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By 21 July 2020 | Categories: feature articles

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Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and have mandated that schools and universities introduce distance learning programs.

This has been the case in South Africa as well. In a short period of time, institutions have had to grapple with integrating information technology into their educational systems in order to provide a user experience consistent with classroom sessions.

Moving forward, we will likely see the emergence of a hybrid model where online education will eventually become an integral component of school education. Educational systems will need to be more agile, flexible and technologically advanced, according to HP Aruba.

“Over the past two months while speaking to customers in the education space we find that their challenges start to sound similar to those of enterprise business customers; How do we bring students back to physical locations while maintaining social distancing? How do we engage students when online learning stretches into an extended timeframe? What are the resulting implications in how educators and planners prepare their education and technology plans to support these new learning models? These challenges are very stressful for stakeholders used to working with legacy technology,” noted Mandy Duncan, Country Manager–South Africa at HP Aruba.

“Institutions have been radically disrupted and they will be looking to establish continuity, maintain security while in class or distance learning, enhance student engagements and have reliable high-performance connectivity that supports bandwidth hungry applications. Aruba understands these requirements and has devised technology that specifically addresses these pain points,” she elaborated. 

Duncan explained that Aruba is currently working with educational institutions in South Africa to share new perspectives and trends as they emerge and enable new learnings. The company is playing an important role in helping these institutions re-envision the future of education and chart their journey into a new world of learning. The company is thus working to address their most critical technological needs, channelising its efforts towards few critical areas:

  • Enabling secure remote access to resources for faculty, staff, and students
  • Setting up connectivity in new campus zones with ease
  • Extending high performance and secure connectivity to campuses and student dorms
  • Maintaining and extending security solutions to remote learners/facilitators
  • Enabling visibility and management of remote sites
  • Minimising spending on CAPEX
  • Remote support

With online and hybrid leaning models becoming strategically important for institutions, reliable, high performance Wi-Fi across the campus is as critical as classroom connectivity. Aruba powers up networks using high performance wireless point-to-point connectivity with ease, thus extending the network to support on-demand applications, thermal screening, IoT cameras and other touchless entry devices.

To help alleviate some of the current financial strain that educational institutions are facing today, the company, through HPE Financial Services (HPEFS), is offering IT financing solutions to address economic challenges. From helping release capital from existing infrastructures to deferring payments and providing pre-owned tech to relieve capacity strain, the company is helping these vital institutions prepare for the future.

This forced and abrupt move to a hybrid mode of learning will not be easy. However, it can provide educational institutions with an opportunity to experiment and innovate. Piloting new approaches and building on practices that are proven to work can help create positive and enduring changes.

“Aruba will continue to support our education customers and partners as they navigate these challenging times. We’re here to empower institutions on how technology can enable learning, create better student experiences, and streamline operations,” concluded Duncan.

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