In order to provide students with 1:1 learning opportunities, Ramsey School needed to deploy over 2,000 iPads.
But, with the deployment of over 2,000 iPads came the demands for bigger, better bandwidth on the school’s network.
As a result, Ramsey School turned to Lightpath, the company the school has relied on for network upgrades for the past 15 years.
On top of the support needed for an army of iPads, Ryan Kenny, Director of the Technology Department for Ramsey School, says the school has been gravitating away from storing resources in-house, and is relying more heavily on the internet and the Cloud to store data.
“We had needs for more bandwidth, [especially to] go 1:1,” Kenny says. “As you increase, the need for bandwidth increases.”
Even though the initial request for more bandwidth seemed daunting to Ramsey School, Joe Flynn, the senior vice president of sales for Lightpath, says his team was able to pull out the school’s old copper infrastructure, and rebuilt it with 100 percent fiber optics.
Lightpath was also able to up the school’s bandwidth to one gigabit, and save the school up to $200 a month on network costs.
Flynn says the network demands Ramsey School had are common in other districts; often, schools are forced to do more with technology to satisfy teaching and learning needs with lesser amounts of resources.
“Having done this a long time with school districts, it’s always a sentiment: “we will never be able to afford the network we need,”” Flynn says. “We can do it, we let them do what they want to do. We can give them more bandwidth for a good value.”
Flynn says that because Lightpath has worked on Ramsey School’s network for the past 15 years, there were no problems during deployment.
Plus, the company took the deployment a step further by preparing the new network for needs that may crop up in the future, such as the inclusion of even more devices in the classroom.
“There were no complications with deployment because when we built the initial network for them, we were mindful of the initial challenges they had, and their long term vision,” Flynn says. “We built it so the scalability is inherent in the network…
We’re building in the scalability to grow as their needs do.”
Kenny says even though Ramsey School’s network improvements were recent, he expects it will need another upgrade in the near future, especially as teaching needs and curricula shift.
“We have one gigabit internet speed [now], but I’m sure in the next three years we’re going to have to go to two or three gigs because of the amount of online demand,” he says. “We’re staying 1:1 for grades six through 12; for grades three, four, and five, we’re pushing to a model where classrooms have sets of iPads and Chromebooks so a teacher will have a set of 10 or 12 iPads in their classrooms.”
Tips to the Beginning of Better Bandwidth
Pick a Good Partner
Kenny says before pulling the trigger on expanding a network, a school should reach out to other schools to see which vendors they worked with, and how the deployment went.
Doing so can help a network upgrade run smoothly with minimal kinks.
“When choosing a provider, like Lightpath, reach out to constituents in other districts to see who they’re using,” Kenny says. “Schools have a tough shop because they do not always have the funding or staffing available that can get your network up to speed and prepare. Having a partner like LightPath you can rely on and count on is huge.”
Be Open Minded
Flynn says one mistake schools make when expanding their network is thinking their “dream” network is unreachable due to limited resources and funds.
He says schools should express their ideas to the vendors they choose to work with, and be ready to collaborate ideas on how to achieve their bandwidth needs.
“Be open minded and be ready for a collaborative relationship,” Flynn says. “We’re not interested in simply coming in and replacing what they [schools] have. [We want to] talk with them– what’s their vision, what do they want to accomplish, what would be best for the community and students. When we know that, we can build a solution that will help them.”