How Do K-12 Schools Keep Up With EdTech Innovation?

Bob Nilsson Director, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 2 Aug 2017

Two Districts Future-Proof Their Network Infrastructure

How Do K-12 Schools Keep Up With EdTech Innovation?

In today’s schools, technology is integrated into nearly every classroom and has become a key driver of student engagement and learning. This has made secure and reliable wireless and wired network infrastructure a necessity to support productive learning sessions. Two K-12 school districts worked closely with Extreme Networks to update their network infrastructure and take advantage of our expertise in educational technology. Here’s a look at how Greeneville City Schools and Jefferson County Schools transformed their classrooms.

Sixteen Acres of Uninterrupted Classroom Wi-Fi at Greeneville City Schools

How does a large school district provide blanket network coverage for 3,000 students and 550 employees across nine buildings encompassing 16 acres with a small staff of two network managers? Greeneville City Schools, an award-winning and top-performing school district in East Tennessee, needed the best future-proofed wireless network to deliver on its motto, Learning Without Limits. The school district was implementing 1:1 computing and a BYOD program, in which all students in grades 3-12 would have their own computing devices. In fact, the IT staff needed to anticipate each student having three devices on the new network. One thing they were sure of – the outdated Cisco network could not handle the load.

To select the best long-term network solution, Greeneville conducted a thorough evaluation of vendors, including Cisco, Meraki, Aerohive, Aruba, Dell, and Extreme Networks. They set up a test environment to put the top contenders through an aggressive proof of concept process. In the end, Extreme Networks won hands down with a solution that proved to be the most robust and easiest to manage. The ExtremeControl™ NAC product in particular was found to be the best at onboarding students and implementing BYOD.

With Extreme’s help, Greeneville City Schools doubled the number of APs deployed across the district, putting one in every classroom, and upgraded all of its network switches, enabling them to introduce new learning initiatives. ExtremeControl has allowed Greeneville’s IT department to easily manage the number of devices joining the network each day by providing one simple log-in, quickly connecting students’ personal devices to the network. ExtremeControl also helps the IT team locate devices and identify what sites the students are accessing as well as what applications they are running. In the near future, Greeneville plans to move from paper and pencil testing to online assessments and will launch a number of new IoT devices, including robotics, intrusion alarms, and door locks – all made possible with Extreme’s reliable network infrastructure. 

“With a complex 1:1, BYOD school network, we have to tolerate a certain amount of attempts at malicious activity. I feel that Extreme gets my job and understands the challenges experienced by school administrators and addresses them elegantly.” Larry Jones, network administrator, Greenville City Schools

“Thanks to the reliable and easy-to-use Extreme equipment and management tools, we are able to take full advantage of the talent on our team and use it in other areas to make our IT program exemplary.” Beverly Miller, assistant director of schools for administration and the chief technology officer, Greeneville City Schools

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Solving the Network Manageability, Visibility, Scalability, and Maintainability Challenge at Jefferson County Schools

Based in rural Tennessee, Jefferson County Schools (JCS) had been challenged with a poorly-configured, difficult to manage network for its over 7,500 students and 1,150 employees at 12 schools and six administrative offices. They needed a network that would be easy to manage and provide flawless Wi-Fi to all the classrooms. The lack of reliable connectivity had reached the point where faculty members were bringing in their own Wi-Fi access points, wreaking havoc on network security and performance.

The district needed a complete network overhaul, but one that would meet their constrained IT budget. By leveraging E-Rate funding, JCS was able to deploy Extreme’s affordable, reliable, and powerful networking solution. Extreme’s partner, Personal Computer Systems (PCS), handled the installation and alleviated all of the previous problems identified by JCS. The network was upgraded with virtualized servers, allowing the IT department to proactively manage and control network access across the district. They were able to implement a complete disaster recovery solution to eliminate the threat of a major outage. The district also migrated to a single unified domain, adding over 8,500 users to its Active Directory. With Extreme’s help, JCS has been able to stay budget-conscious, while continuing to add innovative educational initiatives.

“Having a solid relationship with our partner is of utmost importance to us. From the Extreme sales representative to our partner, PCS, we knew we would not only be supported, but valued as a customer.” Don Devine, technology systems manager, Jefferson County Schools

Growing Momentum in the Education Market

At Extreme, we are committed to ensuring schools have the top-notch network solutions needed to foster engaging learning environments that are both easy to manage and highly secure. Our laser focus on providing tailored network infrastructure to address the specific needs of individual school districts and colleges has led to consistent growth across our education business. Earlier this year, we achieved significant market momentum working with an expanding number of community colleges, including Alabama Southern Community College and College of the Canyons. Here are free resources to help your school district improve educational outcomes:

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