Industry 4.0 is transforming education
It’s been clear for years that teaching models need to change. British journalist George Monbiot noted that today’s schools and universities were established for the needs of a factory workforce in the 19th and 20th century industrial eras. Many experts feel they’re not designed to generate the creativity and innovation required in a workforce for the 21st century and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Government strategies were underway globally to bring digital skills into education, but implementation looked set to stretch over several years. Then 2020 arrived, and the pandemic changed everything.
As COVID-19 infections spread, governments locked down all but essential services. Although education is clearly essential, the physical proximity of students in classroom-based teaching meant that governments canceled exams and ordered educational establishments to close. Lessons stopped for an estimated 1.6 billion learners worldwide. And, unfortunately, millions of students could not access such facilities and missed months of education at all levels.
Ensuring continuity of education, everywhere from remote areas in the developing world to rural and low-income urban areas in the developed world, has become more important than ever because it impacts the economic and social strength of national economies.
The challenge facing the education sector is that high speed broadband coverage needs to increase dramatically to ensure students can access engaging learning and development resources remotely.
Bridging the digital divide
Every day we hear stories of families driving miles and spending hours in parking lots of restaurants or public Wi-Fi hotspots to give their children a chance to participate in distance learning, due to a lack of broadband internet at home.
During the pandemic, anchor institutions, cities/counties and non-profits across the country rose to the challenge of bridging the digital divide in their communities.
Local governments can play a decisive role in overcoming these challenges by prioritizing broadband initiatives and collaborating with private companies such as Nokia. With our partners, we serve the specific needs of school districts and local communities through best-in-breed broadband communications solutions that are fast and easy to deploy and manage.
Nokia’s Private wireless solution – Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) with FastMile CPE — can help cities, counties and educational entities ensure students’ access to online learning from the comfort and safety of their homes.
The same solution will ensure broadband connectivity and business continuity for city services, such as community centers, hospitals and libraries, and improve the safety of public employees as they can work from home in compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.
Government funding creates opportunities, communication technology enables solutions
To minimize the disruption and close the technology gap, many governments have started rolling out COVID-19 relief programs and are investing in or subsidizing initiatives for broadband infrastructure deployment and adoption.
In the US, for example, the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act established a $US150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to help state, local and tribal governments navigate the impact of COVID-19.
A considerable part of this amount will be invested in residential broadband infrastructure to facilitate distance learning, especially in rural and underserved areas. Independent school districts (ISDs) are playing a crucial role in defining strategies and establishing partnerships to utilize these funds for providing students and families with laptops and affordable internet access.
Some schools and communities are opting for a DIY approach that involves integrating a mix of building blocks such as Wi-Fi access points, internet routers and open-source software into a single network. But many lack the technical skills and resources they need to succeed with these efforts. And although DIY solutions may look cheaper on paper, in most cases they turn out to be more expensive after commissioning.
An alternative, less risky, approach is to partner with established solution providers to build and roll out a network based on proven technology and future-safe industry standards.
Find out how broadband communication empowers remote learning
Digital learning gains prominence amid COVID-19
COVID-19 disrupts societies and irrevocably changes certain aspects of daily life, the education sector has been particularly hard-hit by the fall-out of the pandemic.
What education in the digital economy looks like in AmericaEven as technology eliminates the need for routine labor, it is simultaneously opening up whole new opportunities in industries that leverage knowledge and innovation. The good news is that new tools for augmented learning are on the horizon as well. The advent of 5G, enabled by companies like Nokia, is rapidly bringing new access to those who need it most—the students of today and the workforce of tomorrow.
How do we get learning on track for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Having students and teachers located in a physical classroom, with an instructor explaining topics, assigning and evaluating assignments, is an inflexible, one-size fits all approach. And while the system has worked for generations, the cracks are showing. It is increasingly difficult to engage the digital native Generation Z students with text-based learning.
Private LTE solutions for Broadband eLearningStudents and teachers require broadband connectivity to support eLearning. In many demographic areas, students are equipped with broadband. However, in other areas, students do not have or cannot get broadband services. Nokia has developed a cost-efficient wireless solution leveraging the free LTE spectrum that the FCC released recently called CBRS OnGo.
CBRS opens new doors for wireless in the US
While government funding has been a major enabler for these networks, the availability of spectrum is certainly another one. The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is the result of a joint effort between the FCC and industry to share existing 3.5 GHz radio spectrum and make it available for private networks in the US. The CBRS band can be used for LTE and, because it is unlicensed or lightly licensed, it is applicable and affordable for the education sector, too. It provides a unique opportunity for schools and other public facilities, such as libraries and hospitals, to quickly and cost-effectively deploy LTE-based wireless broadband that provides ample coverage and capacity in suburban and unserved urban areas.
The CBRS is proving to be the best and most viable option for communities in these areas. For example, the projects in Collinsville and Bexar County have both made successful use of the CBRS band. To make deployment simpler we have partnered with Key Bridge Wireless to provide the first pre-integrated turnkey CBRS solution. The solution combines Spectrum Access System (SAS) and Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) infrastructure from Key Bridge with our private 4.9G/LTE and 5G solutions, which include CBRS endpoints, CBRS-certified radio, transport, core and applications.
Making schools and higher education campuses smarter
Higher education institutions are also seeking to rapidly digitalize their operations so they can better serve the changing needs of students, academic staff and researchers on their campuses. To succeed, they must evolve their wireless communications infrastructure to offer higher-performing applications and tools that will help their staff and students work more productively.
Until now, their main approach has been to install new or upgrade existing Wi-Fi networks. But Wi-Fi technology is starting to show limitations in its ability to meet the increased demands of mobility, latency, throughput and total cost of ownership.
