Wireless Solutions for Instructional Technology

Technology has gone wireless in a big way, making it possible for schools to connect new computers and other devices to an existing wired network without installing costly hard-wire drops. Which wireless technologies (if any) should you implement at your school? How do you ensure data security and prevent unauthorized network logons? For answers to these questions and information about wireless networking, visit the following Internet Web sites:

CoSN Guide to Wireless LANs in K-12 Schools
This Executive Summary report by CoSN's (Consortium for School Networking) Emerging Technologies Committee focuses on the challenges and options of wireless LANs (local area networks) in 8 different school districts. The summary outlines the reasons why these districts chose to implement wireless technology. It also addresses the various wireless (802.11) standards and steps to take when designing a wireless LAN. Help others in your school or district to learn more about wireless LANs by downloading and presenting CoSN's free PowerPoint "wireless" slideshow.

The Wireless Networking Starter Kit
If you're just getting started with Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity), this is the site to visit for advice about implementing a wireless network. Adam Engst and Glenn Fleishman, authors of Peachpit's popular Wireless Networking Starter Kit, give visitors the option of downloading (at no charge) Chapter 17: Setting up a Gateway, plus the book's Glossary of Wireless Networking terms. You can also view an electronic version of the book's Table of Contents. Given how much these technology mavens know about Macintosh and Windows wireless networking, this is one freebie you won't want to overlook.

Member Question of the Week: How to Set Up a Wireless Network
C|Net Networks sends out a weekly "Community Help & How-To" electronic newsletter featuring both a "Member Question of the Week" and links to the best responses. While gathering resources for this month's Web Sightings, a reader in Panang, Malaysia posed a question about wireless networking: "I'd like to set up a wireless network connection for my home PCs (two desktops and two notebooks), all using Windows XP to share a single Internet ADSL broadband account. How should I start?" The winning response submitted by Joe M. of Chicago discussed hardware requirements (wireless routers, cards, and range expanders), installation, and various settings for the router including WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encryption, firewall issues, remote access settings, Internet access settings and restricting access to the network. Dana H. of Wayland Computers in Wayland, MA submitted a second winning response to Community Newsletter: Q&A Forum, focusing on wireless standards, common problems, creating a wireless layout, network layout, preparing computers for access, setup and security settings. Both answers are very informative and reader friendly.

Wi-Fi Networking News
Keep up with the latest developments in the Wi-Fi arena by reading the daily posts at the Wi-Fi Networking News Web log (blog) site. Maintained by Glenn Fleishman (author of Peachpit's Take Control of Your Airport Network: The Answers You Need Now, From Leading Macintosh Experts and co-author of the Wireless Networking Starter Kit (see above), this site features daily news updates about Wi-Fi and WiMax (short for "Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access") networking technologies, plus an opportunity to subscribe to a free daily Wi-Fi networking email newsletter. Thanks to the blog format, you can post comments or ask questions as needed. There's also a free Hotspot Locator, inviting you to type in an address and find out how close this location is to an available wireless access point.

Hotspot Locator, Downloadable Version.
Download this free applet for Windows 2000, ME or XP or Macintosh OS X. Once installed, it will help you find Wi-Fi hotspots without requiring you to be online. There are also versions of this database available for handhelds and AvantGo equipped device, plus a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)-enabled hotspot directory for cell phone users. The database contains nearly 60,000 hotspot entries in 98 countries. It updates automatically when your computer is connected to the Internet. You can search for hotspots by country, state, city, location (library, café, etc.) or free/paid. To learn more about how this Hotspot locator works, visit the online user Guide. Educators and educational administrators who travel to conferences and professional meetings will truly appreciate the value of Jiwire's Hotspot Locator.

