IT teams in education are playing a heroic role across the country during the COVID-19 crisis. Now that more school districts in the U.S. are moving to the ‘Classroom to Cloud’ model — as dubbed by the Northshore School District in Bothell, Washington — schools are scrambling to learn how to switch from in-person education to remote learning.
IT teams in education respond to COVID-19 swiftly
The switch was abrupt, but necessary to decrease fears of spreading COVID-19. To ease the burdens educators, students and their families are experiencing with the sudden change, here are some things that IT teams and school districts are doing to help.
Assisting students and teachers with change
Many schools and universities already offer Office 365 for free to students and teachers which is great for a baseline tool with widespread historic use. However, based on the technical skills of teachers and students alike, other cloud-based tools like Google Forms, Google Docs and Zoom are getting introduced into the workflow.
Everyone’s skill level for each tool is different. For that reason, IT teams are working hand-in-hand with students and teachers to make these workplace productivity tools a better fit for educational settings. How? By training teachers to get used to different programs, and setting up one-to-one support who need specific help with best practices or setting up the toolkits to better cater to their classes.
Creating actionable documents
In addition to training sessions, IT teams are also creating documentation that helps instructors work through the different settings within each tool used for remote learning.
Imagine 20 kids on a zoom chat all talking at once, while notifications from every program litter an inbox. The distractions would cause chaos and ruin productivity. For this reason, IT teams are compiling action items for teachers to take control over each of their tools:
- Muting students until they’ve raised their hands to speak
- Cutting video so student’s faces aren’t compromised
- Recording conversations and lectures so students can refer back to them
- Learning how to turn off notifications on documents so it’s easier to sort through an influx of digital communication
Share best practices for digital experiences
Share the following resources by Microsoft and Google on their response, as they understand that IT teams need their assistance at this time. After all, knowing what tools are available to you as an administrator are just as important as making sure your users are enabled.
For the enterprise, training on security best practices for digital communication is commonplace. However, this vast of a switch to the hyper-digital world is still new in the education sector. For that reason, IT staff and leaders are sharing best practices with students and teachers:
- Never share login information, especially in chat sessions
- All communication in chat should be done through private logins
- Regularly check the content of messages to ensure the technology is being used correctly and safely
- Never stay logged into programs when you’re not using them
- Learning how to properly identify phishing emails
Connectivity for students
Not all homes are set up for digital communication. To ensure all students and teachers have fair access to education while at home, IT teams are loaning computers and tablets along with WiFi hotspot devices to anyone who needs one.
With such drastic changes in education, communication between faculty is more important than ever.
Many IT teams are using Microsoft Teams which helps teachers join “Channels” or “Teams” with fellow educators to meet virtually, and continue sharing what’s working and not for their new Classroom in the Cloud model.
Change for the future
The changes enacted to digitize schools are already proving to have practical use for future events. For example, districts are also seeing the new wave of technology as an opportunity to continue learning when schools need to be closed for other reasons, such as snowstorms or other disaster scenarios.
The situation has also given light to the importance for schools to move more holistically into the digital space. That means, in part, that education should look into backing up data more meticulously to ensure business continuity, protection of student and teacher data, and to ward off cybercriminals deploying ransomware to businesses that are ill-equipped to move into the digital space.