Private wireless 4.9G/LTE and 5G networks can power next-generation campus services and operations, enabling higher education institutions to leverage standardized technologies and new spectrum options to provide the security, reliability, coverage, mobility, capacity and flexibility that digital and Industry 4.0 applications demand. By complementing Wi-Fi with private wireless networks, they can power a new generation of mission-critical campus services and operational capabilities that address the changing needs of staff and students while reducing network cost of ownership.
Powering university research, education and collaboration
Academic research and education bolster a region or a country’s innovation, and economic competitiveness and growth. Therefore, advanced R&E networks are key assets to develop, experiment and demonstrate Industry 4.0 technologies and use cases.
High performance, private wireless networks and edge computing platforms enable ‘living labs’ for researching, developing, testing and demonstrating new 5G-based applications, business models and use cases driven by immersive, Internet of Things (IoT) and AI technologies.
These lab capabilities will boost industry-academia collaboration, and eventually enable critical sectors like energy, healthcare and first responders to reach new levels of efficiency and productivity.
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Use cases for 4.9G/LTE and 5G campus networks
Possible use cases include, but are not limited to:
- Equipping classrooms and auditoriums with smart boards, smart podiums or smart lighting.
- Providing staff and students with access to broadband access and office productivity tools on their mobile devices.
- Creating augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) classrooms that can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
- Enabling labs to study and research Industry 4.0 technologies for business- and mission-critical IoT applications across many industries.
- Optimizing building, water, power and environmental management with building automation and control systems.
- Easing the deployment of surveillance cameras, smoke sensors and emergency call buttons across the campus; These applications can be complemented with drone- or robot-based surveillance.
- Keeping academic and operations staff connected with group communication applications such as push-to-talk (PTT) and push-to-video (PTV).
- Using connected digital billboards to spread general information, provide emergency announcements, help with wayfinding, engage visitors and make campus life simpler.
- Providing secure point-of-sale terminals throughout the campus to support ticket sales, food and beverage services, concerts and events. These capabilities can be complemented with drone- or autonomous vehicle-based delivery services.
Building national research and education networks
National/regional research and education networks (NRENs) are non-commercial networks created for the advancement of knowledge. They connect R&E computing communities with needs unlike any other. They demand performance, sometimes on the edge of what is commercially practical. They require unusual bandwidth capacity, scalability, flexibility and data security without the constraints placed on them by commercial service providers. Over the years, nations and groups of nations formed collaborative networks to serve the unique needs of the R&E community. The result is that NRENs are the lead users of networking technology, often years ahead of commercial service providers.
Advances in photonic transport and switching, combined with IP routing and open software control, bring NRENs the ability to better serve their communities with a powerful communications infrastructure that will further education, scientific and industrial research, commerce and overall quality of life – fostering collaboration among institutions.
Explore how Nokia is enabling the future of education
Nokia is the undisputed leader in private wireless networks and critical communications. Our solutions are part of Nokia Bell Labs’ Future X architecture, leveraging Nokia’s leadership in wireless networking, broadband access, IP and optical transport, cloud platforms and cyber security.
Nokia Digital Automation Cloud
Nokia DAC is an end-to-end digitalization platform for private wireless connectivity and automation. This cost-effective, ready to deploy, private wireless solution combines the simplicity and affordability of Wi-Fi with the superior coverage, capacity, scalability, reliability and security benefits of LTE. It is also software upgradeable to 5G. The school’s IT professionals can configure and manage the system. They can also implement security and traffic policies and rules as they want and manage the access and viewing rights of individual users.
FastMile Fixed Wireless Access
All that is needed beyond the DAC platform is the Nokia FastMile FWA gateway, a small device for converting LTE to home Wi-Fi. Installed at students’ homes, FastMile provides a Wi-Fi hotspot that they can use with any standard laptop or tablet to access high-speed internet service. The FastMile indoor gateway will meet the needs of most students. For homes that are located too far from the Nokia DAC radio, a compact Nokia FastMile outdoor receiver can be installed outside the house – attached to a wall, windowsill or pole – to boost the wireless signal quality and bring broadband inside the home.
Passive Optical LAN
Our Optical LAN solutions help public and private sector organizations address evolving service demands with outstanding network performance. They allow businesses, governments, hospitals, hotels, real estate developers, and universities to deliver better service experiences, lower your costs, and get value from their network for decades to come.
Our IP Networks portfolio lets you combine massive capacity with tremendous capability. Powered by breakthrough silicon and software innovations, our products and solutions support an insight-driven, automated model for high-performance networking. They help you embrace cloud, 5G, and Internet of Things (IoT) opportunities by enabling you to build more scalable, secure, and adaptive networks.
Nokia optical network solutions let you build smarter, more automated networks that streamline service delivery and lower network TCO. They help you stay competitive and turn your optical networks into platforms that create value for your research and education. Our portfolio is powered by our Photonic Service Engine (PSE) chipset, the world’s most advanced programmable super coherent digital signal processors.
The future of education is now!
Even in the year 2021, bridging the digital divide is a bigger challenge for cities, school districts and schools than what we may have perceived. But providing cost-effective and reliable broadband access to facilitate distance learning for students in unserved or underserved households is perfectly possible. Thanks to private wireless solutions, there’s no need for costly, time-consuming digging of trenches and cabling to extend broadband to homes. No more hassle and hidden costs with DIY solutions. And IT administrators have full control and visibility of the network, users, devices and applications.
Elementary, middle, high school and university staff and students can benefit from private for 4.9G and 5G networks that provide them with fast and affordable broadband services to access learning and development resources remotely. While the same network infrastructure can be used for digitalizing campuses, enabling research and powering operations.
The future of education is connected, and it’s powered by Nokia.