Blueprint laid for wireless Prince Edward Island schools

Mitch MacDonald
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Prince Street School has been running a wireless network for faculty called TeacherNet with support from its Home and School Association.

The blueprint has been laid for rolling out wireless Internet networks to Island schools.

However, it's not the Department of Education that has provided it.

A pilot project, dubbed TeacherNet, was launched by the Prince Street Home and School Association last spring to assist teachers by equipping the school with a wireless Internet network.

The association president, Peter Rukavina, who is also vice-president of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation, gave a presentation on the project during an afternoon workshop at the federation's recent annual general meeting in Charlottetown.

Rukavina made up half of the project's technical team along with Ken Williams, a volunteer from Ellerslie Elementary with wireless hardware expertise.

Rukavina said said the entire project, from inception to tracking the network usage, is all documented and available online as a resource.

"What we tried to do is create a tool kit for other schools who may want to do the same," he said.

The project began when the school began implementing a literacy program. The school didn't have a wireless network and installing wired Internet into classrooms would incur a high cost.

This occurred around the same time as when the province eliminated the IT budget in schools, saying there would have to be an increased short reliance on "innovation, creativity and thrift."

"To me that's like throwing fuel on a fire," Rukavina said, noting that while the province is evaluating installing wireless networks in schools, it will likely not be implemented for years.

"We came up with the idea of installing our own Home and School wireless network."

From there, Rukavina and Williams held consultations with the school's staff, the Department of Education and IT Shared Services (ITSS).

The ITSS did grant the project an exception, which was required to set up the network, under the conditions that it wouldn't cross paths with the already installed network.

The wireless network also must use a content filtering service and has to have network support maintained by Rukavina and Williams.

However, the project has experienced few technical difficulties almost a year in and has also cost the school very little.

Much of the materials required for the setup are the seven wireless routers, which carry a price tag of about $79 each. However, the ones used at Prince Street were donated by Rukavina and Williams.

As well, the project saw Bell Aliant originally donate six months of 20 mbps fibre-op high-speed Internet, which was later extended to the end of this school year.

The company has offered to enter similar agreements with any other schools wanting to try TeacherNet.

Rukavina said he's been pleased with the service and has heard good feedback from teachers, many of whom had been stifled from using online resources because of the previously slow Internet service and website restrictions.

"They sort of almost gave up on using part of their imagination because they got so frustrated with the Internet they were provided with," he said.

Rukavina made clear the system is for faculty use only and doesn't allow for student access. Students at the school still use the ITSS network.

"That's a very important distinction to make," he said. "This is really a parallel system to support teachers."

More on the project can be found online at

Organizations: Department of Education, Prince Street Home and School Association, P.E.I. Home and School Federation Bell Aliant

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • MAybe
    April 24, 2013 - 16:02

    Maybe, if Aliant offered 20 Mbps per school for free, the teachers would not be unable to use their imaginations.

  • Question
    April 24, 2013 - 15:58

    Is this the complete cost, including ongoing costs and support? Was any of this stuff donated, keeping the reported cost artificially low?

  • IT guy
    April 21, 2013 - 06:56

    island schools already have a wireless system. Just about every kid in middle school and high school has a cell phone. In all seriousness though, government had a golden opportunity when they were negotiating for government fibre throughout the island, and they blew it. (can't remember which party was in power at the time but it doesn't really matter. Tweedle dum and tweedle dummer.)

    • captain canuck
      April 21, 2013 - 12:56

      I think you missed this in the article: "Rukavina made clear the system is for faculty use only and doesn't allow for student access. Students at the school still use the ITSS network". The kids may not need anything they don't already have pertaining to IT yet.

    • Head Shaker
      April 21, 2013 - 15:17

      Do you have inside information, or are you just another person who is looking for a reason to whine?

  • captain canuck
    April 20, 2013 - 20:27

    Kudos for showing us that the way is through private initiative and also for donating your time and expertise. This project may provide an efficiency from which administrations will greatly benefit.

  • rest of canada
    April 20, 2013 - 20:03

    Wow! PEI takes one giant step towards the future! Glad you are catching up....