How CTS Solves School IT Challenges

School IT challenges often demand the advice of a trusted partner.

School administrators constantly juggle dozens of competing priorities. On a typical school day, an assistant principal might begin planning for student-family conferences, meet with an instructional coach for a particular grade level, attend a student’s IEP meeting, and host an after-school event focused on the school’s summer programming. It’s no wonder then that school IT challenges often get put on the back burner.

Over time, the assistant principal learns to live with spotty wireless internet; she learns to live with student devices that frequently break and need repair; she learns to live with subpar servers, routers, and switches that don’t meet the school’s bandwidth needs. More broadly, she learns to live with a technology program that’s incidental to instruction rather than one that truly adds value.

Some of the most common school IT challenges demand the advice of a trusted managed IT partner. At CTS, our goal is to take care of the technology so that you can focus squarely on your school’s unique mission. By partnering with CTS, school administrators can shift their attention to the teacher and student wellbeing, all while knowing the school’s technology will enhance (not detract from) instruction.

We help schools resolve connectivity issues through smart sourcing and distribution.

For many school leaders, the pandemic challenges remain etched in their memories. In March 2020, as schools across the country shut down in response to COVID-19, leaders scrambled to develop, launch, and scale remote learning programs for their students. Never mind that many schools lacked enough devices for their students or hadn’t trained their teachers on how to use common online instructional platforms, Zoom, or content management systems like Google classroom.

Here, more than ever, schools needed a trusted IT partner who could help them source and distribute the hardware required for effective remote learning. Our team scoured global supply chains to locate products for our school partners. As schools worldwide made a mad dash for a limited number of school technology items, our team worked with our partners to make the most of their existing technology inventory while keeping an eye on the broader school technology market. We sprang into action where opportunities to procure devices arose, enabling school leaders to ramp up their remote learning efforts with minimal disruption.

Our team can also recommend products designed to enhance student engagement.

However, even with devices in hand, our school partners noticed a steep drop-off in student engagement as the pandemic took hold. A Chromebook or wireless access point was of little academic use to a student if they didn’t log-on to Zoom each day, complete online instructional models, or submit homework assignments remotely. Even as schools successfully launched remote learning programs, student engagement could frequently get in the way of effective instruction.

Here, too, however, CTS worked with its school partners to identify solutions fast. With our in-depth knowledge of the most commonly used online instructional platforms, our team could make purchasing recommendations to school leaders struggling to reach students online. For many schools, traditional instructional methods grafted onto Zoom simply wouldn’t cut it: they needed to create a paradigm shift among teachers and staff that encompassed the unique needs of remote learning.

If schools decided to purchase a new product, we were right there to help them set up and launch the program and, if requested, could also conduct teacher training to ensure the school made the most of its new technology.

Of course, one of the most urgent school IT challenges concerns student safety.

As students spend more and more of their time online, however, the danger for misuse of the school’s technology products increases. More importantly, an increase in online activity can expose students to bad actors who want to infiltrate the school’s network, steal valuable student information, or otherwise use the school’s resources for their own purposes.

To solve this challenge, our team has worked with our school partners to develop custom filtering options that ensure students can access only content useful for instruction. Creating the right balance is key: if a filtering option is over-inclusive, it can prevent students from accessing content with a legitimate academic purpose; if the filtering option is under-inclusive, however, it leaves students at risk.

Likewise, as students spend more time online, we’ve worked with our partner schools to ensure CIPA compliance and recommend programming schools can use to help keep their students safe online. By creating effective filtering options from the top down and educating students on the proper use of school technology resources from the bottom-up, CTS mitigates the risk that bad actors will compromise the school’s technology programming.

As schools prepare for the following year, we ensure they have all of the devices they’ll need on day one.

In addition to solving IT challenges during the school year, CTS also helps its school partners prepare for the following academic year early, facilitating an effective launch with minimal technology-related disruptions.

We make sure the school is making the most of its existing device inventory, for starters. By effectively tagging, tracking, and triaging issues with the school’s existing stock of Chromebooks, staff laptops, projectors, SMART boards, and other technology items, schools can more accurately identify their technology needs for the following year.

By taking the guesswork out of next-year technology purchasing, CTS can also help schools save money that can then be used for other instructional priorities. Suppose a school can forego the purchase of six or seven Chromebooks, for instance. In that case, it may be able to invest in a new classroom library or purchase an innovative science curriculum kit. Ensuring our school partners have a firm grasp of their current device inventory can yield positive downstream effects that benefit non-technology aspects of school programming.

And once those devices are distributed, we ensure the school’s wireless internet service is top-notch.

Once your school has the devices it needs for instruction, we also continuously monitor the school’s critical IT infrastructure to minimize disruptive outages and flag any replacement needs early. Doing so not only ensures students and teachers have regular internet access it also helps mitigate the stress and frustration that can accompany service outages. For instance, if a teacher plans an entire lesson around an online instructional platform, an internet service outage can derail an otherwise effective lesson plan.

By proactively monitoring the school’s critical IT infrastructure, CTS can allow schools to get ahead of mission-critical school IT purchases. Knowing in advance that the school will have to replace a router or switch will enable the school to spend its resources more wisely and budget for any necessary technology investments months ahead of time.

Many school IT challenges revolve around money. We’re here to help with that, too.

We realize that many school technology decisions come down to dollars and cents at the end of the day. With that said, we don’t believe budgetary constraints necessarily dictate the effectiveness of a school’s technology program. Our team offers transparently priced managed IT service packages to meet the needs of a diverse range of school partners. Small or new schools with low enrollments may benefit from a more narrow package in year one and gradually expand their partnership with CTS in years two and three.

Our team also has a strong track record implementing our partners’ E-rate bids, which can yield tremendous financial benefits for the school. Ensuring the bid’s implementation occurs in a timely, fiscally responsible manner can maximize the program’s benefit for our partner schools and give them the flexibility to address other instructional priorities.

Our goal is to ensure your school’s technology choices align with your instructional model.

Finally, it’s not enough to just throw a bunch of Chromebooks into a classroom and expect the technology to improve student achievement dramatically. Our team works on the front end with school leadership to identify the school’s instructional model and tailor the school’s technology programming accordingly.

Sure, all schools need some of the same technology items, but a STEM-focused high school will make investments that an arts-based middle school wouldn’t. Educating ourselves on our partners’ specific instructional model allows us to craft custom technology solutions that dovetail with the schools’ broader academic programming.

At CTS, we help schools accomplish their unique missions.

Our team has worked with more than 60 schools across the United States to solve their most pressing school IT challenges. Without the help of a trusted partner, schools often learn to live with unnecessarily time-consuming IT headaches. By partnering with CTS, your school can ensure that its technology programming effectively serves teachers and students and is aligned with your school’s specific instructional needs.

School leaders have enough on their plates: let CTS take care of the technology so that you can focus on students and teachers. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your school accomplish its unique mission.

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