Building a Network to Support the Zeeland Schools 1:1 iPad Program

iPads for Education at Zeeland Public SchoolsAs school districts across the country consider plans for how to best use mobile computing in the classroom, Zeeland Public Schools of Zeeland, Michigan recently became one of the first to put such a plan into action.

Zeeland distributed iPads to 1800 district high school students as parts of its iLearn 1:1 computing program.

The idea behind Zeeland’s iPad program was simple:

Provide learners with a portable computing device so they can create, collaborate, communicate, and critically think.
–from Zeeland’s iLearn Website

But long before the first iPads were handed to students, Zeeland administrators realized the load from so many wireless network devices would be best handled by the creation of a new network infrastructure.

To build this new network, they turned to Optimal Solutions.

The challenges and requirements of the project included:

  • The need to handle 30+ computing devices per classroom using the network
  • Network authentication that ensured prompt access to the right resources
  • Centralized management of nearly 300 wireless access points
  • Locating and blocking unauthorized access points using wireless sensors
  • Supporting the district’s Acceptable Use Policy and the Children’s Internet Protection Act
  • Providing power-over-ethernet for lower costs and energy savings

After reviewing the project needs, Optimal Solutions submitted a project plan and budget that were eventually selected by Zeeland Public School administrators. The project to design and install the new wireless network included several important steps:

  • Step 1
    • Ordering all necessary wireless access points and wireless controllers
    • Configuring, testing, and documenting all hardware “in-house” before deployment
  • Step 2
    • Meeting with Zeeland administrators responsible for the iPad initiative to finalize project needs
    • Configuring the core network switch based on Zeeland’s specifications
  • Step 3
    • Conducting an on-site survey to determine the quantity and placement of access points
    • Documenting the final wireless deployment plan
  • Step 4
    • Installing the core network switch in Zeeland
    • Configuring network infrastructure for all necessary servers and services
  • Step 5
    • Physical installation of all wireless access points
    • Configuration and testing of access points and controllers
  • Step 6
    • Providing Zeeland with training on overall operation of the system
    • Answering any questions and making final adjustments as necessary
  • Step 7
    • Providing hard-copy and electronic documentation for the entire network infrastructure
  • Step 8
    • Meeting with Zeeland Public School administrators for a final walk-through and project closeout

The switchover from Zeeland’s old network to its new, best-in-class network took place over a 5-day span during Christmas Break in 2010. And the results were outstanding. The network met all requirements for the project, allowing students to use their iPads easily throughout the schools without losing signal or stressing the bounds of the network’s capacity.

If you would like to ready more about Zeeland’s iPad initiative, various news outlets have covered it, including the USA Today.

And if you’d like to talk to Optimal Solutions about your next network project, please use the form below. We would love to answer any questions you have and help ensure your network is a powerful, reliable asset for your business.

  • Please tell us about your project and any questions you have. We will get back to you as quickly as possible.