Pine Cove Pulse

Top 10 Ways to Prepare Your District’s WiFi for Future Online Testing

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

Layer 7 Traffic Shaping: What it Can do to Help Online Testing

Most schools no longer sharpen 2.0 pencils and provide hundreds of pieces of paper in order to prepare for student testing. Online testing is increasingly becoming the popular form of standardized testing. The idea is for convenience, saving time and error and conserving paper in the process.

With this new form of testing comes new problems. While using digital devices to test hundreds of kids is supposed to make things easier, sometimes it can feel like the technology isn’t working in your favor.

We at Pine Cove understand this, which is why we provided 10 simple solutions to help create stronger connectivity and make sure the technology is a benefit instead of a nuisance – during testing and other crucial times.

Top 10 Ways to Prepare Your District’s WiFi for Future Online Testing

  1. Turn WiFi off in certain areas that aren’t testing and don’t need it.
  2. Turn off WiFi completely when unnecessary. Sometimes students test in only one place- turn off WiFi everywhere but in the designated labs.
  3. Use cloud-based wireless management. This allows you to have central control.
  4. Cloud-based wireless management allows for scheduling WiFi at certain times during the week. On testing week, you can even schedule WiFi to turn on and off in certain areas without having to remember every day.
  5. Schedule connectivity on devices such as wireless printers, guest access, and test times.
  6. Use Firewall and Layer 7 Traffic Shaping to throttle applications, devices, and websites to control and prioritize bandwidth.
  7. Traffic Shaping helps you control and redirect bandwidth from certain sites and apps.
  8. Use MDM and system management tools to enable and disable small applications that can affect connectivity and bandwidth; such as chat, webcams, voice dialing, etc.
  9. MDM and system management tools allow you to turn small applications on and off in one location, instead of going through every device.
  10. Have questions or problems? Contact your experts at Pine Cove Consulting or check out other blog posts about this subject. We want to make sure you will have smoother testing, now and in the future.

Pine Cove wants your district to have the best experience with your technology. The best way to help your district is knowing what the issues are and what seems to work, and this information often comes from you as our client. Our consultants are here around the clock to diagnose and fix major issues. If you would like more information or have suggestions, please contact us.


Topics: Online Testing

Layer 7 Traffic Shaping: What it Can do to Help Online Testing

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

Layer 7 Traffic Shaping: What it Can do to Help Online Testing

With limitations within your own infrastructure and the bandwidth outside of our networks, we must make the most of what we have been provided. Layer 7 filtering is the future in prioritization of traffic, applications and devices to maximize throughput and end-user productivity.

What is Traffic Shaping?

Traffic Shaping is a new feature using Meraki’s cloud-based WiFi. Administrators have the visibility to all wireless traffic on their network, but with the Traffic Shaper, now they can actually control it.

While administrators can see applications and websites that may be slowing down their network – such as YouTube or Pandora – now Traffic Shaper allows them to prioritize and change bandwidth on these often unnecessary applications.

How Can Traffic Shaping Help Schools with Testing?

When dozens of kids are in rooms testing, connectivity and bandwidth can be slow and even block or lose data. Those testing devices need as much connection as possible, and Traffic Shaping can assist in controlling bandwidth from a central location.

For example, if YouTube or a recreational site is taking up most of the bandwidth, administrators now have the ability to create “traffic shaping rules” that limit bandwidth on those sites. They can even use this for general applications like video and music.

Traffic Shaping will allow administrators to not only create limits, but also priorities on certain sites and applications, which allocates more bandwidth to important testing sites and apps.

Traffic Shaping Gives More Security

Users are now able to not just allow or block traffic, but gives more in-depth control of site and application access. Traffic Shaping even controls which groups have access to certain sites, which is a great extended feature for test times.

Beyond testing, teachers will also be able to access resources online for lessons without allowing access to students. Traffic Shaping also helps districts fight the issue of open access to information, and prevents students from accessing restricted sites or content.

The Traffic Shaper technology can also help teachers give only access to research content, instead of using the internet for recreational use such as Facebook or Email.

Better Functionality at a Lower Cost

The Traffic Shaping feature makes it easy to control everything in one place, making for the best functionality and convenience for schools. Being able to control functions such as anti-virus, web content restrictions/filters, as well as traffic shaping and throttling, makes for a cost-effective database when staff and time is limited.

This simplified management feature will help with financial savings, when capacity and network upgrades can be reduced. Traffic Shaping is an essential tool to not only help in the stressful times of testing, but everyday use in the schools.

 Falling behind

Topics: Online Testing

Preparing Your District for Online Testing

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

preparing your district for online testing

Missed the webinar and don’t have time to listen?

Here are some of our key takeaways to help prepare your school for online testing, whether it’s this year or next year:

Pine Cove Consulting is here to help.

First and foremost, we serve to be your technology consultant and planner. We offer networking management, network specialization, distance learning, data backup and disaster recovery, staff augmentation and communication.

We serve 14,000 end users and help schools to receive over $6 million in federal grant funding.

Online testing can be a major struggle, and we want to find the best way to help.

We want to offer helpful solutions to your specific issues with testing. What are your major pain points? The best way we know how to help is to hear from our clients. That way we can diagnose your problems. Many of these strategies are not complex, but rather simple things we can do to maximize testing environments for our students.

Simple solutions for better online testing and beyond.

1. Wireless and Wireless Management

  • Turn off/on WiFi in certain areas – control your connectivity issues by turning off Wifi in areas where students are not testing. This reduces conflicts and bottlenecks with connectivity and bandwidth.
  • Turn off WiFi completely – turning off WiFi on all wireless devices except for testing labs, especially if students are only testing in one room/lab.
  • Cloud-based wireless management – allows for a central control and scheduling WiFi times in certain zones. Scheduling can allow for better connectivity at certain times with turning off/on wireless printers, guest access, and test times.

2. Firewall and Layer 7 Traffic Shaping

  • Throttling Applications, Devices and Sites – bandwidth is often not unlimited, so throttling apps and sites can help control and prioritize bandwidth.
  • Traffic Shaping – What can you do to help your slow network? Controls can help you see where your bandwidth is going and control where it needs to be redirected (ex. Moving YouTube/Pandora/iTunes traffic to less megabytes instead of unlimited).
Traffic Shaping and Firewall Layer 7
3. MDM and System Management Tools
  • Allowing/disabling webcams, chat windows, voice dialing, etc. at certain times. MDM and system management tools can go beyond testing.
  • Restrict certain small things that affect connectivity in a centralized location instead of disabling on each individual device.
Have unanswered questions? Contact Pine Cove Consulting for further assistance on your specific issues. We want to provide the best advice for your district’s future testing.

Topics: Online Testing