Keep these guidelines in mind when making the move toward upgrading school systems.
The impact of modernizing a school environment can be transformative. Most of the IT operations currently in place are not capable of handling the new education technology desired by teachers and needed by students. Some networks and devices are just too old and outdated. By upgrading the classroom and IT infrastructure, school systems are able to increase teacher commitment and satisfaction while also improving student engagement, learning, and school safety.
The tough part is knowing where to begin. Here are some best practices to consider when taking those first steps toward upgrading your school technology:
Know your school’s unique needs
Before you dive headfirst into modernization, understand what your school needs most. Technology transformation plans are not “one-size-fits-all” solutions, and the same changes that were made at another school may not necessarily work for yours. Speak with faculty, survey students, and consult with your IT team to get an idea of what’s lacking, what you have the budget to immediately address, and what will make the biggest impact in the lives of all involved. As Marty Lange, SVP, Chief Product and Operating Officer for McGraw-Hill Education, explains, “Every stakeholder in a district’s digital transformation - district leaders, classroom teachers, students, community members, and education technology companies - has an important role to play, and the ability to fill major gaps in the transition.”
Centralize and simplify
The best thing you can do for your school’s network is store all essential data in one central location with an easily managed platform. Most current systems in place are overly complex, unreliable, and incredibly difficult to navigate and maintain, which is not ideal when running a school and retaining vast amounts of confidential student information. A simplified system, perhaps through virtualization and the cloud, will improve data consistency and decrease spending by eliminating the need to buy costly server replacements over time.
Fortify your security
Security should be an integral aspect of your newly modernized school or district, both in terms of IT protection and student and faculty safety. Along with the rising numbers of physical breaches and attacks, educational institutions have also become a frequent target of hackers thanks to data like student and employee social security numbers, bank account numbers, and other personally identifiable information.
Look into proactive monitoring measures that can detect and alert you to malware or network intruders to protect sensitive information. Seek out smart camera and sensor options that will send notifications of unusual activity around campus, and intelligent automation that allows you to perform a building lockdown with the touch of a button in the event of an emergency. There are a number of ways to reduce the vulnerability found in schools, and implementing any of these will greatly increase the amount of protection placed on students and staff.
Network reliability is another consideration that must be examined when planning your school’s upgrade. A network that is frequently down due to unforeseen circumstances, repairs, and other issues is a huge hindrance to students learning and teachers just trying to do their job. If you’re wanting to implement cutting edge technologies and the latest in education solutions, you will need a network that can support that. Explore systems that demonstrate a high degree of reliability with backup services, and investigate the specific needs of your district that a network must meet.
Consult the experts
Along with opening dialogue between curriculum and instruction staff, your IT team, and the stakeholders in your district, you should also seek the counsel of an experienced provider. Instead of shopping around for individual offerings that you can hopefully integrate to form a comprehensive upgrade, speak with a company that can provide solutions concerning IT infrastructure, security and safety, and physical workspaces to create a unified transformation rather than a disjointed venture that results in more issues. By utilizing one provider, you can easily identify expectations and what all is needed to meet goals today, as well as collaborate on a strategy to future proof your school for explosive capacity growth in the years to come.
Modernizing a school or whole district can be a challenging undertaking, requiring adjustments and updates that change the flow and structure of an operation. However, it ultimately results in making educational efforts much more enjoyable and effective, pleasing students, teachers, parents, and stakeholders. With more and more changes waiting on the horizon, it’s time to take those first steps toward upgrading school technology.