By: Richard Nedwich, Global Director of Education
What does digital transformation in primary school classrooms look like? Would you even recognize it if you saw it? I was curious, so to find an answer, I read a lot of material, visited many schools, participated in #edtech conferences, and attended tradeshows around the world. Recently, our education team went to two major events – BETT in the UK (London) and FETC in the US (Orlando). They are thousands of miles apart, yet our observations showed striking similarities. STEM has clearly taken a pole position in the race for educational technology budgets, with many AR/VR solutions, 3D printers and programmable robots on display at both shows.
BETT was held at the ExCeL London and had over 35,000 attendees this year. The booths (or stands, as they call them) were packed with educators, ITC managers and administrators checking out the latest in Virtual Reality (VR), robotics, laptops/Chromebooks, online learning content, interactive displays and smart boards, and so much more.
FETC was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida and hosted around 10,000 attendees. Here, the demand for Google Chromebooks seems insatiable, as it has been reported recently that Chromebooks have grown from 9% of the U.S. K-12 laptop market to 49% in just the past few years.
As an infrastructure provider, we have a different perspective, and noticed some fascinating trends emerging. At both shows, here were our key takeaways:
Virtual Reality: VR was a large focus at both shows. At BETT, there were several on display, showcasing high-definition 360° images and videos as a tool for virtual field trips, science simulations, astronomy and more. I love trying VR every chance I get, and admittly struggled to virtually pick up, rotate and puzzle together a model human heart.
Ruckus Takeaway: VR headsets are basically smart phones embedded in goggles connected by Wi-Fi to online or cloud-based digital content or courseware. This increases the network capacity demand (another device per student) while requiring airtime fairness, low latency, and strong throughput. If the Wi-Fi falters, the video and audio freezes, and interrupts the immersive experience, losing teachable moments.
Secure Onboarding: Interestingly, while we expected Wi-Fi to dominate infrastructure discussions at our booth (i.e., without Wi-Fi, Chromebooks become doorstops), Ruckus Cloudpath proved to garner the most attention in its role in addressing the top three K-12 IT challenges.
Ruckus Takeaway: Of particular interest was Cloudpath’s unique Chromebook solution for easy, automated secure deployment. Many attendees reported paying for “white glove” Chromebook setup services. Yet, they quickly realized that with Cloudpath, the software would pay for itself during a single device rollout, especially compared to the cost of pre-configuring a Chromebook.
Importance of Networks: Overall, our impression is that more schools have become aware of the importance of their campus networks. It serves a vital role in supporting the latest and greatest classroom technologies to engage students, enable personalized learning and inspire exploration of the modern world.
Ruckus Takeaway: The network is no longer just the plumbing, rather it has become the platform for delivering an elevated classroom experience, from self-service access to improving student data privacy all while enabling the transformation to digital learning.
To learn how cloud-managed infrastructure supports digital learning, watch our webinar-on-demand.
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