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Common IT infrastructure issues in schools, including one nobody talks about

News 27th March 2023

Consider IT infrastructure as your school’s digital bricks and mortar.

Technology is constantly evolving, and schools often struggle to keep up with the latest updates and upgrades. This can lead to slow and unreliable systems, making it difficult for teachers and students to access the resources they need.

Systems become outdated, and basic maintenance processes are left unaddressed, leading to increasing technical difficulties.

Outdated, unmanaged equipment will result in

  • Unreliable connectivity to essential resources and applications
  • Increased threat of security breaches
  • Equipment failure, extended downtime and possible data loss.

Here are five common IT infrastructure management challenges that affect schools, academies and academy trusts every day.

The sixth issue in the list is one that almost all educational institutions face. It is the main reason managed service providers like Wave 9 exist and why we believe our buyer’s guide will help.

What do we mean by IT infrastructure?

IT infrastructure refers to the hardware, software, and connectivity that make up a school’s IT systems. 

It’s the often unseen pieces of the jigsaw that enable staff and students to use their devices and applications around the school. So, think of wireless access points, switches, servers and backups, firewalls and internet connections, and the systems and processes used to manage and maintain them. Increasingly it supports telephony, too, as VoIP systems use the schools’ local network and Internet connection to make and receive calls.

Managing IT infrastructure in a school environment can be challenging, as it requires a good understanding of a wide range of technologies and regular maintenance to maintain performance and security.

Infrastructure management challenges your school might be facing

1. Capacity, access and performance issues impacting staff and student productivity

Our systems always seem too slow.”

One common problem schools encounter is outdated equipment. Old or poorly maintained IT infrastructure can significantly affect the experience of students and teachers. Poor performance and lack of capacity can make it difficult and frustrating for teachers to deliver lessons effectively and for students to access and complete assignments.

2. Gradual decline due to lack of investment

“We never seem to have the budget for it.”

IT budgets are often directed at devices and software packages to the detriment of infrastructure. Infrastructure components, such as network switches, are only replaced when there is a hardware failure, and an emergency ensues.

A lack of investment can have a significant negative impact over time. Without regular updates and maintenance, technology can quickly become obsolete and unable to support the needs of students and teachers. An IT infrastructure asset management plan will help lifecycle manage components and prioritise spending effectively. It will help make budgeting less “bumpy” and allow strategic decisions to be made based on need, whether that be removing performance bottlenecks or avoiding potential cyber threats.

3. Poor integration between infrastructure components

“This isn’t working how it should.”

Interoperability and a lack of understanding of your IT infrastructure are common issues. School leaders adopt legacy infrastructure from predecessors, and IT leads often take on infrastructure with very little up-to-date documentation.

When different systems and technologies are not properly integrated, they can lead to communication breakdowns, data loss, and increased security risks. This can result in inefficiencies, decreased productivity, and a poor user experience. Furthermore, a lack of integration can make it difficult for schools to fully leverage the benefits of new technologies and tools, which can limit the ability of teachers to deliver engaging and interactive lessons.

4. Lack of scalability

“It used to be good enough, but now more staff and students are using IT more often, and we have plans to do much more.”

To ensure optimal performance and to support the needs of the school community, it is essential to regularly review and assess the capacity of IT infrastructure components such as Internet, servers and network devices. This can help identify potential bottlenecks and capacity constraints, allowing for proactive measures to address them. 

Additionally, capacity management can help ensure systems’ scalability, allowing schools to adapt quickly to future changes in demand. By implementing effective capacity management strategies, schools can ensure that their IT infrastructure is fit for purpose and can support the needs of students and teachers.

5. Storage and shareability of data and resources 

“We are using IT now in ways we hadn’t considered just a few years ago.”

The use of IT in schools has significantly increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began. With the shift to remote learning, many schools have quickly adopted new technologies to facilitate online instruction and collaboration. One significant change has been the widespread use of video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Google Meet to access training and collaborate with others. 

Additionally, there’s the increased use of cloud storage solutions like Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. These platforms have allowed students and teachers to access files, documents, and other materials in school and from home. This has put pressure on the internet and IT infrastructure, as more people are accessing these online resources simultaneously. 

Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated IT adoption in schools and highlighted the importance of high-performing Internet connections and local networks.

6. It feels like you are working against IT rather than it working for you.

“I thought these systems were meant to help, not hinder me daily.”

A primary goal must be to ensure that IT systems and tools support, rather than hinder the teaching and learning process. 

Another critical aspect is ensuring that IT systems are reliable, stable, and easily manageable. Poor IT can lead to frustration, stress, and lost productivity among school staff, negatively impacting their well-being. 

Great service providers will work closely with your school to understand your needs, develop IT plans that align with educational goals, and provide ongoing support.

Safe, Secure Internet and Communication Services for Schools: A Buyer’s Guide

This is why Wave 9’s managed IT infrastructure services and ongoing support are designed specifically for the education sector.

Our buyer’s guide includes step-by-step advice on designing and procuring the specific IT infrastructure your school needs. It contains all the challenges and questions you must discuss to sustain a safe and efficient digital learning environment.

Download the buyer’s guide here.

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