Strategic priorities like student success and the digital transformation of education depend on a flawless campus network. Active classrooms and adaptive learning. Analytics that spot students at risk of dropping out.
Technology is remaking education in new ways—and placing new demands on the IT team. Ensuring adequate IT staffing is among the top 10 IT challenges identified by Educause earlier this year. Many universities find it difficult to ensure that their IT departments have enough people and skills to keep pace with demand. And key skills, like wireless engineering and cybersecurity are in short supply across academia, business and government.

A Diverse, Demanding Wi-Fi Environment

Delivering a great wireless experience is a particularly tough job for universities and colleges, and sometimes it feels like chaos takes over control. Thousands of people are moving around a typical campus, and each person has multiple devices and high expectations. Wi-Fi usage is radically different in different locations. Lecture halls have hundreds of students. Classrooms and labs are filled with smartboards, digital microscopes, 3D printers and other IoT devices that are part of the everyday learning experience. Residence halls need great Wi-Fi so students can review video lectures, watch Hulu and play Fortnite late into the night. Food and books are purchased at on-campus eateries and the bookstore, so the wireless must be highly secure. Of course, great Wi-Fi needs to be available outdoors, so students don’t miss out on a text or a Snap while heading to class.

But most universities don’t have the luxury of designing wireless networks to meet these many different requirements. Resources are tight, and network managers are stretched thin. And most IT departments don’t really know what the Wi-Fi user experience is truly like. All too often, network managers first realize there’s something wrong with the Wi-Fi when the students start posting to Twitter and the professors and staff start calling the helpdesk.

Using AI to Deliver a Better User Experience

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation can assist universities assure the user experience while minimizing the need for highly skilled wireless engineers to design and maintain the campus Wi-Fi. It’s way better than having to rely on a shoe phone.

Ohio State, University of Washington and others are using Aruba NetInsight, an AI-powered network analytics and assurance solution, to optimize their campus Wi-Fi. NetInsight provides insights and guidance so network managers can continuously improve the quality of experience for user and IoT devices.

NetInsight brings unparalleled insight into your environment. NetInsight’s sophisticated machine learning algorithms were developed in conjunction with Aruba’s expert wireless engineers and data scientists. NetInsight also brings collective wisdom on how to deliver the best Wi-Fi experience. NetInsight benchmarks your university’s network against similar networks, so for the first time, you have objective metrics to compare your campus network with peers.

NetInsight can recommend changes to the Wi-Fi configuration to improve performance across campus—in lecture halls, classrooms, collaborative spaces and the quad. That takes the guesswork out of meeting the needs of so many different wireless use cases—and it lessens the need for deep wireless engineering expertise on staff.

Network managers can implement the changes NetInsight recommends, and NetInsight will proactively monitor the network to ensure that the changes in fact made things better. And as network managers gain confidence in NetInsight’s recommendations, those changes can be configured to happen automatically.

Because NetInsight is powered by AI and machine learning, the longer you use it, the more NetInsight learns and the smarter it gets. It’s like having your own Agent 99 to save the day. The upshot is your network gets better and better—and makes fewer demands on your network staff. And lifting the burden of manual, task-oriented work frees the network team to focus on strategic initiatives that support student success.

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