This article is partly based on the research being done by Turku University of Applied Sciences in Turku, Finland. The research was started in spring 2006 and is backed by the Ministry of Education in Finland. The aim of the research is to do the basic information collation of the current implementations and the use of wireless local area networking in Finnish universities of applied sciences (former polytechnics). Based on certain models and best practices for WLAN (wireless local area networking), networking is created.
The tendency towards networking has been started at the same time at schools, rather than in other kinds of organisations in society. The school system as a whole is multiform because the lowest level of education is very different from the highest educational and scientific institutes. Also the information technology and networking needs, use, and resources vary. How equipped a school organisation is with information technology tools is very dependent on the resources of the bearer organisation. The owner of an institute can be a public company, city, or state organisation. In the past, institutes of higher education with IT programs and scientific research organisations got the very first central computers around which the computer centres were built. Nearby these centres, the first computer classes were established where the students could get access to the computers either by queuing their turn in computer terminal rooms or by reserving their time slots beforehand to few computer terminals.
In the course of time, the central computer capacity was squeezed into even smaller space giving birth to mini- and microcomputers and at last the widespread computer capacity was connected together with networks. Modern local area networking was created. Today, much of the information handling intelligence and capacity lays on the client desktop PCs. Different services, applications, communication, and other facilities are fetched from different servers behind the network. The physical structure of the modern local area network is mostly based on fixed cables that reach out to all relevant rooms and workplaces. The computers are plugged to wall panels with a data cable and not at all easily moved around.
At schools, the computer based learning happens in computer classrooms. Entire rooms have been furnished with computers, cables, computer tables, and special air conditioning to fit for computer based working. The students have scheduled times for working in these classrooms based on their specialisation, group, or class. Some students do also have a computer at home, but still most often the devices are firmly plugged to the wall.
As the information needs have grown and the technology has improved, the ways to access and handle information have also changed. One of the biggest changes has been the way to transmit voice communication between people. Earlier, there was the fixed network to carry the speech, but then the telephone cut the wires and started the time of personal communication by jumping into each individuals’ pocket. People could move about based on their instant needs and perform work tasks or leisure activities in different places as they wish.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Laptop Computing: Laptop computer is a small computer held in one’s lap instead on a table. The computer is very compact and small in size and is equipped with all needed software and hardware inside.
Network Access: The network access is the way to connect the computer into the network. The network access can be wired or wireless referring to the physical form of the networking media. Network Coverage: The network coverage is the exact area where the signal from the nearest base station can be received. The coverage area is dependant on many things like the transmission power of the base station, locations of the neighboring base stations, and the physical structure of the building or campus.
802.1X: An IEEE-standard that defines the authentication method for user and workstation identification. It is used to secure any kind of network communication that involves allowing authorized parties to access networked resources (e.g., servers, hosts).
Authentication: Authentication is the method and procedure to identify the users who try to get into the network. The authentication procedure can include physical and software based identification means and nowadays is strictly based on the protocols that define all details. Encryption: Encryption is a method to hide the clear text of the user data from misuse. There are several methods of encoding the original text and nowadays the method of encrypting is dynamically changed all the time during the transmission.
Wireless Local Area Networking: A wireless data network that is used to transmit data packets between network communications users locally without wired connections to or between the computers. Known commonly as WLAN.