Three IT Challenges Facing Long Island Schools

Long Island Schools face many of the same educational technology challenges as other schools across the country.

In March 2020, schools in Long Island and across the country rapidly launched remote learning programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While more resourced schools could distribute Chromebooks and other at-home learning devices to their students with ease, others weren’t so lucky and were forced to compete with schools across the globe to procure a limited number of student devices.

This mad dash to purchase and distribute devices amid the pandemic underscored more fundamental challenges facing Long Island schools. Even if they were lucky enough to have enough devices for each of their students, for example, many of these schools discovered a substantial number of their students lacked reliable internet access at home. Similarly, many teachers who were understandably accustomed to traditional instructional methods struggled to adapt their in-person lesson plans to the unique constraints of at-home learning.

Below, we outline each of these challenges in greater depth and explain how CTS can help schools in Long Island and across the country tackle their most pressing IT challenges in the years ahead.

Long Island schools need to procure and distribute enough devices for each student.

As school districts across the country halted in-person instruction in March and April of 2020, school leaders scrambled to procure enough Chromebooks and at-home learning devices for their students. While some schools had long ago launched one-to-one student-Chromebook ratios, others had shared a single Chromebook cart among an entire grade level, or worse, an entire school, mainly due to financial constraints.

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Equipped with enough Chromebooks to meet student needs, more resourced schools could more quickly scale their remote learning programs. At the same time, those who lacked devices began a mad dash to procure enough laptops, webcams, and assistive technology for their students. What’s worse, the pandemic disrupted the very global supply chains on which such procurement depended, rapidly driving up prices and delivery times when schools were already struggling to pivot away from in-person instruction.

Without reliable internet access, however, at-home devices won’t be enough.

Even where schools were able to distribute enough devices to their students, principals and teachers soon encountered another obstacle: disparities in high-quality internet access. While some students enjoyed access to reliable wireless internet at home, others were forced to “piggyback” off of a neighbor’s WiFi network or, worse, go without.

As a stop-gap measure, some schools could purchase a limited number of wireless internet hotspots for distribution to students. Even so, with multiple at-home learning programs running at once (i.e., three children videoconferencing at the same time), students’ home networks and school-issued hotspots could struggle to meet the demands of remote learning.

Each minute that a student spent waiting for a Zoom to launch or online instructional platform to load wasted valuable instructional time and made the challenges of remote learning that much more difficult for teachers, families, and students.

These schools will also need to (re-) train their teachers to adapt traditional instructional methods to distance learning.

However, educational technology challenges remain as schools begin resuming in-person instruction. Even though schools have largely re-opened, educational technology and some of the hallmarks of remote learning have been integrated into traditional instruction. Asynchronous work time, videoconferencing between teachers and students, and differentiated online instructional platforms have become increasingly central to daily instruction.

While many teachers honed their remote learning techniques during the pandemic, others still struggle with basic content management system features or videoconferencing tools. As schools increasingly use educational technology, the onus is on school leaders to ensure their teachers have adequate training to make the most of the school’s technology investments. For example, in addition to more traditional offerings, principals should begin weaving educational technology programming into their regular professional development activities and also consider mandating the use of certain educational technology programs across their schools.

Likewise, as students begin using their educational technology at home, schools will be under increasing pressure to provide remote troubleshooting support if a student encounters an issue with their school-issued technology. Without the infrastructure in place to resolve common IT problems, school leaders again risk wasting valuable instructional time.

At CTS, we help schools in Long Island and across the country solve their most pressing IT challenges.

Having partnered with more than 60 schools across the United States, our team understands the unique challenges and constraints of the school and non-profit environment. With decades of experience in the educational technology space, our team has both the technical know-how and educational “lens” to support schools in tackling their most pressing IT challenges both today and in the future. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your school accomplish its unique mission.