07-23-2014 08:35 AM - edited 07-23-2014 10:31 AM
Can you imagine the scale and complexity of rolling out iPads or Chromebooks to 650,000 students across 900 schools? Not an easy task, but if Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the U.S., can do it, any K-12 can!!
The district’s larger goal was to provide anytime, anyplace learning to each student. According to Shahryar Khazei, Deputy CIO of LAUSD, this meant “not only putting powerful tools in the hands of our students and teachers, but also building the appropriate infrastructure, including campus Wi-Fi, to support their use.”
Phase-1 of LAUSD’s one-to-one rollout was kicked off with 30,000 iPads across 47 schools.
Here are some tips & tricks from the LAUSD deployment that can be applied to school districts of all sizes.
1. Don’t let the shiny new mobile devices distract you from ensuring your technology and learning goals align.
“We’re ensuring the technology is available to meet our instructional requirements, including the Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium online testing,” says Khazei. “Our goal is to provide reliable wireless access that’s like electricity or any other utility — teachers and students should just expect secure Wi-Fi to be there, ready for them to use.”
If reliable online testing and supporting a rich multimedia curriculum are essential, avoid consumer-grade Wi-Fi.
2. Give your current infrastructure a reality check, and shoot for a rock solid next-gen infrastructure that will meet performance, security and ecosystem needs specific to your district.
For LAUSD, multi-vendor tools and enterprise-grade capabilities were high priority. “We intentionally developed stringent specifications that only enterprise manufacturers could meet,” says Jim Del Nostro, Director of IT Security for the district. “That way, we could adopt technology that’s appropriate for our size and scale of organization.”
Other districts may choose to prioritize ease of installation and management as a result of resource limitations, or prefer cloud-based tools to align with their long-term cloud initiatives. Either way, developing a plan that works for your district is key.
3. Ease teacher anxiety by simplifying the new digital classroom experience.
“Because our teacher accounts authenticate against Microsoft Active Directory at the server level, our device access management tool, ClearPass, will enable teacher devices to automatically access internal resources,” says Del Nostro.
Seamless network connectivity and simplified policy-based access to learning resources are critical for successful digital classrooms. Spending precious classroom time waiting to connect or troubleshooting can be very frustrating to teachers and often leads to abandoning technology tools.
4. Demand tools that allow you to be smart about your network.
“In order to provide high-quality teaching and learning experiences, we need to know specifics,” says Del Nostro. “This includes the total number of devices on our network at any given time and the exact APs to which the devices are connected. It’s also very important to know the amount of bandwidth each device is consuming.”
Granular visibility and control over devices and applications on your network is extremely important for both proactive planning and easy troubleshooting.
5. Be in complete control of who gets on your Wi-Fi network, how and what they can access based on your district-defined policies.
“This is a critical security feature,” says Khazei. “We need the full flexibility to differentiate student access from that of employees and teachers. It’s also important for us to have the ability to differentiate devices by location, such as a classroom versus a hallway or a playground.” “For instance,” he continues, “during assessment periods students may be taking tests on iPads or tablets. So we need Wi-Fi and network access solutions that are intelligent enough to differentiate and prioritize traffic in a manner that is efficient and easy to use. For example, a tablet being used in a hallway may be slowed or denied access to give full bandwidth to the classroom devices participating in the exam.”
These are just a few takeaways, so please be sure to check out the complete story at www.arubanetworks.com/pdf/solutions/CS_LAUSD.pdf.
When the rollout is complete, “we expect to see over two million devices riding on our network at any given time,” Khazei says. Can’t wait! We’ll continue watching for other best practices for the K-12 community!
Are you rolling out 1:1 in your district? Please share your best practices too.