- As school networks continue facing strain from the influx of connected devices, Wyebot CEO Roger Sands writes for eSchool News that IT staff can take a number of steps to proactively manage network health, looking three to five years ahead to determine likely usage and building systems around that expectation.
- Part of troubleshooting a school network should include having district IT officials compare and contrast computers and devices meeting the needs of students and educators with those that don't, in addition to interviewing users, analyzing information and testing hypotheses when the network slows down or stops completely.
- Sands also urges IT officials to keep track of all devices using the school’s network and to invest in cybersecurity measures, stressing that the network should always be monitored 24/7.
Since bandwidth on wireless networks is limited, districts should be discerning when adding new devices and applications. Experts recommend schools do tech audits to inventory hardware, usage and prices. Trimming the fat of unused applications can free up space on the network and save districts money in subscription fees.
Schools should also define the "why and how" of each product being used. Determining which products are still relevant is a process all departments must contribute to by dissolving the silos between them. Teachers, the IT department and other staff should all work through this process on a regular basis.
This technique is especially important for rural districts, many of which struggle to obtain reliable broadband access due to geography and lack of funds.
The growing data demands of the internet of things also threatens to consume network space and slow down the system — everything from building security platforms like automatic door locks to HVAC temperature regulation systems can now burden the network. Upgrading systems allows the IT department to put these applications into "virtual containers" that limit communication with other devices and slow the spread of damage in case of a data breach or cyberattack.