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Networking & Wireless | News

Palm Beach County Upgrades Wi-Fi To Support Digital Learning

Palm Beach County School District has implemented a new wireless network across all 185 schools and 13 other facilities to support 1-to-1 learning initiatives and the state's mandated switch to e-textbooks.

The State of Florida requires all K-12 schools to switch from paper to digital textbooks by 2015, and the district is working on an ongoing roll-out of a 1-to-1 learning program for its classrooms. These two initiatives placed considerable strain on the district's aging controller-based 3Com wireless network, which didn't cover all schools, allow centralized management or support the 802.11n wireless standard.

The district needed a distributed network architecture that could support the rapid growth in mobile devices and e-learning, including support for high definition video streaming. The district considered many vendors as part of its bid evaluation process and decided on a wireless network solution from Aerohive Networks because it was cost-effective, met all of the district's feature requirements and could expand with anticipated network growth.

The district implemented more than 13,000 Aerohive access points in its schools and administrative offices. The district uses AP121 access points in classrooms to support a wide variety of mobile devices; AP330 access points in media centers, gyms, cafeterias and auditoriums to provide higher capacity in those areas; and AP170 access points in outdoor areas and sports facilities. The district also implemented Aerohive's HiveManager Network Management System (NMS) in a private cloud to enable the IT team to manage the entire network from a central location.

The district's new Aerohive network currently supports 125,000 devices, a number that is expected to grow as the district expands its 1-to-1 program. The same architecture supports three separate networks within the network: one for employees, one for students and one for guests. The student network blocks and limits access to certain applications as mandated by the Child Internet Protection Act, which requires K-12 schools to filter harmful content.

The Aerohive network has enabled the district to expand its online activities. The district now provides larger online testing facilities for all students, more mobile devices and access to digital textbooks, as well as access to e-learning tools such as the Edmodo social learning network and Edline community management system.

The district's IT team expects the number of wireless devices accessing the network to double and triple in the near future, and according to Aerohive, the new network will meet district's security and performance requirements as it continues to grow.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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