If we look at education 5 years ago, students were not using modern technology in their classrooms. Tablets were not as heavily used within an educational context as they are today. The usage of technology and devices like tablets is ubiquitous today, but schools are struggling to develop long-term technology plans. Schools like Mokena School District 159 in Chicago, and Mill Valley School District in California are inspiring pushes for technology. Mokena has recently completed a major infrastructural project by installing 85 Aruba access points to provide reliable broadband wireless across the school. Mill Valley School District has wi-fi in every classroom and 400-megabit bandwidth. The similarity between the two schools is that both have laid down flexible foundations to ease incorporation of tomorrow’s technology. Education and technology are both evolving rapidly, and we must equip our schools to keep up with technology.
As you begin to plan your school’s IT infrastructure, there are several things you will need to consider. You should opt for infrastructure that be easily upgraded in a cost-effective manner; things like software and swappable modules help your IT department cut their losses. Schools do not adapt modern technology as quickly as the everyday consumer, so you must be pick your technology wisely. Making things easy to swap out keeps your options open.
If your infrastructure project requires physical implementation, take advantage of the summer by scheduling these projects between June and August. As Troy Bagwell, the technology director at Decatur ISD in Texas, explains, “We spend the time that school is in session to support, adjust and monitor the implementation of the summer projects.” Your infrastructure may need tweaking, depending on the device usage of your students and teachers. Completing these projects may also be stressful because time is limited and classes must resume. Make sure resources are available to complete these projects as seamlessly as possible.
Recruit the input of other school members to ensure your school is providing the appropriate technological resources. Some districts will gather the opinions of the teachers regarding the technologies they use, however those that aren’t particularly helpful. Other will focus on the Children’s Internet Protection Act, which is something all IT departments will need to consider.
As well all know, the IT department is rarely in charge of the school’s finances, so the district will decide where to allocate the appropriate monetary resources. Setting up an IT plan to pitch to the board is an excellent opportunity to learn from and educate your colleagues, and establish a plan for technological success in the future.