If implemented properly (i.e., not by using IPv6 to fake all the
properties of IPv4, as so many people seem bound and determined to do),
then there are several characteristics of IPv6 networks that are of
educational interest, though nothing in the protocol is
First and foremost is that IPv6 is simpler and thus cheaper. Easier to
build networks, merge them, expand them, contract them, split them.
Every subnet is the right size - no more slicing and dicing subnets,
endlessly rearranging too few addresses in new configurations. Design
costs go down, admin costs go down, management costs go down, equipment
costs go down. Because IPv6 is simpler, security is by definition better
and cheaper. Education being perennially penurious, all this has got to
IPv6 is easier to teach than IPv4. It doesn't have as many edge cases
and entrenched workarounds, the notation is cleaner, the protocols are
cleaner, and the same set of protocol tools (multicast, ICMPv6, ND etc)
is used more consistently.
End-to-end transparency means that IPv6 supports peer to peer naturally.
That means everyone (students, teachers, parents etc) can talk to each
other more easily without having to involve third parties, and can talk
to each other from anywhere on the globe. Less mediation, more direct,
The death of NAT will mean that more and more stuff will be hosted
locally - on teaching machines, student laptops, home PCs, mobile
phones. I think we will see fragmentation and distribution of things
that are now monolithic. Things like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and so
on will be reduced to special purpose indexing services - or will die.
Why use them when you can have all your stuff on your mobile phone,
accessible 24/7, wherever you are?
I'm not sure about the future of VPNs. Mobile IPv6 is effectively a
global, standardised, very low-cost, built-in VPN. Students can be
inside the school network from home, on the road, overseas.... without
special infrastructure outside the home network.
So I'd expect to see IPv6 change the face of educational IT - but it
will change the face of IT everywhere.