The evolution of modern education circa 2022 can be linked to a single profession not typically associated with the classroom setting: the IT tech vendor.
Following the unprecedented learning and teaching predicament faced by teachers, students and the guardians asked to manage the complexities of pandemic-forced distance learning, the roles and importance of IT professionals have been heightened to nearly rockstar status. Tech is no longer the part of the learning experience that educators, administrators, students or parents have to deal with. Tech is now the part of the educational world that everyone relies on.
From the IT director at a single school to the technology coordinator of an entire district, the demands of distance and blended learning have reshaped the norms of the school day. Teachers are rethinking lesson plans based on how well a topic can be discussed on a Google Meeting. Administrators have revamped snow day policies based on their ability to use take-home laptops. Parents have had to become literate in all things home wifi for all of those remote learning sessions.
Throughout the entire educational evolution amplified by the pandemic, one team of IT techs has been able to serve its educational clients and highlight how important tech, vendors and IT specialists are to the classroom (wherever, or whatever, that might be). Although IT Outlet can source, service, install or maintain almost any piece of tech hardware or software out there, the team credits its unique philosophy towards its customers as the reason for its A-plus grade. The team’s ability to create authentic relationships everyday (they call it their CARE philosophy) has allowed them to better understand the needs of their IT counterparts trying to figure out how to set-up new protocols and systems or in some cases, simply figure out where to get enough hardware for all of the students.
Ask any tech coordinator or director why they are so giddy about their IT Outlet contact, and they all point to that unique, C.A.R.E.-approach the Brandon-based team is so committed to.
Start With Rockstar Tech Expertise
Dean Luethje, technical coordinator for Adrian Public Schools, a K-12 school district with roughly 650 students, credits the IT Outlet team for navigating the hardships of the pandemic.
“The past two years would have been a total educational loss were it not for advanced communication and computing tech,” Luethje says. “Teacher and student engagement was performed almost exclusively with collaboration tools like Zoom, Teams or Meet.”
IT Outlet provided both tech and support to Luethje, the person responsible for all of the tech decisions in the district. In the recent past, Luethje says a large part of his job responsibilities have revolved around setup, end-user training and system maintenance. “That part of the job was nearly nonexistent two years ago.”
The team from Brandon was instrumental in helping Luethje research and procure the technologies needed to support new educational paradigms. “Since so much of our time is now consumed with maintenance and upkeep of these new platforms,” Luethje says, along with the increased cybersecurity tasks that come with so much online activity, “we needed a technology vendor that could partner with us, bring industry expertise, a willingness to research options, aggressive pricing and great support.”
Providing Hardware And The Internet To Use It
Mitch Toso, IT specialist at Lakes Country Service Cooperative, has also learned how important an IT team of specialists and hardware vendors can be to the educational system. “I remember when we first heard about the idea of distance learning and getting all of our elementary students devices. At that point, not all of the districts we served had devices.”
IT Outlet came through for Toso and the students, providing the hardware along with help securing high-speed internet. The team from Brandon has partnered with Fortinet to help other education clients in need of reliable internet. Fortinet combines expertise in connectivity and security to help “bridge the homework gap,” by allowing for more reliable internet connections at home. Part of being great at IT, the Brandon-team explains, is knowing the best products or suppliers that exist.
Becoming a go-to rockstar IT vendor for the region’s premier education systems isn’t just about service or being able to deploy cutting-edge tech. Educational systems are inextricably linked to budgets.
Jeremy Luden, director of technology for the Lennox School District, says technology has leveled the playing field for all by allowing students access to the internet inside and outside of the classroom. For some schools, however, providing that access comes at a major blow to the annual budget. “IT Outlet has worked very hard to make sure we are getting the best bang for our money,” Luden says. “Budgets drive everything in K12.”
Meeting All Tech Needs
Like so many of his peers and others with similar tech duties associated with the educational environment of the region, Toso says that people now realize how important it is to have sustainable technology throughout the workplace or school system at all times--pandemic or not. “There’s no way I would’ve expected distance learning due to this pandemic to go as well as it really did,” Toso says. Credit my IT vendors, he adds. Given what Toso and all the other tech decision-makers from the region, (and beyond), know now about the rockstar abilities of that Brandon-based team at IT Outlet, it’s fair to guess that when the next tech need arises, he’ll know exactly what to expect.