Jeff Davis County
Jeff Davis County Schools Chooses Aerohive and Deploys HiveSchool™ App for Increased Student Engagement

Challenges

  • Controller-based Wi-Fi no longer able to handle and keep up with network traffic
  • District required to meet state mandates for digital learning, including online testing and 1:1 initiatives
  • Ability to offer secure guest Wi-Fi without additional burden to IT team
  • Better understanding of network users and usage patterns

Results

  • Comprehensive and secure Wi-Fi network with 802.11ac across all schools
  • Powerful HiveSchool application for collaborative learning and a productive digital learning environment
  • Deeper insight into network usage with Social Login and HiveManager
  • Schools now equipped to meet online testing and technology plan goals

Jeff Davis County Schools Chooses Aerohive and Deploys HiveSchool App for Increased Student Engagement

About Jeff Davis County Schools

Jeff Davis County School District is a public school district, serving rural students in grades Pre-K through grade 12. The District is based in Hazlehurst, Georgia and serves the communities of Hazlehurst and Denton, Georgia.

The District has one Pre-K, two elementary schools, one middle school, one high school and one alternative school, with a total of over 3,200 students and approximately 400 faculty and staff. Jeff Davis County School District covers five campuses with a total of seven buildings.

The Challenge

One of the driving forces for the District was meeting technology mandates from Georgia’s Digital Learning Task Force, a combined education initiative formed in 2012 to develop recommendations for educators. Besides the requirement to provide online testing and to deploy a 1:1 initiative, the District also realized its infrastructure was aging, desktop use was waning and there was a strong increase in laptops, tablets and BYOD. The District required the ability going forward to manage and control devices on the network, including a complete inventory of end-user devices.

The District needed to take a two-prong approach to upgrading its network and implementing Wi-Fi. First, it was necessary to invest in overall infrastructure development to have solid QoS and Layer 7 filtering. The ‘pie in the sky’ would be to identify who was on the network and to understand how the network was being used. In addition, the District needed to find a better solution for teachers to effectively monitor student device use and leverage technology in the classroom.

The District was using Aruba for its wireless network but the controller-based solution was not only very difficult to manage, but it also endured a lot of stress on the front end, creating a bottleneck as more and more devices were added to the network. The existing controller could only handle a 1Gb port and it was not able to handle and keep up with the traffic.

Solution

The District undertook a variety of approaches and set goals for a three-year technology plan, including conducting a community-wide survey about technology use.

“We needed to formulate how to best meet the needs of students in our community, as well as how to use technology to answer the call to meet goals of untethering the teacher and administrator. While it was imperative to establish an infrastructure to enable 1:1 initiatives and online testing, we also were looking for an innovative solution to carry us into the future,” explains Dr. Keith Osburn, Director of Technology and Special Programs.

The District undertook a rigorous evaluation process of multiple providers including Ruckus, Xirrus, Meru, Meraki and Enterasys. While eliminating providers that did not have a controller-less solution, Aerohive proved to have the best performance and far superior network management.

Jeff Davis deployed Aerohive AP121, AP230, AP330, AP370, and AP1130 access points across all schools and in every classroom. HiveManager is used on-premises for monitoring and controlling the network. One powerful feature of HiveManager utilized by the District is the ability to create classification tags to allow custom configurations across device groups by individual access point. The District uses RADIUS active directory to segment authentication for teachers to provide additional security.

HiveSchool, Aerohive’s connected learning application, is deployed in all classrooms and allows teachers to present digital content easily during class, collaborate with students, monitor student activity, keep students on task, and assign learning resources.

The District uses Aerohive’s Social Login solution for secure guest management. Social Login allows users to use existing social media credentials to access the Wi-Fi, with additional analytic tools to understand how users are utilizing the network.

Aerohive’s Bonjour Gateway feature helps manage individual classrooms where Apple devices are deployed for video production, special education and specialized applications.

Results

The Aerohive solution has enabled Jeff Davis County School District to not only meet its state-mandated goals, but to also provide additional services and use Wi-Fi in ways it did not originally envision.

Besides eliminating all issues of bottlenecks in the network, the District has been able to roll out 1:1 initiatives, issuing Chromebooks at all levels of instruction. The District’s alternative school, JD Choices Learning Academy, provides a completely wireless infrastructure with 100% digital instruction and curriculum.

By offering an economical option for adopting 802.11ac, the District is now poised for Gigabit Wi-Fi adoption, and can offer superior throughput and performance.

HiveSchool enabled digital collaborative learning, reduced discipline issues, and keeps students on task. While in the past teachers were only able to monitor student devices by walking around the classroom, now teachers get a live view of student screens and can direct students to appropriate resources all from one intuitive user interface.

“HiveSchool has not only enabled efficient classroom management, it has allowed teachers to find creative solutions for digital instruction, from accommodating students with special needs to allowing teachers to easily broadcast content to individual student devices. In a short amount of time, our teachers have come to rely on HiveSchool for everyday classroom management and activities,” emphasizes Osburn.

The Social Login feature has been an incredible boon for Jeff Davis. “The Social Login feature from Aerohive was like a dream come true,” explains Dr. Keith Osburn. “Previously, we had set limits on our public-facing network due to security reasons, but now we are able to offer Wi-Fi 24/7.”

By allowing users to log on to the network with Social Login, the IT team has eliminated time and expense to accommodate end users, and completely solved issues of end user training.

“The biggest advantage we have with Social Login is the ability to analyze smart tag data, and we’re beginning to develop resources to know where our kids are and how they are using the network. In turn, we then can push content and information to parents and students to ensure better communication and to help parents educate their children. Aerohive is instrumental to any organization wanting insight to better understand network users and in turn provide optimal services,” adds Senior Network Engineer Nathan Miller.

Other administrative functions are now performed wirelessly, including taking attendance in gymnasiums, conducting teacher evaluations with iPads in classrooms by senior administration, registering high school students with wireless devices set up in drop-in labs, and even conducting drills and training exercises for school safety with remote access to students’ files and information.

A Network Model that Works

Now the wireless network is mission-critical and people depend on it, without worrying or even thinking about whether they’re connected to a wired or wireless network; they just know it is dependable. “

We took our time to thoroughly research our wireless network solution, to think one step beyond what was needed and required. While many companies have Wi-Fi that works, Aerohive comes through strong in performance and density, but it’s what comes after the sale that matters most. Aerohive’s support and understanding of our educational endeavors have been invaluable to our District,” expressed Osburn.

Future plans include installing Aerohive BR200 branch routers onto buses serving rural populations. The District will soon expand the network coverage to additional outdoor locations with AP1130 access points to provide Wi-Fi to sports’ teams and during band practice.

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