When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, many school districts scrambled to provide students with the tools they needed for remote education. This included purchasing millions of Chromebooks students could use at home. However, many of these devices are breaking down earlier than expected. Instead of generating savings, this digital transformation strategy backfired for many districts.
Reportedly, a single replacement part, such as a keyboard, costs nearly half the cost of a complete Chromebook. As a result, many school districts are buying extra devices to serve as spare parts.
This is just one example of the technological dilemmas facing school districts today. What’s more, limited capital prevents them from buying the newest hardware or upgrading to the latest software versions. With technology rapidly changing, how can educational institutions keep up?
For school districts, a hardware purchase will need several years to get a substantial return on investment (ROI). Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of students using older technology.
The Wave of Device-Agnostic Systems
A growing wave of educators also allow learners to use their existing smart devices when attending remote classes—a so-called Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy. Instead of providing the required equipment or specifying specific operating systems (OS), they run systems that accommodate devices regardless of OS or hardware configurations. As long as they meet minimum requirements, any smart device will do.
While this benefits many students, some school districts may have trouble implementing this system. Even if they don’t have the funds to provide students with ideal devices, they’re also unable to maintain the necessary system that accommodates virtually all types of devices.
In addition, when class hardware requirements get more complex due to evolving software, many students become marginalized as their devices can’t keep up. As a result, schools either abide by the lowest common denominator or require students to make costly upgrades.
Unlocking the Power of DaaS: How It Can Revolutionize Education
Can school districts actually implement a digital transformation strategy that doesn’t involve hardware purchases? Yes, through a Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) approach.
Schools usually operate on the premise that students log into the system through either school-issued or personal devices. However, advancements in software development often require users to ensure their hardware keeps pace. For cost-conscious organizations such as school districts, it’s a never-ending cycle of hardware and software upgrades.
A DaaS service provider solves this problem by supplying the computing environment students need and giving customers the choice to upgrade their hardware.
Instead of getting stuck with their initial investment—even when it turns obsolete—DaaS ensures users always have the latest hardware to go with their software. In return, clients pay a fixed subscription that covers hardware and software costs and maintenance and management tasks.
Planning for Change: Steps to Develop a Digital Transformation Strategy for Schools
As you develop a digital transformation strategy, there are a few things to consider:
- The needs of your school, teachers, and students: What are your pain points, and where could you use more support?
- Your current technology: Is there anything you can keep? What gaps need to be filled?
- Key stakeholders: Your digital equipment must serve students, teachers, and IT administrators, so get buy-in from each group.
- The technology you actually need: Don’t just follow trends. Look for solutions that meet your needs now and can be scaled up or down as things change.
For school districts, enacting a digital transformation strategy means going beyond the cycle of sticking to what they can afford. School districts typically mandate their IT department to keep using existing equipment until it breaks down or becomes unusable. But the DaaS model enables schools to acquire new technology regardless of whether funding is available.
DaaS also reduces the time your IT team spends evaluating and purchasing devices, making them work together, and then keeping them in line with user needs. This frees them to look toward the future and propose systemic improvements to the learning process.
Maximizing ROI: Evaluating the Benefits and Costs of DaaS in Education
A DaaS digital transformation strategy provides many benefits. For instance, school districts won’t have to manage hardware or get stuck with old equipment until achieving an ROI. Additionally, administrators will no longer accumulate obsolete hardware in their storage areas or be tasked with disposing of old devices cheaply and ethically.
Instead, school administrators can breathe easier knowing that, regardless of how computing requirements change from year to year, their tech budget will remain fixed. In fact, they won’t have to worry about capital expenditures every time better and more powerful technology arrives. DaaS provides predictable operational expenses.
Common Challenges and Solutions in Implementing a Digital Transformation Strategy in Schools
To keep the school district’s entire device fleet synced with each other, you’ll need powerful and reliable device management software. Modern cloud technology can maintain secure, encrypted, and reduced-latency connections when monitoring or updating devices.
For this purpose, outmoded software that uses legacy protocols should give way to platforms that harness modern solutions like Amazon Web Services (AWS). This way, even the smallest IT staff can perform remote updates, fixes, and installations to a single device or the entire fleet with just a few button clicks.
The platform should be OS agnostic to easily connect to and manage all allowed devices. What’s more, the task of protecting each connected device means better management and security options. Forget device access as a yes-or-no equation; the ideal device manager should have no problem creating different user access levels that match their job descriptions.
In addition, security means having the capability to remotely disable units or erase data from compromised devices.
Prioritize DaaS Providers Using a Central Device Management Platform
A DaaS approach enables school districts to build a digital transformation strategy that maintains the most updated hardware and software while keeping costs static. Look for a partner that can help your IT team manage, maintain, and secure all subscribed devices.
When choosing the right DaaS vendor to support your digital transformation strategy, choose the one that places a premium on superior device management capabilities. A central device management platform should be easy for your team to use, OS- and device-agnostic, and built for multiple users under one account. It should also enable app and device management, remote support, monitoring and analysis, and automation.
Nadav Avni, CMO of Radix Technologies
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