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Wednesday, 17 July 2013 04:18

NBN finds favour with independent schools


Over half of Australia’s independent schools – or 57% to be precise - recently surveyed about their future use of the National Broadband Network (NBN), say they believe the NBN will improve the way school lessons are delivered.

And, just under one in four (24%) of schools believe the NBN will increase both the quality of student work and the expertise of the teaching profession itself.  

The survey of 75 school representatives, conducted by Australian ICT consulting and solutions provider, Tecala Group, at the recent Association of Independent Schools ICT Management and Leadership Conference in Canberra, also investigated the impact of cloud, mobility and BYOD in  independent schools, as well as the current pressure points currently impacting IT deployments within the sector.

The survey found that 43% of respondents are shifting their budget allocation from investing in infrastructure to cloud computing resources, and more than one in four (27% ) are doing so as it provides a flexible, scalable, cost-effective model with 41% indicating it eliminates the upfront financial burden of deploying new technologies.

But, according to Tecala Sales and Marketing Director, Pieter DeGunst, despite the perceived financial benefits of cloud computing, 38% of respondents are still challenged by restrained budgets with just under one in five (19%) schools also indicating that 2013 remains a tough environment for attracting skilled IT resources to support their programs.

DeGunst says the survey found that a third (33%) of schools are also reviewing Unified Communications and collaboration technologies, but were unsure as to “how to reap the true benefits that these technologies can bring to the education sector.”

In the area of mobility, one in five of those surveyed now support a BYOD policy, but strategies are only partly in place to ensure that data on student mobile devices remains secure.  Just under one in three (30%) stated that they have all data stored centrally and conducted daily backups, and only 14% have policies in place for regular password refresh.

DeGunst said physical loss of student devices remained the concern of 41% of independent school IT managers with just under one in five (19%) concerned about the potential for data loss.

He said that, in an increasingly mobile student and teaching environment, 32% of IT managers said their strategies supported various device types.

“The immersive nature of today’s technology encourages teachers and students to interact naturally, sharing content freely and effectively between devices, and providing students live or on demand access without compromise.  However, the survey suggests that schools must be clear that when they implement a mobility or a BYOD policy, they must then ensure that their policy provides a balance between ease of use, productivity and security.

“At the same time, while there's a real need for schools to focus on reducing IT cost and complexity, the NBN appears to promise an enriched learning environment with not just better education outcomes for students but opportunities for teachers to expand their learning networks.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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