Parkland College Enables BYOD and Online Learning With Aruba Networks Wireless LAN

Tim Goral's picture
Thursday, March 14, 2013

SUNNYVALE, Calif.-- Aruba Networks, Inc., a provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise, announced that Parkland College, a two-year community college in Champaign, Ill., has deployed an Aruba Wireless LAN and the Aruba ClearPass Access Management System, to connect its 18,000 students and 1,200 faculty and staff. The new wireless infrastructure will support Parkland’s BYOD initiative, accommodating both faculty and students who bring their personal mobile devices onto campus and into the classrooms. The new WLAN also enables Parkland’s move towards more online learning. In addition, with Aruba’s ClearPass, Parkland can now enable guests to connect to the network – an important criteria for the college which hosts frequent job fairs, tradeshows, meetings and other events on campus.

Prior to deploying the Aruba wireless LAN, Parkland used another major wireless LAN vendor’s infrastructure. Parkland wanted to replace the existing WLAN infrastructure because it was unable to keep pace with the increasing number of new, mobile devices connecting to it, and both students and faculty were unhappy with performance and availability. After evaluating multiple vendors’ solutions, Parkland selected Aruba. “With an average of two mobile devices per student and about 1,000 concurrent devices on the network, performance and reliability are critical,” said Doug Brooks, Associate Director of Campus Technologies for Parkland College. “Aruba delivered all of this, along with top-notch support. We’re now getting glowing reviews on the wireless network from our students.”

Brooks also appreciated that the Aruba solution offered comprehensive features, including built-in firewall capabilities – something lacking in the college’s previous solution. “With our old WLAN, we had to bring in third-party firewall software and other devices to handle all of our needs. With Aruba, we can accommodate our entire population of users – students, faculty, staff and even guests – with one solution,” he said.

Parkland’s new wireless LAN also supports the college’s move towards more online learning. Many of the college’s instructors are moving away from textbooks and notebook materials and towards strictly online learning, asking students to use their iPads or Android devices in the classroom to access all materials and tests online. It was crucial, therefore, that the WLAN be able to keep up with the demand of entire classrooms connecting simultaneously. According to Brooks, Parkland uses Desire2Learn, an application that provides full online course interaction including course materials, communication between students and teachers, video and testing. With the new WLAN in place, Parkland is now moving towards a 100% Desire to Learn environment.

When complete, Parkland’s new wireless network will include Aruba Mobility Controllers as well as a mix of AP-105, AP-134 and AP-135 access points. The college is also using Aruba’s AirWave Network Management System for maintenance and troubleshooting, and the Aruba ClearPass Access Management System to enable guest access for campus visitors. In addition, Parkland uses Aruba Remote Access Points (RAPs), one of which replaced a T1 line that was used to connect an offsite office location. The additional RAPs are used for various purposes, including extending Parkland’s secure services to home offices. Using the RAPs has allowed Parkland to maintain connectivity to remote sites at a significant cost savings.

In the future, Parkland plans to use its WLAN for even more innovative applications. The college is currently working with the University of Illinois on a pilot research program to develop a graphical 911 system for college campuses. The University has developed an application that would reside on a student’s mobile device and would allow the student to quickly click for help if he or she is incapacitated or in trouble. The application would triangulate the position of the student in need, based on their proximity to access points in the network, so that security or rescue teams can quickly locate them. Parkland will see a prototype of the application in March 2013 and expects to have the application deployed by the end of the school year.

“Parkland College demonstrates how the right wireless LAN infrastructure can not only improve user satisfaction and save IT time and money, but can also lead to even more innovation on campus,” said Gerry Festa, Director, Industry Solutions Marketing, for Aruba. “Aruba is proud to play a crucial role in enabling universities and colleges like Parkland to strive for increasingly better solutions to real-world problems.”

To learn more, visit Aruba at http://www.arubanetworks.com.