Post-Pandemic Learning Frameworks Require Better, More Agile Networks
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply
impacted all elements of life, but few more so than education. The
ways that we educate our youth and support our teachers and
administrators have had to fundamentally change as the world adjusted
to the circumstance of the pandemic with remote learning.
as vaccines roll out and we enter — hopefully — the final stage
of this coronavirus era, schools are readying their return to the
classroom, if they haven’t begun the process already. This past
year cannot be undone or simply forgotten, however, and changes to
the role of technology in education will persist in various
capacities and bring new requirements for network infrastructures.
need smarter and more agile networks to respond to the demands of a
digital learning environment that is still in the throes of major
changes. For many schools, this means the displacement of legacy WAN
(wide area network) architectures with SD-WAN (software-defined wide
allows network managers to harness the power of the internet with
software-based control to ensure applications'
performance is maximized, network reliability and stability is
improved, and security and privacy is assured. Through this approach,
the network can flex to meet changing needs and scale to meet high
demand, making it more suitable to run cloud-based applications.
example, SD-WAN can provide schools with cost-effective connectivity
to transport vital information supporting school administration and
course curriculums, while also prioritizing specific applications
that the school categorizes as critical for employees and students.
This management and prioritization allow schools to dictate what
content and applications get bandwidth priority, optimizing both the
learning environment and the ability of teachers and administrators
to succeed in their roles.
SD-WAN also improves access
to cloud applications that are becoming ever more important in the
classroom and for blended learning scenarios. Network managers can
prioritize application traffic to ensure it takes the most direct,
lowest-latency path. This means organizations are equipped with the
agility to optimize the network and prioritize mission-critical or
latency-sensitive applications, like e-learning tools and the video
and voice functionalities that are so critical to both remote
learning today and the future of in-person and online education.
so much of education — whether in-person or remote — dependent on
the internet, reliability and availability of internet services is
more important than ever. SD-WAN allows schools to use multiple
internet access services using different technologies such as fiber,
broadband or wireless that seamlessly work together, eliminating
dependence on any single circuit and ensuring services are available
for Simplified Installation & Management
addition to the significant performance benefits that
software-defined networking technologies can offer, when deployed as
a fully managed service, SD-WAN allows schools to focus solely on
their mission of bringing the best educational opportunities possible
to students. Working with a partner for managed network services
allows schools to leverage the support of an experienced
telecommunications service provider that can assist in everything
from network design, implementation, management and monitoring, to
gathering quotes from access partners, and guiding strategy to
maximize subsidized E-rate
benefits and manage USAC/FCC requirements.
Charter Schools USA (CSUSA), one of the largest and
highest-performing education management companies in the U.S. with
more than 75,000 students across five states, selected a managed
SD-WAN solution for 86 of its school locations. While the pivot to
SD-WAN is an endorsement of the solution’s capabilities, the size
of this deployment makes clear the value of working with a managed
network service partner to simplify the implementation and management
of the network.
past year has taught us that it is always wisest to prepare for an
uncertain future. The move towards SD-WAN in education is not just an
effort to solve specific challenges that have come about with the
explosion of cloud-enabled learning, but it prepares schools and
educators to meet other challenges that may arise by arming them with
the secure and agile network that is flexible enough to overcome new
challenges today and in the future.
About the Author
Todd Kiehn is vice president of product management at GTT Communications.