The lessons learnt by schools in 2020
2020 will be the year that many will want to put behind them and forget, but for many educational institutions globally it will be the year that changed the course of teaching forever. Having spent some time with our customers in this area, we wanted to check in as the new school year starts to ascertain lessons learnt and what the future could hold for them.
Back in Autumn 2020, to help combat the spread of COVID-19 some Australian schools were placed on a 24hour notice to close all facilities and offer remote teaching for students. The level of disruption was widespread, not just for teachers and staff, but parents of whom became teachers themselves. Thoughts instantly turned to video conferencing but IT managers from schools on the east coast raised broader issues including training, security, device policies and the home delivery of equipment. Some schools were tasked with deploying over 1000 Microsoft Teams channels overnight to mirror classrooms – system settings at the time did not even allow for this.
Talking with our customers in the education space over the summer holidays, we were delighted to hear that despite the frantic and at time chaotic nature for the school switchover having us as their IT and cloud partner made a huge difference. Customer experience will always, in a crisis or the calm be what we believe truly sets us apart.
Schools around the country were praised for their efficient and effective deployment of remote learning, but ever present in the minds of IT managers was whether security would be the compromise for innovation given the timeframes. Many parents wanted to access learning and teaching materials on a number of devices, to ease the transitions for them and their children, match this with the focus many have on ‘where is my data held’ and the priorities can get distorted. Of course, this thought was exacerbated by the fact it wasn’t just remote learning, it was remote running of a school including finances and confidential personal data of a huge number of stakeholders that needed to shift to the virtual world. The perceived nightmare for a number of schools across NSW soon became a reality as learning systems were infiltrated and in one case for an independent school their accounts systems compromised.
Many IT managers start this school year hoping they made decisions that will stand the test of time. Having to make fast reactive decisions will have drawbacks and some of those may not have come to fruition as yet. That level of insecurity is normal and expected, and so the choice of partner heavily features in not just the ‘what if’ but the the ‘what next’ phase of the ever changing climate. Choose an IT and Cloud partner that keeps your schools’ needs at the heart of the solution.
Three takeaways from the lesson 2020 taught us all:
- Some schools were able to lean on their previous investments including firewalls, hosting agreements and back ups – but areas such as home deployment of equipment caught them out, coupled with staff training on IT solutions. Completion of a full disaster recovery plan for your school could help ensure the big stuff and the little stuff is covered should the unthinkable happen (again!).
- Security is becoming a barrier to innovation in the remote running of an educational institution. Knowing where your data is, is commonly asked by our customers, which is why we are proud to be an Australian owner and operator of leading data centres for our private cloud solution.
- In a crisis when deadlines are tight, the eyes of the media zoned in and everyone claiming to be experts, choosing a partner was a vital component of a strong strategy. Macquarie Cloud Services, recognised as the most recommended cloud provider in Australia is dedicated to supporting education institutions through their IT journey.
As the term gets underway, it’s not too late, get in touch and see how we can ensure your IT environment is safe, steady and ready to take on the unthinkable.