SEND (Smart Education Networks by Design)

Advances in technology make it possible for students to experience personalized learning anytime and anywhere. But this can only take place if our school systems have well designed networks that support the increased demands of student devices and 24/7/365 access and that remain current in the face of rapidly evolving technologies. 

In our first phase, with the generous support of Qualcomm, the SEND Initiative developed guidelines for network design and a checklist for district network planning. Currently, SEND II is building on that work in collaboration with leading technology partners: Brocade, Cisco, ENA, Filewave, Fortinet, Juniper Networks, Presidio, and SAFARI Montage, SEND II is developing next-level resources for building network architectures that can handle and evolve with new demands.

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Our newest white paper, Smart Networks: Comprehensive Design Overview provides SMART guidelines for school system leaders. Traditional school networks, depending on size and geography, are generally not able to scale to support teaching and learning in a digitally transformational environment. Smart Education Networks that increase capacity and reduce costs can be implemented, but the process must be approached holistically, with full understanding of the tradeoffs among the requirements and a comprehensive design that addresses them as a whole.

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As districts begin to transform digitally, many must rethink their network architecture to maintain affordable Internet access. Our handy infographic breaks down some of the costs associated with the digital conversion and talks you through the Smart Networks that this era demands.

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view SEND performance design guide

Guidelines for School System Chief Technology Officers

Core Recommendations

  • Recognize that education networks are critical components of schools' infrastructures 
  • Recognize that 1-to-1 programs are quickly becoming mainstream, and plan accordingly
  • Start network planning & upgrade processes by consulting with teachers and administrators
  • Plan for substantial training and support
  • Understand that accessing content and resources is just as critical outside of the classroom as inside
  • Ensure that rigorous security measures are built into your network designs
  • Make future-focused design choices in terms of scalability and adaptability


Conclusions: Looking Ahead

Most U.S. schools and school districts are at critical junctures in their technology planning and investment life cycles. IT decision makers can easily be overwhelmed by the change observed in classroom instructional techniques, the widespread proliferation of consumer devices on their campuses, and the promise of transformative teaching and learning effectiveness offered by mobile computing. Student engagement and academic achievement can be transformed by 24/7 access to quality digital content and personalized learning models, but only if reliable education networks have been established. Furthermore, network designers must consider not only today's bandwidth demands, but also what future innovations may require. The SEND Guidelines for School System Chief Technology Officers list our full recommendations and conclusions.



Further References & Resources:

  • Interoperability Primer: K–12 education hasn’t focused on interoperability—the seamless sharing of data content and services among systems and applications. Our new primer, Interoperability Standards for Education: Working Together to Strategically Connect the K–12 Enterprise, will help district technology leaders understand why interoperability standards matter. This primer highlights the most important, widely used, and emerging standards—all in one place.
  • Cyber Security: Technology leaders and policymakers need to protect their networks and information security, analyze their current status, and validate what they are doing well. CoSN provides tools and resources that provide insight into how risk can be further reduced in ways that help technology contribute to their school’s primary goal of teaching and learning. We also offer assistance to district technology leaders who are working to ensure safety for both students and staff.
  • IT Crisis Preparedness: Technology programs have grown to touch almost every aspect of activities in modern-day schools, including teaching and learning, data-tracking and record-keeping, internal and external communications, and more. Events in our country such as Hurricane Katrina and the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School have illustrated the need for school technology leaders to be actively involved in crisis preparedness to ensure student safety and business continuity. CoSN helps district technology leaders identify best practices and develop strategies for shutting down and starting up critical services.