Nursing school video simulation training demands high-performance Wi-Fi

Today’s innovative training programs combine hands-on experiences with traditional teaching models. That can be tougher to implement for programs such as nursing before students are ready to work directly with patients, but innovative video simulation labs fit the bill perfectly. At least, it is until the Wi-Fi network can’t keep up with bandwidth-intensive video streaming.

That was the challenge at Del Mar College (DMC) in Corpus Christi, Texas. This growing, forward-looking community college serves up to 25,000 students and over 700 faculty members and staff. The school’s education programs are at the leading edge of digital learning, including the nursing department’s clinical simulation lab, which is one of the largest in the state. The streaming video-based learning environment approximates real hospital conditions as closely as possible, but the school’s Wi-Fi network couldn’t keep up.

Vince Villarreal, network specialist, says the existing wireless network from Aruba was at its limit. “The existing APs couldn’t handle the bandwidth-intensive video streaming at the heart of the clinical simulations. Over 100 students would be assembled in the lab to access video-based instruction and tests on their iPads. Even with four Aruba APs deployed in the space, we were getting constant complaints about poor video quality and dropped connections. It was extremely frustrating for the faculty and students.”

Network team sets a new bar for Wi-Fi performance

August Alfonso, Del Mar’s VP of Facilities Operations and Chief Information Officer, set a new bar for his network team. “Our students shouldn’t be doing their assignments off-campus just to find a better Wi-Fi signal. Our faculty shouldn’t give up on introducing new learning models because the Wi-Fi network can’t support bandwidth-intensive applications. Students should be able to register multiple mobile devices on the campus network. And we shouldn’t have to overspend on APs or IT resources to build a high-performance network.”

Alfonso’s team undertook an extensive vendor evaluation based on a long list of requirements, including better range, faster access, better coverage for high-density environments, the ability to support the most demanding digital learning applications, easy onboarding of students (particularly BYOD), and rock-solid stability under any circumstances.

“For us, it was a clear choice,” Alfonso states. “No other vendor could touch Ruckus for AP performance. Their RF technology is outstanding. Their economics is also unmatched—including the investment costs and total cost of ownership.”

Fewer access points, better performance

The building that houses the nursing program was the first one scheduled for the new Ruckus APs. “Originally we had four APs in the simulation lab and performance was still poor. Now we have just two Ruckus APs in the lab and we’ve had zero complaints about connectivity, download speeds, or stability,” says Villarreal. “They love the new Ruckus network.”

The nursing program just received a grant to improve student learning which the nursing department chose to put towards building out another 14 patients stations equipped with high-tech cameras and audio systems. That means more users and connected devices and even more data for the Wi-Fi network to support. “In the past, we would have been scrambling to figure out how to handle that extra load,” says Alfonso. “With Ruckus, we’re confident that we can handle the expansion without even adding another AP.”

Alfonso also points out that high-performance Wi-Fi is enabling faculty to experiment with new teaching models. In the nursing program, faculty can now send video to any classroom in the building. They can break students into smaller groups and watch a live video feed from anywhere on campus. “By providing high-performance, stable coverage across the campus, our wireless network is helping to break down some of the constraints of traditional classrooms. That’s one of the most important things we could have imagined accomplishing with our new Wi-Fi infrastructure.”

Easier support, broader coverage

The upgrade to Ruckus APs gave Del Mar College additional benefits, such as supporting large events and allowing students to register multiple devices to access the campus network—all while reducing the support load on the school’s IT team. Read the full case study to find out more!

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