More Mobile Devices in Classrooms Means a Need for More Network Bandwidth

mobile devices in classrooms ed tech

Although initially some parents and educators thought there was no room for tablets, laptops and other mobile devices in classrooms, the environment has significantly shifted since then. Currently, a considerable number of schools have technology initiatives, and are working to leverage connected systems in a way that improves the education students receive.


A rising number of student devices


According to new research from Project Tomorrow, the vast majority of pupils today have access to mobile devices, The Journal stated. The group’s report found 89 percent of high-school aged students and 73 percent of middle schoolers have the ability to use smartphones, and 66 percent of both groups have access to laptops. Additionally, 50 percent of high schoolers and 61 percent of middle school pupils can use tablets. Overall, statistics show that one-third of all students in the U.S. use mobile devices at school.


Furthermore, it’s not only education and administrators pushing for mobile initiatives. MindShift noted that parents are increasingly supporting the utilization of tablets and laptops in the classroom as well.


“Majorities of parents believe that mobile devices and applications offer fun, engaging ways of learning, connecting and communicating,” stated a report from Grunwald Associates and Learning First Alliance. “When it comes to mobile devices and education, most parents believe that these devices can open up learning opportunities, benefit students’ learning and can engage students in the classroom. Many parents also believe that mobiles and apps teach academic skills and content.”


More mobile endpoints mean more network bandwidth needs


However, the transition to a more mobile classroom does come with its share of obstacles, particularly when it comes to network bandwidth. Just as business leaders experienced increased network stress with the influx of BYOD hardware, school administrators are also feeling the stress of added mobile endpoints connecting to their broadband resources.


According to District Administration, many of today’s school networks are still designed for the standards set in the mid-1990s, where the infrastructure had to be able to support one computer for every five students. Therefore, when each pupil is trying to work with their own mobile device, the functionality of applications and cloud performance can suffer.


“That density of users can make a big difference, and is why you see wireless networks slow down,” said Denise Atkinson-Shorey, CoSN senior project director.


In order to take advantage of all the educational benefits mobile devices have to offer, administrators must ensure that their school’s network bandwidth is up to the task of supporting students’ tablets and laptops. Superintendents and other decision-makers within education institutions must examine the amount of network bandwidth they currently have and increase bandwidth to ensure students have fast and reliable access to educational Web materials.