In the summer of 2012, our excellent technician spent a happy few days installing a Unifi wifi system. We needed a decent wifi system in the school, but weren’t happy paying oodles of money for a super amazing controller managed system where each access point cost hundreds and then you had to buy a managed switch and then pay for extra licences when you want to extend the network. Instead, the Unifi system lets you use any old computer to ‘manage’ your network and you are free to add as many access point as your heart (and budget) desires (and allows). We found that it generally worked really well, particularly when you factor in that each access point was only about £80 +VAT. Joy! And they look pretty as you can stick them on ceiling tiles and power them via PoE.
The initial wifi deployment was initially designed for a low-density spread of iPads, with access points installed in every other classroom. Our first iPad deployment had sets of 6 iPads in some classrooms, and then just a couple of sets of 15 iPads used across the school. It even coped fine when we gave Year 6 a class set of iPad minis.
Come the new financial year and the purchase of another two more class sets of iPad minis and we started to have wifi issues. In my mind, the iPads minis were to be allocated so that each phase (e.g. Y1/2, Y3/4, Y5/6 etc.) had a class set to use as they wished. As these year groups were at different ends of the building, the load would be balanced and one access point would, at the most, have to cope with those devices. However, I had not anticipated the desire of the iPad to be used as a 1-to-1 device… As soon as I had set up the iPads and released them into the school, teachers started booking out all three sets at the same time for one year group, meaning that all of the iPads were trying to run off one or, at the best, two access points. This wasn’t pretty. “The Internet seems to be broken on these iPads…”
Thankfully, due to the easy expandability of the Unifi wifi system, we just had to buy some more access points so that each classroom could have its own access point. And then our trusty technician had to spend another happy summer installing them!
Hopefully, this should result in a much happier wifi time for everyone. And the moral of the story is you can never quite predict how iPads are going to be used by teachers.