Information communication technology (ICT) encompasses our everyday lives, at work, or at leisure. Our phones, tablets, laptops, and PCs all form part of the digital world we live in, but we rarely give a thought as to how best we could manage these things collectively.
With cloud technology, every piece of information we produce can be accessed from multiple devices anywhere, but are organisations making the most of this? Is cybersecurity being taken seriously? Is there a plan in place if everything just disappears one day?
In this article, we look at IT support in the education sector and how that can benefit schools and other educational facilities to full advantage.
Providing IT support for schools and MATs
Every organisation, large or small, needs to have a strategy for ICT, as this impacts the overall business plan and shapes the way the organisation operates.
Schools and trusts are no different in this respect. Whether it is procuring equipment or installing software, everything you do has to be justified and has to be done for a reason, particularly when funding is tight.
It is easy to become distracted by news of innovations in technology that have benefitted other businesses and sectors and to think how great that would be in your organisation, but every school, college, and academy is different. The infrastructure, the staff, even the students change how the technology works.
Each piece of equipment, every new app or software package, it all has to be tied in with the capabilities of those who are going to use it. Is extensive training required? If so, how long will this take and how much will it cost? Who will provide it?
Working with an IT service specialist will help provide the answers.
What level of IT support is required?
The level of IT support required is often governed by current capabilities. If you have somebody who is good with IT, it is easy to imagine that you just need some additional support with certain aspects, but is that really helping with your long-term plans?
Think about your strategy. What if that person leaves or goes off sick? Does the replacement need to have similar skills?
Far better to develop a strategy that is not dependent on current staff competence. A strategy that will work for your school no matter who works there.
Management of IT systems is something best done by specialists in that field and many local education authorities are now partnering with external IT service providers. Whether you are looking for support to maximise the use of what is already there or to introduce new ideas, to provide alternative solutions to the problems you are facing, a managed service provider will help you achieve your goals.
What kind of support can be provided?
Key areas of IT support in the education sector include:
- cyber security
- disaster recovery
- anti-virus and malware protection
- technical support
- purchasing and procurement
- network installation
When developing an IT strategy, these things have to be considered and this often requires a review of the existing infrastructure. An IT service provider will help prioritise and advise on what needs to be fixed, what will work for you, and how to adapt to recent innovations.
Whether an organisation requires ongoing maintenance or a set-up and monitor service, an initial meeting with a managed service provider will define how that relationship develops.
Do you need help with procurement and staff training?
Keeping up to date with advancements in digital technology is always going to be an issue with the education sector because that is not the core business. When you are concentrating on meeting standards and the various initiatives coming out of the DfE, the need to keep on top of IT often falls to the wayside.
Procurement of new equipment and training of staff to use it correctly is something that a managed service provider can help with, starting with that all-important strategic plan of action.
Cygnet provides IT support for schools and MATs across the southeast of England, and many more local education authorities are looking for specialists like this to partner with. The main benefit of such partnerships is that you can tailor the service to meet your needs.
Within all education facilities, teaching and learning are at the core, and making the most of ICT is essential to the advancement of the goals set by national education standards. This is particularly so in a world where remote working and learning is becoming the norm for some.
To get the most out of ICT systems, it is important to have a long-term strategy and to both help develop and implement your plans, bringing in or partnering with a managed service provider is worth a great deal of consideration.