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Building a school in the cloud

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Schools often talk about moving entirely to the cloud: being free of maintaining a huge infrastructure and moving to relying on an internet connection to run the technology in school. While many aspire to make this possible, in practice only few have succeeded in implementing it. And one such example is the Concordia International School in Hanoi.

Concordia International School Hanoi is a small school with 250 students but has been continuously growing. One of the striking aspects of course is the way its run – exclusively in the cloud!

The school began its project a few years ago keeping 3 factors in mind:

  1. Creating a robust wifi infrastructure
  2. Introducing the 1:1 program for grades 6-12 and 1:2 program in the elementary school
  3. Developing a curriculum model based around blended learning

(This post will focus on the first factor)

 

Making school-wide WiFi possible

David-Elliott_Concordia_Hanoi

David Elliott, Technology Director, Concordia International School, Hanoi

Least to say, everything in this school is in the cloud – from their admin databases to the entire school budgeting. All they have are access points going through a switch to the internet whilst all of their admin databases are hosted in different countries.

Setting all of this up in a developing country has its own challenges.

One critical challenge is power cuts. Quoting an incident from last year, there were several weeks where the global cable was cut between Vietnam and Hong Kong. As a result there was a huge lag between the use of internet at school and home. Though their internet provider kept re-routing, it certainly posed as a great challenge. Schools are heavy users of internet and internet access speeds at home are just as important as the school speeds. While this may be a problem in a developing country, it may not hold true for developed countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong etc.

Another factor is the cost of implementing the Wifi bandwidth for the cloud-based infrastructure. What helps though is that they have no dedicated IT staff and servers to maintain which helps balance costs. The IT emergency support is also outsourced to the other local vendors.

Over the years the WiFi system in the school has evolved. The infrastructure is now at 802.11ac. It is a dramatic change, something worthy of note. It requires faster switches (1 GB min) but all in all, it is not that expensive for the gain in benefits.

The school is constructing their permanent campus this year and will install this same infrastructure at the new location.

One of the goals at Concordia is replicability. Everything should be affordable and doable at schools anywhere in the world.

Would you be interested in hearing from the person who made all this possible?

Join us at EduTECH Asia where, David Elliot, Technology Director at Concordia Internal Hanoi will be sharing his personal experience with all those who want to give this idea a shot.

Book your seat now at a 2 for 1 promotional rate!

Watch out for the next blogs on Concordia’s BYOD and Blended learning initiatives.

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