Fearns Community Sports College in Lancashire, UK has deployed Xirrus Access Points (APs) to deliver a school-wide Wi-Fi network for its 600 pupils and 85 staff.
The new Wi-Fi network is based on Xirrus' XR-520 Wireless APs, and has enabled the Lancashire college to provide flexible learning for its students, with pupils able to access documents and learning resources at any time and any place across the college campus.
Wi-Fi is set up for student and staff laptops, with the ability to add iPads and other devices in the future as the college moves towards implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. Immediate benefits of the network include the ability for teachers to take the register on tablets - removing unnecessary lesson delays - while also providing access to centralised teaching resources and online applications, enabling teachers to take lessons out of the classroom
"We believe that Wi-Fi will be crucial to students' learning in the next 18 months," said Martin Brown, network manager, Fearns Community Sports College. "The old model of school IT isn't suited to the modern age, with students restricted to desktops in a dedicated computer room.
“That's certainly not how young people use technology, while the move towards mobility is one of the main IT trends in business. The new Wi-Fi network enables us to provide a fantastic experience for students, providing them with access to the information and content they need to excel, while future-proofing the college for further expansion and new capabilities, such as BYOD."
Xirrus provided Fearns with a fully managed Wi-Fi network with no single point of failure. The college uses the Xirrus Management System (XMS) to manage various aspects of the network, such as monitoring usage levels and controlling which devices connect to the network.
"Like most schools and colleges, we don't have a big IT team, so we needed a system that is easy to manage and control," said Brown. "This is especially important when you are moving away from a familiar Windows network. Thanks to Xirrus' management software, it's easy for our IT team to administer the network, monitor performance, control access and set up a dedicated VLAN for students. We also know that we can take advantage of Xirrus' Application Control capabilities when we begin to add specialised school apps that need performance guarantees."
Before proceeding with the installation, Xirrus undertook a site survey to ensure that the network would achieve the promised levels of coverage and performance across a diverse set of building types dating from the 1960s and 70s.
"We were very impressed with Xirrus' approach to the whole project, from the initial consultancy to the final delivery. They never pushed us towards the most expensive technology, but instead took the time to listen to our needs. We now have a powerful, dependable Wi-Fi network that has enabled us to get rid of costly and outdated cable infrastructure but, more importantly, to change the school experience for our students," said Brown.
Sean Larner, VP International at Xirrus, said: "We all remember the best teachers and best lessons from our school careers, and often the most enjoyable and inspiring lessons were the ones that took place outside of the classroom -- whether it was physics in the school gym or Shakespeare on the playing fields.
“But it's not just about lessons in the sunshine: by deploying a high performance Wi-Fi network, Fearns is enabling students to access resources and educational content wherever they like, and to work in the way that best suits them. It's fantastic for the students' school experience, and we're sure it will help propel them to even great academic heights."