Getting the right IT for your school and your budget

Digital technology has woven itself into the fabric of our lives, with the lines between what we do online and in the so-called ‘real-world’ ever more blurred. Schools and other education establishments are, of course, not immune to this technological transformation. The way in which they communicate (internally and externally), interact and educate continues to evolve along digital pathways.

Schools are always looking to strike the balance between able to create the best environment for learning with the pressure that comes from ever-tighter budgets. The ubiquity of digital platforms and devices in everyday life, therefore, poses a number of challenges.

Connectivity in a Multi-Device Environment

No different to any other major establishment, schools and colleges need to have connectivity with Wi-Fi available to both pupils, staff, and visitors. But with such a proliferation of different devices likely to be in use across the site: mobiles, PCs, tablets and so on, alongside the increased use of web-based learning materials, the demand can be such that it places quite a strain on the network.

Having delivered IT solutions to schools across South Wales, we certainly know the budgetary pressure that such establishments routinely find themselves under. Conditions that often mean tough choices about where to apply the resources.

This can lead to schools opting for lower grade Wi-Fi infrastructure; opting perhaps to install more ‘consumer-style’ networks that might be used in the home, rather than a public setting.

However, opting for a network solution that’s cheaper, but ill-equipped to cope, can lead to problems further down the track. It might save money at the outset but provide a continuous headache that becomes costly in the long run.

Right Bandwidth to Facilitate Learning

Schools represent a typically modern community environment. Staff and pupils alike are all looking to gain access to the internet for a wide variety of reasons; from different devices across multiple locations on the site.

At the heart of this requirement, of course, is the classroom environment.

The internet is an integral part of learning. Students and teachers both routinely need access within the classroom, for research or access to official learning resources and lesson plans.

It’s vital therefore that your connection is reliable, fast and robust enough to cope with classes across the school all trying to gain access at the same time. If it’s not, then there’s the risk of pupils working at a learning disadvantage, with potential ongoing costs to try and find piecemeal workable solutions.

A better, and more long-term cost-effective solution is to work with your IT and network provider to establish the accurate bandwidth requirements, and suitable network architecture to ensure that your classrooms have the capacity they need to fulfil curriculum requirements.

This means working with a Wi-Fi network that offers the scalable bandwidth and speed required but also having an understanding of the correct location for access points to optimise the connectivity in the right places on the site.

Optimal Access and Filtering

The primary function of the school internet connection will be to facilitate learning and communication across the site. However, as a real-world setting in which pupils and staff will likely have their own devices, there is always the prospect of internet access for things that are not necessarily school-related.

Accessing social media and video streaming sites are common practice among adults and children. This kind of use can also significantly drain the bandwidth capacity of your network, leading to connectivity problems in class.

Poorly structured, or inadequate ‘off-the-shelf’ networks will often not have the facility to control this usage, meaning that you have a system routinely underperforming. Which can lead to costly and often unnecessary call-outs.

This can be resolved by working with your IT provider to look at cost-effective and robust filters that can be applied to a school network. Filters can restrict access to bandwidth draining sites, not to mention more inappropriate sites – helping the school maximise the efficiency of its classroom connection while establishing peace of mind from a welfare and safeguarding perspective.

At Sabre Computing, we work with schools and education providers across South Wales to find the best IT and internet solutions for their sites, to deliver the right system, for the right purposes, within the necessary budgets.

Give us a call to find out more.




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Tagged with: IT budget, IT for education, Wi-Fi infrastructure

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