IT for schools is evolving rapidly. Technological devices have gone from being banned in the classroom to being permitted as a learning necessity. Even as schools transition back to in-person learning, remote capabilities remain crucial. Some educational institutions will continue using hybrid classrooms. Others will rely on remote learning during snow days and other weather events. Altogether, classroom learning continues to benefit from technology integrations. Technology like review games and educational videos can help teachers engage their students. And, as technology evolves, digital literacy is a crucial real-world skill.
With all the benefits technology provides, it also presents some hurdles. Anything from a computer crash to targeted hacking can disrupt learning. A tech-forward school needs technology specialists to support them. That’s where managed IT services come in. Learn more about all the advantages a managed services provider can offer.
1. Keep Your IT and Remote Learning Infrastructure Secure
Even before remote learning became widespread, 63 percent of high school students and 45 percent of elementary students used digital learning tools at school every day. The need for remote learning has only increased these numbers. Now, many schools use remote learning as an essential part of the learning experience. Whether in the physical or virtual classroom, security is crucial.
When every student and teacher has a laptop or another device, your IT network has many access points. It takes just one user to accidentally click on a phishing link or download malware to compromise your entire system. If your school allows students to bring their own devices, the risks multiply. Any virus infecting a student’s personal device may ultimately worm its way into your school’s network. Such cyberattacks can corrupt crucial data, including grades and student files.
Managed IT support bolsters security. It helps schools develop a secure network and pushes through critical security updates. Managed IT providers can also design an access level hierarchy. This measure can prevent students from accessing confidential data like grades. What’s more, a managed IT provider can educate your organization on data security. They’ll also maintain a backup and recovery system in case of data loss.
2. Help Safeguard Student and Faculty Privacy
Schools collect lots of critical data on their students and faculty. Student records include grades, disciplinary history, home addresses, health records, and information about learning disabilities. Staff records may contain phone numbers and home addresses alongside tax and banking information. Storing this information digitally is most efficient. However, it also requires extra regard for data privacy.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and other privacy laws protect students’ personal data. You must also follow specific standards for the storage of student and faculty health records, according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Without a well-managed IT infrastructure, data vulnerabilities can present legal challenges. A ransomware attack could put students’ and educators’ private data in the wrong hands. If the attack occurs on your IT network, you could be legally responsible.
Managed IT services can safeguard all private data as the law requires. They can also help protect students’ privacy online. A managed IT provider can stop malicious actors from eliciting personal information by monitoring students’ internet activity and blocking access to non-educational sites.
3. Request Support and Receive Regular Maintenance
A forgotten password or a slow Wi-Fi connection can disrupt the classroom. More serious issues, like malware or application crashes, can put an entire school day on hold. A managed IT provider offers 24/7 tech support, keeping teachers, students, and administrators up and running.
Besides responding to service requests, they also perform critical maintenance to prevent issues. Keeping your servers up-to-date avoids system errors and crashes. Likewise, keeping your data backed up speeds up disaster recovery.
4. Save on Internal Operating Costs
A managed IT provider can perform all the same tasks as an on-site IT team. By operating remotely, they save you money. You don’t need a resource-heavy IT hub or full-time staff members to run your network. Instead of hiring and managing an IT staff, you have reliable, trusted professionals whenever you need them. Your IT services become easily scalable without huge investments. If you decide to buy devices for the entire student body, you don’t need to hire several more IT technicians.
For a fixed monthly fee, you gain access to a team of professionals whenever you need them. They’ll help you set up your infrastructure and perform maintenance as required. While an on-site help desk may only be available during school hours, our remote support team is on-call 24/7. Teachers can contact us late at night while grading papers or preparing technology for tomorrow’s lesson. You gain access to more flexible support for less than the cost of full-time on-site staff.
5. Ensure Your Network Remains Educational
Devices in the classroom, alongside unsupervised distance learning, can create distractions. Students often use the internet to access non-educational sites. You may find students browsing social media, playing games, or watching videos during class. Here, a domain name search (DNS) filter can help. Such content filters restrict students from accessing inappropriate sites.
Managing a DNS in an increasingly digital world requires a thoughtful approach. In the past, many schools used a blanket blocking approach. As learning technology evolves, overblocking can cause more issues. A teacher may use a streaming service to show a documentary, while another wants their students to play an educational game. In these cases, they may need to access a blocked domain. Since new inappropriate sites emerge every day, the content blocker must update often.
A managed IT provider can help you pick a DNS that offers the flexibility and functionality you need. Once you’ve implemented the right solution, your IT provider will manage the service. They’ll make sure it’s updated as needed. If a teacher wants access to a blocked site, they can unblock it upon request.
6. Support Your Physical IT Infrastructure and Networks
Your school’s physical IT infrastructure is evolving. If you haven’t already, you may soon be providing laptops or tablets for every student. Your teachers likely already have desktop or laptop computers in their classrooms. Some may even have additional computers for student use. Besides these devices, your school also has a network of printers, copiers, smartboards, and Wi-Fi routers. You might also have on-site servers if you haven’t already switched to cloud computing.
Every physical device in your school needs a streamlined connection to the rest of the network. A managed IT provider can help you design an efficient, reliable network architecture. Once your network is up and running, they provide 24/7 monitoring for every device in your IT environment.
7. Manage Your Cloud Operations
More and more K-12 schools and higher education institutions are moving toward cloud computing. Many cloud-based services are tailored for education. Cloud-based communications, file storage, and collaborative tools offer fantastic solutions for remote and in-person learning. Web-based technology provides flexibility and accessibility to students and teachers. It also typically costs less than purchasing software.
Moving to the cloud offers many benefits, but it requires lots of planning. A managed IT provider can oversee a school-wide or district-wide cloud deployment. First, an IT consultant can help you digitize physical files and data while preparing for a smooth migration. Next, they can set up the cloud system and manage accounts for faculty and students. They’ll also provide ongoing support after implementation. They’ll handle any hosting and cybersecurity needs, alongside the equipment and software needed to maintain the cloud.
Learn About Consolidated Technologies, Inc. Managed Services Offerings
Consolidated Technologies, Inc. is dedicated to Helping Our Customers Succeed. We offer remote IT managed services for schools, including support for devices whether your school provides them or lets students bring their own. We monitor the servers, computers, and mobile devices in your network and step in as needed. By catching problems when they’re small, we can usually resolve them without anyone realizing there is an issue. It also saves your school money by preventing larger, more expensive problems. Let us handle your cybersecurity, cloud services, and your entire IT system.