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Here are four valuable tips to help your technology-driven campus reach its true potential for students and teachers, like this tablet sitting in front of a chalkboard.

The technology-driven campus begins on the backend

Here are four valuable tips to help your technology-driven campus reach its true potential for students and teachers

The technology-driven campus leverages the latest technology to better educate students and empower teachers. Devices such as iPads, iPods, Chromebooks, interactive whiteboards, and different software for educators are just the tip of the iceberg–there’s much, much more that connected devices, augmented reality, and robotics can add to teaching methods.

But even more critical than these hot and innovative teaching technologies is how schools handle software on the backend. Schools operate under tight budgets, and how they approach their software has a direct impact on how they handle their hardware – and they won’t be prepared to manage and maintain the hardware of the technology-driven campus if they don’t first have a strong strategy for software.

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In fact, to get to the cool hardware and novel devices, academic IT admins need to coordinate system-wide migrations and upgrades to add the latest and greatest tech – and ensure the right frameworks are in place to make it all possible (and sustainable).

IT admins can use a few valuable tips for streamlining IT operations to truly enable the technology-driven campus and achieve new, fun teaching and learning experiences.

1. Cut out the software fat

This may not strike you as surprising, but software and technology can be complex. Instead, what you might find surprising is that IT departments can sometimes find themselves paying for software they aren’t actually using. It could be from a previous initiative that faded away, or it could just be that it’s perceived as beneficial when in reality isn’t actually used all that often.

To pave the way to a truly technology-driven campus, it’s critical to cut the software fat. Budget is tight, and it’s important to assess what technology assets your school needs to function well – so real technology needs can be properly met.

For example, certain major vendors provide the necessary software that academic institutions need to collaborate effectively, but they can also charge hidden fees. And sometimes, teachers from one department might buy a piece of software, and teachers from another department might buy another, leading to disparate costs that can make device management and upgrades challenging.

The first assessment to make is to evaluate your systems. Are you paying for software you aren’t actually using? Are you compliant? Are you equipped to adapt to evolving compliance regulations?

Having a strong grasp on what you actually need makes it possible to set aside the necessary budget and resources to foray into innovative tech that can impact both teachers and students.

2. Maintain a time-agnostic tech policy

Educators might not be aware of the specifics, but every school has a policy cycle on how often devices and technology are refreshed, upgraded, repaired, serviced and decommissioned. The upgrade policy has a direct effect on whether or not hardware upgrades – or technology adoption – are even possible to begin with.

As IT teams look to the latest and greatest technologies, priority-wise, security typically comes first, followed by IT management systems. But the important questions to ask are: how long does the policy have between upgrades? How much time are machines given until they’re decommissioned? Where would new technology assets fall under the school’s tech policy?

It used to make sense to have longer policies in place for computers, software and the like, but as more and new technologies are introduced to educators, and as the industry continues to digitize, some policies may need to be revisited to provide students with the best education possible. While there might be resistance to change, existing policies may not be setting up academic institutions for the successful adoption of new teaching technologies.

3. Automate what you can, when you can

It’s no secret IT departments flat out lack resources to maintain, manage, upgrade and troubleshoot all of the devices, machines, equipment and software a school system utilizes. IT can get so overwhelmed with managing anything that has an on/off switch, that when coupled with declining budgets and the distributed nature of schools, can at times make it near-impossible to even consider adding anything new.

To combat this, IT needs to consider implementing automation and automated processes to streamline the manual work of “keeping the lights on.” Leaning in to automation tools can work wonders for providing newfound time to evaluate new technologies – and can be the difference between efficient productivity or hours and hours of overtime. Automation might be seen as just another technology to add, but its benefits can create massive time savings that truly make the upfront investments worth it.

4. Make sure security and privacy are focal points

Lastly, perhaps the most important thing that leads to streamlined upgrades and migrations is a strong focus on security and privacy. Upgrades and migrations are sometimes driven by the need for enhanced security and privacy, but for the majority: strong security and privacy policies are enablers of trust and optimism that new technologies will be effective.

If your school system struggles to keep up with software security or privacy compliance, what motivation will there be to add new teaching technologies if it might spur data breaches and privacy issues? If IT can’t see and manage the number of devices on the network as teachers and students bring their own devices to school, why would they consider adding connected devices to the campus that just adds to the number of vulnerable attack vectors? If there aren’t methods and tooling to prevent students from downloading unapproved apps, why would you add even more devices?

IT has a limited number of time and resources, so establishing a strong, modern foundation of security protocol and privacy policies are necessary to open the door to innovative technologies. Security and privacy must be second nature so that as new technologies are added, it’s adopted in an effective – and compliant – way.

Bringing the technology-driven campus to life

It’s a tremendously exciting time to be in education technology today. Major architectural changes are happening – from cloud-enabled technologies to new, personal learning devices to virtual reality – and the truly technology-driven campus is so close to fruition.

Hopefully with these tips, your IT team can avoid unnecessary overtime, augment frameworks with a stronger foundation, and ultimately, empower teachers and students to access innovative technologies in the classroom more quickly. The future is bright, and new technologies will make it even brighter.

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