3 pocket points for Principals to test their School I.T. Infrastructure

You may have read my recent article for our national Sector of schools“Agility in mind, technologies & environment Enabling effective contemporary learning”   

http://leq.lutheran.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Agility-from-Schoolink.pdf )

However  a related scaffolding question I sometimes receive from Principals is  what are 3 quick indicators for me as a Principal to assess that our infrastructure (I.T. Plumbing) is sufficient or operating efficiently so that this Contemporary Learning vision can have a chance.

Well there are many indicators and processes to examine when it comes to I.T. infrastructure however today I am going to give you three simple pocket points for you as a school leader to examine. (It not Higgs Boson Science!)

 1. Internet Service: Is your internet service big enough and fast enough to meet the growing needs of your staff and learners? A rule of thumb based on research and future trends – a school needs a minimum of 10Mbps synchronous (not adsl) service with unlimited data per 100 students/staff. Eg if your school has 400 students/staff you need a 40Mbps synchronous connection (40 up speed and 40 down speed). These connections are not ADSL, they use Fibre or Microwave technologies.

ACTION: Test the speed of the internet connection by going tohttp://www.speedtest.net/ even during peak use time there should only be a 10% difference. Test from an admin, staff and a student computer. Also ask students?

2. WIFI technologies: WIFI in schools allows laptops and other devices to roam throughout the school while being connected to the network as well as the internet. Numerous individual wifi access points in a school is not sufficient to service a school’s need in this area. Current (over the last 5 years) wifi systems for schools consists of numerous access points and a main controller which allows for high density and flexible traffic. This means that any size group of students can wander with their devices into a particular area of the school and still be connected at appropriate speeds and retain good performance. The wifi system will work out how to spread the load and  performance automatically across different access points. Coverage is important as well – do all classrooms, learning areas, study areas, admin locations and some recreation areas have appropriate coverage. Is the coverage seamless for students and staff such that when they have connected once, they remain connected across the campus.

ACTION: As you walk around the campus, do you have seamless coverage with your device with good performance. Eg keep refreshing different youtube clips as a good test.

3. Network monitoring systems: Does the security systems (whether that be a firewall, spam filter, content filter etc) enable students and staff to carry out their engagement ubiquitously. In other words can the community go about their appropriate business without these systems getting in the road. If any of the following examples are true then there may be  a problem –  Does authentic email get trapped more than once a fortnight? Do teachers and students get blocked from appropriate sites more than once a month? Do teachers and students get technical blockages from services such as skype, video conferencing/streaming, educational social media sites,youtube etc? Does the monitoring systems impact the performance/speed of the network more than 2%?

ACTION: As a Principal you will be able to assess your email accuracy. Also from your device as well as a teacher or student device see if the following will function: http://youtu.be/2W9z-nrTQD4 , http://www.ustream.tv/schannel/710/channel/6540154 ,http://www.khanacademy.org/ ,https://twitter.com/#!/nasa/astronauts  


You may find you are meeting the mark on all or some of these three points. It needs to be all three.