Several school district officials have told us they want to embrace our philosophy of empowering students and teachers through technology innovation, but lack the right infrastructure to support this vision. As we’ve recently completed a three-year, district-wide technology refresh cycle, we thought we’d share our top takeaways to help our peers get more educational benefits from your network infrastructure.

Lesson #1: Organizational structure matters
Like many districts, in the past our IT department delivered products and services as a separate entity from our curriculum and instructional development staff. Now we’re all organized under the same leadership and our joint team is headed by a chief learning officer.

This reorganization resulted in a strategic shift to giving our curriculum staff the voice that drives our services. In other words, they provide the curricular vision and then we meet their expectations by delivering the right technology. Having a strong and collaborative relationship is critical for determining the infrastructure our district needs for the personalized learning and user experiences that support our district’s mission: “Every student enters with a promise and exits with a purpose.”

Lesson #2: Stay close to users
In addition to our curriculum and instruction teams, we maintain good communications with building principals, teachers, staff, students, and volunteers. We provide them with a clear understanding of our technology vision and the capabilities of our district infrastructure. This information allows our users to consider what classroom and operational innovations they can introduce to leverage the technology we provide to enhance classroom experiences.

7 lessons for surviving a tech #upgrade

Lesson #3: Pursue an ongoing refresh strategy
Instead of undergoing a massive infrastructure refresh once every five years, pursue a rotational schedule to tackle parts of your network every year. This enables you to meet new demands as they arise while also smoothing out capital budget cycles and staying focused on mission-critical tasks by eliminating the inherent distractions caused by major upgrade initiatives.

When pursuing this strategy, keep an eye on technology innovations to determine which ones to adopt immediately, because they add value and are cost-effective, and which to delay until a later date.

About the Author:

Chris Cummings is the IT director at Klein Independent School District (ISD) in the greater Houston community of Klein, Texas, with more than 20 years of experience in technology and education, including various leadership roles. Cummings also serves as a volunteer firefighter.

Brett Williams is the assistant manager network infrastructure at Klein ISD in Klein, Texas, with nearly a decade at the district in various IT roles.


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