Summer is usually a great time to update infrastructure in education. However, this year many school officials are spending their time and budgets trying to meet needs created by the recent pandemic.

While many IT administrators were recently forced to raid technology budgets to accommodate an urgent need for long-distance learning tools like laptops and hotspots, it’s not too early to start thinking about what you’ll need for the next budget cycle. With students carrying additional devices between home and school, you’ll want to make sure your network is capable of supporting not only more devices, but newer ones too.

Signs point to a need for some level of distance learning.

With more devices, more network options, and more uncertainties about the future of classroom learning, it can be hard to weigh solutions. Here are five steps to help you make the right decision:

1. Determine what applications you need to support.

2. Ensure that your network supports mobility.

3. Enhance your network security.

4. Choose the right level of support and management.

5. Stay within your budget.

How to Evaluate Your Network Needs

While the immediate future of learning is somewhat up in the air, all signs point to a need for some level of distance learning and in-class connectivity.

1. Determine what applications you need to support.

The applications on your network will determine the kinds of switching and wireless infrastructure you need. They will also affect how much bandwidth you’ll require.

Many schools are planning to implement hybrid learning environments next year. This means there will be a mix of in-class, distance, and online learning. Then add emerging tech like the Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) to the mix, and you may see a real strain on your network.

Many Schools are planning to implement hybrid learning environments.

Nuclias solutions by D-Link help IT administrators and managed service providers better manage their networks. Nuclias Connect and Nuclias Cloud allow you to prioritize devices or types of activity. For example, with many students likely to learn from home this year, you can prioritize web conferencing with teachers in the classroom. You can also assign the most-used device to a teachers-only network, so they won’t be hindered by other activities like streaming by students.

2. Ensure that your network supports mobility.

The current state of education means more students will adopt mobile learning via BYOD or devices provided by school districts and institutions of higher education. Those devices will likely be used both at home and on campus.

Schools often must manage both new and legacy devices on their networks. Consider compatibility with all the solutions you will have to support on your network. Many technologies are made for the current 802.11ac Wave 2 (WiFi 5) standard, but 802.11ax is the emerging standard. Nuclias Cloud and Connect support a range of devices for schools that are simultaneously updating old technologies and adopting a new generation of solutions.

3. Enhance Your Network Security.

Increasing the number of devices on your network already equals greater risk, but now chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused cyberattacks to spike dramatically. It’s important to protect student data and communications everywhere—from confidential records to conference calls.

Nuclias Cloud provides encrypted communication between the device and the cloud.

Nuclias Cloud provides encrypted communication between the device and the cloud. Additionally, both Nuclias solutions allow you to see who’s on your network and what they’re doing. They also allow you to limit access to content or websites that you don’t want students to visit, and that may put devices at risk of malware. Application control is another important security feature because it helps prevent third-party apps on student or staff devices from using your network to send or receive unauthorized files.

4. Choose the right level of support and management.

School faculty and IT staff are busy managing a slew of responsibilities. They’re already bound to become the IT support team to many more users as students now increase device use. You can relieve the pressure on overworked educators and IT staff members by choosing a cloud network solution like Nuclias Cloud, with off-site hosting equipment and management support.

If you do have a team that wants to manage the network, Nuclias Connect makes that easier with features like ticketing management so you can provide visitors with temporary WiFi access. Your on-site IT pros also won’t have to worry about hardware compatibility issues because Nuclias is standards-based.

Both Nuclias solutions provide simple network control and troubleshooting, and you can choose to receive alerts about issues before they disrupt the network.

5. Stay within your budget.

Education budgets are typically limited, but school districts recently had to stretch those already thin dollars to provide Chromebooks, tablets, laptops, and hotspots to households during lockdowns.

Now when making necessary network upgrades, you must decide whether to pay an IT support team to handle network needs or subscribe to a managed cloud service with a recurring subscription cost.

Nuclias Connect software is free to download, but on-premise solutions not only require the staff to manage them, but the efforts to update and maintain. Both Nuclias solutions are priced competitively, and Nuclias Cloud offers a pay-as-you-grow subscription structure.

How to Choose the Right Education Network Solution

Educators must cover a certain amount of ground each day if they want to teach students everything they need to learn in a school year. That’s why reliable WiFi that can handle today’s technologies and also protect students is as critical as ever. It’s time to upgrade your network if you have security concerns, there are bottlenecks or failures, or if you’ve added new technologies or additional devices to your network.

Nuclias Cloud is ideal for school districts that require simple, scalable setup and that don’t have the resources to manage and maintain on-site solutions. D-Link also provides 24/7 North America-based customer support for all its solutions. And, Nuclias comes with a limited lifetime warranty with next business day replacement, making it a worry-free investment.

Even with uncertain budgets and classroom plans, there are affordable, flexible, powerful, and more secure network options that will allow educators to provide the best learning environment possible.

To learn more about Nuclias Solutions by D-Link, contact us here.