Collegium Josephinum Bonn made good use of the lockdown. In this period they did research on how to improve their WLAN. They decided to use the products of Cisco to improve their network. At the same time, they renewed their firewall. With the help of Infradata, the renewal of the network and its security was a big success.
About Collegium Josephinum Bonn
Collegium Josephinum Bonn (CoJoBo) was founded in 1880 and is an officially recognised Catholic school run by an independent governing body of the redemptorist congregation. The school is an all-boys school and gives its students the opportunity to work towards their school-leaving examinations directly through the grammar school itself or through the secondary modern school with subsequent sixth from, depending on their individual capabilities.
CoJoBo works on the principle of the Christian image of man to provide holistic personality development. Education is characterised by performance orientation but also seeks to consolidate individual well-being and good social co-existence at the same time. Modern technology is a key part of the learning programme. To enable devices such as iPads to be used as a future educational tool, the outdated school network needed modernisation and expansion. Specialists from Infradata Germany were on hand to support CoJoBo.
On the first attempt to use some of the newly acquired iPads, it was clear that the existing WLAN was completely overloaded. The plan was for whole classes to use iPads at the same time, which meant that the first action needed to be a significant strengthening of the WLAN before any of the iPads could be used. Michael Wirtz, mathematics, information technology and sports teacher at the CoJoBo secondary modern school, took up the challenge and began looking for a solution. ‘I used my time during lockdown to carry out research online into the best way to improve the WLAN. I quickly discovered that purchasing additional access points from Cisco would solve our problem. I used the Cisco website to identify and contact partners who could help us, and one of those was Infradata,’ explains Michael Wirtz. ‘They responded quickly and professionally and demonstrated a high degree of technical competence, and so in September 2020, we opted for Infradata Germany.’
One of the most significant challenges was to design a price structure for the network modernisation project so that the remaining budget from the Schools Digital Pact, a programme run by the Federal Government to promote digitisation in general schooling, would be used up by the end of the year. Any costs over that amount would then be covered by other official grant funds in 2021.
In order to not lose time, Infradata arranged an immediate web session to discuss the project and go over any technical queries. ‘For Cisco products, our partner is always Westcon-Comstor, with whom we have had good experiences with both the sales and technical teams. We don’t need to send e-mails back and forth repeatedly or even get tickets and wait for days for a reply. One call is all it takes, and after that, there are employees with solid sales and technical expertise available to help us,’ explains Steffen Freystedt, Account Manager at Infradata. That's how it was this time around too, according to Michael Wirtz, ‘In addition to Steffen Freystedt and Andreas Schad, Technical Consulting at Infradata, Christian Haupt, Inside Sales Manager at Westcon-Comstor, also took part in the web session. We quickly got on to how we would go about achieving our objective, what the individual project stages would be and how it would be paid for. In addition, we also understood, as soon as the discussion was over, what security precautions we needed to take into account during the project and how they could be implemented,’ explains Michael Wirtz, adding, ‘We felt properly advised, both by Westcon-Comstor in terms of network modernisation, and by Infradata, in terms of the anticipated network load and existing cabling.’
The first stage was to take a closer look at the cables and switches in the existing network. With a few exceptions, the existing cables could be left in place and did not need to be replaced. The switches also had the Power-over-Ethernet functionality required and only needed to be switched over to that mode permanently. Things were slightly different for the WLAN, however, which was using standard end-user devices that would not permit simultaneous access by 30 iPads. This meant that expanding the WLAN had top priority.
‘Our existing firewall would have continued to function in the short term, but the service for it was due to expire shortly anyway. In the web session, we were advised to have a new firewall installed, together with Umbrella licences, funded by money from another funding pool,’ explains Michael Wirtz. ‘We felt as if our needs were understood every step of the way, and we felt properly advised, by both Infradata and Westcon-Comstor.’
A total of 50 Cisco access points with integrated controller were installed in the network – one in each classroom in the secondary modern school and one in every second classroom in the grammar school. Checks will be carried out at a later stage to confirm whether this is sufficient or whether an access point needs to be added in every room.
After successfully setting up and configuring the access points, they simply needed to be installed in each room and nothing would be in the way of the iPads going online. ‘We implemented a booking system so that teachers could “order” and use entire class sets of iPads for their lessons. The network is now set up so that every student will be able to log in and use an iPad at the same time Teachers also use iPads and can project content onto the wall using Apple TV and a projector. The path to digital-age state-of-the-art learning is clear. We’re really pleased with it all,’ concludes Michael Wirtz.
To modernise an ageing school network in the best possible way with a fixed budget, so that in the end entire class sets of mobile devices can be used securely at the same time.
The existing wired network infrastructure was expanded to include a cloud-based WLAN controller from Cisco with the associated access points.
- After the successful pre-set-up and configuration of the access points, they only need to be attached in the rooms and nothing stands in the way of the simultaneous use of the end devices.
- The network is now designed so that all pupils can log on simultaneously and quickly.
- The way is clear for modern learning in the digital age.
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