How Third-Party, Supplemental IT Staff Can Support Your School’s IT Programming

In-house school IT teams, are under more pressure than ever before.

The end of remote learning didn’t spell the end of educational technology platforms like Zoom, Google Classroom, and other online instructional systems⁠—far from it. Rather than reverting to more traditional instructional methods, schools across the country have increasingly integrated technology into their classroom teaching. From one-to-one student-Chromebook ratios to SMART boards, projectors, and “hybrid” learning models, technology use both inside and outside the classroom has only increased since 2020.

As a result, school IT teams play a more prominent role in daily instruction. When a teacher can’t log in to an online instructional system, a classroom projector bulb blows out, or a SMARTboard suddenly stops working, it’s the school IT team’s job to fix the problem… and fix it fast. Now more than ever, school IT teams are called upon to juggle dozens of competing priorities. From responding to one-off requests for technical assistance to planning and executing longer-term, complex school IT projects, it’s no wonder that, all too often, the demands of a school’s IT programming exceed the capacity of its in-house IT team.

CTS is here to help. By providing our partner schools with supplemental IT staff during high-stakes testing days, in preparation for school-wide events, and during other hectic times of the school year, our team can help add value to your school’s day-to-day instructional programming while also ensuring broader, strategic IT projects are accomplished in a thorough and timely manner.

Supplemental IT staff can support your in-house team on high-stakes testing days.

States across the country have begun moving their paper-and-pencil statewide assessments online. This broader shift has obvious implications for in-house school IT teams. In addition to the myriad compliance requirements accompanying state testing, technical glitches on a student’s computer or, worse, across an entire school can compromise the assessments’ integrity and throw a wrench in school leaders’ testing day planning.

In-house school IT teams are often tasked with ensuring online state testing goes off without a hitch. Still, all too often, they cannot address the urgent, time-sensitive demand of state testing while also juggling their daily to-dos and longer-term workflows. If the in-house team is stretched too thin, nothing is done well, and, in the case of state testing, the consequences can have widespread negative impacts.

Rather than forcing your school’s in-house IT team to handle state testing all by themselves, it often makes sense for a school to bring in supplemental IT staff to either first take on the additional responsibility of coordinating the school’s online state testing or use the supplemental IT staff members to keep the trains running while the in-house team devotes all of its time and attention to the school’s assessments. This strategy not only relieves the in-house team of the additional stress that accompanies high-stakes testing but also ensures that your school’s other IT priorities don’t fall by the wayside. In the event something does go wrong, supplemental IT staff can offer your school an all-hands-on-deck approach to resolving any technical issues that arise.

School-wide events have a lot of moving parts. Supplemental IT staff can help.

School-wide assemblies, parent-teacher conferences, and student extracurricular activities increasingly demand technical support. Assemblies, for example, will undoubtedly require audio-visual equipment, including microphones, speakers, and projectors, not to mention standby support in the event something goes wrong. Likewise, to the extent teachers want to show students’ families data stored in the school’s SIS or data and assessment platform, in-house school IT teams might need to be on hand for parent-teacher conferences.

Given all of the other priorities to which in-house IT teams must attend, it often makes sense for schools to bring in supplemental IT staff to either manage IT needs for school-wide events or assume responsibility for the in-house team’s daily workflows to ensure the event runs smoothly. Even if you think your school’s in-house team has your event covered, having supplemental IT staff on standby to respond to any last-minute hiccups can make the difference between an IT-related glitch that derails an event and one that’s resolved quickly.

Sometimes, a particular project exceeds the know-how of an in-house team.

Even if state testing or a specific school-wide event is in the rearview mirror, school leaders may want their in-house team to tackle a longer-term, strategic IT project. Maybe that project is installing a new A/V system in the school’s gym or outfitting a series of classrooms with a new SMARTboard model. Either way, the project has the ability to throw off the in-house team’s daily workflow. Likewise, if the in-house team is forced to engage in daily troubleshooting, it may not be able to devote its full time and attention to the project, comprising the end product’s quality and extending the amount of time it takes to complete it. Finally, some IT projects simply exceed the technical know-how of an in-house team. At a school with only two or three IT team members total, has a limited knowledge base upon which to draw.

In any of these cases, bringing in supplemental IT staff to support your school’s in-house team with a particularly complex IT project can yield tremendous benefits. Not only can the supplemental team members support your in-house team with its day-to-day tasks, but they can also provide the in-house team with technical expertise that might otherwise be unavailable, ultimately enhancing the quality of the project’s execution and providing a second (or third) set of eyes to review the project before completion.

Launching a new school? Supplemental IT staff can provide your in-house team with additional support.

Building a new school from the ground up is no joke, and neither is the amount of IT support your team will need to prepare for day one. An in-house team of one or two people is likely to become overwhelmed with the sheer number of technology to-dos necessary for a successful school opening. From ordering Chromebooks, staff laptops, projectors, SMART boards, and other hardware to successfully rostering the school’s online instructional systems, in-house IT teams will often need additional support to ensure the school is ready to open its doors.

CTS’s supplemental IT staff can swoop in and help with the heavy lifting while your team focuses on the big picture. Often, there simply aren’t enough hands to install every SMARTboard or organize every Chromebook cart. Bringing in a third-party supplemental provider can ease the burden on your existing in-house team and ensure that all mission-critical tasks are completed before your school opens its doors.

Similarly, effectively closing the school year can set your school up for success the following year.

Before students and teachers leave the building for the summer, your in-house, IT team must collect, re-tag (if necessary), and inventories all school devices. Even if students are permitted to bring their devices home for the summer, close-out offers your school the last best chance to catalog its existing device inventory before students depart. Doing so can help ensure your school’s technology investments don’t go to waste and allow school leaders to gauge the precise number of new devices they’ll need to order for the following year. For example, if an in-house team determines it can repair—rather than replace—seven or eight devices, the school can then use funds it would otherwise spend on hardware for other instructional priorities.

Of course, an effective close-out requires significant advanced planning and personnel, both of which can be in short supply for an in-house IT team, particularly at a new school. Bringing in supplemental IT staff can help solve this problem. Rather than forcing your in-house team to drop everything and devote 100% of their time and attention to the school’s close-out procedures, your school can bring in supplemental IT staff to assist with technology collection, inventorying, and, ultimately, procurement. As with a new school launch, executing an effective school close-out sets your school up for success during the upcoming months.

At CTS, we help schools accomplish their unique missions.

Our team is comprised of former teachers and school operations professionals who understand the unique constraints of the non-profit environment. Because of our past experience, we’re able to develop and implement IT solutions for our school partners that are both practical and cost-conscious. To date, we’ve worked with more than 60 schools across the United States to improve their technology programming and ultimately impact student achievement.

Suppose your in-house IT team is stretched too thin. In that case, you have a high-stakes school-wide event or testing day on the horizon, or a complex IT project that needs some extra support, our supplemental IT staff, is here to help, armed with the technical know-how and successful track record that will allow you to focus your attention on teachers and students, rather than your school’s technology. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your school accomplish its unique mission.

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