NEW YORK, July 16, 2013 – Logicalis US, an international IT solutions and managed services provider (http://www.us.logicalis.com/) has been tracking some significant changes in the ways K12 school districts are using technology to meet the expectations of educators and parents, and prepare students for life in a connected world. K12 technology leaders, Logicalis says, are investing in enabling their schools’ adoption of Common Core Standards and preparing for the student assessments that will measure their progress and success in implementing these standards. The U.S. government recently called on the FCC to supply broadband internet to 99 percent of schools in the U.S. in five years. The government also called on the FCC to modernize a 1990s-era assistance program called E-Rate which provides funding for broadband, networking and communications technology in schools. As these expansions and reforms take shape, they promise a windfall of technology funding for schools that are positioned to receive them.
“The states’ adoption of the Common Core Standards is an historic and unprecedented collaboration of K12 education experts across the country to standardize and raise the level of education in the United States. Common Core’s goal is to produce students who are better critical thinkers, better prepared for college and able to compete with students on a global stage,” says Chris Rafter, Senior Vice President and Regional Manager, Logicalis US, Public Sector. “Every teacher and administrator I speak with points to one thing they love about Common Core: It promotes great teaching practices. Everyone remembers that one teacher they had in school who just ‘understood them’ and made them ‘want to learn.’ Common Core is about taking what those best teachers do and have it become the norm for entire districts, entire states.
“As states implement Common Core and technology initiatives like one-device-per-student and BYOD [Bring Your Own Device], the next five years are going to be among the most impactful in the history of public education in the United States,” Rafter says. “There will be massive improvements in network speeds and bandwidth, as well as switching, cabling, Wi-Fi and Cloud Computing requirements that will weigh heavily on the IT professionals within public school districts responsible for planning, financing and implementing the needed technology solutions.”
As an expert provider of technology solutions for K12 institutions in the U.S, Logicalis has assembled its best tips for K12 leaders to show them where to start and what questions to ask along the way. These topics provide a starting point which will lead to much broader and deeper discussions about the myriad ways technology is used in schools, and the ways experienced technical solution providers like Logicalis can help schools meet these requirements, exceed their own technological goals, and do it all within their specified budget.
“If there’s one thing K12 technology leaders know after the last several years, it’s how to operate on a shrinking budget, how to do more with less. Now with some hope of investment finally on the horizon, the emphasis is rapidly shifting toward effectiveness and delivering results,” Rafter says.
Five Things Educators Should Know About IT
- Learn Common Core’s IT Requirements: Public schools will very soon have additional testing requirements as states adopt and implement new Common Core Standards and testing requirements across the nation. Assessments like the PARCC (Partnership for Assessmentof Readiness of College and Careers) and the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium)will call for school districts nationwide to examine their existing infrastructure and upgrade or enhance systems to be ready for testing implementation starting in the 2014-2015 school year. Meeting these requirements necessitates the right combination of technology, process and policy. An IT solution provider experienced in K12 technology standards and experienced in the technology used for Common Core assessments can help school districts meet these requirements, delivering effective, meaningful capabilities while staying within their school’s technology budget.
- Plan Ahead for Testing Bandwidth: While the requirements for bandwidth in Common Core compliant schools may not seem rigorous as educators head into the 2013-2014 school year, this will be short-lived. Bandwidth requirements to support the technology used for Common Core assessments will become much more stringent for the 2014-2015 school year. Schools may reduce the money, time and effort they spend overall if they consider the big picture in planning a roadmap for bandwidth that will scale to meet future requirements, rather than looking at only the next year.
- Make Use of E-Rate and Other Federal Funding: In addition to Common Core-related bandwidth requirements, 99 percent of U.S. public schools will be expected to have at least 1 Gigabyte of bandwidth by 2018 to give students across the nation unfettered access to the Internet. To help schools reach that goal, the FCC has been asked to raise additional funds for E-Rate through the Universal Service Fund (USF) which will ultimately drive more dollars to eligible schools for technology investment. The time to plan technology upgrades and apply for these dollars is now. E-Rate eligible categories include telecommunications, telecommunications services, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections. Together these represent the majority of an eligible school district’s network, data and voice communication infrastructure.
- Talk to Neighboring Schools: Some schools are already ahead of the technology curve, having implemented cloud-based curriculums, educational applications, distance learning with Telepresence, or virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) using funds received through grants and/or E-Rate. In many cases, these technologically advanced K12 schools are willing to share their experience, particularly around topics like VDI, Adaptive Learning, and Cloud Computing. VDI especially has been found to save significant time and money in application deployments, troubleshooting, service desk and traditional break-fix work, freeing their district’s IT staffs to focus on more high-value tasks.
- Save Money and Gain Expertise through Outsourcing:VDI isn’t the only way to decrease costs and increase technical sophistication; schools with limited IT staffs have begun to simplify the management of their infrastructure by adopting a managed services or hosted services model. By doing this, data centers can be remotely managed and optimized by skilled IT personnel with 24/7 support at what typically amounts to a lower monthly cost than they presently have. This allows IT to ease the pressures of break-fix, maintenance and management tasks in an economical way, while meeting increased IT requirements for Common Core assessments and developing the technology-based education being called for in America’s schools.
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Wilson School District
Central Catholic High School
Paradise Valley Unified School District
Phoenix Union High School District.
Anati Zubia, Marketing and Events Coordinator, Southwest Region,