“Wireless should be a given,” says Sean Larner of wi-fi provider Xirrus. And it seems the UK educational system agrees.
“It’s vital to a 21st Century learning environment,” said Valerie Thompson of the E-Learning Foundation. She argues that schools need fully accessible WiFi if they are embrace digital learning in all subjects.
The UK government appears passionate about making digital learning a reality, already having taken steps to update the teaching of IT across schools. They have now redone the previous IT curriculum, and include computer science as a core subject at the secondary level.
Further, education Secretary Michael Gove has stated that he would like children to learn basic computer code in primary school and to be able to create basic animations and simple websites by the age of 11.
Some schools are experimenting with allowing students to bring their own wireless devices into the classroom. A few others have even invested in devices for every pupil.
Ideally this could give students the freedom to learn at their own pace at their own convenience. By detaching digital technology from the IT suite, students could access their coursework from the sports hall, lunchroom, and during breaks if they were so inclined.
Pupils could remotely download assignments, carry out research and ask questions of teachers, fellow pupils and even subject experts from outside school — all while at the school, but not necessarily tied to a library or IT suite. However without adequate wi-fi the use of these devices is limited, says Mr Larner.
However, currently only a quarter of schools have adequate WiFi access. Of 250 secondary schools 39% have WiFi in only a few or no classrooms. And of 350 primary schools half of all schools have wi-fi in only a few or no classrooms.
A report by the BBC sites price as the major setback estimating a cost of about £15,000 to connect a primary school with 500 pupils and up to £50,000 for a large comprehensive.
Wifinity is invested in the long-term outcome for students, and believes WiFi is a powerful tool in imparting a rounded modern education capable of competing on a global scale.
Wifinity is proud to have begun partnering with schools to provide students with vital WiFi networks. Wifinity provides WiFi as a service with near zero upfront costs, and low monthly or quarterly management fees, helping to reduce the financial burden of the educational institution. In return a secure blanket wide network is provided. The network is fully managed, reducing the infrastructure burden, and constantly monitored by an in house technical team to avoid any disruption.
Working with students, security is of highest importance. Not only is data safeguarded, but also advanced filtering software means pornographic and other undesirable sites are blocked.
As Mr Larner argues, it is vital that schools provide their pupils with good wireless internet: “If we don’t take a long-term view and provide our kids with the right sort of online access there will be problems. There is a government responsibility here.”