Can Edge Computing Succeed in the Classroom?

The decentralization of data towards the “edge” of the cloud is on the rise thanks to developments like the IoT and the increasing number of endpoints within enterprise networks. Does this strategy make sense for network managers in K-12 schools?

For nearly as long as the profession has been around, enterprise IT pros have worked to consolidate the collection, storage, and management of data, from the earliest data centers to today’s ubiquitous public cloud. But the Internet of Things has introduced a need to collect and process data from many disparate points rather than from a central hub. This novel trend towards the decentralization of information has led to a new paradigm in IT: edge computing.

The IoT is making inroads in practically every industry, including K-12 education. Edge computing could make the use of several exciting and potentially powerful educational technologies far easier in schools across the country. This question is, do districts have the necessary resources to implement edge computing successfully?

 

Potential Benefits of the Edge

The problem is that many of the technologies that promise to transform K-12 education must create and process data rapidly in order to work effectively, and locating computational devices as far as a cloud network could produce unacceptable lags. Edge computing enables this data to be processed in the same place it’s being created, ensuring better performance for these low-latency devices.

One example of such a technology would be augmented reality, which must respond to the visual stimuli provided by a camera feed quickly in order to believably project onto the user’s surroundings. Another might be IoT learning platforms that adjust lessons based on analyses of students’ eye movements, allowing for both greater personalization and better information that teachers can use to improve that student’s learning outcomes. Essentially, any technology that must compute significant volumes of data in real-time would benefit from a networking paradigm that prioritizes speed over consolidation.

 

Obstacles to Implementation

But while the greater latency made possible by edge computing obviously has great appeal for schools hoping to incorporate these technologies, actually implementing edge computing across entire districts is easier said than done. With shrinking budgets and the increasingly high cost of IT talent already squeezing educational IT initiatives, it will be a considerable challenge for district IT pros to re-architect networks and relocate compute and storage resources.

For one thing, traditional centralized network architectures make it easier to find physical space to install the hardware as well as provide fully redundant uninterruptible power sources — it’s an entirely different story when this hardware must be dispersed throughout the school. This dissemination of endpoints will also drive up the costs of implementation and management, unless the school is prepared to monitor and manage this new network infrastructure remotely.

Then there’s the security risks that districts face. Every IoT endpoint within a network represents a vulnerability that can be exploited by hackers if not properly protected, and educational IT teams are already struggling to keep up with current cybersecurity threats.

 

Turn to the Experts

Districts hoping to navigate the challenging task of moving their infrastructure to the edge need the help of IT experts like Turn-key Technologies (TTI). We’ve kept pace with the rapid evolution of IT technologies like edge computing by building a team of experts and innovators who can provide school districts and enterprises the help they need to reimagine their network architecture and bring greater connectivity to their workplace.

With two decades of experience in education IT, TTI can help school districts understand everything they need to do to bolster network performance and manage security concerns. We can help you eliminate coverage dead spots, create greater network visibility, brief staff and administrators on cybersecurity best practices, and much more. As districts edge towards the adoption of edge computing, those that partner with education networking experts like TTI schools can rest easy knowing that the implementation will be handled effectively.

By Craig Badrick

October 30, 2018

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