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New streamlined device management helps school IT team prepare for fall

Published: August 2nd, 2017 By: ITBusiness Staff

IT teams for educational institutions might get a chance to have their own fun this summer thanks to the adoption of the Windows 10 operating system.

Many teams used to spend the entire summer updating student devices. But now the Windows 10 ability to manage the devices without having to do a manual refresh on each one is paying dividends.  They have more time playing with or ‘testing’ new technologies.

“The summer refresh is so intense that we get behind on other housekeeping, and the start of school can sometimes be challenging,” says Leslie Binions, technical support lead at Kent School District. “We definitely needed a way to ease into the new school year more smoothly.”

With the administration features in Windows 10, such as an in-place upgrade, IT teams can focus on the needs of students and teachers, and testing brand new technologies, as they prepare for the fall semester.

An Easy Transition

The greatest challenge for IT teams at educational institutions is the increasing number of devices to maintain for students and teachers. Improving the management of devices is the key to greater efficiency and cost savings.

One of the main advantages of Windows 10 is a tool called Intune for Education which allows an administrator to manage the attributes of any device, or groups of devices, connected to the system. It makes it easy for the IT team to deploy and customize each device for the students.

The new operating system also provides greater confidence about security. Windows 10 includes improved tools for protecting data, student identity and log-in and combating malware. Deploying Bitlocker encrypted systems protects staff and students should their device fall into the wrong hands.

Office 365 for Education eases the IT Team’s work load by automating the process of importing data from the school’s information systems to use with the applications.

Enhancing Education

While schools are achieving cost savings with the new system, they’re also seeking to introduce advanced technologies to give students easier ways to get information, to collaborate with their peers and to encourage new options for learning.

Kindergarten students are now learning to write the alphabet using touch screen tablets. Windows Ink allows students to write directly on the screen and in various applications. The Edge Browser lets students share those notes. Overall, it’s producing better outcomes for students and staff alike.

The Algoma District School Board recently replaced the existing fleet of Chromebooks with Windows 10 devices to further enhance the use of Office. This strategy was endorsed by senior Administration, school administrators, program staff and the technology department.

The decision to move to the Windows 10 devices supports our overall vision and continued digital journey. We believe that Microsoft in the Classroom provides an incredible learning experience in our classrooms. Teachers and students are accessing Skype to connect with other classes, authors, experts and professionals to globalize their learning experiences. The core suite of tools like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are used extensively to collaborate on projects, create content, and then share it with teachers or other audiences through OneDrive. Sway is being used by students to quickly and dynamically present their learning to a wide range of audiences.

OneNote and Class Notebook have been transformational for many with its functionality and accessibility features. Students are able to create content through embedding audio, video, images and speech-to-text through ‘Dictate’. The text-to-speech capabilities using the ‘Immersive Reader’ removes barriers for students and allows them to focus on the learning. Digital content is easily captured, organized and accessible for both students and teachers.

       -Marty Stilin, K-12 Technology and Data Management Coordinator, Algoma District School Board.

“Streamlining our workload will provide opportunities that we don’t even know about yet, and a uniform, robust, secure, and stable operating system will create basic efficiencies and help us resolve problems faster,” says Binions. “When we can keep teachers and students happy, we’re happy.”

A crucial part of any successful organization’s digital-first strategy, from higher ed institutions to manufacturing or service industries – is a commitment to new tools and technologies. With Windows for Business, you can embrace and take advantage of the opportunities of digital transformation.

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