LAN3 Helps Exeter School Adopt Mobile Teaching

Despite being named by The Sunday Times as the best independent school in the South-West, the 350 year old Exeter School isn't resting on its laurels.

Exeter School is aware of its obligation to equip its 900 students for life and work in the 21st century.

The school's Network Manager, Paul Sprake, commented:- "We want to empower our teachers and our pupils with these great new technologies."

"One of our goals is to prepare our pupils for the outside world and university. Obviously the use of mobile devices is going to play a huge part in their future beyond Exeter School."

But with a few number of isolated access points scattered across the campus, delivering only pockets of Wi-Fi coverage, taking mobile teaching into the classroom wasn't possible.

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How Wi-Fi Supports Teaching and Learning at Exeter School

With no real Wi-Fi in place, Exeter school was starting from scratch. Sprake is clear, that 'every decision that has been made along the way has been from a teaching a learning perspective. I want to empower our teachers with the teaching tools they require, as well as preparing our pupils for the world after Exeter School.

The school knew that to maintain teaching excellence it needed to improve on the 400 desktop computers available to students. Sprake continued:- "The main challenges we had for the new wireless system was obviously turning what we had previously into a full site system, and being able to support potentially up to 5,000 devices across the site, where as previously we had approximately 400 desktop computers. So, it was a huge increase in the number of devices." 

The project to upgrade Exeter School's networking infrastructure had taken two years. This has included underlying network infrastructure upgrades as well as the Aerohive evaluation and implementation. 

"When we started the wireless project we looked at the main wireless vendors on the market. We carried out some research of our own and talked to other schools. We shortlisted this to four separate vendor solutions. We carried out a more in-depth evaluation and ultimately selected Aerohive", Sprake added.

Sprake was aware of the growing number of devices carried by both students and staff, and wanted to future-proof Exeter's School's network. He continued:- "The school was looking for a system to provide site wide coverage and each classroom should support three devices per person – although for the foreseeable future we only envisage one-two devices per person. We also need to provide various levels of guest access, whether this is for a guest presenter, parents or private hirers."

"Day-to-day managing the Aerohive solution is very straight forward. The system is very easy to use and very intuitive. One of the key features in the Aerohive solution that we liked very much was the PPSK feature. It was unique to Aerohive and non of the other solutions we looked at really gave us this, which is a very useful way of getting users onto the system and being able to identify who they are, which is obviously key for us."

“If nobody talks about Wi-Fi I will be very pleased. I want it to work in the same way as electricity and running water - it should just be there in the background."

"We want to empower our teachers and our pupils with these great new technologies. One of our goals is to prepare our pupils for the outside world and university. Obviously the use of mobile devices is going to play a huge part in their future beyond Exeter School."

Paul Sprake

Network Manager, Exeter School

How LAN3's Solution Helped

Sprake continued:- "LAN3 took the time to understand what we were trying to achieve and this was clear from the proposal. The proposal was also a cost effective solution compared to others as this is obviously a key consideration when selecting a solution and indeed a partner."

With a team of three managing the entire school's IT infrastructure, with the WI-Fi a small part of this, it simply needs to work and be easy to manage. “If nobody talk about Wi-Fi I will be very pleased. I want it to work in the same way as electricity and running water - it should just be there in the background", Sprake added.

"What stood out for LAN3 was their approach to the project. They were very much interested to learn about what we wanted to achieve, and they provided a proposal tailored to meet our requirements."

With teacher's using the network, and children being introduced shortly, Exeter School can look forward to another 350 years of preparing its students for adult life.