By George Wilson, Director of Operations, APAC, at Paessler AG – PRTG Network Monitor
Digital transformation is changing the way we live, work and, more recently, how we learn. Educators across the globe have realised the benefits of new technologies in the classroom and are making drastic changes to their teaching methods in order to make the most of it.
From the broad use of computers and hand-held devices, to the use of digital tools to accelerate learning and increase student engagement – school is not the same place it used to be. As a result, pupils and teachers have become more tech-savvy and hungry for the latest innovations.
However, with more and more schools going paperless and adopting a culture of ‘bring your own device’, we have to pause to consider the impact on education when these systems stop working. What if a school’s IT doesn’t work? What is the impact on students and teachers?
One thing is for sure: no-one wants to find out. When IT is critical to the educational mission, any failures or outages will result in serious consequences. IT issues can prevent students from accessing course materials, endanger research projects, and paralyse school administrators. A stable infrastructure and consistent network monitoring are key to preventing disaster, so here are my three lessons for schools to better monitor and protect their networks.
1. Set up an IoT Gateway
IoT gateways allow users to manage the many IoT devices and sensors making their way on to a given network; translating each “thing’s” protocols, and forwarding each unique piece of IoT data to its most appropriate destination, whether into the network or to computers at the edge for immediate processing. IoT gateways manage and support the advancing array of wireless protocols that new devices and applications require. Schools can use an IoT gateway for real-time network protection against security issues that arise because of IoT vulnerabilities.
2. Ensure Network Capacity, Bandwidth
As schools move online, one thing is for sure: network traffic will grow due to increasing numbers of IoT devices being added to the network, which in turn add to bandwidth requirements. Schools can set up an SDN to automatically and dynamically allot network resources including bandwidth among IoT applications according to priorities reflected in policies. Such policies could include, for example, calendaring bandwidth for IoT devices that send data only at specified intervals. In addition, schools should also ensure that all WAN and LAN connections offer enough bandwidth to meet the data transmission requirements, ideally with the option to burst for short periods of time as needed.
3. Set up Network Monitoring in Support of IoT
The sheer number and types of IoT devices and evolving IoT-related network events require that schools use robust network monitoring. It is critical that school IT teams and admin plan ahead for adaptable, scalable network monitoring that encompasses the variables that must be accounted for with IoT.
The reality is, many schools don’t realise how reliant they have become on technology until their core network infrastructure stops working. As the education sector becomes increasingly more reliant on technology, it is vital that IT admins are preparing their networks for users and devices, whilst also actively monitoring the activity over the network 24/7. Whilst it can be hard to avoid major network issues, being well-prepared is essential in reducing the impact of outages to ensure a top quality education experience for pupils, regardless of location or device.