IT in Education: Challenges from All Sides

ICILS, short for the “International Computer and Information Literacy Study,” is an international survey recording the computer and information literacy of secondary school students. It was first held in 2013. In Germany in particular, the results of the first study caused quite a stir; among all the developed nations, Germany turned out to be country using modern information technology to the least extent in the classroom. Two causes were identified as the main reasons: badly trained teaching staff and an extremely inadequate IT-equipment outfit. For example, Norwegian schools provide five computers for every 12 students, while in Germany 23 students have to share two devices. England ranked in the upper third in this respect and was one of the many countries showing Germany their taillights.

Five years later, we’re still a long way from an ideal situation where every single student has unrestricted access to a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure. However, significant improvements have been made. Furnishing schools with computers, handheld devices, whiteboards, peripheral devices, and powerful networks is on its way up. This is not only the case in Germany, where it is direly needed, but also in other European countries where the situation was not quite as dramatic but still in need of improvement.

What pleases students and teachers may well present a challenge to another group of people—namely, those whose job it is to be concerned about the health of the continuously growing number of servers, laptops, desktop computers, and tablets connected to school or campus networks: IT administrators. For one thing, they must have a strong set of nerves as keepers of the digital “toys” in the extremely lively environments that schools tend to be. For another, chronically tight budgets force them to make the most of their resources and work as efficiently as possible. If the school’s IT environment is populated inconsistently (which is usually the case), this can turn out to be a real problem. How can you manage all the deployed PCs and Mac® computers so efficiently that only a minimum of manual intervention is necessary? How can you hand over computers of all operating systems to school or campus operations as rapidly as possible? How can you roll out updates across OSes, and how can you view the status of all devices at one glance?

In one of our next blog posts, we’ll introduce a young man who masters these tasks with flying colors: Ian North. In his mid-thirties, Ian is responsible for the smooth operation of hundreds of Mac and PC computers in a South London educational institution. Come back to this blog to read all about how he does that, which tools he uses, and what distinguishes him among his peers.

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