Ballinger ISD Supports MacBook Initiative with WiFi Deployment

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Ballinger Independent School District in Texas has deployed WiFi arrays from Xirrus to support the district's 1:1 laptop initiative.

The initiative, dubbed "emPOWERing Students for the Future," provides Ballinger ISD students with an Apple MacBook laptop computer on loan. More than 500 students and more than 600 computers are involved in the initiative, which is open to students in grades 6 through 12.

“Our school board decided they wanted each staff member in the district and all students in the junior high and high schools to be equipped with an Apple MacBook computer this year, so we quickly went to work to find the Wi-Fi network that would support all the students, deliver the necessary bandwidth, be easy to install and maintain, and not cost the district an arm and a leg,” said Tim Gau, director of technology of Ballinger ISD, in a statement released this week. “We had roughly six weeks to have the 600+ computers ready, which meant having the network in place and the teachers and students trained."

According to Gau, the district deployed Xirrus arrays to help meet the deadline and keep costs down. "By and large, the only way we were able to make the deadlines was by selecting to go with Xirrus--their Wi-Fi Arrays require far less devices, which is a big deal when you include the installation costs, the cables for each device that must be pulled and the switch ports that must be configured. The Xirrus Wi-Fi Arrays required far less than any other Wi-Fi system we looked at ... and it was the cheapest when all things [were] considered.”

The deployment involved 802.11abg Wi-Fi Arrays across the district, which comprises an elementary, junior high, and high school campus.

“Selecting Xirrus was the right call--they came when called, performed a free real-world site survey, helped install and configure the network, and guaranteed we’d have the promised signal strength throughout the schools,” said Gau. “We were able to build, image, and bind the computers across the Xirrus Wi-Fi network far faster than we could have across the wired network. The Xirrus Wi-Fi Arrays made it possible to deploy our 1-to-1 computer initiative quickly and cost-effectively--they saved us from having to rebuild our wired infrastructure in the middle of the project. Our students and faculty have been using the new system since August now and we’re all very impressed with its performance and the increase in student/teacher collaboration--well worth the effort. You know you have a top-notch wireless infrastructure when teachers are able to run full motion video over wirelessly connected computers at the same time. The system is secure and has not gone down since we brought it online.”

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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