If you asked 5 people for definitions of “smart” or “success,” you would likely receive responses with similarities and differences. Webster’s definition of “smart” includes “showing intelligence,” “mentally alert,” and/or “witty, clever.” Likewise, Webster’s definition of “success” includes “having the desired result” or “having gotten or achieved wealth, respect, or fame.” Using these definitions, let’s dive deeper into the smarter networks = successful students question.
Smart networks that “show intelligence,” or are “mentally alert,” are those with insight to what is taking place on the network. They can adapt and be predictive. If they are “witty/clever,” then they are intuitive and can integrate network tools and resources to meet the needs of individual users. The ability to support/block applications, deliver content at various bandwidths, use Wi-Fi, leverage existing low-bandwidth cabling, conduct Wi-Fi tests prior to a new use case, securely deploy, support IoT-enabled environments, and be able to do all of this in a BYOD culture, is surely evidence of a smart network. But what is a smart network’s connection to successful students?
You might agree that “success” is relative to the individual. A “desired result” or “achieved wealth” may mean different things to different people. It is a personal measurement. According to recent studies, just as success is personal to each individual, so too must be learning. Say what?! How can Higher Education possibly individualize learning? For a variety of valid reasons, teachers do what they are comfortable with (lecture, for example), what they are confident in (possibly low-tech), and within the boundaries of 24 hours in a day (they can’t find time to individualize teaching). Learners must then adapt to each individual instructor. Although adaptation is a great life lesson, research indicates students are most successful when they have personalized learning experiences. Can learning management systems track student’s progress and guide them towards “individual” learning paths? Can assessments baseline a student’s knowledge and suggest a course of learning? Can data sources give awareness to what is best for a student? Sure! But setting a digital footprint and map for personalized learning is only part of the picture…the network must do its job.
Smarter Networks = Successful Students?
So, what does a network have to do with personalized learning and student success? Whether an institution chooses to adopt personalized learning from the top down, or through a grass roots effort, the network MUST support it, and that means being intelligent, mentally alert, and clever! Much like a foundation of a house, what sits on top is only as good as what is beneath. So, do smarter networks mean successful students? Let’s keep it real. There is no guarantee that a smarter network will produce 100% successful students. But why not ensure the network supports learners in reaching their full potential, no matter the technology being used. Isn’t reaching full potential an indication of success?
To learn more, read the latest Educause review on personalized learning and the new Aruba solutions that support “smart” networks.
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