Getech Education helps schools move to the cloud
Taking a school's classroom IT to the cloud needs careful consideration
Taking the leap from traditional on-premises IT to the cloud in the classroom can be a daunting prospect for schools. To make the process smoother, a school needs the assistance of a trusted and experienced guide. Getech Education has 30 years of history providing IT for learning environments, originally focusing on higher and further education, and supplying more than 20,000 devices a year and multiple support services into the UK education sector.
Four years ago, Getech developed a schools division with the aim of providing a more cost-effective and collaborative set of solutions for schools than would normally be available from traditional IT providers.
Getech developed solutions in addition to its infrastructure business (with broadband and Wi-Fi solutions), choosing to look at IT in the classroom through the lens of the teaching community. The company built its services - which include Google domain setup, Google licence provision, teacher training and support services, cloud filtering and e-safety - around the collaboration facilities and learning and teaching benefits that can be derived from Google's G Suite for Education and Chromebooks. The company also helps set up parental contribution systems, aiding the school/parent relationship. This teacher-led approach and schools-based service ethic led Google to appoint Getech with its highest accreditation as a UK Premier Education Partner.
Whatever a school was using before, Google makes it easy to import existing files. Support costs are drastically reduced and management is simplified, too. However, the benefits for learning and teaching are the most significant feature of a shift to a cloud-based system based on Google products. The anytime, anywhere aspect of the cloud opens up the potential of a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week educational experience.
Only about a third of schools have begun to take the step from on-premises IT to the cloud, so this is a potentially huge and fast growing area. Getech can draw on its knowledge of helping literally hundreds of schools "Go Google" to provide solutions that cover every aspect of a school's requirement.
Getech works with HP in particular here, because HP produces high-quality products for use with the Google ecosystem, which are competitively priced but also specifically tailored for education. Getech can collaborate with HP to create a complete solution for education, instead of just providing a competitively priced product.
To help with this holistic approach, Getech does a lot of work with schools that are contemplating a shift to the cloud so they fully understand why they're making the move and what the benefits could be. Getech will work with a school from this initial stage, through designing the solution and then implementation, as well as providing ongoing support once the system is in place. The cloud option is very far from being a fire-and-forget system that merely provides a solution for today's educational problems. Instead, it's a dynamic and growing provision that gains new features all the time. For example, in the week of the BETT education conference in January 2017, Google announced that an extra two million apps would be available on Chrome devices. G Suite for Education is constantly evolving and improving.
Getech aims to assist educational institutions to achieve the most with their IT investment - whether it's a small classroom deployment or a school-wide, one-to-one device rollout, while also reducing complexity. Although Chromebooks provide the lowest cost of entry, the browser-based G Suite for Education is device-agnostic, so it can run on a wide variety of operating systems, not just Chrome. This means a G Suite implementation can make use of existing school hardware. In fact, the relatively low requirements could mean that older hardware remains viable for longer, providing yet another example that moving educational IT services to the cloud can reduce costs.
That said, Getech still maintains a thriving hardware-supply business focused on everything for the classroom from broadband, Wi-Fi and multitouch displays, to student and teacher devices. The most popular devices from Getech are Chromebooks via its www.chromebooks4schools.com portal. With Chrome devices, the cost of management is greatly reduced using the Google Apps Admin Console, which requires a small one-off fee for the lifetime of each device. This allows all users to be managed centrally, including creating groups, control over access to online resources, preinstallation of apps, asset tracking and configuration of network access, as well as user features such as browser bookmarks.
Although capabilities like these are already available on-premises with traditional IT, the cloud-based G Suite for Education releases the locational ties. Wherever the user logs in, their customised user specific environment will follow - from website bookmarks to app suite, content, email and group membership. The student can sit down anywhere and continue where they left off, with everything they need right where they left it last. This releases them from the restrictions IT can place on activity, and allows the computer to become a fully integrated part of the educational process.
The transition to the cloud may have associated risks, not least from the change in IT management culture. But the benefits are clear and far-ranging. The cost savings can be significant; the shift to a device for every user promises a sea change in how IT is used in the classroom; and there's a wealth of software and content available through the G Suite for Education ecosystem. With the help of Getech Education, the move to the cloud can take advantage of all these positives while keeping the transformational pain to the minimum.
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