A cloud of success

After a significant uptake in cloud services, Paul Young discusses the benefits

Q: Technology in education is constantly evolving, what do you think was the most significant edtech development in 2015?

A: Uptake of cloud services was significant, both in terms of education sector specific technology and technology adopted from the business world. The ability to file, access, collaborate, edit and, of course print, via the cloud is being adopted by schools at a rapid rate, led by Google Cloud. Anywhere, anytime access of documents regardless of device is a huge positive for all schools – there’s no chance of the family dog destroying homework anymore! – while cloud technology brings added benefits such as space and cost-saving, scalability and ease of connectivity of multiple buildings and school sites.

Q: Were we successful in reducing the digital divide this year? How do you think we can improve on this in 2016?

A: A noticeable digital divide that UTAX sees revolves around the integration of solutions-based IT into a school’s ecosystem – some schools have embraced this approach, others haven’t. Paper remains an integral part of a school’s everyday life so schools need to be able to maximise the benefits of digital workflows and print by ensuring it’s an integral part of the school-wide IT thinking. For example, managed print solutions enable users to take control of print output and reduce costs through some simple rule-based printing. App-based software solutions, available on the latest multi-function printers, can also revolutionise the way schools work. UTAX’s Software Solutions are designed to help cut print output costs, increase data security and improve workflow efficiencies – all very welcome in schools today.

We expect to see schools becoming much better at hearing from students on what they want from edtech    

Q: BYOD adoption continues to rise in our schools and universities. How can we ensure we further reduce the data security risks associated with this next year?

A: The recent security breaches at TalkTalk and Vodafone highlight the need for a belt and braces approach to security and data encryption. An often overlooked aspect of this is the information sent to print. With the increase in BYOD, data security has become essential and UTAX’s Security Pack includes options to encrypt the information on a device to prevent unauthorised access. After all, a digital printer is essentially a PC with a large hard drive and memory which is processing data that can remain on the machine and is vulnerable to cyber-attack.

What’s more, UTAX dealers will always carry out a security check as standard when installing a new document management system to ensure there are no gaps in a school’s network.

Q: MOOCs, BYOD, WYOD, gamification are all popular terms and trends seen and used throughout the education sector. What trends will emerge over the coming months?

A: We expect 2016 to follow a similar pattern to 2015 which means it will be about further uptake and development of cloud and software solutions related to the continuing integration of mobile devices and interactive technology. Convenient mobile printing will therefore be talked about as paper documents will still need to be printed. 

At UTAX, we are also noticing an acceleration of interest in data security and the use of automated document workflows that ease pressures on staff and help budgets stretch further. We expect this to be a major talking point over the coming 12 months.

Paul Young is the Head of Technical Services at UTAX (UK) Ltd W: utaxuk.co.uk