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Wireless Networks Thread, School entirely running on wireless in Technical; Dear all My DP would like our Academy to operate completely by mobile devices. He would like to remove all ...
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    School entirely running on wireless

    Dear all

    My DP would like our Academy to operate completely by mobile devices. He would like to remove all PCs, including teachers PCs that usually connect to IWB and just use Ipads.

    I have several concerns, my biggest being that my wireless will struggle to support so many devices, especially with the use of Apple TV in every classroom. We already have around 140 Ipads and we are looking to have another 550, if he can get me to agree and sign the job off!

    I am trying to create a report that will highlight all the pros and cons to going completely over to tablets. He is mainly interested in using the Ipad and he will take some convincing to try something like the Galaxy 10.1 Tablet.

    Do you know any schools that are operating completely on wireless and Tablets? If anyone could give me some reasons on why we shouldn't do it, i would really appreciate it. I have several already, but could always do with more.

    Many thanks

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    Michael's Avatar
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    I wouldn't recommend it at all. The wireless infrastructure is going to cost a fortune, so you need to work out a suitable formula - number of access points per wireless devices. As a general rule, no more than 15 devices per access point.

    As for whiteboards, without a permanent desktop, you'll need to keep plugging/unplugging cables and this will result in damaged ports, damaged cables and in turn a higher number of problems as staff will forget to plug in the audio lead for example.

    Also the iPad really isn't brilliant in an educational environment (in my opinion). It's good for personal use, not multi-user use, it doesn't support Flash and you cannot upgrade it in anyway at all. Windows 8 due out later this year does focus a lot on tablets and I suspect a lot of OEMs will be supplying these devices, but also supplying Windows 8 on more traditional laptop or desktop PCs too. I think being able to access data and do the same/similar tasks using multiple devices is key. Windows 8 will be available on phones, PCs, laptops and tablets.

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    Thank you Michael.

    I have serious concerns about the Ipads, Apple TV and how the network will cope. I guess there is no real way of knowing until we try, very expensive trial though. I have already mentioned that staff will not be able to access any resources on the server but apparantly we can if we use Web Dav. Not sure how it works, just very concerned that this will end up being a step backwards and not forwards.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    That smacks of someone who's seen something elsewhere or has a vague vision but no idea what the cost of implementation and maintenance is. Of course it's doable on a small scale but complete replacement of all wired infrastructure - that's absolute folly. Rules out simple methods of deployment, causes massive security problems, physical security problems (that's an entire school's worth of kit that can just walk out the door) and one hell of a maintenance program for your technical team. Who's going to look after it all? What failover is there? So fantastic, half the school can run on a powercut - but can you run all your points via a UPS? I suppose possibly via PoE kit but UPS hardware to cope with sitewide wireless PoE kit is going to be silly money.
    This person needs bringing back down to earth. Although it's completely false, some simple questions to him like:
    "So, how many times did you have to restart your router at home to make things work again?"
    Having a vision is one thing, trying to get it pushed through for the sake of looking good whilst sacrificing everything else is a bit - well, daft.
    Last edited by synaesthesia; 14th January 2012 at 05:20 PM. Reason: best not mention the A name, people will assume I'm personally mocking them.

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    If android could compete in this space I would have expected Google to be banging the drum at Bett. They weren't. Chromebook is their vision of the future of ed-tech.

    Right now, your DP is right, provided he's got the balls to see it through. Though my conservative gut feeling is an 4-1 split between tablets and 'full fat' clients is really what you'll end up with. How the wireless copes with ATV is as you say a public unknown. I'd be surprised if Meru wouldn't want to use you as a case study for this. If I was doing a green fields implementation with cultural control of the new school then tablets are the way to go. The way of working and managing this sort of environment is different. It would in effect be a BYOD environment, even if the devices were owned by the institution. You would gift the core apps to your staff device accounts and they would have to opt into taking them.

    If you are unsure you must partner up with a company / and school that has done this sort of thing before, or one that is prepared to take a hit to make it work. If your Apple provider is not the same company that provided your Meru, get them in a room together and iron out how they will operate together. I'd suggest that the Apple team is afforded the level of access to Meru as though they were a member of your team. You may have to set aside a couple of grand to ensure that you had the right people in the room together getting this agreement i.e. Directors of Services and the Solution Architects from both sides, not just the account managers.

    The really key thing is for the your internal stakeholders to understand that you are not giving people general purpose computers and IWBs. The tools are different. Look to what outcomes you want. Look at what these tools can provide, be aware of how things are different, and how these differences can be played as strengths. Do not try to 'do what you've always done' because that will cause insurmountable difficulties. Accept the differences and move with them.

    On a technical note, again gut feeling only, but I would be tempted to have the ATVs wired to your infrastructure, so that the airplay only has to pass in one direction over your wireless. (see other thread).
    Synaethesia raises valid concerns, but these are all manageable. You are looking at a £200-350K for a greenfields secondary school IWB deployment including PC and LAN for each classroom. A greenfield ATV solution would be closer to £150-200K for wireless, PoE Switches with UPS (useful for your phones and CCTV too!), iPads for all staff, AppleTV and a new projector in each room with year 1 support.

    HTH. P.
    Last edited by psydii; 15th January 2012 at 09:26 AM. Reason: Typos and a better explanation of the large number at bottom.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Couple of bits to add, one of which will add a lot to the above budgetary estimation.

    1. Will your school still be able to deliver the curriculum (or Has your DP actually thought this through or has he/she thought of an idea and expecting you to come up with the goods)
    2. If so, you can add considerable staff training to the above budget.

