team of experts are on hand to help with either technical aspects or sales aspects, making the relationships we hold with our partners invaluable.

Furthermore, all Wave 2 technology featured in our catalogue is backwards compatible, meaning that Wave 2-enabled devices can still connect to previous 802.11 devices, but in this case, they would operate at the speed and functionality of the older technology. MU-MIMO will only operate between other Wave 2- enabled devices or access points, and the data transmission will revert to typical single-user transfer rates when encountering previous-generation devices ensuring that devices using the previous technologies are not rendered obsolete.

In terms of price, Wave 2 devices themselves cost only around 10% more than the older, Wave 2 standard, model devices. This is a small increase in cost for potentially double the data transfer rates. Also, although the cost per unit is greater, less access points are required, which may result in a reduced overall cost. Naturally, the overall cost of upgrading a network to Wave 2 will depend on how much of the core infrastructure needs to be upgraded.

Given increased data transfer speeds, businesses with a large data footprint, such as those that offer online services, should give serious consideration to upgrading their wireless network to the Wave 2 standard. ‘In my opinion’ says Paul Routledge, ‘Wave 2 Wi-Fi solutions are a great opportunity for dealers who collaborate with leading vendors and provide solutions that can benefit their customers’ business.’

Whilst Wave 2 alone does not solve the conundrum of the productivity gap, it certainly forms part of a series of solutions that can help businesses to succeed and increase productivity.