Primary (K-12) Education

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Flipping Classrooms Wirelessly

Classroom flipping is a hot topic among educators across the country, including at Derby Public Schools in Derby, Kansas. There, modern computing technologies are making flipped classrooms practical.


“I teach a paperless, modified flip class,” reports Laura Hayden, eighth-grade digital studies and yearbook teacher at the Derby Middle School. “It’s essential for my students to get to their online material quickly and our wireless system enables them to do just that. It’s significantly faster than our old wired network.”


Derby-Collage.jpg “Also,” she continues, “I’ve been able to expand my personal, as well as student collaboration, with laptops that can travel within the room, hall or building. And, our yearbook staff can easily take their laptops to another part of the building to verify information.”


Derby instructional models are also changing in other ways. “With the use of iPods, iPads, Macbook Pro's, and Apple TV's in the classroom, having the ability for these products to interact wirelessly is a must,” says Mindy Oppriecht, a third-grade teacher at Derby’s El Paso Elementary School.


“Our Wi-Fi network allows us to teach our students how to properly do research online and communicate through Google Docs or Email,” she adds. “It also opens up a limitless amount of resources for teachers to use in providing a more in depth learning experience for our classrooms. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have all of that access at my fingertips.”


Such innovations are exactly what district officials had in mind when they embraced a 1:1 computing model to drive adoption of the ‘Four C’s’ of 21st Century learning: collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking.


“For us, the only meaningful way to accomplish the Four C’s was giving students and teachers access to devices and resources all of the time,” explains Drew Lane, Director of Technology at Derby. “So we established the right wireless infrastructure with robust management applications based on access points and mobility controllers. Then we deployed a combination of iPads and MacBook Airs.”


Not surprisingly, Derby’s technology philosophy and deployments also support the district’s transition to the state’s version of the Common Core, the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards, and the accompanying online assessments.


“When we developed our district’s most recent technology model, we envisioned a system that transcended current standards and assessments,” Lane says. “In other words, we designed a platform that not only supports the latest standards, but also enables us to be nimble enough to respond to emerging requirements as the standards change.”


To that end, Derby committed to wireless networking for its 6700 students plus 1000 teachers, staff, and employees when it recently upgraded its Wi-Fi infrastructure. “Our new Aruba network provides primary connectivity,” says Lane. “We cut back on the number of wired ports, retaining only what we needed to permit expansion.”


According to Lane, the network management tools Aruba provides are the key to making Wi-Fi successful in a district with a lean IT staff responsible for servicing 14 buildings spread over 50 square miles. Those tools include the ClearPass Access Management System and AirWave Network Management.


“We use ClearPass to drive our guest network, where we permit guest devices to access the Internet,” says Lane. “And AirWave is critical to operating our network efficiently. With AirWave, we rarely dispatch staff to physically service equipment – only if a piece of gear isn’t working.”


In addition, Lane foresees “an explosion” in the number and usage of Apple TVs at Derby. “We’ll use AirGroup to silo those devices as they tend to be chatty on the network,” he says.


What’s more, Derby’s IT staff looks forward to adding the granularity available in the Aruba Mobility-Defined Networks architecture. “The new application visibility, control and diagnostics will help us dig deeper,” says Lane. “For example, we’ll be able to examine application usage to assist us with determining which apps the district should keep and which we should divest from.”


“We’re also very excited about the Layer 7 deep packet inspection,” adds Lane. “Many cloud-enabled applications no longer respond to URL filtering, so you must manage them at Layer 7. Aruba’s new tools allow for making solid, informed decisions about whether I should prioritize, flow control or block various types of traffic.”


For other districts meeting new wireless needs, Lane offers some solid advice. “Start by assessing which type, and how many, devices you’ll need,” he says. “But, before deploying them, first roll out the network infrastructure you’ll need, including comprehensive, centralized network management applications.”


“By following this strategy with our new Aruba WLAN,” he adds, “know what’s happening on our network. So we are not just guessing, anymore.”


To learn more about Aruba’s K-12 solutions, visit

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