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The High-Stakes Role of IT in Blended Learning
November 19, 2020

By Teresa de Onis

The disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic compels us to too often focus on the shortcomings of our response. It’s reinforced by what happens to be a pretty healthy process for learning to do things better and more effectively. As we’ve discussed here in recent posts, there are considerable advantages to come for those campuses that understand and execute on these ideas. Higher education has long thirsted for meaningful innovation, and we can see it on the horizon.

But there’s also a lot to celebrate for IT leaders and their teams now. Given the impossible task of transitioning the whole of your school’s class catalog online in the middle of a busy Spring 2020 semester, you knocked it out of the park almost overnight. No added budget or resources. Little in the way of knowledge or training for faculty unfamiliar with online teach and learn. It’s an incredible testament to your expertise and passion.

As the fall came along, you began working with peers and faculty to move from emergency remote learning to implement blended learning. Now you and your team are learning, too. The process you helped begin and are going through will ensure students are engaged, and their parents are comfortable that their education dollar is well spent.

We get that all of this comes at a cost.

At October’s virtual EDUCAUSE Conference, we heard again and again about the toll the pandemic and its response have taken on you and your organization. Your people are burnt out. It’s understandable given the crisis is not so much a single point in time event but a rolling shake it up, break it down, and build it back up again effort with increasingly high stakes. Sadly, there’s no rest for the weary.

The challenge to you is two-part: find ways to continue to deliver on your now mission-critical contribution to your institution’s viability and competitive success while creating the time you need to meaningfully innovate. The hard work isn’t over. You had 99 jobs even before the pandemic started, but now the leadership mantle has fallen to you. How will you take advantage of your new seat at the cabinet table?

It’s time to rightsize your network.

The term rightsizing often gets a bad rap. Frequently misinterpreted to mean cutting your way to profitability, rightsizing is a far more cerebral process. It’s about disinvesting in traditions or activities that no longer serve the interests of your institution and reinvesting those dollars into the activities that deliver the most differentiating value.

This kind of thoughtful strategizing and the innovative thinking that follows need room to grow. Suppose your days are spent chasing down resource-debilitating operational problems or dealing with legacy technology refreshes and headaches. How will you find the headspace you need to focus on the initiatives that drive institutional resilience and success?

In previous posts, we established a clear connection between Wi-Fi reliability and blended learning. But managing uptime and performance can deplete already tight resources. Changing how you manage, and budget for your network infrastructure is critical to settling into your expanded role.

Outsourcing to a strong managed services provider helps you rightsize your network operations by offloading time-consuming technology decisions, managing day-to-day support and headaches, and ensuring long-term network continuity. The right partner builds updates and refreshes in, eliminating the annual budget uncertainty and churn that comes with having to replace technology on the fly.

Like it has for you and your school, 2020 has stretched the limited resources of Lyon College, a small private college in rural Batesville, Arkansas. Apogee partners with the school to provide the foundation for an advanced wired and wireless network. Apogee ensures Lyon College’s network equipment is always up-date-with built-in refreshes, provides around the clock support, and frees up IT staff to focus on more strategic priorities.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the IT team at Lyon College was able to rapidly transition to remote learning and preserve the school’s reputation for student engagement. Lyon continues to use its time gains to prepare for blended learning, increase student support and collaboration, and consider new strategic technology-driven initiatives to help the college reach its goals.

Whether you choose to partner with Apogee or another managed services provider, creating the space you need to innovate and contribute to your institution’s long-term health is essential. Rightsizing your network infrastructure can be the difference between simple survival and incredible success. What will you do to win?

For more details around rightsizing and the benefits of outsourcing your network infrastructure, check out our Apogee white paper, Rightsize Your Campus Network Infrastructure to Win.

Author Bio

Teresa de Onis joined Apogee in 2019 and is a 25-year Austin marketing veteran with marketing expertise in distance learning systems, IT, and higher education. She combines strategy and storytelling to create and execute compelling and authentic value propositions, communication plans, brand architectures, sales enablement plans and tools, campaigns, and customer experience journeys. Teresa holds an MBA, BA, and certificate in change management, all from the University of Texas at Austin.

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