Friday, June 03, 2011

SICTDG: LTS Wireless Networking Group

Live capture of discussion at SICTDG Meeting Stirling, Friday 3 June

Report of meeting where there was a divide between educationalists and those in charge of infrastructure. Educationalists were making a good case but technologists were asking things like, "Why do we need wifi?". Some people who attended we saddened by the resistance felt by educationalists. Attitude should be what do you need and how can we provide it but the feeling is that it still works at the level of what they are willing to provide and they see wifi as carrying a high risk. Corporate still do not understand the educational rational for pupil owned mobile devices connecting to educational wifi. Of course, they have to protect the network but they should also be providing a service. We need to articulate clearly therefore why education needs this. In general, we need to explain what education needs from emerging technologies.

The future will almost certainly rely on personal mobile devices, probably one per pupil. This means wifi networks will have to be robust enough to cope with thousands of devices accessing the network. Technology will be (is already) embedded in learning.

One authority described how they were approaching this problem. In a school, it was suggested, there should be a secure network for admin computers. There is then a separate network (possibly a virtual separation) where educational networking activities can take place. Problem is of course where teachers need access to both for different activities. The are other difficulties, for example, they were told that access to corporate mail has to take place on campus, i.e. home access isn't allowed. There is also a problem with some subjects that make heavy use of storage (e.g. Art, CDT etc.) but the problem is it can only be accessed in school. Therefore, looking at possibility of moving this storage out of school and onto the cloud somehow. Then there will be a group of Internet only machines. {Not sure of the rationale - is it to minimise virus problems by preventing application installation? - DM} There will be a couple more layers for wifi access - one for school owned devices and a second for teacher/pupil owned devices.

More than one authority is acknowledging that realistically, they do not have the budget to provide all the required technology and that the future will therefore have to include pupil/teacher devices. This has social inclusion applications and of course security implications. Is it possible to use Glow for authentication and storage? This worries IT security people. The feeling though is that corporate IT are using security worries to prevent and stifle development rather than working with education to see how it can be made to work. Disappointment was expressed at the level of resistance and level of incomprehension as to why education want to use wifi and mobile devices in the first place.

1 comment:

Sonu Gupta said...

This is a very valuable addition to W|A, and must certainly improve the quality of the discourse on race and politics here in the States.
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