I had a lot of conversations with IT Directors, network administrators and other IT staff at FETC this past week in Orlando. As we talked about their top priorities and challenges, there were three topics that kept coming up over and over again.
First: I don’t know what is connected to my network.
School networks have grown very quickly over the last several years and very few people could identify how many devices were on their networks. This means that valuable equipment could be lost or forgotten. One attendee told us that his boss wanted him to map the network by hand. He laughed off the idea as both time consuming and impossible to maintain accuracy in the long run.
Having a complete network diagram means you know everything connected to your network. This takes only around thirty minutes to an hour to complete and gives you deep discovery into layer 2 and layer 3.
Second: The best sessions have been around wireless issues.
Not that I am surprised, but people are very focused on making sure their wireless networks are up to snuff with all the new technology that is being so rapidly purchased. The requirement around more reliable wireless performance is real and it is not going away.
It is critical that schools understand their networks and how much bandwidth is flowing through it. Bandwidth monitoring is a critical component of managing a modern day school network because virtually every single activity done in a classroom today has a wireless component and where there is wireless networks; there are bandwidth hogs. Classrooms today need to use proactive bandwidth monitoring to ensure that instruction takes priority over recreation.
Third: I wear many hats.
I must have heard the sentence “I wear many hats” in 9 out of 10 conversations. The lines between teachers and IT department seem to blurring as the consumerization of IT floods the classrooms. Between schools getting 1:1 learning started, BYOD policies in place, and nearly every school purchasing technology for instructional purposes, teachers are being looked upon as first tier support for their own classrooms.
But is, does this make the IT Department’s jobs easier or harder? If teachers are doing support without the tools to quickly find and fix the source of a slowdown, doesn’t that simply create duplicate work while valuable instructional time is wasted?
There was also a welcoming for resources and expertise to help them make their job easier. To support this, we prepared a K-12 Resource Center specifically for K-12 IT directors/managers and network administrators that shows how network monitoring can in fact keep kids learning and teachers teaching.