There is currently a new dynamic with the way students learn. Adjusting to the new reality of distance learning or staggered classrooms comes with a number of challenges. One of these is the ability to leverage a good network that can adjust and grow with the changing education environment.

“How do we enable a hybrid instructional environment where some students may learn from home, but others arriving at school or on campus and either attending classes or dialing in remotely from on-campus student housing? How do we foster a new educational culture when the experience shifts to this new model? And the role of the network infrastructure as school and university design once again evolves to accommodate this new normal. One thing is clear—connectivity, and the technologies that support it, will be even more important in setting the foundation for reimagined education,” says Warren Gordon, Business Unit Manager at Duxbury Networking – distributors of Aruba technology

The new education norm during COVID-19 entails three phases:

  • Phase 1 – Teaching, learning and working from home.

  • Phase 2 – Institutions returned in part, if not completely back on campus.

  • Phase 3 – A hybrid environment, which envisions a completely new approach to institutional instruction, management, facilities, and connectivity – where there is a mixture of administrators, students and teachers that come to the campus on a daily basis, and those that continue to teach and learn from home and visit the school or university only on occasion for important meetings or classes which cannot be taught remotely (science lab, performing arts, etc.). Phase 3 will build on the lessons learned in phases one and two.

Aruba ESP, a cloud-native and AI-driven platform, is specifically designed to address challenges that arise. It unifies infrastructures to connect multiple devices across a campus and serves as the foundation for the workplace reimagined. With Aruba Central at the heart of the solution, Aruba ESP provides a cloud experience that can be consumed either as a service in the cloud or on-premises.

In addition, Aruba can help to extend the education network with:

  • Aruba access points: These are ideal for faculty needing network access from remote locations while maintaining connectivity to instructional tools and systems.

  • Virtual Intranet Agent (VIA): An easy to deploy and use software client provides secure remote network connectivity to school resources. Use the same authentication credentials to gain access. Dynamically apply and enforce access policies based on the user’s role.

By delivering Aruba ESP through a cloud model, educational institutions can quickly scale up when the situation calls for it, while enabling centralised management and AI-powered automation. Aruba ESP provides a single pane of glass for wireless, wired and WAN infrastructure across campus, branch, remote learner, and data centre locations for a unified operational model.

“This becomes increasingly important as the institution is dispersed, because it simplifies network operations and management across any educational environment. And built-in Zero Trust Security means that that the network remains secure, regardless of where employees, students, or devices are connecting from,” says Gordon.

As the blend of home and physical school or campus environments becomes better understood, the hybrid institution will come into focus. This blended learning space may consist of a new generation of classroom products and form factors that build on current teach-and-learn-from-home solutions like Route Access Protocols (RAPs), while new campus guidelines for density and living and academic space management will require flexibility, intelligence and fluid, seamless connectivity with remote locations for a consistent experience—no matter where everyone connects from.

“Reimagined education will increasingly rely on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IoT sensors, and other capabilities that build on what we’ve learned in phases 1 and 2 of the instructional recovery journey. Where can touchless solutions be used more effectively? How does the network play a bigger role in security and crisis management, should any health or other type of emergency arise? What about automatically adjusting physical and environmental factors for everyone based on their preferences?” says Gordon.

With a rich set of open APIs and high quality, AI-curated data, Aruba is actively mapping out what new educational environments may look like and the benefits it will provide. Long established partnerships with key leaders in the field of school and campus architecture, design and furnishings will help to redefine next-generation instructional and intelligent learning spaces. Additional technology partnerships will address smart building and long-term health and safety challenges, regardless of where students, faculty and staff connect.

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