Tag Archives: education

HPN Guides School Districts Through E-Rate Process

For years, school districts and libraries have been augmenting their telecommunication budgets with funds provided by the Universal Service Fund through the E-Rate program.  In 2014, the program was modernized to include internal connections under Priority 2.  This modernization funds school districts’ and libraries’ efforts to modernize their wired and wireless connections in proportion to their free and reduced lunch (FRL) student population.

The new funding formula provides $150 per student over five years multiplied by the organization’s FRL ratio. For example, if a district’s FRL ratio is 8 out of 10 students – or 80% – and the district has 10,000 students, it is eligible for up to $120,000 over 5 years (10,000 X $150.00 X .80). The district will need to contribute $30,000 to receive the $120,000 in this example.  These funds are available one time during the five year period, either all at once or distributed over the course of five years. Most districts are applying for their portion in the first year due to uncertainties about the programs funding over the 5 years.

A district needs to begin the process by filing a Form 470 stating their intent to procure Priority 2 funds for an internal project. This form allows vendors to bid for that project. Because districts are only required to abide by their purchasing policies, this is not necessarily an RFP process. As school districts choose a preferred vendor, they submit a Form 471 by the E-Rate deadline, April 16, 2015.  Once the Universal Service Administrative Company returns an intent to fund letter, the work can be scheduled.

Most districts choose a consultant to help them navigate these new and complex waters. This program provides opportunity for districts that have traditionally not been able to upgrade their technology due to financial or staffing constraints.  It also presents a challenge in deciding on the new technology to be used and how to implement it.  This is where a Value Added Reseller (VAR) like High Point Networks comes in.  HPN has been helping school districts improve their infrastructures for over ten years.

We have both the experience and engineering staff to successfully design, implement and support a variety of internal installations. The new E-Rate rules allow for a dizzying array of options to help students make the best use of the technology. Our staff brings their many years of school district experience to bear in designing a solution tailored to each individual district’s needs. We then implement that solution, train staff in its day to day operation, and also back it up with our own support staff. Whether it involves wireless or wired networks, unified communications, server storage or security, High Point Networks is looking forward to partnering with more school districts to enable the success of students and staff in our communities.

Improving Education With Network Data Analytics

Educational technology has revolutionized teaching and learning. With so much rapidly-changing technology in today’s classroom, it’s important to track the results, in order to build on the successful implementations and phase out what’s not working. That’s why analytics and student assessment are so important in education. With products like Extreme Networks’ Purview, it can be a simple matter to capture the data you need and graphically display it or format it into a report. Unlocking that data can bring enormous benefits for improving educational outcomes.

Network analytics tell you which technologies, devices, and software are being used most and which are generating the best results. These analytics help you understand what the students are doing throughout the day. What are the most successful students up to that others could learn from?

At Educause 2014, Fontys Hogescholen described how his IT staff members were transformed into folk heroes through the creative and engaging use of Wi-Fi analytics. Hogescholen’s group helped students use network analytics for projects like tracking student activities across campus to correlate demographic data with behavior and even effect change. The concept of analytics is helping usher in the era of competency-based education (CBE), enabling students to master skills at their own pace.

Data and network analytics are essential, not just for network managers, but also for teachers, curriculum directors, superintendents, principals, CFOs and students. Teachers can quickly see which applications are actually being used during class time and make sure the applications are running fast and responsively. Teachers can explore how activities and application usage varies among their students during the day and compare their respective results.

District superintendents, principals, and curriculum directors use the analytics to preparing for new technology-related initiatives, like video, digital text books, and online testing. During online testing it can be absolutely critical to have a realtime view into network dynamics. Should an issue arise, Purview can determine whether the problem is at the student device, within the network, at the local servers, due to an Internet connection, or caused by the remote servers administering the test.

The district or university finance managers use Purview to analyze the cost effectiveness of expensive software licenses. How often is the software used; how many simultaneous users are there; who and what departments are using it? Finance managers can also use the analytics to project capacity needs for investment planning.

The network analytics available today are especially valuable for IT leadership and the help desk. The IT staff can spot bottlenecks even before users are affected. The staff can keep shadow IT at bay by insuring that only approved network and user devices are active on the network. Rogue IT devices can be easily located and disabled.

Purview provides a single dashboard to show what’s happening across your school district or university network. It records what applications are being run by whom with full data on the locations and times. This is provided without taking away any performance from the network. The detailed view into the network provided by analytics solutions like Purview gives IT the ability to provide students, teachers, administration, and all users with the network experience they demand.

By Bob Nilsson, Extreme Networks