Online Classes-Learning Center
Hosted by Hewlett Packard, Learning Center features a variety of free online courses to help you learn more about various computing technologies and applications, including wireless. At the time of this writing, Learning Center I was offering a six-week course, entitled Wireless Security in Depth, focusing on tools and techniques to ensure secure communication in the wireless world. Other online "wireless" courses taught at the Learning Center include: 1) The Wireless Mobile Office with information about finding connectivity solutions, overcoming bandwidth limitations, and security; 2) Wireless Networking Solutions focusing on wireless architectures, components, and protocols, security, printing solutions, and emerging trends; and 3) Wireless-Friendly Websites for educators, educational administrators, and students interested in designing wireless-friendly sites that can be accessed via cell phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants like Palm and Pocket PC) devices. Classes repeat, so it's easy to work around scheduling conflicts. To stay informed about upcoming course offerings, sign up to receive news updates via email.

Wireless Rollup Update.
Having trouble connecting your wireless Windows XP (Home or Professional) laptop to a wireless network? Perhaps your version of Windows is missing an important patch or two? Learn more about Microsoft Windows XP wireless updates by reading this tech support document, then install the updates and patches recommended at the site. Alternatively, you could install Windows XP Service Pack 2, which includes all of Microsoft's wireless networking patches, hot fixes and updates.

Wireless Solutions for Education.
Presented by eSchoolnews with financial support from Sprint, this collection of wireless news items, articles, and resources will help educators and educational administrators become more knowledgeable about options available for wireless networks, printers, handhelds, and laptops. Learn the identity of the most connected campus in the United States. Find out how some schools provide wireless educational opportunities that students can tap into via cell phone. Discover why an Arizona high school chose laptops and Internet access rather than textbooks for instructional curriculum delivery. Wireless technology is having a major impact in the world of educational computing.

Apple's Airport Technologies: Airport Extreme and Airport Express.
Apple's Airport technology supports connection speeds and data transfer rates up to 54 Mbps (megabits per second). Apple's 802.11g Airport Extreme base station allows for wireless connectivity to wired networks, the Internet, and USB printers. You can learn more about this wireless solution able to serve up to 50 Macintosh and Windows users simultaneously at Apple's Airport Extreme Web site. If you're interested in sharing a broadband connection to the Internet and a USB printer, while playing iTunes music wirelessly in the staff room, school office or classroom, see the offerings at Apple's Airport Express Web site.

WiMaxxed: The Future of WiFi is Here.
Confused about the difference between Wi-Fi 802.11 and WiMax 802.16 standards? You're not alone! WiMax, which stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access is touted as Wi-Fi, the Next Generation. While Wi-Fi connects at speeds of up to 54 Mbps, signals don't extend farther than 150 feet. WiMax coverage can extend for 10-130 miles at speeds of up to 75 Mbps. Learn more about WiMax technology and the 802.16 wireless standard at WiMaxxed.com. You'll also find out more about WiMax technology at 1) the WiMax Forum, a non-profit organization promoting adoption of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.16 standard and 2) WiMAX-Broadband Wireless Access Technology, a Web site summarizing Intel's efforts to drive the deployment of WiMAX technologies.

Creating a Wireless Network
For a detailed description of how to plan, install and operate a Wi-Fi network, visit the Wi-Fi Alliance Web site. Topics covered at this site include: Planning, Types of Equipment, Setting UP, Adding Wi-Fi to A Desktop, and Securing the Network. Learn about Wi-Fi Basics, why Wi-Fi is important, the advantages of Wi-Fi over wired connections, and much more. There's even a helpful glossary of terms.

Bluetooth: The Official Bluetooth Web Site.
Home of the Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group), a community of about 2000 companies developing products for Bluetooth wireless connectivity, this is the site to visit for information about the Bluetooth wireless technology you can find in cars, computers, handheld Pocket PCs and Palm devices, cell phones, keyboards, mice, and more. For additional information visit Bluetooth: The Official Membership Site. Curious about how the technology got its name, visit What's in a Name? The Story of Bluetooth.

Email: Carol S. Holzberg