An IT Managed Service Provider can ease administrators’ technology-related burdens.
School leaders constantly juggle dozens of competing priorities. From managing student recruitment and enrollment, observing and providing feedback on instruction in classrooms, to coordinating students’ arrival and dismissal. Technology is another such priority, particularly now, given the widespread adoption of remote and hybrid learning models.
Without a dedicated technology team at their disposal, it’s easy to see how administrators can get sucked into resolving an individual student’s Chromebook issue, troubleshooting a video conferencing tool with a teacher, or helping a parent log-on to review their student’s grades. Taken together, these tasks can quickly eclipse the hundreds of other, more pressing needs of a given school and, ultimately, negatively impact student achievement.
Bringing in a third party to manage a school’s technology (AKA an IT managed service provider) can both alleviate these burdens and also provide schools with a strategic partner who can help them effectively—and efficiently—navigate their school’s technology challenges.
With an IT managed service provider, school leaders can stop spending their time troubleshooting students’ device issues and take the time to, instead, for example, think through whether the school’s Chromebook model meets its unique instructional needs. With an IT managed service provider, an assistant principal can spend extra time in classrooms, directly observing teaching and learning, and less time, for instance, on the phone with a parent struggling to understand the schools’ parent portal and why his username and password combination isn’t working.
An IT Managed Service Provider can troubleshoot day-to-day issues and protect school personnel’s time.
An IT MSP’s time-savings advantage extends, as well, to classroom teachers, who all too often must frantically scramble to troubleshoot a faulty project, reboot an old SMART Board, or simply figure out why a particular student’s log-in credentials aren’t working.
With most IT MSP’s, help is simply a few clicks—or a call—away. By centralizing the troubleshooting process and directing tickets to experienced technology personnel, teachers can not only more quickly resolve common technology issues, but can also use the time they save troubleshooting to, of course, teach!
This is true, especially in the remote learning environment. If a particular student can’t access a Zoom link, can’t log-in to a certain online instructional platform, or isn’t able to access Google Classroom, they or their family member can submit a ticket or call a helpline and quickly resolve the issue they’re facing. Teachers can then continue to teach the rest of the class while the student works with the MSP’s technician.
A centralized troubleshooting process—again, in particular, for remote learning—can also greatly alleviate parents’ or family members’ stress: it’s not up to you to solve your child’s technology issue or learn the inner workings of a particular operating system overnight. Simply call the designated helpline, submit a ticket, and wait, at most, a few minutes in most cases for the technician to resolve whatever issue the student’s facing.
An IT MSP’s troubleshooting capacity all adds up to more time, too, for school administrators, who no longer deal with teachers’ and students’ daily technology issues but can instead focus on their other, higher impact priorities. Rather than viewing technology management as an endless series of tasks (e.g., fix this computer, reboot this SMART Board, order a new projector bulb), administrators can take a longer-term strategic view, deciding, for example, whether to purchase a new online instructional platform for the upcoming term or to change the school’s SMART Board model moving forward. Most school administrators are instructional—not technology—experts. An IT managed service provider can, in short, allow them to focus on what they do best and leave the technology to those with the requisite knowledge.
IT MSPs can also project manage key school technology initiatives, like end-of-year close-out and startup.
In addition to providing day-to-day troubleshooting support—and thus relieving school leaders of a significant amount of technology-related work—IT managed service providers can also project manage key technology-related initiatives such as end-of-year close-out, school start-up, and of course, provide support with bulk technology purchases, all of which will directly impact instruction.
When it comes to close-out, IT MSPs know that planning early is key: from identifying the number of devices the school will need to repair, replace, and purchase, to figuring out any new room assignments that will require new technology infrastructure, close-out involves much more than turning out the lights, locking the doors, and going home for the summer. An IT MSP, of course, realizes this and can alert school leaders early, even amidst all of their competing priorities, that a number of key technology-related decisions are on the horizon.
Close-out and technology inventory are also closely related to a school’s start-up. An ineffective close-out can cripple a school’s beginning-of-year launch, which depends on careful planning, accurate enrollment counts, and strategic technology purchasing. If a school’s new wireless network isn’t installed by day one, school leaders are in for a headache, just as teachers will suffer if their classroom cart of Chromebooks hasn’t arrived before the first day of school. Working closely with school leadership, an IT managed service provider can map out key summer work milestones they’ll need to meet to ensure an effective school launch. Armed with high-level scheduling information and key purchasing decisions from school leaders, the IT MSP can take the project and run with it. As a result, school leaders can rest easy knowing that “someone else” is managing key technology projects over the summer, allowing them to work on other summer deliverables and, hopefully, take a little vacation as well.
Managing a school’s technology-related summer workflow also involves purchasing new school technology in bulk. If, for instance, a school is planning to add a new grade level or significantly expand enrollment, they’ll need new Chromebooks, projectors, SMART boards, and licenses for their online educational platforms. An IT MSP can both competitively source and procure these items on behalf of the school and save school leaders the time and energy required to locate affordable hardware options.
Less established schools may not be able to afford to hire a full-time technology lead.
On a more practical level, an IT managed service provider may actually prove a less costly option than a single, full-time technology lead responsible for 100% of the school’s technology needs. To begin with, it’s often hard to find someone who wants to spend their days troubleshooting individual technology issues (e.g., fixing a student’s Chromebook or a teacher’s laptop) and has the knowledge and expertise required to provide longer-term strategic advice, such as budget forecasting or interoperability planning. Finding someone with this mix of skills, or, more precisely put, someone with this mix of skills who wants to do all aspects of the job, can be challenging, as well as expensive: a seasoned IT professional’s salary could quickly enter six figures and, at the end of the day, they’re only one person. As the school grows, it will undoubtedly need to expand its team of technology personnel, and with that expansion, whether from salary, hourly employment costs, or employee benefits, come additional costs.
Even with an expanded team—and the increasing number of troubleshooting tickets that are likely to accompany an expanded school—an in-house IT provider may simply not have the capacity to, for instance, keep up on the latest trends in hardware, online platforms, and data privacy that a school will need to draw upon to continuously improve its technology-driven programming.
For these reasons, less established schools and, indeed, even more, established ones are often better off hiring an IT managed service provider backed by a full suite of IT service professionals, including customer service managers, project leads, and technicians with both day-to-day troubleshooting skills and thorough industry experience that, when called upon, can help guide a school with its technology decision-making.
At CTS, we work with our partner schools to accomplish their unique missions.
Working with more than 60 schools across the United States, our team is dedicated to helping leaders’ fulfill their school’s unique mission. Whether your school is new and expanding or more established and looking to enhance its existing technology programming, CTS can help you identify your technology needs, create a plan for meeting them, and seamlessly execute the plan’s deliverables, all with transparent pricing, deep industry knowledge, and excellent customer support.
Remote learning has reinforced the centrality of technology to school programming, and even when schools resume in-person learning, many of the benefits of technology-driven instruction are likely to remain. From online instructional platforms that differentiate teaching in real-time to video conferencing, pre-recorded lessons, and content management systems like Google Classroom, school will likely look slightly different than it did pre-pandemic. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your school fulfill its unique mission, both today and, as we continue our partnership, many years into the future.