Meru Wi-Fi supports 1,200 iPad minis at Pleckgate High School in the UK

Pleckgate High School in Blackburn opts for simultaneous switch on deploying 1,200 iPad minis using Meru high density technology; Meru Bonjour Gateway used to connect devices to Apple TVs

Meru Wi-Fi supports 1,200 iPad minis at Pleckgate High School in the UK

A Meru Networks Wi-Fi systems is supporting the deployment of 1,200 iPad minis in one day distributed to pupils in the Blackburn-based Pleckgate High School in the UK, the company announced today (20 January 2014).

The mobile launch – a first for the school – coincided with the first day of the new Autumn term, and was chosen in favour of a phased rollout due to the Meru solution’s proven high-density handling capabilities, the company said.

“At my previous school, we rolled out iPod touches, but found that the Cisco wireless network was simply unable to cope with a high number of devices connecting at the same time. We switched to Meru with great success,” said Lewis Hall, e-learning manager at Pleckgate High School.

“When I moved to Pleckgate, we expanded the existing Meru network, which has been able to cope with everything we threw at it and more. People said we were crazy to deploy 1,200 devices in one day, but, using Meru, it went even better then we imagined.”

One of the government’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) successes, Pleckgate became one of the first schools to trial a free iPad mini programme last year. Such a large-scale mobile device ‘switch on’ was deemed a worthwhile risk, with Pleckgate having already deployed Meru’s Wi-Fi technology throughout the school and with management’s prior experience with Meru’s ability to support high numbers of users and devices simultaneously.

Each member of the Pleckgate staff also has an iPad mini or an iPad2, as well as a MacBook Air, while every classroom and learning space is equipped with Apple TVs, with use enabled by the Meru Bonjour Gateway – all deployed within the space of the last 12 months. 

The school will eventually move to an all-mobile environment, phasing out desktops PCs and laptops in classrooms to improve student-teacher interaction and accelerate independent learning.

Pleckgate makes extensive use of Apple TV units powered by the Apple AirPlay service. Meru’s Bonjour Gateway support, integrated into the Meru MobileFLEX architecture, helps ensure that transmitting devices and the displays connected to Apple TV units are appropriately co-ordinated on a per-classroom basis, to avoid interference and confusion. Meru’s access points and controllers manage the service dynamically.

“iPads and mobile devices are not a quick fix, we know that, but are an enabler to delivering better learning and teaching,” said Hall. “I knew from previous experience that this approach could work. At my previous school we doubled our GCSE results within two years of deploying mobile devices and teaching and learning went from 60% ‘inadequate’ to 70% ‘good’ in Ofsted results. A mobile device strategy can be effective, as long as the right infrastructure is in place to support it.”

Sarosh Vesuna, vice president and general manager of education at Meru Networks, added: “Pleckgate School took a calculated risk in deploying thousands of mobile devices in a single day, knowing that its wireless network would be able to stand up to the challenge. Increasingly, schools and other educational establishments need to know that their Wi-Fi can deliver each time every time and cope with the rigorous demands of large numbers of users and devices.”

Meru’s Education-grade (MEG) wireless solution is designed to solve educational institutions’ BYOD (Bring your own device) issues and support their learning-essential applications. MEG starts with three simple steps:

  • On-board quickly with BYOD provisioning and secure wireless access mapped to IT policies.
  • Connect all BYOD devices reliably anywhere on campus.
  • Learn by deploying validated learning and teaching applications on BYOD devices over the MEG wireless solution.

Pleckgate joins more than 3,000 schools in the UK and Ireland which are currently using MEG solutions.

Meru is at the technology in education show BETT 2014 on stand E340 at London's Excel between 22 and 25 January 2014.

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