4 minute read
Battling IT infrastructure issues in your school
Here are some tips on navigating the common IT infrastructure issues faced by teachers in schools across the UK.
Poor quality, faulty, and out-of-date ICT equipment is one the main reasons for teachers not using technology in schools. In a recent survey conducted by ClassFlow, many teachers raised concerns around infrastructure and budgets.
“The lack of equipment and the unreliability of it mean that I rarely consider it as a viable alternative. Not because I don’t believe in it, but because the technical support is lacking”.
It’s clear that investment is urgently needed to ensure that modern schools have the IT infrastructure necessary to succeed. However, while the value of technology in education cannot be underestimated, diminishing budgets mean that in some schools, the long-term benefits of edtech are being overlooked due to more immediate priorities and needs.
“Schools cannot keep up with trends and innovations due to budget constraints”.
Despite a lack of funding, battling IT infrastructure issues is necessary if you want to do more than pay lip service to pedagogical technology, and reap the real educational benefits it provides. We spoke to Scott Auld at Daisy Group, a leading telecomms, IT and hosting provider to get their take on how best to tackle the issues;
“With increasing budgetary demands, it is important for educational institutions to take advantage of the ‘free to use’ resources that are out there. As one of the most important types of businesses in terms of the output that they produce, it makes sense that they should be embracing the digital shift from the back office to the classroom. However, the benefits of cloud-based edtech can only truly be realised with the right connectivity in place. That’s why stable and reliable networking should be at the top of every priority list when it comes to IT.” Scott Auld, Sales Manager for Education at Daisy Group
The day-to-day challenges of ICT in education
1. Restrictions on what you can download or install
A major issue in most school, very few teachers have the admin rights needed to install educational software on school devices. However, with platforms such as ClassFlow, you don’t need to download or install anything, with everything you need available through your web browser and stored on the Cloud.
2. Blocked websites & firewall issues
Many schools use blocking software to prevent teachers and pupils accessing certain websites, such as YouTube, WebEx, and social media channels. Student safety is, of course, paramount, but some schools are being overzealous when it comes to blocking access to websites and apps.
“The main problem with technology in my school is that half the time it does not work and we spend half a lesson waiting to get online. Also the computers get vandalised. There are is also not enough equipment. Or a perfectly educational website gets blocked by our net nanny”.
With social media providing access to some of the best available content, digital champions within schools must highlight the value rather than the threat of social in education. Likewise, digitally savvy teachers should encourage network managers to look at the benefits of monitoring software so that valuable content can be accessed, while keeping pupils safe.
3. Cannot update apps/software
Unfortunately, many schools are still using old desktop PCs, with out-of-date software that will no longer update and isn’t compatible with modern apps. Far behind what most children are using at home, such IT provisions make schools look outdated and old fashioned.
It’s clear that investment is urgently needed to ensure that modern schools have the IT infrastructure necessary to succeed. But what if the budget to do this is simply not available?
In such cases, schools can adopt an innovate approach to meet this challenge head on, for example, combining free educational software such as ClassFlow, with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives. With most children using devices that outstrip what is being used in school, this approach lets teachers access the latest software, apps and educational content; without any additional ICT budget.
4. It takes too long to get things fixed
Printers, photocopiers, projectors, and desktop computers remain the most commonly used ICT equipment in schools. However, the older the tech, the more likely it will break down, and every teacher knows the frustration that comes with broken lamps in Interactive Whiteboards and printers that have run out of ink. Not to mention the time it can take to get things fixed in schools.
However, while older tech is prone to faults, newer, cloud-based platforms such as ClassFlow are free from the unreliability of physical parts. All you need is a computer (or smartphone) and internet access.
5. Photocopying and paper restrictions
Some schools have restrictions on the number of photocopies that each teacher can make and the amount of paper they can use.
“Things like printing costs have been transferred to departments. They then transfer these costs to students”.
Creating and delivering lessons online reduces the amount of paperwork needed. For example, with ClassFlow, you can push notes to devices and computers with no printer required. Pupils can log on and pick up work and homework; again with no printing necessary. Support materials for an assignment could include a ClassFlow lesson, web link, document, video, and an assessment.
6. IT kit takes a hammering
Daily use means that computers get dirty and damaged, with broken tablets and laptop screens a regular occurrence in the classroom. With broken equipment often requiring a complete replacement, daily wear and tear places an additional budgetary demand on schools.
Removing the financial burden from schools, here again, BYOD could offer a solution, with pupils far more likely to look after their own, much-valued devices. Also, teachers should consider running ‘best practice’ sessions with students, so that they know how to use and look after equipment correctly.