Even if you are not a student or an education professional, it is crucial to note the importance of technology in education. Technology undoubtedly provides educational institutions with the ability to reach more students more efficiently and provide them with a superior learning experience at a significantly lower cost.
Besides the already classic use of IT in administration or email communication, other areas are gaining in importance at a rapid pace. Non-IT systems from building services engineering to laboratory technology are integrated into the central IT system at most educational institutions.
Although many in the teaching profession like to rely on traditional methods of teaching, the possibilities that are opening up when technology is brought into the classroom are endless.
The role of technology in the education sector
Educational content is increasingly being offered via the internet and videos in particular in which teachers, lecturers and professors transmit learning content and tasks to pupils and students have become a part of everyday life.
To really utilise the multitude of ed-tech tools, teachers should ask themselves why students want technology in the classroom, not just why they need it. It can definitely help education professionals in the monitoring of individual development and innovative and engaging lesson planning. But the students who learn through technology are acquiring a new set of skills that will help them throughout their own careers.
How technology is breaking down barriers in education
Access to education has been significantly broadened as a result of technology, including a wide range of learning styles and online degree options. The cost of education has significantly reduced by eliminating the need to buy physical textbooks as most academic journals offer full digital versions originally produced in print either free or significantly cheaper.
By accessing their course content, lectures and scholarly articles from a university’s database, students can easily choose to continue their studies in another country or without leaving their home, opening up educational opportunities to those with mobility issues, chronic illnesses or intellectual disabilities.
Students no longer need to enrol in a full degree program to learn from the best universities in the world. Even if they are not currently studying or involved in the education community, various articles and videos can be downloaded to a mobile device, making the learning experience infinitely better and more accessible.
Educational institutions’ dependency on IT
It is abundantly clear now that universities, Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges and other educational institutions in Australia (and New Zealand) are extremely dependent on a functioning and high-performance IT infrastructure. These complex IT infrastructures need to be constantly monitored to ensure they provide a superior and secure student learning experience. The typical requirements for a monitoring solution in the education sector are as follows:
- Distributed locations
IT infrastructures of educational and research institutions are often distributed over several locations, within a city or in several buildings on campus. Usually the result of history, this poses a major challenge for IT managers. Servers, devices and applications must be available at all locations at all times and an uninterrupted data exchange between the locations must be ensured.
- Virtual learning environments
Today more than ever, providing a virtual learning environment has become the biggest challenge. Aside from classic materials that have to be available at any time and any place, video on demand and video conferencing have become a central element of remote teaching. That creates completely new demands and requirements.
- Heterogeneous infrastructures
Heterogeneous infrastructures are usually due to irregular growth or arise because they have not been modernised in a consistent manner. New, modern equipment often has to be brought into line with outdated equipment, which can often turn out to be an unplanned, time-consuming challenge. It becomes even more difficult when IT environments of different departments are combined and the existing technical equipment has to be reconciled with the requirements.
What type of unified monitoring solution is required in education?
These are only some of the challenges that those responsible for IT in the education sector are confronted with. But how can all these heterogeneous infrastructures, distributed locations, virtual learning environments and custom applications be brought under one roof and monitored?
The ideal monitoring solution should provide a centralised overview of distributed locations and heterogeneous environments and integrate IT with external systems like video conferencing equipment, surveillance cameras and door lock systems. In addition to a variety of notification options, such as email, SMS or push notification, there should be a dashboard that keeps IT teams constantly informed about the status of everything that really matters in terms of providing an excellent learning experience.
A monitoring solution for educational institutions must meet standard requirements such as feature set, usability, price-performance ratio, licensing, implementation efforts and technical support. Reliable alerting in case of malfunctions or failures by a central unit is also an essential component that must not be missing.
Future-proof through standards and continuous improvement
Particularly in the education sector, there are usually numerous bespoke technology solutions developed at great expense. These are justified as they monitor custom applications or hardware for which no standard solution is available. In order to achieve full continuity, a unified monitoring solution that requires little effort to implement in the cloud should be considered by IT decision-makers in the education sector.