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School Data in a Digital World

19 May 2016 by Bob Violino

The connected, digital world has forever changed education and the way the teaching process is conducted. While students still read paper text books and many teachers still use blackboards as part of their lessons, more often the educational process is moving into digital format.

For example, students increasingly read and learn via a screen — from iOS or Android smartphone, a tablet or notebook, and laptop or home PC. Now, even the internet-connected family television set can become a key source of learning for students.

Because today’s students receive much of their learning material through computer screens in an interactive form, they can log in and interact with content on their own time, outside of school hours and from various locations.

Prepare for the connected student.

With much of the student’s learning experience now taking place through a screen, educators need to be able to prepare, create, capture and store lots of information in multi-media formats. They also need to be able to chat, comment, blog and gain safe access to internet-based social media tools.

All of this material needs to be stored for instant access on a variety of screen-based devices, including the classroom, study room, playground, dormitory, students’ homes and other locations. Each school has a growing and changing infrastructure of IT assets, including student PCs and increasingly Wi-Fi-based tablets such as iPads, fixed and mobile scanning whiteboards, display screens, audio systems and the like.

The changes underway are having a huge impact on the data centers operated by school districts and other educational organizations, and educators need to be prepared for the new requirements in IT environments if they are to keep up with the trends.

Learn your school’s data center personality.

“Over the next five years, the profile, topology and purpose of data centers will change dramatically, driven by the digital world and the use of emerging technologies. Between 2013 and the end of 2014, $1 billion of new venture capital funding went into the Internet of Things (IoT), and in 2014, more than $40 billion was spent by enterprises on designing, implementing and operating the IoT. At the same time, there will be an increase in investment around the Nexus of Forces (cloud, social, mobile and information) as many businesses focus on growth and new opportunities, according to Gartner’s October 2015 report, “How to Select the Correct Data Center Option for the Digital World.”

Gartner recommends a modern data center strategy, including an examination of three different data center personality models to classify workloads. The three personalities are agility and innovation, intelligence and integration, and risk and availability.

The analyst firm says the key challenges are:

· “Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) leaders need to become more responsive to new application demands that can be measured in hours and days, rather than months or years.”

· “Infrastructure security considerations need to move away from the traditional in-depth model of defense to providing more dynamic risk mitigation.”

· I&O leaders who want complete control are doomed to fail.”

Among Gartner’s key recommendations:

· “Adopt the three different data center personality models to effectively classify workloads.”

· “Use the matrix in this document to choose the optimum infrastructure for the different workload types.”

· “Set up bimodal teams, create innovative groups within your I&O organization and set up infrastructure platforms that lead to faster deployment.”

Education and technology have become inseparable.

IT executives at educational institutions need to lead their organizations in preparing their data centers for the growing demand for digital services.

As noted by Education Dive in its “State of Education Technology 2015” report, “Schools across America are at a crossroads as personal devices and technological advancements have proliferated classrooms. Technology is increasingly a significant part of everyday learning, and connectivity has transformed the way students interact with teachers, peers and curriculum.”

Education Dive, which provides news and analysis about the education sector, surveyed 173 school district officials, principals and teachers to examine the current state of K–12 education technology, and found nearly 60% said their districts use education technology that isn’t laptops or desktops on a daily basis.

Three-quarters of those surveyed said professional development in education technology is a top priority. And about 40% said they don’t think their districts have an explicit plan that lays out for teachers how education technology is most effectively used in lessons and curriculum.

Furthermore, nearly three quarters (71%) said their districts need an office or department dedicated solely to technology in classrooms. A mere 18% disagreed technology has enabled their district to better assess student learning outcomes.

Have you begun to create or enhance your school’s data center to support all the technology initiatives of the classroom? Get started today with help from Gartner’s report, “How to Select the Correct Data Center Option for the Digital World.” We’re offering complimentary download to you through July.