Device Integration into Higher Education is the New Normal

By October 17, 2016 No Comments

A college or university campus was once marked by its dynamic environment, full of the energy and excitement of the youth. Only, the iconic image of that vibrancy has changed in the last few decades. The once common sight of loud and noisy activities in the quad has given way to a scene where almost every head is bent over a digital device, furiously typing away. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just texting for fun—it’s how the new kids on the block learn.

 The current generation of campus dwellers uses these new devices with natural, almost instinctual, ease. Students find it convenient to access everything via devices―from managing personal and social lives to education. They use smartphone apps to register for courses, check on their finances, access campus security, and browse food options. Entertainment-like videos, gaming, and social applications now form an essential element of life on campus. The overall campus experience is elevated when students are able to bring their personal devices with them everywhere.

In such a world where devices are always on, always connected, are cloud-driven and mobile, it’s vital that there be a rock-solid foundation of reliable Wi-Fi that can support it. As a matter of fact, from classrooms to dorms, libraries to restaurants, sports fields to basement parking decks, students have come to expect uninterrupted Wi-Fi everywhere.

Personalized Learning

Education has become personalized like never before. Students can now customize their learning based on their individual goals and interests in a manner not unlike putting together a playlist on their iPod. Courses and curricula as we knew them have gone out of the window and have been replaced with the “post-course era” in higher education.

This in turn has meant an upsurge in the adoption of blended learning models. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are no longer a novelty. There is a spurt of online modules in higher education, even in institutions that have traditionally endorsed in-person learning. The enabler of growth in this dimension may be digital technology, but it does not stand upfront; instead, the emphasis is on students’ lives and learning experiences for which technology is a catalyst.

Adaptability and Growth of Infrastructure

All campuses today are expected to provide and manage connectivity for a variety of devices. This connectivity has to be hassle-free for the users and the techs who manage the networks. In addition, this stellar service is expected to reach across hundreds of classrooms, dorm rooms, common areas, and several thousand devices.

Today’s campuses demand Wi-Fi infrastructure that can dynamically optimize for diverse devices that connect to it. It is also expected to continually reconfigure to address issues such as interference, fluctuating density of devices, and coverage or performance problems.

Re-entering credentials to log onto the network can be a pain for anyone. Young students have even less patience for this. If they have to do it over again and again for several devices, it can make for a truly unhappy crowd on-campus. It’s not just the students. At any given time, an educational institution hosts several guests, faculty, visitors, etc. They too have come to expect the same quality of Wi-Fi, while maintaining a high level of security.

Making on-boarding simple, secure, and scalable is at the core of keeping campus life humming for its students and staff. With use of mobile phones, online education, cloud-based applications, and BYOE (Bring Your Own Everything), IT departments on campuses are having to reconfigure their support strategies and their security policies.

Image Credit: wavebreakmedia/

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