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Northwest ISD Ramps Up Wireless for iPad, Laptop Programs

Northwest Independent School District in Fort Worth, TX, is overhauling its wireless LAN to accommodate an increase in mobile device use across its 25 campuses and district office.

For the implementation, the district used equipment from Aruba Networks, whose wireless LAN includes 802.11n access points with up to 900 Mbps WiFi capacity that can be implemented in clusters or centrally, using mobility controllers. It can provide access both indoors and outdoors.

The district, which owns 10,000-plus mobile devices, such as Apple iPads and Dell laptops, has a bring your own device program. Through the initiative, 3,000 devices owned by students and staff, including smart phones and Kindles, are used on the network.

"Our ultimate goal is to help kids learn, and we are proving repeatedly that students and teachers are using technology to improve learning," said Carl Shawn, director of technology for the district. "A key part of building this learning environment is allowing a wide range of mobile devices to connect to our network and access applications ranging from digital textbooks to academic assessment resources."

District teachers attended the school district's first TechnoPalooza bring-your-own-device conference on July 24 and 25, with keynote speakers coming from Apple and Evernote. Sessions included information for teachers on apps, social media tools, QR codes, and digital student discussions.

Northwest ISD is one of two Texas districts that recently overhauled infrastructure to support 1-to-1 programs.

Eanes School District in Austin decided to implement Aruba after deciding to add high school students and some middle and elementary school grades to its 1-to-1 iPad program.

"We had a few small pilots with the iPads first, but quickly came to the consensus that these devices could really revolutionize our learning environment," said Kevin Schwartz, director of technology services for Eanes School District. "We've been able to move forward with this initiative, in large part, because of our Aruba wireless LAN – both its reliability in providing access for these devices and because of its unique ability to handle Apple devices."

Northwest Independent School District has approximately 17,000 students, 16 elementary schools, five middle schools, two high schools, an accelerated high school, and a special programs center.

Eanes School District in Austin has about 7,700 students is six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @editortim.