The pandemic has identified the need for more and better IT in K-12 classrooms. At the same time, it also highlighted the need to speed up technology integration. Even before the pandemic, technology was revolutionizing the way teachers taught lessons, students learned, and school districts operated. The Education Technology Use in Schools report by Gallop and New Schools Venture Fund noted that pre-pandemic, about two-thirds of teachers said they used digital learning tools to teach every day, and around seven in 10 students used digital learning tools outside of school for schoolwork several days a week. The switch to remote learning made these numbers skyrocket as districts scrambled to find devices for thousands of students and staff members in 2020 and 2021. With the large-scale return of in-person education in 2022, technology has found new ways to be incorporated into the classroom, and districts are looking for consistency in IT and network visibility to securely leverage this influx of new technology.
The Alum Rock Union School District (ARUSD)—which operates 22 schools in the San Jose, California, area—serves around 8,000 students and almost 500 teachers and staff members. The school district had a need for technical tools and resources Brett Littrell, CTO of ARUSD, explained was at an all-time high even before the pandemic. Like many districts, their small IT staff was dedicated but limited in their capabilities and funds. The team was able to connect all the devices across the schools under one network performance monitoring platform. Specifically, Littrell explained how this has accelerated projects and reduced time spent on them by 75 percent.
School districts across the country are looking for ways to manage IT challenges as technology becomes more prevalent each year on K-12 campuses. One of the biggest challenges has been how to maintain visibility into the network to ensure security and continuous operations. “If you don’t have visibility over the network, you can’t see where the slowdown is happening to fix it,” Littrell said in a recent webcast. By gaining full visibility into the network, you can respond before issues arise. This shifts the school and district IT team from a reactive response to a proactive response, enabling issues to be resolved before they escalate and interrupt learning.
Public school districts are regularly plagued by complexities hindering tech implementation and management. “When you look at public sector, especially schools, if you were to equate the number of users, the number of computers, and the number of switches and devices on a network to an actual private sector company, you’d be talking about a mid-level to large-level enterprise company that spends tens of millions of dollars—if not hundreds of millions of dollars—on IT,” Littrell explained. Despite the size of many districts, they lack the budget and resources corporations have. In response, many are seeking platforms capable of increasing visibility without adding additional staff or time requirements.
The adoption of standardization and consistency in IT has allowed many districts to achieve their edtech goals. Creating consistency in IT involves connecting all the schools and devices on the network under a single platform they can fully monitor and manage from one location. “That consistency with network configuration manager, we call that the homogenous environment,” Scott Pross, vice president for Monalytic, a SolarWinds company, shared in the same webcast. “And just like you want to keep all your configurations the same within that environment, you want to keep monitoring the same. So all of your switches are monitored the exact same way with a network performance manager.” As well as helping ensure smooth operations to support learning, this also helps schools and districts offer more with less.
Limited budgets and limited resources have always been challenges for K-12 leaders, and this shows no signs of change. As the IT environment for schools and districts becomes more complex, this will place even more stress and strain on budgets and resources. Being able to ensure consistency in IT and visibility into network operations is one important way schools and districts can deliver the services students need to learn today and long into the future.
Learn more about how consistency in IT can contribute to the success of schools here.