Henry Ford Learning Institute

Why Aerohive Was Selected

  • Robust solution enables schools to rely on Wi-Fi as primary access layer
  • HiveManager Online provides a cloud-based network management solution, allowing remote management at school locations spread across three states
  • Schools can now integrate digital learning and rely on mobile technologies for everyday classroom activities
  • The IT team realizes cost

Charter School Organization Manages Robust Wireless Network from the Cloud

The Henry Ford Learning Institute (HFLI), based in Dearborn, Michigan, is a non-profit formed in 2003 from a partnership between Ford Motor Company and The Henry Ford Museum to bring a new model of education to urban communities in America. HFLI operates as a Charter School Management Company and functions similar to a traditional school district. The organization has launched a network of small schools and developed a core curriculum around hands-on learning and supporting a philosophy of design thinking in education. Currently, HFLI manages three high schools in Detroit, Chicago and San Antonio, as well an elementary school in Detroit serving a total of 2,200 students.

The Challenge

HFLI was facing several issues with its existing wireless network. Since the schools are spread across three states, the IT team needed a reliable solution that could easily be managed remotely. Some sites are smaller in scale, like the San Antonio location, and IT is managed remotely from the Dearborn location. HFLI had a combination of wireless technology from HP and Meru, but quickly realized it would need to move away from a controller-based solution in order to meet its key requirement to manage all sites from a single interface.

Another challenge was that several schools are located in public buildings, sharing space with other organizations, which caused considerable issues with interference. The IT team had unsuccessfully tried for two years, even hiring an outside consultant, to troubleshoot the interference issues with no resolution. Due to reliability issues and failures, morale among teachers and staff declined, and the schools were no longer able to use mobile carts for Internet connectivity.

Solution

After evaluating solutions from Aerohive, Aruba (now HP) and Meraki, HFLI chose Aerohive for its superior capabilities and its demonstrated leadership in wireless innovation. The schools deployed Aerohive AP121 and AP230 access points and the IT team uses HiveManager Online (HMOL) for cloud management.

After deploying Aerohive 802.11ac AP230 access points, all former issues of interference were eliminated, allowing robust wireless coverage on one floor of the building that had not had a reliable connection for over two years. The IT team has also used Aerohive’s PPSK feature at its Texas location which has enabled local staff to support wireless access since there is no IT staff on site at this location. HFLI plans to roll out this feature to remaining sites in the next six months.

Without a doubt, the biggest advantage for the IT team has been the cloud management capabilities with HMOL. This has allowed HFLI to achieve network management across all school sites and to have a single pane of glass to view network activity in one interface. Updating the network or deploying new sites is greatly simplified and has reduced workload and repetitive tasks for the IT team.

Along with a robust and reliable solution from Aerohive, HFLI now relies on Wi-Fi as its primary access layer. Whereas the IT team fielded daily complaints from teachers and staff in the past, the schools now have realized a significant increase in productivity with the ability to connect more devices with the same or fewer access points. Mobile cart usage has skyrocketed, digital learning is integrated at a deeper level, and students can now better prepare for online state testing and other standardized tests.

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