Student engagement and collaboration strengthened with BYOD and Aruba Wi-Fi at Roseville city schools.
When Laura Assem arrived at the Roseville City School District, parent, teacher and administrator interest in transitioning to a mobile-centric, digital learning approach was strong.
"Like so many communities, our constituents saw the value of a mobility-enabled education for preparing our students to succeed academically and in life," explains Assem, the CTO of this TK-8 Northern California school district. "While desktop devices may continue to play a role, the future is unquestionably mobile."
Great Wi-Fi Wherever Learning Happens
Before, using Wi-Fi was a struggle. Now, when students need to take out their devices, there’s no downtime because it just works.
Derk Garcia, Superintendent, Roseville City School District
With the school board keen to embrace a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) mobility model, supplemented by district-issued supplemented by district-issued Chromebooks and laptops, it became clear the district’s existing wireless infrastructure wasn’t up to the task. State-mandated online assessments further overloaded the classroom Wi-Fi.
“With the legacy system, adjacent wireless access points (APs) would ‘fight’ over a nearby device rather than achieving smooth handoffs,” says Assem. “For users, this caused frustrating performance breakdowns and sapped educational time, even though an AP was in plain sight.”
As mobile became the norm, Roseville’s students and teachers needed reliable and seamless Wi-Fi wherever learning happened, indoors or out.
“As one of our broader technology goals was standardizing, Aruba provided the most holistic solution,” says Assem. “It included Wi-Fi and the networking switches required for connecting the system to our wired LAN, which was also transitioning to HPE networking equipment.”
Tapping into the federal E-rate funding program enabled Roseville to cost-effectively replace its legacy system with enterprise-grade networking from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. “By leveraging E-rate, we defrayed about 50 percent of our Wi-Fi modernization costs,” says Chris Johnson, network analyst for the district.
Aruba 802.11ac Wave 2 Instant Access Points for Gigabit Wi-Fi
The district deployed Aruba Instant Wi-Fi to 19 elementary and middle schools, a district office, a student services facility and a warehouse/food services building. The wireless network supports 11,000 students and 1,600 faculty and staff.
To meet the demands of mobile first learning, the district more than doubled the density of access points. With nearly 700 Aruba Instant Access Points (IAPs), the 802.11ac Wave 2 network provides speedy wired-like performance in high-density classrooms.
Simplified installation met stringent timeline
The choice of Aruba Instant quickly proved critical when third-party shipping errors caused serious equipment arrival delays. A controllerless enterprise-grade Wi-Fi solution, Aruba Instant is exceptionally easy to set up.
“To deploy the Wi-Fi before school resumed in August required completing four sites per day,” says Stryder Inpyn, IT director at Team One, the district’s solution provider, also based in Roseville, CA. “Aruba’s IAPs, along with the implementation strategy we engineered, cut the typical installation time from weeks to days.”
“Aruba Instant provides many efficiency opportunities while supplying high-performance Wi-Fi,” Assem agrees. “Whenever something is plug-and-play, it eases strains on IT resources and budget.”
An Intelligent, Flexible Edge
To support its digital learning efforts and the new gigabit Wi-Fi, the district deployed nearly 400 PoE+-enabled Aruba 2530 and 2930 switches. These cost-effective access switches have enterprise-grade features and are simple to deploy and manage. With PoE+ support, the district can power IP phones, security cameras and other devices directly from the switch.
“Utilizing PoE+ switches reduces the expenses associated with purchasing and running cable, as well as economizing on space and heat in wiring closets,” says Inpyn. “This adds up to significant savings.”
Aruba ClearPass for Policy-based Network Access Control
“Security is a top concern for every district, making it a focus of our work for Roseville,” says Inpyn. “ClearPass provides capabilities the district needs today as well as options to address future demands.”
With ClearPass, Roseville can provide a safe BYOD environment by managing access rights for each person and device. Teachers and administrators are granted permissions based on the applications and data they need. Students can access their virtual workspaces, and the Internet, but are restricted from other areas of the district’s network. Visitors and other guests have easy access to the Wi-Fi.
“Without ClearPass, we’d need an army of IT personnel to manage devices and access,” says Johnson. “We look forward to leveraging the many ways ClearPass can streamline security and strengthen access.”
Aruba AirWave for Network Management and Optimization
“Providing lean primary education IT staffs, like Roseville’s, with efficient optimization software is vital,” says Inpyn. “AirWave’s capabilities supply a robust portfolio of tools and an intuitive dashboard that is easy to access from anywhere and on any device.”
Providing deep network insights and user-friendly controls, AirWave is essential to fine-tune performance and identify issues before user disruption occurs. Plus, the district can ensure a consistent experience for educational and administrative applications, and limit bandwidth available to non-essential applications.
Exceptional Learning Experiences
Students and teachers in Roseville immediately recognized the benefits of robust, high-capacity, resilient Wi-Fi.
According to Superintendent Derk Garcia, the most important outcome is seamless and stable wireless experience as students and staff moves throughout classrooms.
“Educational minutes are too precious to waste on trying to figure out how to get devices connected,” he says. “It is critical to empower students and staff by removing technology frustration. Now, when students need to take out their devices, there is no downtime because it just works.”
As mobile and IoT innovations provide more opportunities to improve teaching and learning, the Roseville schools’ network is ready. For instance, IoT sensors to manage HVAC, lighting and blinds can help mitigate energy costs automatically.
In classrooms, smart televisions, interactive whiteboards and other devices increase interactivity, improve collaboration and encourage student engagement, while creating flexible learning spaces that today’s digital kids expect. Achieving that vision depends on great Wi-Fi.
“In short,” Assem concludes, “our new infrastructure and our relationship with Team One are real wins for our district, and most importantly, for the students we serve.”