Classrooms are the number one priority for the LAWN team in terms of how we spend our budget and manage wireless resources on the campus. All classrooms have been upgraded to 802.11n capable radios and support both the 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz radio frequencies. Classrooms with greater than 60 seats generally have multiple access points, with large lecture halls having as many as 6 (with some 2.4Ghz radios disabled to prevent interference.) Despite our robust classroom wireless capabilities, Wi-Fi like all wireless technologies, has a number of challenges related to high density usage. We outline some basic advice for improving the situation in classroom scenarious below.
- When you are expecting over 50 connections at once, ask users to turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on devices which are not required for the exercise to reduce the overall noise in the room and load on the network.
- Note that Cell phone services (ex: cellular 3G/4G), do not interfere with Wi-Fi; however, cell phones which support Wi-Fi do allow the Wi-Fi to be disabled independent of the cellular.
- We recommend that your users configure their devices to join LAWN prior to class, as first time configuration for a large group can require a significant amount of time which can vary greatly between users and devices.
- Make your classroom support staff and users aware of the troubleshooting guides available at http://www.lawn.gatech.edu
- If possible, try to distribute users evenly throughout the room.
- Allow time for all devices to come online prior to the task.
- Perform a test of the network and networked resources with your students. This should involve having them verify they are connected, and accessing specific networked resources (ex: web servers, file servers, or virtual desktops) which are representative of the classroom activities you expect to be performed. Testing should be done using the devices the students will be using, and connecting to the networked resources that you will be using.
- In the event of individual device/user issues, please direct students to resolve their issues prior to the next class using the LAWN website as well as the OIT Technology Support Center in the Clough building.
- If you encounter issues with the networked resources required for the course, please contact the operator of the network resource to resolve, or make alternative plans if remediation is not possible. Note that some network resource providers will rate limit based on IP address blocks or connections.
- In general be sure that the networked resources that you will be depending on are robust enough to deal with numerous simultaneous connections and intermittent timeouts. This should include applications maintaining state across sessions in the event that web requests or transactions are interrupted.
- If possible, avoid having everyone in the class performing the exact same network activies in unison. If these actions can be done asynchronously, the performance of the wireless network and networked resources should be improved.
- If you as the presenter require network connectivity to lead the class, and there is a wired port available for your use, we recommend that you use it to keep the class moving in the event of any network issues. Most classrooms have a LAWN wired port available at the podium.
- For large classrooms and high performance expectations (ex: video by all participants, or rapid synchronous usage), or where you have performed a test in class and experienced significant issues with wireless, please contact the LAWN team at email@example.com prior to the next event. While we cannot garantee that we can resolve issues you might be experiencing, we will do our best, and look forward to the opportunity to collect valuable information to help with future improvements to classroom wireless.
NOTE WELL: If you are attempting to use wireless for an activity for which students' grades depend on successful connection and completion of a task over the network, you should take great care in your preparation by following the steps above. Regardless of these preparations, you should have both a backup plan and should be prepared to deal with individuals who are for whatever reason unable to complete the network task.
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