Rob, a Canadian teacher-librarian, recently e-mailed asking if and why our schools are putting in wireless access points. He is looking at the educational benefits, especially. Below is my reply. I'm hoping other readers can provide additional ideas..
We are providing managed wireless connectivity in all our schools K-12. There is both “open access” which is only port 80 traffic for any visitor or student, and “closed access” which requires log-in by staff or students to get to other resources on our networks. The wireless access is filtered, seems to be working reliably, and is used extensively.
We embarked on the wireless project about four years ago for a number of reasons:
- We wanted to provide more computer/Internet access to our students but did not have the physical space for additional labs or the funds for lots of classroom computers. Mobile carts of laptops made sense for us, and these really require wireless Internet/network storage access so they can be used throughout buildings.
- We wanted to provide a safe and convenient means for students, staff and visitors to use personal devices to access the Internet. Wireless connectivity does this for us. It decreases the incentive for people to bring Ethernet cables to school, getting unauthorized access to the networks.
- More teachers want the convenience of using portable devices (PDAs, laptops) to do assessments and grades in real time, near students, and be able to use their laptops in a variety of locations in their classrooms and in the school.
- All staff wanted wireless connectivity so that they could check their e-mail during really boring meetings ;-)