Pace Education Group, an international institution providing education across the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, has implemented data networking and Wi-Fi solutions from Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise to maintain critical connectivity. Dr P.A. Ibrahim, Chairman of Pace Education Group, tells us the solutions have the capabilities to scale across the group’s different campuses to maintain always-on connectivity.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has announced that Pace Education has selected ALE communications, data networking and Wi-Fi solutions to deliver a superior learning and teaching experience to students and faculty with the latest implementation being at the newest Pace British School in Sharjah, UAE.
The deployment includes the Alcatel-Lucent OXO Connect telephony system, the Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch 6450 at the core and Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch 6350 at the edges, the Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess Stellar AP1201 and Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess Stellar AP1221 access points, to provide high throughput and ensure a seamless user experience.
Pace Education Group, headquartered in Dubai, runs a number of schools across the UAE. The group employs 1,200 faculty staff, over 500 non-teaching staff and caters to more than 20,000 students representing 25 nationalities across its schools. The group is committed to building institutions that enhance the prestige of education around the world.
Pace Education needed high-performance Wi-Fi connectivity to ensure that its teachers and students benefit from access to uninterrupted high-definition video content, the school’s central learning management portal and the Internet for learning support material.
“Technology is playing a key role in enabling modern day education. Providing our faculty and students with continuous and seamless connectivity is crucial to enabling interactive learning and to elevate the teaching and learning experience,” said Dr P.A. Ibrahim, Chairman, Pace Education.
“We wanted a reliable technology partner with a proven track record to provide us with Wi-Fi solutions that ensure zero downtime, offer wide coverage and are future-proof, so we can focus on providing a better learning experience. ALE stood out with the OmniAccess Stellar range of access points that met all our criteria perfectly. That ALE has a proven track record in providing education institutions with robust connectivity and communication solutions also made them our preferred choice.”
The OmniAccess Stellar AP1201 and AP1221 are multifunctional high-performance access points that have superior build quality, support a large number of users, ensure zero hardware failures, are easy to manage and provide wide coverage across school premises, both indoor and outdoor. Ilanz Technologies, an authorised channel partner of ALE, provided installation services.
“We are delighted that Pace Education has chosen ALE to build the connectivity platform at its newest school. The project reinforces our leadership in the provision of reliable connectivity solutions that are perfectly suited to meet the demands of today’s educational institutions,” says Manish Punjabi, Channel Sales Manager – UAE and Oman, ALE. “The OmniAccess Stellar range of access points answers the school’s current need and is also scalable enough to support its planned growth and expansion.”
Pace International School can accommodate 5500 students and has been approved by the Ministry of Education, Sharjah.
Intelligent CIO asked Dr P.A. Ibrahim, Chairman, Pace Education, further questions about have the group has benefited from robust connectivity solutions.
What benefits do teachers and students receive from the high-performance Wi-Fi connectivity?
Connectivity is critical for our students as they are no longer confined to classrooms to learn solely by listening to lectures. Within a progressive educational system, we understand that for learning to be effective and beneficial, it must be collaborative and interactive.
Teachers are making drastic changes to the way they approach instruction and technology is playing a central role in the classroom to make teaching effective. From delivering lectures remotely to utilising learning aids, streaming uninterrupted high-definition content and accessing the schools’ central learning management portal, teachers are making every effort to utilise the power of always-on Wi-Fi to enhance the teaching-learning process.
Students on the other hand are benefiting from a wide range of learning techniques, and access to learning support material and content. I also believe that the education sector is probably the most positively impacted by Digital Transformation as it enhances student learning by opening a world of endless possibilities and collaboration. The role of high-performance Wi-Fi is important in enabling this transformation.
Can you explain why it is important to implement a solution that offered (i) zero downtime (ii) wide coverage (iii) future proofing?
Our environment is dynamic and the underlying technology should be dynamic as well and ready to adapt almost immediately. With technology playing a major role in driving a modern educational environment, an always-on network is not an option anymore. Network availability is mandatory in terms of up-time, area of coverage and scalability. Our approach is to focus on our core education business and technology should be available to support us on our education evolvement journey.
Can you explain why the OmniAccess Stellar range of access points met your criteria?
The OmniAccess Stellar range of products are multifunctional and high-performance access points. They are ideal for simple, secure and seamless user experience. They have superior build quality to withstand the elements and support a large number of students which is important in campus sites, without any compromising on performance.
How confident are you that the solutions are scalable enough to support any planned expansion?
The Pace Education Group runs a number of schools across the UAE with more than 20,000 students across campuses. We are committed to building institutions that enhance the prestige of education around the world. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has a history of 100 years of operations and has proven a long track of loyal customers and support. We believe their OmniAccess Stellar solutions have the capabilities to scale across our different campuses, support our existing fleet and provide end-to-end solutions to maintain always-on connectivity.
Does the fact that your classrooms are equipped with interactive smart boards with Internet connection and CCTV cameras explain your need for high-performance Wi-Fi connectivity?
Our underlying strategy is to move to a digital school model, and Wi-Fi is fundamental to supporting our strategy execution. While smart boards and CCTV systems are standard requirements, students and teachers will benefit from having Wi-Fi in schools. Students see it as a tool that helps save time, and teachers are able to monitor the progress of their students and send out learning materials and requirements at any time they want. In addition, the growth of educational technology has transformed the usual, lecture-style teaching into a two-way learning process, and Wi-Fi enables access to applications that promote collaborative learning.
What has been the response from students and teachers to the improved connectivity?
I believe that the improved connectivity has allowed students to expand their learning boundaries as they are no longer confined to textbooks and classroom discussions. Access to faster and safer wireless Internet connection gives them the chance to supplement their learning with their medium of choice.
Our faculty can send students supplementary resources instantly to aid them in their homework. So, the teaching and learning experience continues even beyond classroom walls. Whenever students have questions, instructors are only a ‘Wi-Fi’ away from them.
Whatever personalisation, educational institutions need to make learning more fun and ‘exciting’ can be easier done with a wireless connection.