There’s no denying that technology is changing and developing at a rapid pace. It is now being used to support both teaching and learning in classrooms, with computers, hand-held devices and digital tools accelerating learning, increasing student engagement and expanding offerings, experiences and support.
With more and more schools going paperless, along with a culture of ‘bring your own device’ computer networks and internet connections at schools need to be working 24/7.
A stable infrastructure and consistent network monitoring is more important than ever if students and teachers are to avoid nasty surprises.
Concerns of a paperless future from a Teacher in rural Kentucky
In Henry County, Kentucky, teacher Stephanie Sorrell has achieved what was considered an impossible task – turning her classroom into a paperless society. Her students were each given a personal digital assistant (PDA), on which they receive homework and tests.
Despite saving nearly 900 sheets of paper a week and downloading plays and books as opposed to buying them, Sorrell says she is worried about the future. Repairing and replacing the PDAs, as well as making them accessible for all students, are major concerns. Not only this, but she states the resources aren’t available to provide every child in the school with a PDA, and it’s likely that the school’s IT system would need adapting and monitoring to manage such major changes.
Technology and the world-wide web have provided students with the opportunity to learn from anywhere, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The future of online education in the UK was underpinned by an investment of £100 million from the government in 2011. But what happens when online platforms go down or networks get so busy that access is either slow or impossible?
A daunting teacher and student scenario
Here, one teacher describes her account of exactly what happened when the network at her school went down for two days:
‘It’s 7:50am and students are making their way towards the first class of the day. Many of the kids are walking around buried in social media and their smartphones, totally unaware of what is about to happen. As 8am approaches, the teachers are setting up their lessons, but we soon realise the network has ‘gone down’. This quickly turned what should have been an ordinary school day on its head. The thought of reverting to the old-school way of doing things was daunting, and staff began racing around, wondering what to do because they had planned their lessons around an online exercise. Even the students quickly noticed the internet wasn’t working.
‘Until the network was fixed, the core processes of the school day were interrupted. At the beginning of the day, missing students couldn’t be marked as late or absent. Similarly, administrative messages were circulated on paper and students couldn’t upload their coursework to be marked online. The school librarians were also inundated by students moaning that they couldn’t find any information and some of the teachers were unable to access e-books. Of course, school life had to continue, but we were all forced to revert to using little or no technology at all. Rather than using the cloud, Google Drive or email, where all our files are stored, we were forced to pass work around on USBs.’
What is the solution?
Sometimes, it is hard to avoid major network issues, but being well prepared is essential. As highlighted above, the education sector is becoming increasingly more reliant on technology. Because of this, it is important IT admins are actively monitoring their networks 24/7. It’s vital that the network, applications and students’ devices are monitored even during the school holidays. Many schools don’t realise how reliant they have become on technology until their core network infrastructure stops working, despite there being ways to prevent this.
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