Upgrading TAFE Queensland’s network to support the next generation of students

In order to bring the best-in-class learning experiences to their students, TAFE Queensland sought Orro's help to upgrade and future-proof their network.

The use of technology in education continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Students can now access incredible online education platforms designed to enhance learning, and bring hands-on, real-world learning to them wherever they may be. From virtual welding machines to virtual boats where ship captains can learn to sail, online learning brings the classroom to the student.

As powerful as this technology is as a learning tool, it also requires a significant amount of connectivity and a robust platform to power it effectively. In order to bring the best-in-class learning experiences to their students, TAFE Queensland sought the Orro Team’s help to upgrade and transform their network.

This mammoth project completed over two years saw our team completely redesign and upgrade the existing TAFE Queensland network across 60 locations, from Thursday Island to Coolangatta and west to Mount Isa.

 

CHALLENGES

One of the biggest challenges of rolling out an upgrade to the entire TAFE Queensland network was geographical. Not only is the state large in size, but many areas are remote and present a challenge in terms of physical access as well as the existing infrastructure and resources available to complete the necessary upgrades.

TAFE Queensland and the Orro team were both extremely conscious of creating equity amongst all locations, regardless of their remoteness.

From a technical perspective, the existing network was outdated and no longer fit-for-purpose. To successfully deliver their technology-rich curriculum and create a world-class online learning environment, the network required faster access, improved performance and usability. It also needed to support advanced learning tools like virtual reality.

Of course, when coupled with the need to rapidly move to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, TAFE Queensland found their network stretched.

PROCESS

So how do you design and implement a new network architecture that will work at all 60 TAFE Queensland locations, regardless of their existing infrastructure?

The project for continual upgrade and roll-out took two years to complete. Our team designed the architecture to create a secure wireless network that operated across all environments and was consistent. Using Cisco’s Meraki platform, the team created a fully optimised, secure network to transform each location into a smart campus.

The detailed rollout plan included photos of every switch deployed, so that the team could remotely talk to anyone onsite through the environment and necessary adjustments or repairs.

With the added functionality of Orro’s one-touch control to manage the network, it’s now possible to see and report on every device as needed.  

The Orro team also took great care with the logistics for the rollout. Project managers kept up-to-date coordination plans and worked closely with TAFE Queensland to manage all aspects of the implementation at each location. Access to campuses, gear, cables and personnel all needed to be carefully organised to ensure the majority of sites were only visited once, minimising costs and delays.

The COVID-19 pandemic added further challenges to the project, making it more difficult to access the right people and suppliers. This led to the inevitable readjustment of some schedules while aiming to fulfil the requirement of only visiting each site once where possible.

OUTCOME

Chief Information Officer of TAFE Queensland, Alan Chapman, summed up the success of the project when he informed our team that 2022 was the first year where during the return to TAFE classes, he had not received a single complaint about the network being down or a lack of bandwidth interrupting online activity.

TAFE Queensland is so satisfied with the outcome of the project, they have contracted Orro to manage the entire network going forward.

Quality architecture is essential, but in a project of this scale, quality planning is also a top priority. Our team were able to effectively deliver this massive project through careful and detailed planning, as well as leveraging key relationships throughout the process.

The Orro team maintained a close partnership and transparency with TAFE Queensland throughout the rollout. They also worked closely with Cisco and Telstra as the network carrier, ensuring that at each location was ready to accept the enhanced bandwidth.

TAFE Queensland found the Orro team to have the experience to handle the scope and complexity of this project, but with an agile approach and the ability to evolve as required throughout the process. All of this has successfully delivered a network upgrade that is supporting the next generation of TAFE students across Queensland.

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