What can I expect from wireless in my classroom?

About wireless in classrooms

We are currently working to improve both wireless coverage and capacity in all classroom spaces on campus, but not all classrooms are the same in regard to wireless performance. While we routinely monitor the level of wireless network usage in classroom spaces so that we can address issues that may arise, it is still very important to keep in mind that wireless technology has a number of inherit problems when used in high density areas such as classrooms. These issues can be addressed to a certain extent, but not fully eliminated.

We have been working to expand both coverage and capacity in classroom spaces, but be aware that at this time not all classroom spaces can handle large numbers of concurrent wireless users. While we strongly suggest that people connect to a wired network outlet whenever possible, but if you must rely on wireless for an event or activity that involves more than 10 people it is best to contact IS&S directly before scheduling any given room. We can help you find one of the upgraded classroom spaces that can properly support high density wireless demand, but please review the following before your event or activity so that you are aware of what to expect.

Some things to keep in mind when considering how to use wireless in your classroom:

  1. All wireless users share a common connection to the network, so the more devices that are using the wireless in your classroom, the less of the shared connection will be available for each device. This applies even to classrooms with upgraded wireless functionality (because it is inherent to wireless technology.)
  2. There is a fixed amount of bandwidth that any given wireless access point can use, so high-bandwidth activity (streaming video, downloading large files, etc.) will quickly consume available bandwidth, even with a small number of devices in use at one time.
  3. There are a fixed number of devices that each access point can service at one time, and the access point will rotate through all wireless users repeatedly in order to be able to provide service to all connected users. The more users it has to rotate through the less performance each user will experience. Again, this is inherent in the technology and we can only try to make it less of an issue – it can never be fully eliminated.
  4. Other devices may interfere with wireless activity, so please consider turning off other wireless technology like Bluetooth devices, phones not being used for classroom activities, etc. Any device that sends signals over the same frequency that is being used by wireless devices will degrade performance (sometimes significantly.)
  5. Be aware that not all wireless devices are created equal. The older the device the slower the common connection will run and each wireless antenna must scale all connected devices to the slowest common speed of all the devices that it is servicing. If you have older devices in use it could negatively impact all users in your classroom.