Schools contain. Educators teach. Students learn. Simple, right? Well you’d think so, but as modernization occurs right in front of us, the methods of teaching are evolving. Students face new distractions in the form of always-connected devices, technology in their pockets, and social sharing applications that consume endless hours of time. But, these same tools that make today’s students the communication generation (thanks parents) are also the tools teachers are increasingly using to help educate.
This new influx of technology into schools has turned what used to be fairly simple networks, into advance networks that need to protect student data, manage access, and deliver performance for in-class technology applications. Security is a big part of this network ecosystem. And, as districts roll out new technology, security is moving beyond just protecting, allowing administrators to strategically manage access so students can get the information they need to be successful, while eliminating the distractions.
Gone are the days of the guy with the big key ring watching over the school grounds. Today, technology is a major component when working to keep kids productive and safe. In the security appliance world, Unified Threat Management (UTM) platforms hold the keys to success. Here are five things to consider when selecting a UTM solution and why they matter:
- Bandwidth Problems – Three to four devices per student can have a dramatic impact on bandwidth and create bottlenecks. With each student carrying a notebook, smart phone, and iPad, the UTM firewall is the first point of control for getting access to that bandwidth. If it can’t handle the amount of traffic, you have your first problem – bottlenecks. Increasing the size/bandwidth of your firewall will greatly help with the flow of data, bonus points for a multi-core design appliance working in parallel. Say goodbye to legacy firewalls.
- Operating Systems – Windows, Mac, Android, etc., a network security system must be OS agnostic, just like the real-world.
- Information Overload – Distractions are everywhere on a school campus, but in the virtual world, the problem is ten-fold. UTM solutions give schools the ability to limit online access with Access Controls, enabling students to access the sites and applications they need to learn (and what educators need to do their job and protect them from legal issues).
- Wireless Access – Today’s students expect wireless access at all times. Gone are the days of the telephone wire, the cable box, and RJ45 cable. Updating and improving the wireless infrastructure of a campus goes hand-in-hand with increasing the bandwidth of your firewall. Having seamless access point integration with your UTM can deliver student location recognition, help identify problem areas, and help you better plan out coverage.
- Dynamic Reporting – Real-time visibility is key to understanding what trends and problems might be happening on the network, and useful reporting options help keep teams informed and help shape new policy creation. A UTM solution should help you see, instantly, who your bandwidth hogs are, see where people are “going,” see which access points are the most heavily used and more. Make sure your solution can turn logs of data into security intelligence, so you don’t have to spend hours digging through information.
It’s clear that UTM solutions can help educators to better assist students in their learning career. Don’t take my word for it, check out the small excerpt below from a recent case study with the Walker School District in Georgia:
Because of the increase in classroom productivity due to WatchGuard’s innovative technology, students are learning more and performing better on exams.
“Since all the kids are staying on the ball with what they’re supposed to be doing in the classroom, our testing scores have gone up. We’ve had some of our highest testing scores this last year that we’ve ever had,” said Bob Swanson, Walker School District Network Administrator.
Test scores reports have been so attractive that Walker Schools has seen an increased number of student registrations from outside the district. Students who previously attended private schools have now switched to Walker Schools after seeing the innovative learning environment that has been created with the help of WatchGuard.
Check out the entire case study at http://www.watchguard.com/tips-resources/casestudies/watchguard-network-security-solution-provides-safe-environment-for-walker-schools.asp
Some additional education case studies include:
This post was written by Mark Romano, director of field marketing at WatchGuard Technologies.