Classroom technology is rapidly changing and it’s important for your school or education institution to be at the forefront of growing trends in technology.
In a recent IT report*, it was suggested that emerging technologies will change our lives in ‘profound and unforeseen ways’, and education is in many ways leading the charge. In fact, the same report confirms what most of us have observed – the pace of change is rapidly outstripping the ability to fully understand it.
Western Australian students are growing more accustomed to collaborating with school classrooms from around the world, as well as learning to connect with an array of digital devices. As this occurs, school IT leaders are under pressure to identify the trends that matter and support them with strong underlying infrastructure.
Among those trends, mobility, collaboration and new applications are key. School IT leaders are starting to turn away from BYOD (bring your own device), with more than a third expressing ‘no interest’ in such initiatives.
Instead, we’re seeing many schools opt for a careful balance between choice and control. That is, facilitating the purchase of a product range, all with the same operating system and from a single vendor. This ‘uniform policy’ reduces lengthy set-up times in classrooms, so teachers can get all students actively learning quicker in each session.
New releases in wi-fi technology from Aruba are of particular interest in the school environment. The network can track students as they move from place to place, logging them into a class automatically via their device. It provides a seamless connection, securely moving users the strongest access point with no interruption. Teachers can get exceptional visibility, and reducing the time spent logging on allows for a more productive lesson. In this way, the underlying technology becomes as meaningful as the application layer that it supports.
The balance of managing increasingly complex infrastructure and supporting students is something of a tight-rope walk at the best of times, so finding time to assess new technologies can be near impossible. Allocating staff resources to this work can also be difficult and unachievable.
Taking one person away from day-to-day tasks risks lessons being impacted.
Our role as a manager service provider is to increasingly act as a ‘filter’, sifting through new technologies to take away some of the legwork. Amongst the tools we are currently reviewing is one that translates between different video call choices such as Skype for Business, so that schools with different software can still readily collaborate.
Smaller schools in particular are turning to managed services to ease the pressure. It gives an economy-of-scale in accessing many experts without having them on the payroll, and keeps the infrastructure up-to-date and working efficiently. The in-house IT resources, meanwhile, can then look at the classroom level with greater focus.
Blending physical and digital is set to take off, with HP Sprout breaking ground in 2D and 3D scanning, offering a hands-on, student-friendly product. As well as this, content will be increasingly digitised with 90% of school IT leaders anticipating that half of all instructional materials will be digital within three years, so the race is on.
Not surprisingly, at a time when organisations and individuals are facing increased threat of cyber-crime, security is inevitably top-of-mind. Tracking student attendance via the network is only a small part of keeping students safe.
Like any business, schools need to adopt a layered strategy, rather than depend on a single product. Next-generation options like Sophos are directed at bringing together the layers into a cohesive solution that present a small target to cyber-criminals.
At the physical device level, device-agnostic tools are available that charge, lock and safeguard devices while children are in PE class. Many of our education customers use PC Locs for this as part of their device strategy.
In a connected world, many of the risks to students come from far outside the campus gates. Protecting children with solutions such as eSafe Global to filter content, has its limits.
MSS IT runs parent, student and teacher education sessions for many clients, helping those guiding the next generation to make good technology choices. We want the next generation to embrace all that technology has to offer – but we want them to learn the skills that will keep them safe as they go out into the world.
*Source: HPE Report – Technology.nxt
For more about creating secure student environments and supporting emerging technology trends, please contact Harriet or call 1800 MSS4IT (677 448)