Change When You Want with the Right Network for your K-12 School

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” As a life-long learner, Einstein’s words ring particularly true in the field of education. K-12 schools have always had one consistent mission: To prepare students to achieve their highest potential. While that goal hasn’t changed over the years, the means to achieve it have.

What do today’s changes look like? Technology is everywhere in schools, and it’s constantly evolving. Giving students every possible advantage requires staying current on the latest digital tools and online learning aids. Because of the speed with which technology advances, schools have a lot to keep up with. Faculty, administrative leaders, and IT network operators need the ability to make changes easily and conveniently.

The question is, what’s the key factor in enabling these changes? The answer
is your network – it’s the lynchpin of your school’s ability to adapt, implement, and leverage the latest educational technology.

Measuring the Distance of Change

The world is in a phase of technological advancement where anything is possible, which makes it a unique challenge to anticipate future needs. There are numerous reasons why schools need a network capable of easy and ongoing IT updates:

  1. Increased enrollment and/or staffing. As your scholastic community grows, more students, faculty, administration, and visitors will need access to your network. Bandwidth has to grow accordingly (and reliably) in proportion to your school’s volume of users.
  2. New buildings. That increase in people also means you need more places to put them. Your school may also decide to update or expand the library or media center to offer students more learning resources. As your campus grows, you’ll likely need to add features such as wireless access points to maintain connectivity and ensure a smooth network connection in all locations.
  3.  New technology. From 3D digital models to VR goggles, your students deserve access to the latest and greatest in technology-based enrichment. Cultivating innovation requires a network designed for easy integration with new devices, apps, platforms, and whatever else comes down the line.
  4.  Hybrid and/or remote learning. This trend is here to stay, which means schools are responsible for providing access in areas like online research, computerized testing, and virtual conferencing. Robust connectivity is a must for this model to run smoothly.
  5.  A wider range of devices in school. More students and faculty means more laptops, desktops, smartboards, and cell phones accessing your network. Given 99 percent of school districts report needing additional bandwidth and connectivity due to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, your school probably faces the same issue.
  6. Multiple modes for learning. Students are learning in a variety of ways now. Teacher-led, small groups, individual work – it’s all on the table. These modes have one thing in common – they’re increasingly internet-reliant.
  7.  New curriculum requirements in your school district. Just as technology reflects modern needs, so do standards and initiatives. As new mandates and curriculum requirements take hold, it’s likely their compliance will create new demands on your network.

Without the flexibility to adapt to all these developments, change can become an impossible challenge and a constant source of frustration. Once the user experience goes downhill, distrust can develop between your faculty and your IT team, causing many other problems. We don’t know which specific network demands the next several years may bring, but schools can take steps now to prepare for those changes.

Going the Extra Mile with E-Rate

As you delve into identifying the right technology partner, it’s likely you’re facing the restrictions of a limited budget, a small IT staff, and a rapidly increasing demand for high-speed internet connectivity. Remember, you’re not alone. The E-Rate program was created to help K-12 schools obtain funding for online access and digital learning tools.

An intelligent E-Rate eligible network provider will help your school accurately measure your technology needs and offer various solutions to make the most of your funds. However, that’s not enough. To keep pace with all the changes, your provider must deliver the following:

  • Scalability: The network has to adapt to your school’s needs while optimizing access to all the new technology available for every user.
  • Increased Bandwidth and Improved Connectivity: High-complexity environments carry a high demand – if the network can’t accommodate it, everything slows down.
  • Support for New Learning Models: With hybrid and remote models continuing to dominate K-12 education, schools must ensure they can facilitate a smooth process.
  • Flexible Deployment Options: Having the choice between a public cloud, private cloud, or on-premises solution gives you the power to decide how you want to extend your network.
  • Dedicated Customer Service: When complications arise, your vendor should provide a dedicated E-Rate team to help you navigate the process.
  • Cutting Edge Fabric Technology: As both technology and curriculum evolve over the years, your IT team needs a means of making simple adds, moves, and changes to your network.

Change will come in many forms. Embracing it on your terms will keep your school ready, and your students engaged, whether you must budge an inch or cover many miles.

To learn more about how E-Rate can help you modernize and adapt, download our eBook, The Essential Guide to E-Rate 2023 Program Success.

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