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Case Study: High School Goes Wireless With U4EA

Hollis Brookline High School, located in New Hampshire, is a silver medal school ranked in the top 1,300 high schools in the United States, as reported by Newsweek Magazine. The high school is dedicated to inspiring lifelong learning and achievement among its students.

Challenge:

Hollis Brookline High wanted to offer students the use of computers in class, but realizing that it would be impractical to wire 30 connections for every classroom, the high school went wireless, setting up one computer jack for each classroom. Teachers would then reserve a given time slot, such as 8 a.m. Tuesday, which would give their classroom access to one of three carts, each containing 30 laptops, for a designated period of time. At that time, the teacher would plug a wireless access point into the computer jack in the classroom, and the students would turn on their computers. That’s when the problems started. Half of the time, the laptops would connect to the wireless network, and half of the time they wouldn’t. The teachers and school were stuck with a difficult situation. They had 30 kids that needed to get to work, but the teacher had to effectively stop the lesson to bring a technician into class to get the laptops up and running. This caused considerable frustration for teachers and wasted valuable learning time for students.

Solution:

Hollis Brookline High School knew wireless was the way to go, but they needed a more reliable wireless solution for classrooms. They decided to try U4EA’s Fusion 300 Wireless LAN Controller and access points, known as a system that is fast and easy to set up and manage.

Results:

Hollis Brookline placed U4EA’s Wireless LAN Controller at the high school, and then mounted access points in the hallway throughout the school, rather than in each classroom as was done previously. Because of the greater range of U4EA’s solution, a single AP covers up to six Hollis Brookline classrooms with cinderblock walls. That’s a significant cost-savings for the school.

In addition to reducing cost, Hollis Brookline benefited from greatly increased reliability with U4EA’s solution. With the new WLAN and APs in place, teachers now wheel a laptop cart into their classrooms, and 30 students turn on their laptops and immediately connect to the wireless network. This can take place in three classrooms simultaneously, since the school has 90 laptops available. The new system ensures efficient use of class time, and relieves teachers of IT headaches.

“The teachers love it! They no longer have to worry about connecting cables. They wheel the laptop cars into the room and the students are able to start work right away. The reliability of connecting to the U4EA system improves quality use of technology in the classroom. This also means less time training teaching staff to use the wireless carts,” said Richard Raymond, the school’s district IT coordinator.

On the management side, Hollis Brookline has benefited from automated configuration with the new system. With the old equipment, in order to provide security for laptops on the wireless network, each AP had to be configured separately. With U4EA’s solution, all configuration is completed on the controller, a huge time savings for technical staff.

As a side benefit, teachers, administrators and consultants are enjoying the flexibility that reliable wireless access brings. Staff can now bring in their PDAs and laptops from home to use in their classroom. The school can also easily grant wireless access to consultants who come to campus to help students with various educational programs, such as the school’s active robotics program.

Looking Ahead:

Hollis Brookline started using U4EA’s Wireless LAN solution as a pilot program, wherein they bought enough access points to cover part of the school. The school has been so pleased with the system they have purchased additional access points to cover the remainder of the high school.

Hollis Brookline houses the networking gear for the entire school district, and the district is now looking to expand U4EA’s wireless solution to other schools it serves. One of U4EA’s access points is already installed at a district middle school, connected through fiber-optic cable to the Hollis Brookline’s campus. This school is the next target for a school-wide wireless solution.

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