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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Esmeralda Swartz, Hovhannes Avoyan, Elizabeth White, Adrian Bridgwater

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Poor Quality Wi-Fi Impeding Flexible Learning Initiatives in UK Schools

Two in Five Schools Say Their Wireless Infrastructure Doesn't Match Their Investment in Classroom Technology, According to Xirrus Report

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM -- (Marketwired) -- 01/22/14 -- Xirrus®, the leader in high-performance wireless networks, today released a research report on the state of Wi-Fi adoption in UK schools. The results indicate that many schools have invested heavily in mobile devices, such as laptops and tablets, yet do not have the adequate wireless infrastructure in place to reap the full benefits.

The Wireless Wastage study, produced in collaboration with education partner Academia, finds that despite an overwhelming 92 per cent of schools in agreement that Wi-Fi is vital to today's learning environment, two in five (40 per cent) admit their wireless network doesn't adequately match their investment in classroom technology.

Furthermore, 41 per cent of the schools surveyed are introducing mobile devices before ensuring the Wi-Fi can support them, signalling a strong need for IT decision makers in schools to set out a clear overarching strategy that relates to all aspects of school operations.

The findings show that 94 per cent of UK schools are using wireless infrastructure, with 72 per cent having invested in 2013, demonstrating how they're embracing next generation technologies that expand learning options, such as 1:1 laptop-to-student deployments and bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives.

The report of 100 UK schools(1) also reveals:

  • The greatest demand for good quality Wi-Fi is coming from teaching staff, with an overwhelming 94 per cent saying that they need it to improve the teaching environment. 79 per cent of pupils are also demanding this level of connectivity;
  • Common wireless pain points among those surveyed include issues with supporting high numbers of users (31 per cent) and achieving ubiquitous coverage (30 per cent);
  • 53 per cent of teachers at the schools surveyed are not given guidance on how to make the most out of Wi-Fi in lessons

Sean Larner, International VP, Xirrus, states "Today's pupils expect the same level of connectivity in the classroom as they get as home -- to them, having Wi-Fi is just as important as electricity and water, and staff are also starting to see the benefit of having digital and mobile systems in the education environment."

Although demand for better support and guidance is high, almost three quarters (73 per cent) of schools are calling for more Government support on ICT in schools. A mere 3 per cent of those surveyed receive grants or donations to help them share ICT best-practice with other schools, while 54 per cent are calling for this level of engagement. On top of this, there is also a significant lack of guidance and support from the government in terms of ICT training for teachers who are expected to implement successful flexible learning processes.

Larner continues: "These flexible learning and teaching initiatives create demands on existing Wi-Fi infrastructures that can increase by a factor of 10 in a single school year. A high-performance, reliable wireless solution is therefore imperative. There is still progress to be made on using Wi-Fi effectively in schools to deliver a better quality of education, and a need for a standard that is in line with the Government's aspirations for this sector."

About Xirrus, Inc.
Xirrus is the leading provider of high-performance wireless networks. Xirrus solutions perform under the most demanding circumstances, offering consistent "wired-like" performance with superior coverage and security. The Xirrus suite of WI-FI optimised solutions -- Arrays, access points, cloud services, and wired switches -- provide seamless connectivity and unified management across the network. Xirrus provides a vital strategic business and IT infrastructure advantage to industries that depend on wireless to operate business-critical applications. With tens of thousands of customer solutions deployed globally, Xirrus maintains operations and partnerships across the globe. Xirrus is a privately held company and is headquartered in Thousand Oaks, CA. For more information please visit: www.xirrus.com and follow us on Twitter: @Xirrus.

Xirrus and XMS are trademarks or registered trademarks of Xirrus. Other trade names used in this document are or may be the property of their respective owners.

To download the full report please click here: http://wifi.xirrus.com/wireless-wastage

(1) 65 secondary schools and 35 primary schools were included in the research. 17% of schools have less than 200 pupils, 31% have between 200-500, 28% have between 500-1000 and 24% have over 1000 pupils

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