The importance of the school network for remote learners

Julia Sharman

Julia has over 30 years’ experience working in the education sector as a specialist and advisory teacher for SEND and mental health. Previously a Local Authority Coordinator leading on educational projects and community learning in the public, private and voluntary sectors and freelance writer. She is a specialist teacher for children with dyslexia and an Advisory Teacher for children with mental health issues and medical and health needs.

Follow @JuliaSharman1

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

There has been a lot of discussion in the media recently about Bring Your Own Device (BOYD) or Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). A concept that started out in the business world, it now also refers to students who use their own electronic devices to support their learning whilst at school, from home, or at other remote locations. Connectivity of the school's network with personal devices is therefore an area that requires careful attention.

It is of paramount importance that students who use their own devices are able to do so without putting their school’s network or themselves at risk. The school must invest in a robust, accessible and cost effective security system that encompasses the school’s and student’s needs. This may be a controlled or control-less option - the former being more favourable due to the rise of technology in education and the increase in usage of wireless devices and cloud-hosted systems.

Typically, the benefits of remote learning have been centered around students who attend school on a regular basis, attend lessons, and use various applications or internet services to augment their learning. Their teachers present them with well-planned lessons that incorporate both traditional methods of learning and technological ones. This blended learning approach is expected to become much more commonplace in future. Homework is set which requires students to log-on to the school network and download or submit work. Teachers can see what work has been completed, either on-site or remotely, and it is marked and recorded electronically. This process works effectively if the network has the right infrastructure and security systems in place.

Another important group of young people who rely on the school network, and in being able to log-in remotely, are those that are too sick to attend school due to medical or mental health issues. Medical issues include anything from broken limbs, post-operation recovery to life-limiting conditions. It is important not to confuse this group of young people who are educated at home by choice of their parents. Students who require the services and support of the home and hospital support services are in genuine need of 1:1 teaching and support, and to keep close links with their school. It is a statutory service from Local Authorities and teachers of this vulnerable group, who benefit enormously from blended learning, to rely on efficient and effective school network systems for the students to access and complete work online from home and keep pace with their peers. As with healthy students who access the school network remotely, a secure and reliable connection is crucial.

Pupils who have been absent from school for long periods of time often require a phased reintegration process, particularly those students with mental health issues. This may require the designated teacher to start the reintegration process by teaching sessions from home or in local libraries as an alternative teaching base to school. The most effective reintegration process is where the student is able to access applications, internet services and the school network via public, personal and home IT devices such as PCs, laptops, iPads, smartphones, etc. Terry Heick, Edudemic (July ’12), states that: "The use of instant messaging, online whiteboards, audio and webcams, means a student can have real time interaction". These develop an effective line of communication between the student’s school-based teachers and fellow students. Heick further states: "Being able to interact immediately is too valuable tool to settle for uncoordinated learning". A coordinated approach is essential to effective reintegration, and technology can play a huge part in achieving this.

Recently there has been an increase in the usage of Skype, FaceTime and video links via webcams creating a link between sick students and their school friends. Most young people also use social networking sites to keep in touch. Whilst Heick suggests that e-mail and chat are very impersonal for a student with long term medical conditions or mental health issues, these forms of communication can help them rekindle friendships, develop self-confidence, improve self-esteem and give them a sense of belonging, aiding their successful return to school.

The most effective and secure system to support remote learning is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a private network (school network) that uses a public network (the internet) to connect remote sites or users together. The VPN uses virtual connections routed through the internet from the school's network to the remote site or user. This enables students to access work at home on a wired device (PC) and wireless devices such as laptops, iPads, Smartphones.

Data transfer rate (bandwidth) via the Internet is also a key factor to increasing efficiency of the school’s network. At any one time, and this includes remote learners, there can be many different applications simultaneously passing data through a firewall onto the Internet, such as VOICE, Video conferencing, email, web browsing, on demand education videos, or social networking sites. Without sufficient management, everything is competing against each other and will result in poor performance of key applications. To ensure efficiency, the school’s network needs to be able to prioritise applications, users and times that will ensure the internet bandwidth is always optimised as well as able to block or set stringent rules on the usage of social media and inappropriate websites.

Maximising opportunities to access the school network, internet services and educational apps, either in school or on a remote basis, enables students to learn remotely using the same devices at home and in school. Without remote learning, students, including those disadvantaged by illness or mental health issues, wouldn’t have the same opportunities to fulfill their potential. It is therefore crucial that a secure connection to the school's network by remote devices is made possible.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now
Login

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"