    I'm not nay-saying, I'm just adamant that feet must be kept on the ground and goals kept realistic. New tech for the sake of new tech will likely hold the school back, even more so if noone has a clue what their goals are and how to achieve them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenrick View Post
    Dear all

    My DP would like our Academy to operate completely by mobile devices. He would like to remove all PCs, including teachers PCs that usually connect to IWB and just use Ipads.

    I have several concerns, my biggest being that my wireless will struggle to support so many devices, especially with the use of Apple TV in every classroom. We already have around 140 Ipads and we are looking to have another 550, if he can get me to agree and sign the job off!

    I am trying to create a report that will highlight all the pros and cons to going completely over to tablets. He is mainly interested in using the Ipad and he will take some convincing to try something like the Galaxy 10.1 Tablet.

    Do you know any schools that are operating completely on wireless and Tablets? If anyone could give me some reasons on why we shouldn't do it, i would really appreciate it. I have several already, but could always do with more.

    Many thanks
    there are examples of some schools doing one-to-one rollouts of ipads for all pupils and staff, whether these are in addition to existing client systems [and hence complimentary] or to replace exist desktops, laptops etc. i'm not sure. but there are certainly some examples of very substantial rollouts. As much as some people want to dismiss them, or keep a lid on the number of devices being purchased so as to relegate them to fad/niche and not have to think about them while they wait for windows 8 tablet vaporware, the rollouts are happening and SLt in schools do seem to be favouring them whatever the merits of the use cases.

    You already have a significant number of ipads in use. How are your users finding those in terms of accessing resources, connectivity, and from your point how have you overcome integration challenges. If you do imagine scaling up to hundreds of idevices, you'd have to argue the case for the type of rollout - how many shared, how many one-to-one devices and whether you can argue for significant investment in MDM and wireless to help you manage the whole shooting match. Enterprise grade MDM costs alone would probably exceed the cost of an all singing, all dancing wireless upgrade if your talking about 600 plus devices, and that wouldn't automatically be a one-off purchase either.

    What amazes me is despite the thousands of these things being rolled out, still no update on whether the UK is getting a Volume purchase program for the app store. i think it's desperately needed if schools are to have more control over how the devices are used, and if school IT support is going to be convinced from a deployment point of view.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    And people wonder why education in the UK is lacking and underfunded. Because money is being urinated away by short term projects. Then the government tell us there's not enough money for important things.

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    Does anyone know what was said at the Apple Edu invite only event a couple of days ago? I believe there is another one in New York in a week's time....

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    klingklang's Avatar
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    I think your DP needs to be put on gardening leave.

  11. 2 Thanks to klingklang:

    SimpleSi (15th January 2012), synaesthesia (15th January 2012)

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    john's Avatar
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    BECTA had a good document about infrastructure and it quite clearly stated that a Wired infrastrcuture was essential with Wireless is a complementary tool and should be used as such.

    This is an extract from the document (which I will try and find later if someone pokes me as I am on the train on the way back from BETT at present)

    Specific BECTA requirements
    Below is a sample selection of some of the requirements in the standard:
    - the network shall be of a star/tree design
    - managed switches shall be used
    - an Ethernet based wired solution shall be used as the primary network
    - new cabling shall have the ability to support data rates up to 1Gbps
    - every network interface cards connected to the network shall support data rates of at least 100Mbs
    - before a WLAN is implemented, a feasibility study should be done
    - Routing and switching cabinets shall be locked and keys strictly controlled
    - Network cabling should be protected from unauthorised interception or damage by utilising wall cavities and space behind walls wherever possible.

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    You might want to follow the links from this article - "The school that launched a thousand ipads"

    Free Technology for Teachers: The School That Launched 1,000 iPads

    Cheers Rob

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    I think that this is entirely feasible given the correct infrastructure.
    I think you'd need to concentrate on 3 things. Firstly the network, make sure you have a good wired infrastructure before investing in a decent wireless network - gigabit links to a AP's, perhaps with 10GbE core, depending upon the size of the school and a usable amount of internet broadband and failver. Secondly concentrate on moving staff and students to Web based systems such as google apps for the majority of tasks - google apps is a good choice here as it works on all devices, and google recently added the ability to remote wipe android devices. Thirdly you shoud think about something like Citrix or remote desktop services for all those apps that are not yet cloud based - this might be costly, especially given that without it you'd be saving stacks of money by not running MS services, active directory etc.
    I think this is the sort of thing you should embrace and run with, rather than concentrating on the negatives.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    I've had a bloggy rant on this already today but could someone please tell me what good spending this money will have on the people using it. Big pros/cons sort of thing, just to get an idea of whether the spend is actually going to be an efficient one over alternatives/upgrades of existing/side by side running etc.

    As already said I'm not naysaying without good reason, but (as many will know about me) I have vested interests in keeping costs down in schools and spending money where it is *needed* (last word in big font, blinking letters, bold and underlined). I'd like to know, basically

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    Thank you for all your responses, there have been some interesting points made, please keep them coming too.

    I am happy to embrace what they would like to achieve as I think it is important not to show too much negativity towards the DP's plans. However I do not want an investment made on something that potentially could fail to deliver what they are intending. It would then be down to me and my technicians to clear up the mess. I am not sure the infrastructure is there to support such high volumes of wireless traffic, and have therefore emailed the company that installed the Meru in the summer of last year for me to advise me of this.

    I did think that one major problem would be that they would not be able to access the resources on the school network via the Ipad, apparantly though it is possible to use Web Dav for this. Does anyone know much about Web Dav and how well it works for this purpose?

    I think with the correct infrastructure it could work, bottom line is though that you are giving users a slower, less reliable network and the user experience is bound to be of a lower quality.

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