The education sector has been under continued pressure over the last few months. With schools open only to a select few and the majority of students trying to learn at home, headlines have been dominated by stories of remote learning and teachers’ and students’ thoughts and experiences during this time.
That said, as an entirely new framework for the majority of schools, the speed at which remote learning strategies needed to be implemented resulted in many IT managers working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep education moving.
While UK headlines have been dominated by teachers’ experiences, the role of the IT manager has been largely overlooked. With this in mind, we spoke to one IT manager to find out what it really takes to keep a school operational during lockdown.
Moving to an entirely digital platform with no face-to-face teaching time has been a complete transformation for UK education. As the situation changed overnight, IT managers had to pool together all resources available to support teachers with adapting to the change.
Dan Rolles, IT Manager at The Sheiling Ringwood, explains: “It was unknown for a while what schools were going to be required to do, whether we would close or remain operational. During this period of uncertainty, it was difficult to prepare. As the situation changed immediately, we had to ensure that we could have members of staff working from home, even though these solutions had never been implemented before.
“We mobilised every laptop that we had across the school, classroom devices or training tools to ensure we could kit everyone out with some form of access to remote working. We spent the week setting everyone up, training members of staff on different platforms and ensuring everyone had functional access to our school’s solutions.”
“These solutions have now been in force for a few months and although troubleshooting from a network perspective takes a bit more time, we are seeing positives. More staff members are utilising technological solutions and are happy to trial different things which will be incredibly useful for adopting a blended learning approach or in the event things do not go back to normal as soon as we hope.”
As education relies on technology now more than ever before, the IT managers behind the scenes are the unsung heroes – keeping teachers and students alike online and learning. As we navigate our way over the coming weeks and months, it is important to consider the valuable role network managers have in keeping schools connected.