‘What’s the wifi password?’ It’s become a typical greeting in homes, offices, cafes, and even public transport all over the world. It’s almost inconceivable that this technology is barely over 20 years old, yet (if we are honest) many of us would struggle to function fully without it.
But what is wifi’s function in schools? In the age of edtech and 1:1 devices, many would argue that strong wifi implementation is now as important as proper heating and lighting.
Let’s delve into exactly what wifi is, it’s role in schools and why it’s needed.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) October 8, 2019
What exactly is wifi?
Contrary to popular opinion wifi doesn’t stand for any particular word, and it definitely doesn’t stand for Wireless Fidelity. If it is an abbreviation for anything it’s IEEE 802.11b direct sequence – not the catchiest title in the world. The name wifi was adopted by the Wi-Fi Alliance, probably as a cheeky play on the word hi-fi.
So what exactly is it? Wifi is a wireless connection standard that allows internet-enabled devices (like laptops, smartphones or tablets) to connect to the internet. Similar to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi works via radio transmission technology, which removes the need for physical wires. It is built upon a set of standards that allow high-speed and secure communications between digital devices.
Wifi is incredibly versatile and can operate over both short and long distances, be password secured, or free and available to anyone.
Why do schools need good wifi?
School administrations have a variety of stances on wifi and the time and budget investment it requires. Wired internet connections are still the norm in many schools. This means that only devices with a physical internet connection i.e desktops computers or laptops with an ethernet cord can access the school’s internet. This can be a cheaper way of providing online access as it uses existing telecommunications structures and some see it as an effective preventative to students being distracted by personal devices.
However, the fast development of technology has given birth to a new generation of affordable portable devices, such as Chromebooks and tablets, which simply do not work with wired connections. As we move past the idea that IT is a subject in its own right, and instead, a tool to maximize learning across the curriculum, wifi becomes an increasingly important tool.
To access the benefits of technology and the possibilities of a digital classroom, staff and students need to have a fast and reliable wifi structure. Here’s why:
1.Internet improves subject understanding
Students have different learning styles and abilities. A teaching method may be effective for one student but may not work for another. Having a portable device at the ready with a reliable wifi connection provides pupils with an alternative reference on a topic. This means that pupils can remain part of the wider lesson as well as finding extra information, as they don’t have to leave the group to look up extra resources in a physical computer lab.
Furthermore, easily accessible wifi can democratize access to information for students who may lack home internet. Students can quickly find and download the learning materials that they need while they are in school, and use them later in offline device mode.
Technology gets a bad rep when it comes to creativity 🎨
So what if we told you that tech offers students tons of exciting routes to express their ingenuity and find inspiration? 💭
— Kami (@usekamiapp) December 3, 2019
2. Fast and efficient grading
Online assignments and grading are one of the all-around wins of good wifi. Digital assignments can be received, completed, turned in and graded all via portable devices. The development of Learning Management Systems and sophisticated annotation apps have converted time-consuming (and paper-heavy) assignments into something fast and far more student-focused.
Digital work completion means that students can access tools and references quickly and easily while completing their assignments. They can also collaborate with other students if teamwork is required or read up on notes or videos left by the teacher to prompt answers. For teachers, online work means better monitoring of real-time student progress. It also makes grading faster and work can be sent out instantly with minimal prior planning.
All of these advantages of digital work are only really possible with a strong wifi set up. Classrooms need to have a reliable connection in order to guarantee work is being received and can be saved.
3. Creating collaborative learning
The growth of educational technology has transformed the usual, lecture-style teaching into a two-way learning process. Wifi enables classes to access to online apps that promote collaborative and creative learning. For instance, the Kami app allows students to annotate, draw, share and comment on all sorts of documents. As Kami can be connected to Google Drive, these documents can then be edited, saved, and shared anytime and anywhere, be it in the comfort of their homes, in the classroom, or at the library. It is now easy for students and teachers to communicate and share their ideas with each other in real-time. This spares them from the hassle of having to go to the computer laboratory or meet in person to discuss a certain matter.
— Kami (@usekamiapp) September 24, 2019
Change is Inevitable
In the words of Janis Karklins, one of the leaders for Communication and Information in UNESCO, “We can no longer ignore the fact that we live in a digital era. Today’s generation can be seen walking around with powerful gadgets and mobile computers.”
In other words, schools must learn to adapt to the changing times and take advantage of the technology available to enhance the student’s learning experience.
Technology is fast becoming a staple of modern education. To learn more about all things EdTech, check out our blog.