E-education remains a hot topic globally. And at its core rests the all-important question of how to effectively leverage the latest information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve education and make it more accessible to more people.
To date, ICT has already made a sizable impact on the education sector, be it in terms of teaching models, learning methods, education management or scientific research. To appreciate this fact, one need only look to the various ICT-influenced terms we see in course catalogues, terms like “massive open online course”, “distance classroom”, “virtual lab”, and “education cloud platform”. Many such terms can also be found on the campuses of educational institutions, with their “e-libraries”, “campus web portals” and “network security platforms”.
The backbone of all these features and functions is a stable and efficient, high-bandwidth network. But when it comes to planning for the future, education service managers and campus ICT planning personnel need to put in place more adaptable networks. Such architectures will only provide the frameworks needed to fuel the expansion of wireless networks and cloud platforms, which facilitate the dissemination of resources and enable distance learning. They are building blocks of future innovation in e-education.
Already, networks are developing rapidly and doing much more than supporting simple text communications or web page visits. They now enable educational institutions to provide highly efficient bandwidth that enables things like video communications and fast, ubiquitous on-campus network access. In addition, they help simplify maintenance and management needs – thus reducing cost-of-ownership for institutions – by ensuring high reliability, seamless scalability and iron-clad security.
Commenting on the future of networks, Swift Liu, President of the Switch & Enterprise Communications Product Line, Huawei, says the focus has to be on addressing service needs and enhancing user experiences.
“The ability to interpret actual service needs intelligently using IP technologies and to allocate network capacity accordingly through software defined networking is very important,” Liu says. “When the network covers every corner of a university campus, bandwidth needs to be allocated for mission-critical services such as academic video conferences and distance courses. In addition, schools need to be able to tailor their network settings for more customised scenarios, such as those relating to scientific research projects. This is why it’s key to not only have a robust network in place, but an agile one.”
Beyond fast system deployment and service provisioning, agile networks also provide the openness for users to innovate. Colleges and universities that research new technologies accordingly would have a particularly strong incentive to put such networks into place. The quality of their network will have a direct impact on the quality of their research programmes and, by extension, the quality of the innovations that come out of those programmes.
As an added benefit, agile networks are also more capable of addressing the challenges colleges and universities face when expanding their campuses or adding additional campuses. Such was the concern for Southern Cross University (SCU), so a migration to Huawei’s Agile Network Solution, will mean it can conduct both its physical and virtual operations markedly more efficiently.
“Southern Cross has multiple campuses, which thanks to new ICT solutions and technologies, are now more connected than ever before,” says Allan Morris, Executive Director, Southern Cross University.
“Learning and other student activities are supported entirely by advanced technologies, with almost 75 percent of the university’s lectures available online. Technology is and always will be at the heart of our institution – It has to be, given the geographic spread of our campuses”.
SCU are deploying Huawei’s Agile Network Solution to build an all-agile campus network that efficiently facilitates both its scientific research and teaching activities. Huawei’s Super Virtual Fabric (SVF) will be used to virtualize SCU’s campus-wide wireless network into a Virtual Switch (vSwitch) for simpler deployment and maintenance, while Huawei’s agile switches will allow for centralized management of the university’s wired and wireless users.
“Huawei’s Agile Campus Solution enables us to operate and build a reliable network that meets the needs of our staff and students. With the high-speed network connectivity and data transmission it provides, I am confident we will be able to continue to meet these needs in the future,” says Matthew Smith, Chief Information Officer, Southern Cross University.
Huawei had hosted the 2015 Education Summit with Southern Cross University (SCU) together on 3rd September in Gold Coast, Australia. Miss the event? Join our On-Demand Webinar to get insight from industry experts about the global education revolution