Today’s K–12 IT departments are busier than ever. IT responsibilities often include administrative technology and, for some, network-connected alarms, door access control systems and even HVAC systems. That load can impact an IT department’s ability to focus on student-facing technology, according to the 2022 EdTech Leadership Survey Report, produced by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).
Experts say IT teams can ease some of the stress by deploying technology tools to run IT operations more efficiently and productively. By using remote management solutions, automation tools and digital signatures, which eliminate paper processes, time- and budget-constrained IT staff can do more with less.
“The more we can use smart tools to improve efficiency and lighten the burden on the technology staff, the better it is, the smarter it is,” says CoSN CEO Keith Krueger. “The primary purpose of education is learning. By focusing on efficiency, schools can capture back time and save money that can be redirected into instruction.”
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Managing Wi-Fi in the Cloud Saves IT Teams Time
At SVAHS, Shearer has standardized on Extreme Networks switches and about 75 cloud-managed Wi-Fi access points (APs).
Shearer checks the health of the network several times a day because wireless connectivity is essential to learning. Interactive whiteboards in classrooms are connected via Wi-Fi. Students with Chromebooks and teachers with laptops rely on Google Classroom for assignments and Google Workspace for Education for its productivity and collaboration tools.
Animal science students also need flawless Wi-Fi at the campus farm. “Students are in and out of the barns all the time, and they have small classrooms throughout, so they must have wireless coverage,” he says.
Using Extreme Networks’ ExtremeCloud IQ cloud-based software, Shearer can manage and monitor the network from any location. The dashboard gives him real-time network visibility, allowing him to quickly troubleshoot problems and ensure good connectivity.
“If a teacher says, ‘I’m not getting a good signal in a room,’ I can jump right in and see if an AP is down or if I need to power up one of the APs to give it more range,” he says.
With the software, Shearer can easily and automatically push new configurations or firmware updates to each AP and switch.