Conversations between technology providers and key leaders of school districts around the country have illuminated that network readiness is one of the most significant issues during this back-to-school season. Network readiness refers to a process of ensuring technology implementation that is becoming ever more prevalent in schools that can handle the increasing demand that is placed upon it.
Insight Public Sector (a division of Insight Enterprises, which is a leading provider of hardware, software and service solutions around the globe) has compiled a list of five key aspects schools should focus on to ensure the upcoming year, and beyond, runs smoothly.
First the company stresses to brace for bandwidth pressure. What many schools do not realize is that an increasing incorporation of technology without any improvements in bandwidth speed and/or allocation will inevitably place overbearing levels of stress upon the network. This results in disruptively slow connections throughout the network as well as incidents of users being unable to connect or abruptly kicked off.
Insight suggests that schools’ IT departments perform extensive stress tests on the network to determine how much it can handle at a time, both classroom- and building-wide. These tests are essential for imposing guidelines that can effectively balance network usage throughout the system and prevent any of the aforementioned problems.
A third issue that is becoming important is the BYOD debate. BYOD refers to bring-your-own-device, and as more and more students own devices and wish to bring them there is increasing pressure on the school to make a right decision on the matter. Although allowing students to bring their own devices is extremely cost-effective in terms of the need for equipment, there is a much greater potential for security concerns as well as difficulty guaranteeing a proper and productive learning environment.
Another major warning from Insight is for IT departments to pay close attention to firewall configurations. There is a fine balance that must be achieved in order to maintain adequate security without hindering connectivity and by extension productivity. As students become more tech-savvy it is of even greater concern to ensure the school is at least one step ahead of students in upholding a secure network.
Lastly, Insight urges schools to pay attention to web proxies so that they do not interfere with technology-enabled learning. Improper configurations can lead to “time-outs” during elongated testing periods, which is an immense headache for all involved parties within a school district.
Recognition of these issues with technology integration and a quick yet appropriate response is essential to an efficiently run school district. Insight has stated that it is dedicated to furthering this conversation with school professionals and has recently published the Insight ON: Education resource to facilitate the process.
Edited by Maurice Nagle