How the Rise of Technology in Education Affects IT Teams
Once upon a time, the pencil revolutionized education by enabling students to permanently capture ideas. This major advancement in learning technology was followed by once-amazing gadgets including slide rules, chalkboards, ballpoint pens, mimeograph machines, calculators, overhead projectors, and PDAs. But in schools today, you’ll find the latest consumer tech in the form of laptops, smartphones, and tablets, in addition to teaching tools like smartboards and a host of education-specific apps. And, of course, one of the most important technology advancements of recent decades: the internet.
Students (and many of their younger teachers) have never known a world without the internet, social media, and the pocket-sized computers (aka, smartphones) they rely on every day. They are fluent with touch screens, have no patience for sluggish Wi-Fi, and expect to find information and entertainment quickly when navigating their devices. They live and breathe technology outside of school and count on doing the same as part of their educational process.
EdTech Teams Become the Norm
This rapid-fire advancement of technology in the classroom takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work and knowledge to bring everything together in a highly functioning ecosystem. These various devices all have to connect to a network to function—and that’s where challenge arise for IT professionals working within education. Whether they support K-12 districts or higher ed institutions, these IT teams are faced with determining how to support a swiftly changing EdTech network landscape in a controlled, secure way.
The Stats and Ramifications
In 2017, Statistic Brain Research Institute released data showing 84.3 percent of K-12 schools have high-speed internet, 54.2 percent offer a wireless network, and 59.7 percent use laptops. In some schools, even the relatively recent concept of the centralized computer lab has given way to the adoption of 1:1 student-laptop/tablet programs to ensure each child has access to the appropriate resources. This can mean hundreds or thousands of devices for school districts to oversee.
Now that these technologies are part of the everyday curriculum, what does that mean for the IT teams responsible for the infrastructure? There are many pieces to incorporate into developing a strategy, including the means to:
- Protect school-owned devices with the right security measures, including protocols for lost or stolen items
- Assign and monitor logins and authorized network access for students, staff, and administrators
- Establish secure Wi-Fi networks and determine which sites or content should be blocked for particular ages or groups
- Figure out how to pay for it all within tight budgets
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The Impact of Expanded Networks
Learning capabilities can certainly be broadened in new ways through today’s technology. However, there’s been an associated rise in the demand for IT professionals tasked with maintaining secure, optimized infrastructures to support this evolution. All of this points to a growing need for expertise and new solutions in EdTech to leverage automated monitoring and threat detection wherever possible.
Intermapper gives tech-driven schools the power to enact critical safeguards for ever-expanding networks. As teachers, students, and administrators all rely on network availability and uptime, it’s important to troubleshoot any issues to resolve them before they can cause wide-spread issues. Network-related disruption to the school day can cause havoc on activities such as lesson plans, digitally administered tests, and the ability to send school- or district-wide communications to parents.
Preventing Security Breaches
Enabling staff and students to access the right information via secure networks is one consideration, but protecting the district from the disruption, cost, and loss of sensitive information via data breach is another. Particularly because K-12 districts are dealing with minors and their protected records, information stored on networks both on premises and in the cloud is highly sensitive and must be properly secured at all times. This means syncing up security postures across all servers, implementing procedures to check for misconfiguration, and actively monitoring for activity that falls outside of defined norms.
Making the Grade
Keeping up with the fast-changing requirements in EdTech is no small feat. It requires educators, administrators, IT professionals, and students to work together to develop, maintain, and adjust the approach. Your ability to map and monitor your school networks as well as take fast action to investigate alerts is essential to success.
It’s hard to imagine what iterative or disruptive technology may be coming around the bend, but it will happen whether we’re ready for it or not. This underscores the need for scalability and also network capacity planning to keep up with new requirements. Intermapper enables your infrastructure to be flexible and evolve over time as new technologies and security requirements come into play.
Learn more about our network monitoring and mapping software or try it free for 30 days.