If you find yourself under increasing pressure to repair your school’s technology on a case-by-case basis, a regular health check could be the answer.
A school’s network is the driving force behind the effectiveness of its IT integration. The network’s performance therefore has a direct impact on the accessibility of IT infrastructure in the classroom and the impact of technology on both learning and teaching.
A network health check is designed to test and verify the critical components of the school network for reliability, performance, and any obvious security issues. They should be carried out regularly but it is not uncommon for education networks to go months, even years without a thorough health check.
Increasing pressure on IT departments to carry out patch work or restore networks that have gone down mean they are constantly chasing their tails, with no time to implement the checks that would prevent critical components failing in the first place.
How to increase your school’s IT network performance
- Review the Network Topology
As BYOD policies lead to increased device uptake across schools, it is important to review the physical design of your network as well as how data moves around it. You may notice a more efficient way to structure your network now or in preparation for future requirements.
- Review VLAN Implementation
Another impact of increasing device usage on a physical network is broadcast message congestion. If your VLAN design is not implemented properly, you’re going to experience a much greater strain on your network, resulting in connectivity issues across the network.
- Review of Software Versions
Use of correct software versions is especially important in educational settings, where effective integration of technology in the classroom may depend on features specific to certain software versions. Some software updates carry bugs of their own, making it important that you can quickly identify which version is in circulation and which devices or systems might be affected.
- Review Network Access Security
Network security is now a major concern for educational organisations across the world. From a private data perspective, it is essential that you protect the privacy of your students and other staff by staying on top of network security. A hacked network exposes students and staff to criminal activity. A network breach is usually closely associated with network downtime, bringing your IT infrastructure to a standstill.
- Record Link Utilisation on Critical/Backbone Links
Monitoring how much your school is actually using the network gives you valuable insight when it comes to traffic management and optimising the network based on actual use. Many schools find their network is overburdened, making a case for a network upgrade. Conversely, if your link utilisation is low, you may not be using your network to its full capacity.
- Identify any Errors seen on Critical/Backbone Links
Errors in backbone links will quickly affect connectivity across your school network, affecting your students’ abilities to access online resources, carry out internet research, and engage with interactive technology. Regular health checks are vital for identifying and eliminating such errors, maintaining optimum network performance.
What to do if you are unable to carry out the above checks
If, for whatever reason, you are unable to carry out the above checks, or you have identified issues within your IT network but are unable to implement the fixes yourself, then seeking a network health check from a certified service provider should be your first priority.
An experienced engineer will perform the health check, which will analyse and report on all performance bottlenecks and potential reliability issues, and provide analysis and documented feedback on recommended improvements deemed as 'Mandatory', 'Highly Desirable', or 'Desirable'.
Have your say
Our commitment to understanding the unique challenges faced in education has led us to produce an annual research report, the 'State of IT in Education'. Surveying a cross section of the UK education market, our aim is to better understand emerging themes and trends, and the challenges senior IT professionals face in this sector. This includes the inevitable squeeze on budgets, how well IT is integrated into classroom learning, and progress towards compliance with the Prevent strategy.
The survey collects responses from top educational providers across the UK, resulting in a full report.
Take 10 minutes to contribute your opinion to the report, scheduled for release in early 2018, and gain insights into the challenges faced by education organisations throughout the UK, as reported by the organisations themselves. Use these insights to inform key IT decisions for 2018, improving the state of IT for your education organisation and the pupils it benefits.