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Schools look to the new generation of Wi-Fi technology

According to research South Africa is the most dynamic e-learning market in Africa, where over the last two years, many countries across Africa have embarked on new initiatives to integrate learning technology into education and training.
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However, as the growth increases, technology infrastructure has become the key to laying the foundational platform for e-learning and access. As a result, the traditional education model is changing and this evolution will be demonstrated at the African EduWeek - taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, from 9-11 July, 2014.

EduWeek is Africa's premier education event and this year the conference will be exploring strategies from pan-African governments and universities on the roll-out and implementation of literacy and numeracy programmes, e-learning and the shortage of qualified teachers in Africa.

Michael Fletcher, sales director of Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa, said: "As the traditional model of education is evolving, schools and colleges are facing increasing challenges to provide higher-speed, more reliable Wi-Fi to students, teachers and staff. New mandates, such as digital textbooks and 1:1 initiatives, require entire classes to get online concurrently to view material, collaborate on projects and present their work. As such, schools everywhere are looking beyond current access models to the new generation of Wi-Fi technology to support more users and diverse applications."

In line with this, schools need strong security, full coverage, and consistent connections even when entire classes start sending videos at the same time. But for most educational institutions, tighter budgets and limited IT staff make the transition impossible. However, Ruckus Wireless and solution partner UC-Wireless has recently solved the challenges for several schools with high-density Wi-Fi application requirements for the implementation of e-learning.

A key foundational building block


"We believe that the first critical step to any effective e-learning platform is the installation of a robust, reliable, fast and seamless enterprise-grade high-density Wi-Fi solution. It is a key foundational building block - if not indeed the cornerstone," said Quentin Daffarn, MD of UC-Wireless. "The integrated wireless solutions that we have designed with Ruckus solutions have the necessary user capacity to cover high-density operational areas within schools and operate in harmony, by minimising interference, increasing speed and even video performance. This all occurs simultaneously with unprecedented security demands, while taking into account the unique challenges that are present within our own education ecosystem."

UC-Wireless has recently successfully deployed Ruckus Wi-Fi solutions into several schools, ranging from 500 to 1800 concurrent learners per school.

Having the correct network infrastructure and solution design in the academic arena, when it comes to Wi-Fi technology, is crucial in generating effective educational participation. By doing so, collaboration is enhanced through encouraging student access and use of the network portal where teachers post homework requirements or study material.

Creating such a platform allows parents, learners and educators to participate dynamically in the learning process; students are encouraged to engage actively with their peers, while parents may keep track of their children's homework requirements and results. The introduction and increased use of tablets in the education syllabus also enhances students' practical participation in the learning process and, when the need arises, the use of controlled Internet access may be utilised to enhance the interactive learning experience further.

"Technology, and by extension Wi-Fi, has become an integral part of educating students all around the world. Gone are the days when a teacher would sit down with his class and teach using just a textbook, blackboard and piece of chalk. Students today can now enjoy the use of tablets and internet in the classroom, offering a richer and more interactive learning experience," continued Fletcher.

For more on African EduWeek, go to www.educationweek.co.za.

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