Your Guide to School ICT Infrastructure
Looking to transform your school’s learning and teaching? Then the next step is to consider how your ICT infrastructure can better support achievement of your desired education outcomes.
Matching your ICT infrastructure capabilities with the specific requirements of your school is of paramount importance. Your ICT infrastructure needs to be both straightforward and scalable, to enhance current workability and aid future growth.
This guide is designed to help you focus on the core elements of ICT infrastructure requiring continual assessment and evaluation to best help you to attain your school’s goals.
Your server means everything to your school! It contains your critical data, formulates rules, backs up your data… It’s the hub of your network. It is therefore of paramount importance that your server forms a cohesive network environment that provides you with ultimate control. Here are some key questions to be asking yourself:
- Size of your school. Lots of schools are going through expansions – is yours?
- Will teachers want to work from home?
- What school specific management software will you require?
- What devices do you have in your school?
- Any school federations that you may like to communicate with
Back Up & Recovery
What would happen if your school lost all its data? Optimal backup and recovery systems are so important for ensuring school continuity. Within this, there are 3 key areas that you should be focussed on:
- Physical Backup – to make sure your school critical (admin and curriculum) data is safe
- Disaster Recovery – to minimise the amount of time it takes to get you back up and running following failure, fire, theft, flood or power surge (they can and do happen!)
- High Availability – to optimise the performance of your network through effective failover and load balancing
Firewall & Security
Just like your school requires its gates to be locked at night, your network also needs to be protected to the same degree. Your firewall creates a bubble for your school – it stops undesirable entries into your school network and prevents the wrong stuff being sent out. It can even pick up what and who is trying to sending out information.
An effectively managed anti-virus will not only ensure that your network’s immune system is improved, it will also notify you and start the healing process straight away should an infection occur to ensure reduced risk of further spread. Moving forward, it will enable you to analyse exactly what happened to ensure responses to future threats of a similar nature are efficiently dealt with.
You can only make the most of your hardware investment if you have the right software to go with it!
A few points to consider for achieving your desired learning outcomes:
- With a huge range of curriculum software available to facilitate teaching, from phonics to CAD design, you’ll need to think carefully about your specific learning goals before choosing
- What software works best for your operating system?
- Does your software allow you to communicate and exchange with other schools and parents effectively?
- When it comes to compliance, a Microsoft Authorised Education Reseller (AER) will be able to provide valuable advice as to what will be the best licensing deal for your institution
- Whether it is for 1, 3 or 5 years, an annual licensing agreement will lower the total costs of ownership and maximise return on investment.
Cabling & Switches
Your cabling and switches should be designed to be smart. They are the foundations of your infrastructure and therefore need to effectively manage what’s going on within your network to guarantee support and power for your equipment.
The following must be thought about prior to proceeding:
- What level of resilience do you require?
- What usage are you looking at?
- Are you clear on the different possible ways to get the best performance?
- Is the solution scalable for the future?
Managed Wireless Networks
How secure is your wireless?
A managed wireless network can help to ensure consistent coverage and properly support the devices at work within your school.
Do make sure you consider the following before proceeding:
- How many devices will you have, and what are they?
- Proposed use for your wireless?
- Are you looking for Guest Wifi?
- If you’re looking at Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or Mobile Device Management (MDM) then you’ll want to make sure outsiders can’t touch your internal network
Internet, Email & Web Hosting
An important area to look at for guaranteed reliability and for ensuring all necessary educational tools are in place.
When considering your school internet, have a think about exactly what you want from it, alongside the size of school and number of devices within it. Ensuring an optimal security filter is also of paramount importance (ref. point 3 above)!!
A few additional considerations for web hosting include:
- School domain name/website
- Do you require staff or pupil logins?
- Will access from home be required?
- What elements of collaboration will be required?
Mobile Device Management
With the increasing use of iPads and mobiles for work, Mobile Device Management solutions (MDM) are key for centralising control of your devices within your network, to ensure:
- Device security to help prevent unauthorised access
- Remote management to ensure you can wipe data or lock the device if stolen or lost.
- Reporting for full visibility over your organisation's mobile environment e.g. device status, log-in attempts and password policy implementation.
Device encryption is a crucial requirement for enhanced data security and as such is a core requirement with the government IASME Compliance standard. Device encryption makes it harder for unauthorised individuals to access the files within your laptops and phones and should be incorporated within your plans for enhanced school network security.
For more information on classroom technologies, check out our guide here.