Higher learning in a dynamic environment: Enabling new learning models with agile networks

October 06, 2020 Windstream 2 min
As students return to campuses, higher education institutions are developing flexible instruction models that enable seamless in-person, remote and hybrid learning and collaboration. To enable those models, campus leaders need to adopt an agile network infrastructure.

The rapid pivot to online learning and collaboration by higher education institutions last spring was a testament to their resilience and unwavering commitment to their mission. Now, as the emphasis shifts toward repopulating physical campuses and maintaining the continuity of the vital work they do, many schools are focusing on flexible models that enable seamless transitions among in-person, remote and hybrid learning–placing dramatic new demands on campus networks.

Smarter Campus Networks

Knowledge rich, bandwidth poor

For many higher education institutions, network infrastructure was already a limiting factor pre-pandemic. Legacy networking technology wasn’t designed to accommodate the growing demands of today’s high-bandwidth applications and streaming video, all generated and accessed by an ever-increasing number of personal and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. And at a time when nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of campuses were already using smart technologies to improve learning environments and outcomes,1 one out of four higher education leaders were concerned their current network lacked sufficient capacity to support their connected campus.1 Far more—nearly 70 percent in a 2019 survey—anticipated a need for increased bandwidth over the next two years.2

Next-generation networks for the next generation of learners

As learning continues to evolve to meet changing conditions, the infrastructure required to support it must also evolve. The dramatic increase in bandwidth required on campus is unavoidable, but the most successful campuses will integrate smart technologies that optimize investment dollars and enable more efficient and effective use of available bandwidth. Through smart enhancements like network virtualization, flexible and adaptive technology, advanced security and next-generation backbones, these anchor institutions will be empowered to continue educating the next generation of leaders, driving important advancements in research and supporting their local communities.  

Moving forward, higher education leaders must ensure their infrastructure can power new models of collaboration and learning, and continue to adapt to unpredictable conditions. Read more about the key components of agile networks for adaptive learning and strategies for campus administrators leading these network transformations in our latest research collaboration with Ciena and the Center for Digital Education, Bringing innovation back to campus: Accelerating the evolution of higher education.

1. 2019 CDE Connected Campus Survey of 155 Higher Education Decision-Makers.
2. 2019 CDE Campus Experience Survey of 514 College Students.
Key Takeaway
An agile network infrastructure that leverages smart technologies is critical for higher education institutions advancing their mission and meeting the demands of educating in a dynamic environment.

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