Gone are the days when all a school needed was a card catalogue, a typed list of students and a nurse’s filing cabinet to keep school records. The modern age in which we live offers sweeping technical advances that have infiltrated all aspects of daily life including education. The volume of data collected in schools today is staggering, and it all has to be stored somewhere and kept safe.
Teachers are using mobile devices in classrooms for instruction and testing. Students use computers connected to the internet every day, and the infrastructure to make that happen is crucial. Schools must not only support software and hardware, they also need to be concerned with data storage, security, and ongoing maintenance and upgrades. It’s a lot to juggle, especially in large schools or universities.
Modern schools have changed a lot. Technology is driving the way we eat, sleep, do business, shop and even learn. Progressive schools have embraced technology and dedicated significant budget resources to cutting-edge solutions to keep students engaged. Using technology to create a more interactive learning approach helps students and teachers evolve and learn together in a modern framework.
Managing technology in schools is not a small job
Unlike the boring lectures of the past, professors are using high-tech gaming to help students learn in real-life scenarios as they play. Chatbots are used to automate answers to questions and access to instructors so students can advance at their own pace. Some classrooms are using AR and VR as teaching methods, and most use a combination of IoT devices including wearables to gather data. Teachers are even using AI to grade assignments.
Most schools now are networked with everything saved in the cloud. When you add it all up, it becomes a vast array of hardware, network solutions, cloud computing, and software that must be maintained and monitored for safety and usability. The job of managing IT for a school or college is enormous and carries a heavy weight of responsibility. When something breaks or doesn’t work as it should, IT is the first place they call.
Online classes and education offer additional levels of critical uptime and complexity for IT staff to manage around-the-clock. Distance learning is no longer a fad; it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular methods of earning a degree and thus must be available and working 24/7. The current level of technological sophistication needed in schools presents significant challenges to an on-site IT department. Budgets must support coverage for all hours and extra resources if something goes wrong. All in all, it is a lot to manage.
To outsource IT or not?
The list of responsibilities for managing data, resources, hardware and network solutions for a school or university is immense. However, some organizations choose to hire in-house IT personnel to handle it all. Others decide to outsource to a trusted IT partner. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.
When hiring your own information technology staff and managing it in-house, your budget will need to be hefty. IT professionals do not come cheap as they are the gatekeepers and fixers of everything mystical and magical that we all take for granted. Plus, you will need to have staff working all day, every day and this costs money. Budget is a big concern for most schools and universities, and this is one area that administrators must carefully consider before deciding on an in-house team or outsourcing.
Another huge area for concern is security and privacy. Technology changes rapidly and with it the abilities of hackers and miscreants looking to breach your system and wreak havoc with your data. Is it worth taking the chance of having your in-house servers wiped out without the promise of a solid backup to restore everything? Probably not.
The benefits of outsourcing school IT services
Along with a vast number of private sector businesses, many schools are switching to a managed IT solution. Outsourcing to a trusted IT partner will not only save you money (about half of your technology budget), it will also give you peace of mind. You have access to a dedicated team of professionals 24/7, that can reduce your downtime to a minimum.
Most managed IT solutions offer cloud computing or a hybrid approach where your data is backed up to a cloud server, but can also be stored locally on-site. Using this approach, you’ll never have to worry about running out of disk space, and sharing data throughout your school will be seamless. Managed IT solutions companies prioritize your privacy and will offer you the best in protection against hacking and breaches.
Another topic that keeps school administrators up at night are thoughts of cybersecurity. While you are busy saving money using an outsourced IT service, they will constantly be monitoring your system, scanning for vulnerabilities, patching holes, searching for viruses and malware, and protecting you against break-ins and corrupted data.
Cybersecurity is a critical piece of the puzzle
The combinations of hardware, software, online resources and networking tools for a typical school provides a labyrinth of options for a cybercriminal to attack. With so many moving pieces, it would be hard for one, on-site, IT team to find and close all the gaps. This is where cybersecurity analysts come in.
As part of your outsourcing package, hiring a dedicated cybersecurity analyst to evaluate your entire system is the first step to complete confidence. Once you have your evaluation, you will know precisely where your vulnerabilities lie and how to fix them. Keeping an analyst on to continue monitoring and assessing for damage is critical to the ongoing success and security of your network.
Anything connected to the internet is capable of being hacked. Cybersecurity analysts are specially trained to plan, implement and respond to online threats and breaches. They are one of the most critical pieces of the puzzle when it comes to IT services for your school.
Even though the world of education is rapidly changing; it doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming. School administrators need to be free to focus on curriculum, students, and staff and leave technology to the experts. The option to outsource IT managed services just makes sense.