How covid-19 changed everything

Published by Matt Setchell on

In February I was feeling good. I had the time to work on digital strategies refreshes for customers and our own MATs.

My focus was to usher in a change in mindset for schools. Many were finding themselves having to replace equipment after years of tough budgets – but too many just wanted like for like replacements.

Mobile devices for schools suffered a huge setback by peaking too early, schools investing in notebooks that were before they time (low hardware spec so low cost, without the cloud to take demand off the local devices) left many wary of anything other then traditional PCs or expensive laptops.

With Intune, Chromebooks, GSuite and 365 and affordable devices the landscape has changed. And I wanted schools to embrace this, and the opportunities we had to move IT use out of the IT rooms and into the classroom as a key tool on a teachers toolbox.

So, the digital strategies reflected that desire, and we had great buy in on moving significantly to cloud. Ensuring we had the local connectivity to support that as well as the devices and expertise

And then Covid-19 happened. And our plans for the next 2-3 years happened overnight.

In a week, we purchased and intuned 300 laptops enabling teachers to teach and students to learn remotely.

We rolled out solutions to make accessing cloud drives as easy as local shares

We opened up our helpdesk to students and parents. We worked remotely.

If I just take a pause here – we – Lourdes IT worked remotely, with ease. VOIP phones meant we just plugged our phones into our home broadband or used soft phones. Our helpdesk is cloud based, so no issues there. We have complete remote access, no issue there. We planned for this, and it worked like a dream

We even brought forward and implemented a merger of 5 tenancies into one new one for one of our trusts. Everything went well with exchange, OneDrive and SharePoint. We were unfortunate that education teams is a monster – something that we never originally had to contend with as it wasn’t used, but then covid, and it was used heavily. Despite this setback, we got it working, and the benefits of a single tenancy is clear to see. Not least if we hadn’t done it – rolling out and managing devices would be a lot harder.

We also devised and rolled out a device scheme for students. One which leaves schools and parents at zero risk. And whilst it’s not a great time for asking parents for money, it’s been well received by many, but more importantly its allowed schools to ensure disadvantaged students get devices funded.

We have returned to offices and sites now, and we have our biggest ever summer plans – 9 network rebuilds, 2 new WiFi networks and over 1300 new laptops and over 150 new PCs to deploy.

But we have supported schools throughout, moving shares and documents to cloud, providing cloud managed devices and remote training, meaning next Feb I will need to write new plans, as we will come out of Covid stronger then ever in delivering accessible IT in school lessons, and access anywhere, anytime any device solutions for all our users.

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