Whilst technology continues to create new learning and teaching opportunities for teachers and students alike, the rapid rate at which it advances means it’s becoming increasingly difficult for educational institutions to keep up to date. With this in mind, educators must ensure that they have the solutions available to overcome common IT infrastructure challenges quickly and efficiently.
Supporting new learning models
Since 2020, education facilities have had to scrabble to find suitable remote learning solutions that enabled students to learn from home and receive as many educational opportunities as they would in a classroom, lecture hall or seminar. These platforms will rely on the educational institution’s network and IT resources, as well as cloud computing tools. Going forward, it’s recommended that educators adopt network and infrastructure management solutions that leverage APIs (Application Programming Interface) and other technologies to support distance learning.
Poor or out of date IT equipment
With familiar challenges relating to budget constraints, poor quality, faulty or out of date equipment is one of the biggest issues for teachers to overcome when trying to utilise technology in their classrooms. Not only does using outdated equipment come with pain and frustration for students and teachers, but according to Microsoft, 70-80% of the top 10 malware risks could be avoided by using updated technology.
Not only does using outdated equipment come with pain and frustration for students and teachers, but according to Microsoft, 70-80% of the top 10 malware risks could be avoided by using updated technology
Damaged or outdated equipment has a huge impact on the usability of devices, with crashes and system downtime that directly links to decreased productivity and opportunities for learning. This will also lead to difficulties accessing the educational institution’s network which will frustrate staff and negatively impact students’ ability to use technology or engage with their learning in the long-term.
Meeting wireless connectivity demands
In today’s digital world, educational establishments are expected to be able to provide reliable, high-speed and wireless connectivity. Meeting these expectations is a task that’s become increasingly complicated in line with limited access points, outdated technology and ageing network protocols, meaning that many of these networks can’t handle the emerging requirements. This can disrupt educational processes, limiting students from obtaining learning materials or attending online classes. There will also be high recovery costs incurred when educational establishments are faced with network outages or performance issues, as well as reputational damage with complaints from faculty members, students and staff.
To overcome this challenge, educational institutions need an understanding of their wireless networking infrastructures, its coverage and number of access points across the campus. Historical data can also be used to build parameters for expected wireless traffic, and when partnered with real-time visibility into live connections, educators can build full visibility of their network. They can also create instant alerts when traffic exceeds the acceptable levels, giving them actionable information to fix issues before they escalate.
Tackling cybersecurity risks
Education institutions are highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks as there’s a huge amount of data and valuable information for hackers to leverage. This includes intellectual property, personal information about students and staff, financial information and more. And with outdated hardware and software, it’s easy for hackers to access the educational network, track internet traffic and potentially collect confidential data. With that in mind, the biggest risk to the education sector relates to business continuity after theft of data or damage to a network. This will have an immediate impact on facilities, but information may also be stolen, without the owner’s knowledge, with eventual costs not realised until a later date.
The vast amount of data that education facilities hold, in addition to remote learning increasing the number of connected devices, makes them a vulnerable domain for cyber-hacking. Given the complexity of networks, traditional antivirus and firewall solutions are no longer sufficient. Educators can look to introduce Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). This will allow students and staff to access IT resources securely, including email or file services. VPNs create an encrypted network connection that authenticates the user or devices, and secures data in transit between the user and the education facilities’ services.
Looking to the new academic year
Schools, universities and other learning establishments are more dependent on their network infrastructures than ever before. As this dependence continues to accelerate with the introduction of remote learning, there is an increasing need for reliable networks and infrastructure management solutions that will help address these increasing challenges. Now is the time for education providers to evaluate the solutions available to ensure that they’re able to take advantage of digital transformation and meet increasing demands from teachers and students.
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