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The ‘always-on’ campus: are you ready?

Only 40% of establishments in the UK say their Wi-Fi is good enough to support their students’ digital learning aspirations. Read our blog post to find out how you can build an always-on campus, and make secure Wi-Fi available everywhere.

Your students have never been so empowered. And it’s highly likely that your college or sixth form has never taught young people with so many options open to them. All of this is down to one thing: technology. From Twitter and Instagram to Wi-Fi and tablets, our young people are limitless. They can connect with people from around the world, form opinions on global events, and open their eyes to different careers and callings. And we’re seeing them do it from anywhere, at any time.

This new level of inspiration, creativity and empowerment is making this an incredible time to be teaching.

At home, your students can Skype call friends in different countries while writing reports. They can even sit on the loo and browse the latest news. But when it comes to going to college, are they getting the same kind of internet access? Only 40% of establishments in the UK say that their Wi-Fi is good enough to support their students’ learning aspirations1. This is surprising – surely if you’re paying for a service, you should be happy with what you’re getting?

Challenged by new expectations?

But it’s not just your students that have come to expect such great things from your IT. Parents want to know that their children are getting the best experience possible. And potential teachers want to work at establishments that embrace new technologies and methods. 39% of IT departments in schools, colleges and universities in the UK find meeting these new expectations from parents and students a challenge2.

There’s a rising pressure to provide an always-on campus: 91% of IT leaders in UK education establishments believe that technology plays a key role in creating opportunities to learn that are available to all3.

Why an always-on campus?

The days of IT being restricted to an hour a week in one classroom are long gone. Technology gives us the ability to open up a whole new world to our students, showing them possibilities never before seen. From exploring jungles in South America to learning about the human anatomy, you can inspire young people in a million different ways.

Because at college or sixth form, it’s what you’re there for. To inspire your students to take their next step with confidence. It might be going to university with the right mindset, or starting work with the right skills. And for both of these routes, your students need access to digital. They need to know how to act in a digital world, dealing with everything from cybercrime to social media. They need the support of technology to meet their academic requirements.

If you can set up an always-on campus, then you can let your students learn anytime, and anywhere. They’ll be able to share work, research and presentations between each other and with their teachers, thanks to the secure, reliable connection.

In the last 12 months, 71% of education establishments in the UK invested in Wi-Fi or wireless networks4. Over the next 12 months, 84% want to achieve good quality wireless coverage5. So, we can see that this move to an always-on campus is happening.

How do you handle the complexity?

Having an always-on campus isn’t just about turning your Wi-Fi on and handing out the password. Once you’ve got a reliable, powerful connection, you need to think about security. Globally, only 25% of education establishments have the right controls in place when it comes to letting students access wireless connections6. And when you consider that 93% of UK establishments think that network security is a significant priority – there’s a big gap7.

So, not only do you need to create this always-on campus, but you need the background IT to support it. From servers to security, infrastructure is vital to bringing the idea of an always-on campus to life. This is where it can get tricky. Do you have the time and resource to know what sort of IT you need? What kind of infrastructure will support you best? Well, if you’re not sure of the answers, you’re not alone. Over half of IT departments in UK establishments feel they would make more progress with digital learning if they understood where best to invest8. And 59% struggle to keep up with the pace of change in technological advancements9.

It’s not enough anymore to just submit a request for funding and hope that it comes through. 90% of IT departments say it’s important to build business cases when it comes to securing technology funding – yet 73% need support in doing so10. To manage the complexities and pressures that come with a move to an always-on campus, some colleges and sixth forms are partnering with IT experts.

At Fujitsu, we’re here to help. Your passion and knowledge lies in running your establishment and helping your students succeed. Ours lies in providing you with the technology to do this. From advising on your next steps and helping you create business cases, to building a secure, connected campus, we’re ready to join you in your journey.

For more insights and ideas, you can follow me on Twitter: @AshMerchant1. Or, get in touch with us to see how we can help you go digital.

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