Klein Independent School District Enables Smart Classrooms - Tech Learning

Klein Independent School District Enables Smart Classrooms

A key objective for Klein is to securely and reliably accommodate the plethora of mobile devices that students and teachers use on a daily basis.
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Aruba today announced that Klein ISD, a rapidly-growing school district in Klein, Texas, has completed a three-year, district-wide technology refresh built upon the Aruba Mobile First Architecture. 

With 53,000 students and 6,500 employees in a total of 47 schools, Klein ISD is one of the fastest growing districts in the Houston metro area and has been at the forefront of education innovation. The district’s newest school, Klein Cain High School, encompasses 665,000 square feet on an 83 acre site, and can accommodate 4,000 students. 

According to Klein ISD IT Director, Chris Cummings, the network infrastructure is a key component in Klein ISD’s ability to realize its vision. “While I speak with many school districts who want to embrace our same philosophy of empowering students and teachers through technology innovation, they lack the right infrastructure to support this vision,” he noted.

Klein ISD is refreshing its existing Aruba network, district-wide, with nearly 5,000 Aruba indoor and outdoor Access Points (APs), AirWave network management and ClearPass for full network access control (NAC) and policy management capabilities.

In addition, the district is launching a dedicated mobile app for its new Klein Cain High School. The app is powered by the Meridian Mobile App Platform, Aruba Beacons, and Aruba location-ready APs and can deliver a variety of services including turn-by-turn directions to help students, staff and visiting parents find their way to classrooms, administrative offices, and even athletic facilities.

While wayfinding is one important feature of the new Klein Cain mobile app, the district also sees the potential to add features such as posting lunch menus and enabling payment for lunches and other school fees, as well as providing information on school functions.

A key objective for Klein is to securely and reliably accommodate the plethora of mobile devices that students and teachers use on a daily basis. The district has issued 34,000 devices for intermediate and high school students – a mix of Chromebooks and Windows laptops. Klein’s guest network is averaging 18,000 devices daily and that number is expected to grow, which means secure onboarding and visibility are critical.

“This is our first year with the guest network up and running, and we’re seeing major growth in the number of devices connecting,” said Brett Williams, Assistant Manager, Network Infrastructure, for Klein ISD. “All devices – whether district-issued or BYOD – are granted secure, role-based access via Aruba ClearPass.”

Williams noted that the deployment of ClearPass is a key reason why the district IT team is not concerned about adding new IoT devices to the network. 

In the new Klein Cain High School, collaborative classrooms include an interactive panel with a wireless control unit, a document camera, and two wireless computers per classroom as back-up, in case a student forgets his or her device at home. The high school also uses 50 large-format TVs for digital signage that are connected to the Wi-Fi network. Administrators update these daily with various information and video communications for students.

According to Cummings, one of the reasons Klein ISD has been able to innovate so freely is the structure of its organization, with IT reporting into the same leadership as the district’s curriculum.

“In the past, IT departments were seen as more of a regulatory body. Now, as the philosophy has shifted, we’ve given IT more flexibility and allowed them to take risks. We’re able to reimagine how we teach educators about the technology and support them, and we can make our schools compelling places where the students want to learn.”

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