Systems manager, Alistair Montgomerie, describes the infrastructure set up at St Hildas to enable all students and staff to use the Internet as part of their 1-1 laptops programme. He explains their wireless network upgrade, and why they needed ultra-fast broadband.
In getting ready for the big shift from a client server based desktop system to a peer-to-peer 1-1 laptop programme when a lot of our backend systems had to change. The most significant one was the wireless network.
We just had a basic domestic grade wireless network and we had to upgrade it to an Enterprise wireless network. We had to spend about $80,000 on the wireless network and running the wiring in and new switches and stuff to get that going. So that was quite a big investment.
Back then the other problem that we knew we were going to run into was the Internet access. We just had a home, like a domestic style ADSL connection, just, you know, like residential broadband effectively and it wasn’t good enough for 500 hundred concurrent Internet users.
For the first year we had a 1-1 laptop programme going we didn’t actually have the Internet capacity and it was a problem. Because our Internet was so slow before we would actually, regularly several times a day we would get to a point where the student Internet connection would completely stop. Page loads wouldn’t even happen. So it was completely grinding to a halt everyday. And also to manage the bandwidth of that we were having to block Internet video and a lot of really good web 2.0 sites that we could see were of really good teaching and learning value, we just didn’t actually have the capacity to run it.
Now with the ultra-fast connection none of that’s a problem. The students are actually charged an Internet fee to pay for that. We always have to be careful about how much expense we load on to the parents, especially considering they have to buy their own Mac book for their daughter but that’s been pretty well received.
And one factor with, that is the 1-1 laptop programme has given us a huge reduction in printing which is quite significant. It used to be one of our really big expenses. Two years ago we used to spend $100,000 dollars on photocopying and that’s dropped by 25% per year, which is, a $25,000 grand saving, which is actually more than the ultra-fast Internet cost anyway.
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