Education’s information and communication technology (ICT) professionals must focus on the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications and computers, as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage and audio-visual systems to enable users the ability to access, store, transmit and manipulate information. As an ICT department of an educational institution, most of the work conducted really does focus on the support of teachers and administrative staff, however.
This support can bridge the gap to students. In cases in which it does, IT resources can be made available in the form of support for desktops, Wi-Fi in each corner of each building, printers, mobile devices and learning technologies as used by the respective district. If students, therefore, have a problem with one of these technologies then these problems can be run directly through the teacher or administration, which can handle the 'ticket' to resolve the issue.
In fact, in some settings where student technologies are supported (not every school district offers technological support to its student population), IT may work with the student service desk. Usually in these scenarios the IT department has virtually no direct influence on or connection to the students or the devices or services needed in the school. But, as is obvious to even the most casual onlooker, traditional models of learning have changed and learning experiences have transcended the classroom.
Educational entities require quite a bit of technological engagement from their students – tablet-based books, assignment portals, chats with teachers, etc. – so more is required of each school district helpdesk and its IT professionals to manage such approaches, should they take them. If these teams have not adapted to these requirements there is a strong chance that silos will be built and roadblocks put in place. Go figure.
Seeing the Status Quo
The status quo is what we regularity see when working with school districts, colleges and even universities. No disrespect intended - it’s just that service management environments are not usually fully optimized in most educational entities. There’s a fair amount of operational silos where information gets easily lost or caught behind fortress walls and is not shared to make the best use of resources for the organization as a whole.
However, with the maturation of the digitization of the world in which we all live, education is not far from moving substantially forward in its pursuit to a shared service management model. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here speaking about this topic. Thus, service management efforts and their leaders appear to be flanking the opposition and the war over the status quo is hot as less sustainable efforts cannot hold the fort and the pace of digitization is marching faster and stronger than at any point in the past.
If you’re on that side of the fight, as am I, this is good news. Democracy is coming in the form of improved processes, the ability the share information and better the overall experience for students (the world’s future leaders) and their current leaders.
What does this mean? Simply put, students prefer to review information on their phones and smart devices – they are digital natives, after all -- than to the teachers, and pen and paper is disappearing from the desks – which actually are inching closer to becoming more virtual than at any previous time.
Impact on ICT Support
As you can imagine, this coming tide is having a huge impact on the ICT support within these educational entities. Helpdesks and desktop support require more time spent on student technologies when they are not connected to the Wi-Fi or are unable to send a print job to their classroom’s devices while on their school-issued laptop, for example.
This is only the tip of the spear, of course. While educational entities issue their own technology to students, students are bringing their own technology to these marketplaces, too. IT teams and helpdesks must support everything, from IOS to Android, from Windows 10 and everything in between. This effort requires a lot from ICT employees, but also creates many opportunities for learning and engaging students.
In short, BYOD (which is no longer a trend, but an operational fact) now and in the coming years is going to place a fair amount of pressure on organizations to meet demand. But, where great challenges meet, great benefits often converge. Perhaps the most wonderful benefits of these challenges are the wonderful possibilities to provide users more added value to their educational pursuits.
How do you add value? Pull student support toward you. Ensure that you know which problems the students rail against the most, what they’re most up against from a technological standpoint. Then solve those problems. As new problems emerge, address them. As the ICT department, put these steps in place then just make sure that the students are put in a place where they can excel, in part, because of your success aligning service, support and breaking down the silos and walls in their way.