Connecting Classrooms in 2020: Top Factors to Consider


These days, students of all ages are always connected. This includes at school, and it’s required. They have online tests and assignments. They stream educational videos. They use their devices to write essays, do research and prepare presentations.

Video platforms, real-time productivity applications, smart boards, online lectures, smart speakers and 1:1 device programs all have helped teachers to standardize test taking, personalize lessons and increase collaboration among students.

IT teams at primary and secondary schools often are lean. Yet, they must design and maintain the networks that deliver robust educational programs, in addition to keeping the networks and devices secure. And, their responsibilities have even begun to extend into the arena of student safety.

At Emerge IT services, more and more of our clients in the K-12 space are opting for us to use Cisco Meraki to configure and manage their networks.

Here are some of the reasons why:

Visibility and Control

A school’s entire network can be managed from an easy-to-use, cloud-based dashboard that offers complete visibility, which can assist IT in quickly resolving a security issue before massive damage is done. Modern networking equipment lets an IT administrator readily see where problems are coming from, without having to spend needless time wading through complicated logs. The IT administrator also can set up automatic email notifications to alert them when there is a problem, so they can quickly neutralize a threat. 

Network and Broadband Scaling

Many school districts become anxious when they adopt new, standardized digital teaching and testing resources, because they know they will likely have to upgrade their networks. When Emerge IT helps its clients deploy Meraki, clients are delighted to find that Meraki handles the increase in traffic, and they can support significant growth in their educational technology. 

Quick Deployment

Meraki is user-friendly and can be deployed by some school IT departments. Example: Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, in Kansas City, Missouri, had 34 sites and three full-time network employees. Over the course of one summer, they were able to implement their educational technology upgrade by pre-configuring all of the district’s hardware into the Meraki dashboard. They ripped and rewired everything on the network, deploying 400 switches and 1,700 access points. 

Boosting Digital Learning and Equity

The goal today is reliable access to online educational material for all students, regardless of personal situation, on and off school grounds. Because of Meraki’s superior management abilities – meaning less time spent by IT administrators on managing, troubleshooting or configuring – schools are able to focus on building robust systems, providing superior online learning resources. 

Eligible for E-rate Funding

For an eligible school or library, Meraki qualifies for discounts under E-rate funding rules. Eligible schools and libraries can get discounts, ranging from 20 to 90%, on telecommunications, telecommunications services and Internet access. Additional discounts might be available for internal connections, managed internal broadband services and basic maintenance of internal connections. 

1:1 Device Management

Meraki Systems Manager makes it easy to track and update devices. Example: The Wayne Highlands School District in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, implemented a 1:1 device program and needed to monitor the devices. They now track and update more than 1,200 district-owned iPads. Geofencing is a feature of the Systems Manager. Text and email alerts are sent when a device leaves its territory, and its location is given on a GPS map. 

Cutting-Edge Security Can Be Integrated

Security advantages with Meraki can go far beyond complete dashboard visibility -- which lets IT administration quickly see and address an intrusion -- and endpoint protection and other system protection platforms. Cloud-based security cameras with motion-search capabilities also can quickly alert IT and school security, showing them who is involved and where any disturbance or danger is occurring on school grounds. 

Consult a Cisco-Certified service provider and get started

Emerge IT Services can provide a detailed assessment of your school’s network and cyber-security needs, in addition to other safety features, such as Meraki security cameras, that you might wish to add. Emerge Infrastructure as a Service also can deliver and manage what you need. We have invested in industry-leading IT infrastructure and ITIL operational framework best practices to deliver available, secure cloud services. 

Emerge holds the Cisco Master Service Provider Certification for Cloud and Managed Services. This certification, which is renewed through an annual third-party audit, recognizes Emerge as having the capabilities to sell and deliver cloud and managed services, which helps our clients accelerate time to market of cloud services.

For more information on cloud options or protecting your computer network, give us a call at 859-746-1030.