Flip Your WLAN Before You Flip Your Classroom
Author: Sarosh Vesuna, VP and GM-Education BU, Meru Networks
The Flipped Classroom concept, in which students study the core subject matter by viewing short videos at home, while using classroom time to collaboratively work on interactive projects with other students in small work groups is gaining momentum. So why is there widespread interest in the Flipped Classroom model of education in schools and universities? Simply put, students are more engaged in learning with their peers, teachers can provide 1:1 attention, student grades have improved by more than 20 percent and overall discipline issues have dramatically reduced.
But, flipping your classroom requires careful planning of projects and activities your students will be involved in during class. Powerful mobile devices such as laptops and tablets will soon be, if they are not already, used by every student in your class to leverage the rich multi-media experience required for completing their projects. While traditional teaching methods only required that the teacher’s mobile device have access to the Wireless LAN during class time, the flipped classroom method will stress your network with 2 orders of magnitude more devices requiring access to information and applications in the cloud through the Wireless LAN. More importantly, since they will be collaboratively working on projects with their classmates, each student will expect instantaneous, uninterrupted and fair access to the multi-media information only available through their wireless LAN.
New, faster Wi-Fi technologies such as 802.11ac are helping mitigate the issue of throughput, but only to a certain extent. While multiple RF channels are available in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, most Wi-Fi vendors utilize several of the available channels and the associated bandwidth available in any school or university to deliver a single Wireless LAN pipe. This is similar to a hypothetical scenario of one radio station taking up the entire available radio spectrum to deliver only one newscast. We all know that, in reality, each radio station only occupies one channel, thus allowing several audio streams to be broadcast in parallel. This industry-accepted process of spectrum use not only adds audio capacity in a limited spectrum, but it also assures that each radio station does not interfere with other radio stations, thus guaranteeing fair access and quality of service for every radio station.
Meru’s unique, virtualized “Channel Layering” based Wi-Fi solution operates similarly to the manner in which radio and TV stations have operated for decades. Channel Layering is unique to Meru in the Wi-Fi industry, and gives us the ability to blanket an entire school or university utilizing only one channel. For example, one channel layer can be used to exclusively provide QoS and Class of Service for all teachers. Since several channels are available, Meru alone can, additionally, cover the entire campus with a second channel dedicated to implementing the Flipped Classroom mode of operation for the students. This system of operation not only assures fair access, but also adds capacity that will be sorely needed to implement the Flipped Classroom environment on your campus.
In a future blog we will discuss how our Channel Layering technology will enable you to meet the fair access requirement for Common Core test implementation.
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