Editor’s Note: Cisco is the author’s client.
One of my favorite types of briefings is when it comes to attracting customers to talk about how vendors have done the impossible. While they promote the vendor’s products, they also provide a wealth of knowledge about what worked, what didn’t, and what people do in different ways.we The pandemic may recur on a regular basis In the next few years, if you want to improve your IT in the future, it can be helpful to know what worked.
At Cisco, at one of these events, Canoe Tillo Independent School District With texas St. Vrain Valley School District, Colorado.. This is part of what we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year when school officials tried to keep their classes up and running.
School / student disconnection
This lack of understanding between Texas school officials and students was fascinating. Initially, they didn’t understand how much some students were suffering. Oscar RicoThe school district’s executive director of technology described a one-meter residential area, a hose that pumps water, and multiple mobile homes that use the same resources. Parents knew nothing about technology, they didn’t have broadband, and many families couldn’t afford to rent. School-shipped PCs were often the most expensive system in the home, and parents were afraid to break it, so they avoided learning how to use it. Even simple things like login went beyond them.
It wasn’t just students. Some teachers lived on farms that were not well connected, making education much more complicated.
Apple hardware wasn’t a panacea
Apple hardware is believed to work with zero-touch support, but it wasn’t. Instead, the Texas school made up to 80 calls a day out of about 6,000 users. This is a phone that is not configured to support. One point: Next time we will focus on early training for school staff so that everyone can participate in support calls when needed.
Vendor issues and lack of hardware
With the exception of Cisco, I didn’t have much love for OEMs. According to Rico, most vendors laughed at what the school wanted to do and said they were trying to become an ISP. They saw this effort as a poor investment, especially after the state seized $ 30 million provided by the U.S. government and forced school officials to raise money from the community by issuing bonds. .. What is the difference between Cisco? It was happy to help. Officials have found Cisco’s expertise invaluable, and if they do this again, they will avoid mistakes by decision makers who do not understand what they are doing. He said he would rely more on advice.
Among those mistakes is not pushing more hardware faster. The shortage was an ongoing problem as the unnamed hardware service vendor who provisioned the PC was unable to handle the load. As a result, everyone’s equipment was delayed as needed. Obvious lesson: Make sure your vendor can handle the provisioning load required for success.
Wi-Fi, mesh network, distributed telephone system
In Colorado, a school had a unique problem. The student spanned 411 square miles, many in areas not even covered by cell phone towers. Therefore, authorities have set up local outdoor Wi-Fi access points to provide broadband access to students. And they did it in just 10 days.
That led to another problem. The number of WebEx meetings has skyrocketed from a few times a day to thousands. In preparation for the next crisis, school officials are deploying large wireless mesh networks to reach all students while making it easier to manage network load.
Since everyone is suddenly working from home, switch the phone system so that the caller can send an incoming call to the receptionist working at home and forward it to the home of the person the caller is trying to reach. I needed to. This helped streamline communication between parents and students and school officials.
In some cases, the solution does not have to rely solely on technology. Students wanted direct instruction and felt depressed and isolated, so Colorado officials occasionally set up outdoor classes as the weather allowed. This allowed the required face-to-face time with the students and was much safer than in-class sessions.
As a side note, according to Michelle BourgeoisMany teachers, CTOs of the St. Brain Valley School District, chose to continue working from home because they were more effective. This reflects much of what happened in the business world, as employees accustomed to teleworking last year want to continue doing so this year and next year.
Not surprisingly, Colorado school officials were concerned about cybersecurity, fearing that a successful attack could upset all efforts.As a result, they Cisco Umbrella Security SoftwareProved to be successful during remote school pivoting, with little IT administrator overhead. The system covered both home networks and PCs.
After hearing how the two school officials acted to keep the school running last year, one received state funding and the other raised students to hundreds of miles or more. I spread it out. I’m sorry that the presentation wasn’t published. Both deserved a standing ovation for the wonderful work they did.
The lessons learned generally apply to school districts as well as businesses. Pre-training staff to deal with new remote environments, choosing experienced vendors, focusing on solving problems rather than selling things, understanding the problems students face, creating similarly unique solutions I will. Find ways to anticipate shortages, choose service providers that can scale appropriately, prioritize security, and give students safe face-to-face time.
If everyone starts planning their next pandemic right now and learns these lessons, it will be much easier to move on to home study (and work from home) next time. And don’t worry.
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Lessons from Cisco and Remotework Learned from Pandemic Education
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