Higher Ed Institutions Enable Hybrid and HyFlex Instruction With Aruba ESP-Based Networks
SANTA CLARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company (NYSE: HPE), today announced that a multitude of universities and colleges are turning to network infrastructure based on Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform) to help solve the challenges of educating students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a combination of Aruba’s integrated wired, wireless, security, network management, and location-based solutions, these institutions are exploring new and innovative learning models like Hybrid Flexible or HyFlex, that combine online and in-person instruction, and are using Aruba innovations like contact tracing and location heat mapping, to ensure the health and safety of students returning to campus.
As higher education institutions across the nation consider how to safely and effectively reopen this Fall, network infrastructure and related technologies have moved to the forefront of their priorities, whether via the addition of strategic technology solutions for contact tracing and social distancing, or full network refreshes.
For The University of New Hampshire (UNH), the largest provider of post-secondary education in New Hampshire serving approximately 15,000 students on its main campus, a flexible, hybrid model was crucial for this academic year. UNH will deliver Fall 2020 classes with a combination of in-person and online instruction. UNH is opening new, larger classrooms at 50% of their usual occupancy, with additional interactive technology, to enable social distancing while ensuring that teaching and learning strategies are effective. UNH will also rely heavily on Zoom, with 80-90 classrooms classified as Zoom Rooms with upgrades that support live streaming.
Key to enabling UNH’s flexible plan is their Aruba ESP-based network which incorporates Wi-Fi 6 access points (APs) – including 2,000 APs just in the University’s 40+ residence halls – ClearPass for policy management, and AirWave for network management.
“When it comes to planning for our students’ 2020-2021 academic year, flexibility is the key,” said Dan Corbeil, director of WAN/LAN and Telecom Operations, USNH Enterprise Technology and Services. “The Aruba infrastructure allows us to quickly and securely extend high-speed wireless across all the campus locations that need it so we can ensure that whatever form learning takes – in the classroom or over Zoom in a student’s dorm room – it will be efficient and effective.”
Rollins College, a private liberal arts college in Winter Park, Florida, is deploying a hybrid learning model to serve students of its 80-building, 80 acre campus. Led by the College’s Emergency Operations Team and Fall 2020 Strategic Planning Task Force, Rollins has developed a comprehensive plan for how instruction will resume this fall. Students will be allowed to return to campus voluntarily, with classes taking place in person, supplemented by virtual synchronous instruction. Rollins will also provide students who opt-out of in-classroom instruction with the option to attend class virtually with their classmates.
The College’s Aruba infrastructure, which includes APs, Aruba CX Series and access switches, and ClearPass Policy Manager, will play a major role in supporting this hybrid learning model. Since teachers will be able to choose their platform for instruction – in person, or via Zoom, Teams, Webex or other videoconferencing and collaboration applications – and dorm rooms will have 100% Wi-Fi saturation to support real-time, online instruction, the network foundation is vital. Rollins also deployed Aruba User Experience Insight sensors to help the IT team identify issues and resolve them before students, teachers and staff discover them. Finally, for helping to enable the safe return of students, faculty and staff to campus, Rollins will use Aruba’s contact tracing solution in addition to traditional methods of contact tracing to help identify anyone who has come into contact with a person that has tested positive for COVID-19.
“Our Aruba infrastructure has enabled us to quickly devise a plan that meets the needs of all of our students, whether they are returning to campus or opting into remote learning,” said Ian J. Lyons, senior network engineer for Rollins College. “And from a cost perspective, we’ve been able to leverage our existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to deploy the contact tracing solution – a key benefit during this economically challenging time.”
State Technical College of Missouri, a technical training college offering over 35 associate degree and certificate programs to its approximately 1,900 students, found itself in the midst of a network refresh, expanding its wireless footprint to enable augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for classrooms, when the pandemic hit. Because of the flexibility of the Aruba infrastructure, the College was able to quickly pivot to a hybrid learning approach that combined online classes with the in-person instruction necessary for some of its more hands-on, technical training content.
According to Mike Ely, director of Information Technology at State Technical College of Missouri, the upgraded network which utilizes Aruba Wi-Fi 6 APs, switches and ClearPass Policy Manager, has been a critical factor in the College’s ability to continue providing the kind of hands-on education that has earned it nationwide recognition.
The new pandemic requirements have resulted in the College looking at a variety of ways to better utilize their available technology. With the upgraded network, the College has begun incorporating VR and AR into its curriculum using Microsoft HoloLens-powered safety helmets, as one example.
“The speed and reliability of the Aruba infrastructure has made the implementation of devices like this possible,” Ely added.
For California State University (CSU) Sacramento or Sacramento State University, one of the 23 schools that comprise the CSU system, the return-to-campus efforts began back in March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As the University’s diverse student population began experiencing the pandemic’s impact, CSU Sacramento started searching for a way to ensure that students living off campus could access their educational content.
In addition to procuring and supplying students with laptops, web cameras, headsets, and microphones, as needed, CSU Sacramento realized that many students lacked network connectivity; the IT team, in concert with campus leadership, transportation and parking, and campus police, quickly devised a plan to use CSU’s new, six-floor parking structure as a Wi-Fi hub where students could drive up, park and connect safely and efficiently. As Ted Koubiar, senior director of Operations and Network Services for CSU Sacramento, explained, the University relied on Aruba for the structure’s secure, reliable connectivity.
“We leveraged our existing Aruba outdoor APs, along with AirWave network management, to implement the Wi-Fi hub quickly and cost-effectively,” Koubiar said. “With Aruba’s help, in just over two weeks, we were able to launch this new Wi-Fi access location and get students online.”
The University plans to extend this coverage to students for as long as required. As the Cal State system announced some time ago that the Fall 2020 semester will be online-only, CSU Sacramento has the benefit of having tested out this portion of their distance learning model already.
- Podcast: What The Return to School Means for IT, a conversation with Dan Corbeil of the University of New Hampshire
- Podcast: Hybrid Education in Action, a conversation with Mike Ely of State Technical College of Missouri
- Blog: Pandemic Spurs Drive-up Access for Online Learning by Ted Koubiar of CSU Sacramento
About Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, is the global leader in secure, intelligent edge-to-cloud networking solutions that use AI to automate the network, while harnessing data to drive powerful business outcomes. With Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform) and as-a-service options, Aruba takes a cloud-native approach to helping customers meet their connectivity, security, and financial requirements across campus, branch, data center, and remote worker environments, covering all aspects of wired, wireless LAN, and wide area networking (WAN).
To learn more, visit Aruba at www.arubanetworks.com. For real-time news updates, follow Aruba on Twitter and Facebook, and for the latest technical discussions on mobility and Aruba products, visit the Airheads Community at community.arubanetworks.com.
Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company