K-12 IT News

CDW-G Works with Districts To Improve IT Infrastructure

In many of today's educational environments, both traditional classroom and distance learning, the drive to remain current with teaching technologies is fierce. However, in their efforts to adopt the latest devices and software applications, many school districts are finding they lack the IT infrastructure required in order to fully utilize, or in some cases even activate, the technological products they want and need, and in some cases have already purchased.

IT solutions provider CDW-G has begun working with districts to ensure that their IT platforms, networks, and other critical hardware components are up to date with their 21st-century education needs and goals. Three such districts, with which the company is currently working, demonstrate the benefits of keeping the IT infrastructure of an educational system current with its demands.

Katy Independent School District of Katy, TX, has, over the last three years, virtualized 70 percent of its data center. With Web 2.0 tools requiring less bandwidth, the district is free to pursue several digital projects, including a mobile learning initiative geared to cell phones and other telecom devices with Internet capabilities.

Within the next two years, said district CIO Lenny Schad, Katy ISD plans to implement "a public WiFi network on every campus so that students will be able to use their mobile devices at school in an interactive learning environment without additional costs or security concerns for parents or the district."

In addition, the district is taking advantage of the greater efficiency that has come with its infrastructure improvements, including a centralized power system, which allows energy and commensurate cost savings throughout the network.

"The benefits of a solid IT infrastructure are overwhelming," Schad said. "We have seen cost savings, created a secure computing environment and are taking advantage of new computing options. Our ultimate goal is to facilitate an interactive learning environment for students and teachers, regardless of where they are."

In Upper Darby, PA, bordering Philadelphia, a quarter-century of compartmentalized IT had left the city's school district lagging behind its own current technologies, to say nothing of plans for upgrades and improvements.

"After some initial setbacks, we realized that innovative technologies demand a solid supporting infrastructure," said Eileen Hershman, educational research and technology coordinator for Upper Darby School District. "We brought together key stakeholders from around the district to evaluate our current IT architecture and create a new technology plan, which included centralizing IT at the district level and moving to a virtual computing environment." The new technology plan also included student-focused improvements, including workstations, laptop computers, data storage, and a Web-based curriculum.

"Our virtual environment enables us to meet specific educational and administrative technology requests such as added data storage, increased security and valuable asset tracking devices, all centrally controlled through virtualization. These are key elements of our 21st-century learning environment," Hershman said.

Finally, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) of Evansville, IN, launched a program to put 7,500 netbooks in its high schools, and another to erect a wireless unified communications system for efficient information sharing among faculty and staff.

Explained Mike Russ, EVSC chief technology officer, "We needed help with inventory, installation and project management, so that we could maintain day-to-day activities." The district also said it plans to break ground on a new data center spring 2010.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.