Learning never stops: Harnessing the power of network connectivity in education

Round-the-clock internet activity has revolutionised the way students and teachers approach learning. Caroline Donnelly find out more...

The internet has made it easier than ever to connect with knowledgeable people from across the globe and access up-to-date information about an infinite number of topics.  

At the touch of a button, or the swipe of a tablet screen, anyone can be instantly connected to the resources they need to develop new skills, acquire qualifications and expand their knowledge at any time of the day.

Increased bandwidth provides teachers and pupils with faster access to more information from the classroom or at home and improves communication and collaboration.

And that's not gone unnoticed by the academic sector who regularly draw on the power of the internet to engage and educate students in a variety of new and innovative ways.

It's for this reason, despite the budgetary constraints the education sector often finds itself under, that investing in network connectivity should be a top priority, argues Anton Murphy, business development manager at InTechnology Managed Services.

"Increased bandwidth provides teachers and pupils with faster access to more information from the classroom or at home and improves communication and collaboration," he says. 

"Beyond this, reliable network connectivity increases pupil motivation by creating a quicker pace of learning to drive better lesson outcomes and crucially frees up IT departments to spend more time supporting other IT priorities."

Sharing knowledge

A robust Wi-Fi network is a key requirement in most modern classrooms, as many schools now provide students with access to laptops and tablets so they can take advantage of cloud-based learning tools and digital textbooks.

And any unscheduled downtime can have a detrimental impact on students, according to Mario di Mascio, executive director at Virgin Media Business.

His company has been working with the education consortium the London Grid for Learning to improve the quality of network access for 2,500 of the capital's schools since 2011 through the deployment of fibre optic broadband.

"You have to make sure you provide a consistent high level of service, because if you lose that one hour of connectivity, then you lose one hour of learning and that's an hour the students are never going to get back," he says. 

It's normal for schools and universities to host intranets for their students to login to out of hours where they can pick up homework tasks, request assistance with assignments and access additional learning materials.

A good example of this comes in the form of education technology firm Canvas; a provider of virtual learning platforms who launched in the UK in March 2014 after winning over the US education sector with its cloud-based offerings.

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