For Huntley Community School District 158, technology is a major part of everyday learning. All 9,600 students have a school-issued Chromebook, allowing the district to boast the largest one-to-one computing program in all of Illinois.
During EdTech: Focus on K–12’s latest webinar, “Is Your Network Ready for 1:1 and BYOD?,” Huntley IT director Chris Budzynski explained how creating a flexible network with Cisco Meraki was key to the district’s technological success. Here are four benefits.
1. Increasing the Capacity to Roll Out More Tech
Initially, Huntley’s one-to-one program was a rollout of just over 1,000 Android tablets for a literacy program in one of their elementary schools, Budzynski says. As they began growing their network — which has expanded to 819 wireless access points around their eight schools — they were able to increase to a fully deployed one-to-one Chromebook program.
Additionally, Budzynski says their network has become scalable enough that they are able to increase bandwidth to support a robust BYOD network. In a recent test, he found that their network was seamlessly supporting 12,000 devices.
2. Developing Innovative Classroom Programs
Huntley has termed their tech programs the Always Initiative, describing the mission on their website as “breaking down the barriers of the traditional school day.” Budzynski says their aim is help students be prepared for what they may face in terms of technology of the future.
At Huntley High School, students can take part in a blended learning program, where courses like Spanish or Geometry are offered and the students go through a combination of formal learning and independent study.
Huntley High’s website says the classes will “inspire, challenge and empower students to become self-motivated learners through both face-to-face and online instruction.”
The blended learning program requires connectivity to be all-encompassing; Budzynski says their high school network provides access to hundreds of students who might be trying to work in corridors and even outside. Because of the scalability and ease in management of Cisco Meraki’s access points, seamless coverage is provided — no matter where students choose to learn.
HHS also has an engineering and medical academy where students are using state of the art technologies that tap into the Internet of Things, so Budzynski must make sure ubiquitous access is available to things like lab-testing technology as well.
3. Allowing for Partnerships with the Community
The flexible Cisco Meraki network gives Huntley the ability to create temporary networks for public use. That’s a great perk, Budzynski says, allowing Huntley schools to provide Wi-Fi access for guests without compromising the safety of their network.
With community events regularly being held at schools, where hundreds of first-time guests might need Wi-Fi access, Budzynski says their management tool allows them to stay ahead of the demand.
“We can schedule a network to automatically turn on and off during a set time period,” he says.
4. Managing a Network Is Easy Through the Cloud
Because their network is managed in the cloud, Budzynski is able to easily configure the network from virtually anywhere.
“I’m not always sitting at my desk when someone asks for a network configuration change. In fact, I am rarely sitting at my desk,” he says.
An unexpected after-hours event at a Huntley school presented Budzynski with one of his first major challenges. Because the network is managed from the cloud, Budzynski was able to set up a temporary network while in the car, rather than having to go into work.
“I can really manage the network from anywhere,” he says.
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