Networking & Wireless | News

Colorado District Rolls Out WiFi for 1:1 Initiative

Colorado's Fountain Fort Carson School District 8 has overhauled its wireless network to support what has evolved into a vigorous 1:1 mobile computing initiative in its schools.

Fountain Fort Carson SD Network Systems Manager Tammy Woods explained that the district's legacy wireless network became overwhelmed as teachers began finding new and ever more bandwidth-intensive ways to integrate technology in their classrooms. In an effort to alleviate the bottlenecks those activities created as they competed for bandwidth, the district pulled out its old hardware and replaced it with Xirrus WiFi arrays.

"Our foray into wireless started at the high school with the 1:1 laptop initiative pilot," Woods said in a prepared statement. "The program eventually developed and matured to a level at which we had to reevaluate the wireless infrastructure we had in place. Teachers continued to find more innovative and technically challenging ways to integrate technology into their teaching, and the original Cisco wireless environment just couldn't keep up with the sheer volume of users who accessed the wireless and used high-bandwidth, multi-media rich applications."

She added that the move was also predicated on reliability issues and the need to ensure that students remained connected during online test-taking sessions.

"Another wireless challenge we faced was using laptops in our elementary schools for testing with Scantron, a Web-based assessment tool that requires a stable point-to-point connection," she explained. "We needed our wireless in those buildings to work as well as our wired network. Having dropped connections when kids are taking tests just wasn't an option."

Fountain Fort Carson SD serves more than 6,500 students in eight elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school, and one secondary school.

In related news, earlier this month, Greater Atlanta Christian School, a large private school in Georgia, also announced that it has rolled out a campuswide WiFi network based on Xirrus gear. That rollout was designed to support a 2:1 computing initiative involving more than 3,000 wireless devices--one laptop and one iPod touch device per student involved in the initiative. Further details on the initiative can be found on the school's site here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

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