Like every other industry vertical, education relies on technology to help it achieve its objectives.

By Michelle Vollet, channel manager Extreme Networks at Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa

Regarding the basic education stages (primary and high school in South Africa), this is especially critical as learners must be equipped with the skills to continue their studies post-matric or have a foundation in place to pursue their entrepreneurial interests. Teachers, for their part, must be comfortable in using technology to enrich the learning experience.

Of course, this journey has its share of challenges in developing countries like South Africa and the rest of the continent. Teachers, already under pressure, given the increased number of learners in classrooms, can be overwhelmed by the integration of digital tools. And then, there is the ever-present digital divide where many schools in rural areas do not even have access to electricity.

Even in schools with digital tools, there is often a lack of awareness on how best to use these platforms. However, the key to overcoming this lies in understanding and effectively using existing school networks that are in place. This can help unlock the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) while capitalising on the possibility of smart building technology.

The digital backbone

Recent years have required the acceleration of schools adopting elements like video, digital whiteboards, and other technology advancements into the classroom. Some schools have readily embraced learning management systems (LMS) designed to improve student engagement and even automate tasks like grading and assessments. Regardless of the level of technology adoption in a school, the fundamental issue remains how best to teach the teachers to use these solutions.

Educators are not techies, and adopting new technology, like an LMS, demands proper training and a transition period. Furthermore, the usefulness of digital tools hinges on the strength and sophistication of the school network. Advanced Wi-Fi, comprehensive network monitoring, and affordability are critical, especially in developing nations. This is why having a reliable network in place not only ensures connectivity but also the means to access resources that can help educators enhance the learning experience. By empowering the network, we empower our teachers to focus on what they do best: teaching.

An AI ally

The rise of AI in education has been met with mixed emotions. While concerns about ethics and integrity remain, many educators recognise the potential of technology to revolutionise learning. AI can prove its worth in school networks by handling redundant tasks, ensuring secure and reliable connections, and providing insights for more personalised educational approaches. AI in the network is fast becoming a necessity for delivering high-quality education.

Smart school solutions are becoming increasingly important as we build for the future. This sees the use of smart building technology, ranging from interactive displays to automated environmental controls. The aim is to enhance personalised learning and provide learners and teachers with a comfortable, conducive learning environment.

For teachers, tools like smart whiteboards and interactive displays transform classroom management and student engagement. Additionally, adopting smart building technology, significantly improves energy efficiency, aligning with our commitment to sustainability.

Build the right network infrastructure

The success of incorporating these changes is reliant on network infrastructure. High-speed wireless access points, efficient network management tools, and comprehensive cybersecurity measures such as those provided by Extreme Networks are paramount.

Of course, integrating technology into education is an ongoing journey where many challenges must be considered. By focusing on having the necessary network infrastructure, embracing AI in these networks, and adopting smart building technology, schools can start paving the way for a more efficient, engaging, and sustainable educational environment.

Even though significant challenges remain in education across the continent, the sector is also ripe with opportunities to redefine how we teach and learn. Throughout this journey, the role of intelligent network technologies becomes increasingly crucial.

Adopting solutions from providers like Extreme Networks from Westcon-Comstor, schools on the continent can facilitate smarter, more future-ready learning experiences that will equip pupils with the skills essential for the digital age. The future of education relies on innovative network solutions that contribute to creating a learning environment that can propel learners forward while giving teachers the tools essential to modernise how they approach education.