Magazine article Technology & Learning

Networking without Wires. (Web Sightings)

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Networking without Wires. (Web Sightings)

Article excerpt

If you've been paying attention to the education technology gurus recently, a key phrase you've heard over and over is "wireless connectivity" Wireless technologies have seen explosive growth around the globe in the past few years, and there is little sign of a slowdown (see accompanying chart). In fact, forecasters predict that the Wireless Local Area Network market in the United States alone will reach $4.6 billion by the year 2005.

K-12 schools are finding a particular affinity for the wireless LANs, which permit students and teachers to travel on and off campus with Internet-equipped wireless laptops or roll mobile computer carts from one classroom to another to serve as labs. A number of Web resources are available to help education technology leaders in their quest to keep up with the rapidly changing world of 802.11 (or Wi-Fi) technology--the wireless standard on which today's WLANs are built.

* Wireless Technology in Education: Moving From Pilots to Mainstream (www.peakgroup.net) The recently released "Peak Report" offers an in-depth look at trends and uses of wireless and mobile technologies in education. Based on a national survey conducted in association with AEL a nonprofit educational research organization, the report identifies and analyzes key data concerning educational deployment of wireless technologies. This information-packed 195-page publication includes statistics about school purchases; glossaries and other technical explanations; extensive directories of products and resources; and an examination of the issues, obstacles, and opportunities facing wireless in education. The report is available for purchase by schools at a special educator discount price of $79.

* BECTA (www.becta.org.uk/news/wireless_networks) The September 2002 online report, "Wireless Networking in Schools: A Decision Making Guide for School Leaders." published by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, provides educators with another great introduction to the world of wireless connectivity. It gives a step-by-step overview of the processes involved in implementing a variety of wireless solutions in education settings and offers numerous case studies and a comprehensive glossary. The BECTA Web site also features briefer "information sheets" on wireless networking and other emerging technologies.

* 802.11 Planet (www.80211-planet.com) 802.11 Planet lives up to its hype as "the source for Wi-Fi business and technology." While its emphasis is not on education, school leaders will find it a great resource for information about the 802.11 standard and wireless/mobile computing. Whether you're looking for industry news, reviews of applications, technical tutorials, or user discussion groups, this is a good place to start. Check out the Hotspots page, which helps you find wireless access points around the world--a handy tool when traveling with a laptop.

* Intel Innovation in Education (www.intel.com/education.emergingtech/index.htm) The Emerging Technologies page at Intel's education site offers a number of useful references for educators interested in wireless networking. With articles focusing on mobile laptop labs and the use of mobile computing to bridge the digital divide in schools, the site features helpful wireless case studies, answers to frequently asked questions, and information on relevant hardware and software.

* Wireless Networking in Schools com.au/%7Ecumulus/wireless.htm) In this frequently updated online article by Australian educator Keith Lightbody, you will find definitions of wireless terminology, updates on the technology, the pros and cons of going wireless, buying suggestions, and more. …

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