How to Avoid Expensive Network Upgrades in Education

At a number of conferences that I have spoken at lately, I have shared that we are not likely to see less technology adoption and usage in education. In fact, we should see considerably more. However, some technologies are causing our networks to overload with unnecessary traffic.

Bandwidth Analysis for Windows vs ChromeOS

Microsoft recently commissioned a report to evaluate the network patterns of netbooks running ChromeOS and notebooks running Windows 8 from Principled Technologies. The report found what should be obvious—an Internet-only device will produce more traffic than a Windows 8 device. In the case of the ChromeOS netbooks, the device had average of 152.3 times more network traffic. Say what!?

There is so much data in this report, I encourage you to download it and share the study with your cabinet team. As we move towards online testing pilots in 2014 and online state assessments in Spring 2015, schools have some decisions to consider:

  • Do we spend our monies buying limited netbooks that require upgrading campus networks so that our teachers and students can take a teach, learn, and assess online?
  • Or, do we spend our limited funds on modernizing curriculum, increasing professional development, and using creative technologies that work online and offline?

Here is the link to the report.

The report highlights that while these ChromeOS netbooks are cheap, the true costs are hidden in the amount of additional infrastructure that must be provided by the institution. If schools allow students to take these netbooks home, the costs of additional network infrastructure is passed on to the student and their families. In stark contrast, Windows notebooks run the majority of the applications from the local hard drive and do not require the constant network connection. Moreover, Windows devices can access all websites and have over 5 million apps.

School wireless networks are still shared media for Internet connectivity. When multiple devices are connected over the same wireless network, the hub quickly becomes saturated and additional wireless access hubs are required. In PT’s labs, they found that ChromeOS netbooks can generate as much as 692.2 times more traffic compared to the same app scenarios on Windows 8 notebooks.

Things that make you say, “Hmm!”

The world is changing and we are becoming more connected everyday. Our students, teachers, principals, and staff need smart devices that make meaningful connections to the network. Unnecessary traffic  creates undue expense and a loss in educational productivity. Even with e-Rate, there is not enough time or funds to remediate the school networks to support cheap netbooks with limited value to teaching, learning, and assessing education.

Principled Technologies ChromeOS vs Windows ReportPrincipled Technologies,
Chromebook vs. Windows Notebook Network Traffic Analysis