Top 5 Tech Priorities for the 2016-17 School Year

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Millions of students and teachers are preparing to begin another school year in the coming weeks. Your IT team is busy implementing and updating new technologies that enhance the student’s experience. Is your next implementation on this list?

Alan Joch, in a EdTech Magazine article,  shares 5 classroom tech priorities for this coming school year:

LANs and WANs

“The latest digital tools promise to transform education,” says  Joch, “but innovation won’t be fully realized without a reliable network foundation. To get the most out of today’s digital devices and learning software, students and staff need support: for instance, high-performance network switches for local area networks (LANs) that can handle growing traffic volumes coming from a multitude of mobile devices, or from resource-sensitive video and audio transmissions.”

The U.S. Department of Education website says “President Obama’s ConnectED initiative set a goal for 99 percent of students in the country to have Internet access at a minimum of 100 megabits per second per 1,000 students, with a target speed of one gigabit per second by 2018.”

Mobile Devices

“Whether for 1:1 computing initiatives or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs,” continues Joch, “mobile devices are mainstays on today’s campuses. Schools that provision devices gain high levels of flexibility from new notebooks and all-in-one tablets with detachable covers that include keyboards for either laptop or tablet functionality.”

Administrators should evaluate the applications and hardware that they will be used on in either situation. Does your infrastructure support such a mix a devices?

Security and Student Privacy

Alan Joch refers to illustrating the growth of a “flipped learning” space, moving from a group learning environment to an individual one resulting in dynamic and interactive learning experience using technology, stating that 78% of teachers flipped one of their lessons in 2014. This means more students online accessing school systems.

Joch states, “IT managers need to make strategic investments in new security capabilities.” The U.S. Department of Education released new guidance on protecting student privacy including a Privacy Technical Assistance Center for education stakeholders. Learn about FERPA and view the most recent documentation in privacy programming.

Student safety is also a priority for us here at GroupLink which lead us to develop a new system and recently announce GroupLink for SafestSchools.

Digital Interactive Projectors

Gone are the days of simply teaching with archaic chalk and blackboard or even a whiteboard with dry erase markers. Now projectors can display on about any surface including a whiteboard or wall with various input abilities so a teacher could simply use a finger to interact with the computer content.

Joch advises, “When shopping, look for projectors that support interactive software that is integral to the school. Some models also offer adaptors for microscopes and other learning equipment.

3D printing

Joch says, “Whether in selected classrooms, dedicated science labs or makerspace groups, 3D printing helps students turn ideas into fully formed objects. The devices themselves continue to fall in price, with some models dipping below $1,000.”

“When investing in 3D printers, price isn’t the only consideration. Keep a close watch on developments in the types of printing materials individual models use.”

“Traditionally, desktop models supported polylactic acid plastic, a relatively inexpensive material that nevertheless offered limited choices in the look and characteristics of the output. Emerging now are new composite PLA plastics that are infused with metal, stone or wood particles for a wider range of finishes.”

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