Tech Tools For MATs
As everyone’s now back at school and getting back into the swing of things, we’ve been thinking about the tech and tools that are fast becoming must-haves in the multi-academy trusts (MATs) realm. Specifically, there are certain tools that can really help not only create a fantastic learning experience in a MAT, but can also help keep the day-to-day operations smooth and operational costs down.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to start banging on about tablets - it’s pretty well-documented now that mobile technology aids the learning experience, and most educational establishments are already deploying or have long since deployed them. No - we wanted to go a bit deeper.
With that in mind, here are 5 must-have tech tools for your MAT in 2018
...OK, this is cheating a little, because we’re not strictly talking about a specific tool here. The bottom line is, for a MAT to truly benefit from, well, being a MAT, then they need to think about centralising their infrastructure as well as their IT management. Without this, you’ll be trying to maintain disparate, legacy systems across various locations. Not exactly a time or budget saver. Using technology like Intel’s latest Xeon server processors, you can run a hybrid “data centre”, which can easily scale with your trust. Keep the software, data and operations you need on-premise, and migrate everything else to the cloud where it can be centrally assessed and managed across the trust. IT centralisation gives you more purchasing power, saves time on software deployment, and ultimately helps you stay more secure.
If you’re looking to centralise and standardise on technology across your entire trust, then what better candidate than Chromebooks? Relatively low-cost, and with enough performance to drive a whole range of classroom activities without breaking a sweat, they’re ideal devices for deploying into classrooms trust-wide. Google have made massive strides in their education offering in the past few years from a software perspective too. Google Classroom is an incredibly powerful classroom management tool which, just like pretty much everything else Google does, is really easy to deploy and use. Get a fleet of Chromebooks and manage them all centrally using Chrome Device Management licenses, and you’ve got a powerful and reliable infrastructure of mobile devices across the trust, at a fraction of the price of full-fat devices. There are desktop options too - such as the ASUS Chromebit, a neat-looking device which is the size of a chocolate bar and plugs into your existing monitors to give you a full Chrome OS experience, or the more powerful Chromebox, which is a bit more like a traditional mini desktop PC.
As we alluded to in our introduction, the success of a MAT isn’t just dependent on the classroom technology - the day-to-day operations need a helping hand too in order to raise standards on a wider level. Effective communication both within each individual school and across the trust is essential from this perspective. To drive this, you’ll need a platform, app or tool that’s capable of delivering this kind of solution, and ideally, it’ll also plug into your parental engagement strategy too, so that you really can manage all forms of communication from one central point. Once you’ve deployed, it’s all about using the functionality and capability of your tool to automate and streamline processes and elevate engagement across the trust and with parents. The important part is using your platform to help teachers, staff and parents collaborate and share ideas to help continually drive an improvement to the learning experience across the trust.
Mobile device management
Whether it’s Chromebooks, iPads or Windows devices, there’s a strong chance you’re going to have a significant number of mobile devices to manage and keep track of across your trust. Mobile device management tools help you centrally administer and manage app deployment, safeguarding and security tools, and updates. MDM can also be helpful should you choose to run a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme or policy in your trust, ensuring that personal devices don’t compromise the school network and pupils can still be kept on task. For Chromebooks and Android tablets, Google have their own solution as part of G Suite - Mobile Management - which if you’re already using G Suite and Google Classroom should be easy to turn on and deploy. If you’re an Apple house, they also have their own solution. If you’re running a mixture of devices or purely Windows devices, Lightspeed Systems is always a solid choice?
Getting the right blend
Setting a decent standard for technology across your MAT is a challenge - particularly if you’re a new trust trying to deal with multitude of issues including blending teams, management and policies. The journey to great technology across your MAT starts with the right strategy - how can you continually and incrementally improve (if necessary) to bring all schools to consistent standard and providing a consistent experience? If you’d like some expert advice on how to take technology to the next level in your trust, get in touch.