Stop cloud sprawl: How schools can take control of their AWS usage

The school year ends with the same routines: end-of-year grades, final projects, and the tantalizing thought of summer vacation. But in the rush of the final days of school, some things can go overlooked, and some can cost you money all summer long.

The cloud is one. Due to its pay-what-you-use model, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has become a major cloud provider to schools across the country, offering an affordable way for school districts to introduce labs, sandboxes, and over 500 other services into the classroom.

But if you don’t keep a close eye on who’s using what, instances can run all summer—or longer—leading to a phenomenon known as “cloud sprawl.” If you don’t get it under control, it can compound itself with every semester and school year, ballooning your cloud spend on resources no one is using.

How does cloud sprawl begin and what can you do about it? Read on. Continue Reading…

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3 educational technology resources to help any new teacher

educationYour millennial teachers are important assets. They love collaborating and sharing ideas. They’re masters of technology. They’re flexible, authentic, and always seeking new ways to engage students.

But they fall prey to the same challenges facing every new teacher: classroom management, lesson planning, and one-on-one interaction with students, among others.

As technology drives new teaching strategies and learning opportunities, it also gives new teachers better tools to save time, spark student interest, and measure their progress. Let’s look at three tech resources designed to help any young teacher. Continue Reading…

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The 7 questions you need to ask before starting a 1:1 initiative

one-to-one-initiativeHow can you ace a 1:1 initiative? It starts with doing your homework.

If your school district is planning a 1:1 initiative, you’re probably weighing your options against costs and security – and those are valid considerations (more on them later). But district officials might be failing to think about how devices will be used, the necessary storage, and durability. So what other hardware considerations should IT be thinking about?

For a lot of school districts, two hardware choices make the most practical sense: Chromebooks or Windows machines. Both choices are affordable and offer compelling features. But which one you ultimately choose depends on your students. Let’s study up on the questions you should ask when deciding between a Dell Windows device or Chromebook. Continue Reading…

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SD-WAN 101: Understanding the technology that makes your network more efficient

SDWANThere are a few clear signs that your school’s network deserves a failing grade. Do students in the computer lab struggle to do research because the administrative offices are hogging bandwidth? Is it difficult to scale and manage, especially across multiple buildings? If so, it might be time to rethink your networking.

For many, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) is the gold standard for wide-area network (WAN) routing. But if you’re experiencing the challenges above, it might be time to look into SD-WAN. Continue Reading…

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Here’s how to build a cost-effective network and maximize E-Rate funding

1-1 initiativeArmed with E-Rate funding, schools and libraries are bolstering their wireless networks by upgrading routers and adding access points. Many schools use the funding in preparation for a 1:1 initiative, where each student is paired with a tablet or mobile device. Libraries can enhance their patrons’ experiences by improving wireless access.

However, schools and libraries shouldn’t just measure performance of their network, but also must balance those benchmarks with cost-effectiveness, affordability, and overall return on investment (ROI).

In preparing for a 1:1 rollout and wireless LAN overhaul, maximize your investment by laying a groundwork that optimizes your network’s capabilities while remaining affordable. Pursue improvements that maximize your funding. And in some cases, look into monetizing your Wi-Fi for a greater ROI. Continue Reading…

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How E-Rate funding can help schools and libraries secure their wireless networks

erate securitySchool districts across the country just wrapped up the application process for the next round of E-Rate funding, while libraries still have a few weeks until the deadline. As the adoption of mobile devices, tablets, virtual reality, and 3D printers adds pressure to their wireless capabilities, many are planning to expand their networks through the E-Rate program.

But as they do, they should keep in mind that schools and libraries can be breeding grounds for viruses and bugs – security bugs, that is. A growing wireless network poses additional challenges to IT staff, who must think about security as funding helps expand their network. Continue Reading…

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Is your school building the classroom of the future today?

Classroom of the futureYou probably learned every organ in the body from a textbook, and your grade depended on recalling what the pancreas does and the difference between the large and small intestines. It’s fair to say that times have changed.

In classrooms across America, teachers are presenting subjects in new ways and students are immersing themselves in individually crafted lessons due to the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets and the introduction of virtual reality (VR) and other technologies. Thanks to the advent of these technologies, teachers have changed the classroom environment to accommodate their students’ learning preferences.

What some might think of as “the classroom of the future” is already here. Here are three tech trends many schools are adopting that will shape the classroom of the not-too-distant future: Continue Reading…

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Tablets in education: Why one Texas school district turned to the Surface RT

The tablet landscape is crowded with iPads, Galaxy Notes, Kindles, and Surfaces, each including a different blend of features, that IT managers must carefully evaluate to select the tablet that best the needs of thousands of users. Unfortunately, there is no “best” tablet for any industry or organization — it all depends on what systems you’re currently using and what functions you need to achieve defined goals. That’s exactly what a Texas school district recently discovered as it navigated this exact situation, vetting the many tablet options to find the one that best fit its teachers’ needs and its existing IT infrastructure. Here’s how the school district narrowed down the tablet field and what option they ultimately settled on.

The Challenge

The district sought to equip its 2,200 district teachers with tablets to aid in classroom activities and increase mobility and productivity throughout the school year. But many tablets could achieve those objectives. The district was unsure which tablet would offer the greatest benefits, and needed to narrow down the choices. It turned to longtime partner SHI to dig into its true needs and match the district with the right device.

SHI defined the district’s six key device needs as follows: Continue Reading…

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