How to Create an Infrastructure for a Remote-Ready School
When all of the other schools were scrambling to get their students set up to learn digitally when the pandemic first hit, there was one school that didn’t miss a beat. Academy of Our Lady of Peace, the only all-girls school south of Los Angeles and the oldest high school in San Diego, had zero downtime. How did they manage that? What can we learn from them about how to create an infrastructure for a remote-ready school?
What Was Their Reason for Success?
Fully Cloud Environment Ready
Their main reason for success was that they were entirely in a cloud environment already. You see, their Microsoft Exchange Server had officially “died” a few years back. Rather than investing in a new Microsoft Exchange Server, they moved forward and invested in the G Suite for Education. This was due to its robust backend administrative capabilities and intuitive interface.
When they transitioned to the G Suit for Education, they also evaluated all of their onsite database solutions. They set out requirements for each vendor to offer securely hosted web versions of their product without plug-in or client requirements for end-users. Those who couldn’t meet these requirements were left, and others who could were found.
Fully Equipped for Remote Learning
When Academy of Our Lady of Peace launched their BYOD program in 2014, they set minimum requirements for the devices that each student must have. The systems must be less than five years old. They must have at least 1 GB of RAM. It must have at least a 1024×768 screen resolution. Lastly, it must have 802.11 g/n Wi-Fi and a Chrome browser.
These requirements made the students’ laptops reliable.
The academy also stocked up on document cameras and webcams for their teachers for online teaching. They were later able to pinpoint other needs, such as replacement laptops and headphones, and immediately ship those to the teachers. They also took care of teachers’ connectivity issues by sending them USB-C adapters and CAT 6 cables to hardwire their connection.
Because they were fully equipped, Academy of Our Lady of Peace was able to provide continued live learningvia Zoom. It was as though the students never left the classroom!
Keeping the Students Safe in Zoom
Academy of Our Lady of Peace immediately took precautions to keep their students safe from Zoom bombers. There were several steps they took. Links to the Zoom rooms are only shared through the learning management system (LMS). Zoom classrooms are password protected. They had every student register with Zoom with their full name. Students were sent to the waiting room in Zoom when they signed into the session. Teachers only admitted students who were in their classroom.
In these ways, the teachers at the academy were able to keep their students safe from would-be hackers.
As you can see, the transition to remote learning can be successful, though it can be a bumpy road. If your school already has an infrastructure for a remote-ready school in place, it will be much less bumpy and will add much more value to your students.