WiFi policy under evaluation

The Internet acts as a valuable resource for students and teachers as it provides a nearly endless stream of information to its users.
The Puyallup School District provides a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) service that allows wireless Internet access to any device that is capable of receiving a wireless signal including laptops, cell phones and tablets. Teachers are given access to this service and are able to utilize it in their classrooms.
This service is a privilege currently reserved for Puyallup School District staff members, Randy Averill, the Executive Director of Technology Services, explains.
“We currently offer BYOD service to teachers and other staff members only. Due to bandwidth and WiFi constraints, it is not available to students. Also, due to the same constraints, guest access is for special events at the request of the principal only. We simply do not have the capacity to have [over] 1,000 student devices connected at each high school,” Averill said.
While students are unable to use the BYOD service as of now, there are plans of permitting student access in the future.
“We are currently expanding our WiFi at PHS, Rogers and Emerald Ridge. We are also increasing the bandwidth of the network connection to those schools by a factor of 10. We do not believe such an expansion is necessary at Walker High School,” Averill said. “These projects will be completed over the summer. We will do the same at our junior high schools in coming [the] years.”
Director of Instructional Leadership-Technology Integration, John Parker, shares the benefits of providing an open guest network.
“The [advantage of providing an open guest network] is that whenever someone comes in, whether it is a student, a parent or a teacher, on any device they will have open access where someone gets on the wireless by simply clicking on a box that will say ‘will comply with the district use policy of the Internet.’ It opens up the entire Internet as long as you can withstand the traffic of all of the people getting access, that being anyone on the campus,” Parker said.
Although establishing an open guest wireless network will grant all students, teachers and guests at each school to connect to the Internet easily, establishing the network will not be a simple process.
“In order to have a lot of wireless capacity for a lot of people to have open access, you have to have a lot of infrastructure in setup within the walls and in the structure of the school to allow that kind of traffic back and forth through the Internet. That takes a lot of money and that takes a lot of time to test,” Parker said.
Giving students the privilege to utilize the service will provide teachers with a way to incorporate technology into their classrooms, Vice Principal Maija Thiel shares.
“Anytime we can be accessing technology in the classroom in a safe way is great. With teacher permission and when used at the right times for the right reasons, it will be a nice [ability] to have,” Thiel said.
In order to ensure that the service is used effectively by students, Parker emphasizes the importance of creating a plan that complies with the Puyallup School District’s technology policies.
“Before we open up all of the possibilities of phones coming out in classrooms, we still need to consider all of the management aspects in making sure that our building leaders, our teachers and most importantly our community and parents, are aware and informed about what that is going to entail,” Parker said. “We also have to do a lot of leg work to ensure that the management of using phones or any other device meet the guidelines for acceptable use—it is really critical to have all of that setup. It is a lot easier to put in the infrastructure and turn it on then it [would be] to not have these processes in place to lay out how it is going to be used.”
The time at which this project will be completed has not yet been provided.
“As WiFi capacity and network bandwidth are increased, we will provide student BYOD and full-time guest access but the timing of that rollout has not yet been determined,” Averill said.