SHENZHEN, China, Oct. 17, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The University of South Africa (UNISA), founded in 1873, is the largest distance and open learning institution in South Africa. Its main campus, Muckleneuk Campus, is situated in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital.
UNISA has over 400,000 students, including international students from more than 130 countries and regions worldwide. It is one of the few mega universities on the African continent.
UNISA offers a variety of certifications and degrees from undergraduate to doctoral. It also provides vocational education and training (VET) and continuing education (CE) courses, which cover a broad range of disciplines across business, law, science, engineering, education, arts, and humanities. Furthermore, UNISA is renowned for its versatile teaching approaches and high-quality education. All this makes UNISA a globally-recognized pioneer in distance education.
Opportunities and Challenges for UNISA During Digital Transformation
UNISA boasts an open distance e-learning (ODeL) system, delivering a flexible online teaching and learning environment. Students can learn in their own time zones and interact with teachers and classmates using online learning platforms, or by means of email, call, or video links.
Since its establishment, UNISA has proposed the concept of “learner-centric” open education. Over the past century and a half, UNISA has continuously provided high-quality tools for students and teachers. Using a recent example, it provided data services for students and academics to access UNISA’s virtual education environment. However, as the faculty scales up and new campuses are constructed, it is laborious and time-consuming to centrally manage devices on and perform O&M for UNISA’s live network.
Limited by the size of the network O&M team and their technical competency, the team chooses to purchase extra services during the O&M of massive existing systems and devices. This makes it difficult to deal with problems quickly and only pushes costs up. When it comes to teaching methods themselves, this time-honored university is figuring out ways to take their conventional teaching approaches and make them smart in a new era of intelligent learning.
Building an Open Smart Campus for Ground-Breaking Distance Learning
Huawei’s CloudCampus Solution, as UNISA’s chosen platform, draws on switches, routers, wireless access points (APs), and its own network management platform to build a network featuring high speeds, solid reliability, and robust security. By deploying this solution, UNISA has fully upgraded its network infrastructure and constructed a powerful and easy-to-manage network that enables 24/7 stable Internet access. Full Wi-Fi 6 coverage is now available across over 30 campuses. This offers high bandwidth and concurrency as well as low latency, enabling teachers and students to quickly connect to the Internet anytime, anywhere.
Furthermore, iMaster NCE-CampusInsight — a campus network analyzer — is used for network O&M and management. This analyzer collects network data through telemetry in real time and adopts big data analytics and machine learning algorithms to learn network behaviors and identify fault patterns. In this way, devices on the live network can be effectively managed, preventing any waste of system resources.
All these enable a reliable network for UNISA’s teaching, scientific research, and management, with the following stand-out benefits:
- Full-coverage Wi-Fi 6
More than 2500 APs are deployed throughout upwards of 30 campuses to build high-bandwidth, high-concurrency, and low-latency wireless networks. As such, teachers and students can enjoy high-quality wireless access anytime, anywhere. Thanks to full-coverage Wi-Fi 6, UNISA draws on the ODeL distance education platform to enable hybrid education — offline-online blended learning — by building online communities and high-tech remote classrooms.
- Cloud-network synergy
An intelligent, future-proof, integrated network architecture has taken shape, which features wired and wireless convergence, ultra-high performance, massive data throughput, and full-stack open network devices. All of these make it viable for the networks to continuously evolve and in turn for services to upgrade.
- Centralized, efficient, and cost-effective O&M
A unified network management system (NMS) has been deployed to centrally manage network devices, including those that will be added in subsequent smart school campus solutions. This not only improves O&M efficiency, but also reduces OPEX (by approximately 80%) as well as costs for training or instructing technical personnel.
Looking Ahead for a Better Future
UNISA has been moving steadily towards digital teaching and administration, and is committed to improving the quality and effectiveness of its teaching and learning.
By partnering with Huawei, UNISA has meticulously planned its campus network, thoroughly analyzed its ICT requirements, and ultimately developed a viable smart school campus solution that is conducive to long-term development.
Looking ahead, Huawei will continue to work with UNISA to build a smarter campus with more efficient services that are secure and save energy. Together, we define tomorrow and innovate for a better future.
This article is selected from the Smart Education Issue of the ICT Insights magazine. Welcome to visit Huawei’s official website to learn more: https://e.huawei.com/en/ict-insights/global/ict_insights/ict34-intelligent-education