Successful schools demand successful managed IT services that support school technology infrastructure and critical school IT projects.
Whether remote or in-person, successful schools demand successful, managed IT services. From student and staff devices to classroom projects and SMART boards, to critical IT infrastructure, schools rely on effective IT service management to execute their missions.
Selecting an effective, managed IT service provider is critical in building a strong school IT program. Elements to consider range from cost, the scope of services, and track record to school-specific factors related to specific instructional models or individual school IT projects’ specs. Choosing a provider that successfully meets all of a school’s needs can add significant value to the school’s instructional programming and, ultimately, enhance student achievement.
At CTS, we offer our partners a variety of service packages to meet their unique needs.
We’ve worked with more than 60 partners across the United States to provide effective managed IT services. From large and small schools to start-up and more established players, our team has the diversity of experience to meet all of your school’s unique needs.
Leaders should ensure regular maintenance of their school technology infrastructure.
As a starting point, school leaders should ensure their selected provider can manage their critical IT infrastructure, including switches, cabling, routers, and wireless access points. Without ongoing monitoring and maintenance of these items, schools can encounter service outages and other nightmare scenarios that negatively impact instruction.
The school’s IT infrastructure forms the backbone of its broader educational technology program. Without effective systems in place to maintain each element of the school’s technology infrastructure, leaders can be left in the lurch when they least expect it, forced to devote valuable time and energy to troubleshooting systemic IT issues when they could focus their attention on other school priorities.
School technology infrastructure might also include email, file storage, and workstation backups.
Broadly conceived, a school’s IT infrastructure may also include email, file storage, and workstation backups that contain critical school programming information. As a school matures, individuals change roles, and new team members arrive, continuity of programming is key, and that’s where file back-up services come in.
When selecting a managed IT service provider, schools should ask the provider whether they have the technical knowledge required to back-up their existing data sources. Knowing that key school programming information is, first, stored somewhere other than someone’s desktop and, two, can be readily obtained if it’s needed, provides peace of mind to school teams undergoing expansion or otherwise in flux.
A strong managed IT service provider proactively addresses a school’s strategic challenges.
Next, schools should seek out a managed IT service provider that can address their day-to-day needs, as well as serve as a thought partner on longer-term strategic IT issues.
Selecting a provider with a strategic lens has two main benefits. First, it allows the school to think critically about its technology choices. For example, an effective service provider may recommend investing in a particular technology piece now, rather than next year, due to E-rate funding changes.
Second, a partner who supports schools’ strategic decision-making can help the school save money. Investment in soon-to-be-obsolete school technology doesn’t make sense. An effective managed IT service provider has a broad view of the educational technology ecosystem and can make purchasing recommendations based on thorough industry knowledge.
Can the school’s provider fulfill its E-rate needs? If not, changing providers could save the school money.
A provider’s ability to execute a school’s E-rate needs carries similar fiscal considerations. Many schools rely on federal E-rate dollars to supplement their regular operating funds, allowing investment in school technology they may otherwise not purchase.
When selecting a managed IT service provider, schools should optimize for firms that can effectively fulfill their E-rate service needs. When this isn’t the case, schools may be stuck with one provider responsible for their day-to-day and IT infrastructure needs and another who can actually fulfill the needs spelled out in their E-rate bid.
Some issues require immediate action. An effective managed IT service provider deploys a seamless ticketing system to address a school’s needs.
When a teacher’s SMARTboard stops working, a classroom projector fails, or a student simply can’t log-on to her Chromebook, a school needs a solution quickly. If a school wants a managed IT service provider that includes day-to-day troubleshooting services, the provider’s ticketing system is key. Teachers should have to go through as few steps as possible to have the issue resolved. Asking a teacher to fill out a lengthy form or dial a half-dozen extensions to reach a service provider costs valuable time and can discourage teachers from engaging with the troubleshooting system in the future.
Instead, effectively managed IT service providers offer quick, streamlined systems that demand minimal action from the end-user and maximize the speed at which issues are resolved. Even if a quick fix isn’t possible, an effective service provider can identify a temporary solution that allows classroom instruction to continue smoothly.
Remote support is great, but in-person services can take school IT projects to the next level.
Selecting a managed IT service provider that offers regular on-site support can help schools tackle their most complex school IT projects. A provider who manages both day-to-day troubleshooting as well as supports the school’s broader technology infrastructure has a global view of a school’s technology ecosystem.
Couple that knowledge with on-site support and a school has the makings of a first-rate educational technology program. Consistent on-site support provides schools with continuity of service and in-person touchpoints that a remote provider can’t match. Even well trained in-house teams don’t always have the capacity to tackle value-add projects at their schools. Bringing in an on-site support technician from a third-party provider can allow schools to accomplish their high-yield projects while also persevering their in-house team’s capacity.
The right managed IT service provider can help a school determine what online activities students find most engaging, as well as keep kids safe online.
An effective managed IT service provider doesn’t just address a school’s technology needs. Rather, the provider uses insights gained from users’ technology use to improve school programming more broadly.
For example, an effective provider can potentially track user engagement across populations, grade levels, and subject areas to see which educational technology platforms are the most frequently used by a school community. If a large number of individuals doesn’t use a platform, the school can make a decision about whether renewing the program’s license makes sense for the upcoming year. The reverse is also true: in the event, a school is considering switching from one platform to another, the provider can produce usage data that may make school leaders reconsider any shifts in programming.
Tracking student engagement across platforms can also help keep students safe online. Perhaps there are gaps in a school’s existing firewall that need fixing. In this case, the provider’s data collection can help keep students safe online and focused on learning.