AT A GLANCE
- Avondale Intermediate School
- Implement a cloud IT infrastructure/applications solution
- Establish cost-effective, future-proof IT infrastructure
- Provide learners with collaboration tools
- Introduce BYOD platform
- Introduce predictable cost of support
- Fuji Xerox OptimiseIT
- Scalable and secure solution which will support a growing school
- Learners provided with own login/services
- Predictable OPEX
- Improved collaboration
- Integrated services
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Technology in the classroom is on a steady march, but the cost of computer services and connectivity can be difficult for schools to wear. That was a challenge faced by Auckland’s Avondale Intermediate School, which has found an ideal option in Fuji Xerox’s OptimiseIT cloud computing solution.
Since 1945 Avondale Intermediate School has been the stepping stone for local children as they transition from primary to high school. It currently has a roll of 306 children who are supported by 17 teachers, 3 learning assistants, 3 administration staff and a caretaker.
Kathryn Eltringham, Deputy Principal: Learning and Teaching is in charge of the day-to-day running and support of the school infrastructure. She explains that while lottery grants offset the considerable capital outlay necessary to provide and maintain the IT framework, ongoing maintenance costs were an ongoing burden for the low-decile school. That lead to the decision to seek an inclusive cloud-based solution.
Together with her colleague, principal Joanne Hardwidge, a streamlined approach was sought “We were looking at how we could achieve a one-stop shop approach to lots of things that were going on in the school. Doing this successfully would impact on us financially, consolidate the delivery of service and support, and hopefully increase the capacity of our own busy resources,” Hardwidge relates.
The school looked to its proven print device partner, Fuji Xerox, and its OptimiseIT cloud computing solution which combines Microsoft applications including Office 365, Dell hardware and cloud hosting. With a local help desk, a support and service review every three years, all IT software and security updates carried out automatically, and no upfront capital investment, the solution was ideal.
The OptimiseIT team carried out a thorough audit of the school’s existing technology, making sure to incorporate those elements (such as an existing VoIP solution) which could add value to the new technology package. Following this process, the solution was rapidly implemented and went live in April 2014.
The implementation reinforced the reliability the school had come to expect from Fuji Xerox, notes Hardwidge. “Their response was always positive and they were accessible,” said Hardwidge. “We could go directly to people who had senior positions in the organisation to get problems sorted out, and it was always done with a smile and with courtesy. At one point we had an issue with the security that had been previously set up around our wireless. Fuji Xerox actually brought in another company to check it out and make it happen for us. Fabulous.”
Avondale Intermediate was already a technologically savvy school, but the new cloud-based OptimiseIT solution has strengthened its ability to communicate and collaborate. Integration between VoIP and the OptimiseIT solution across desk phones, mobile devices and PCs has delivered significant improvements to the way the school’s teachers and administrators work.
“From a leadership perspective,” said Hardwidge, “the new level of integration is significantly different in terms of how we’re able to operate. You can access everything from your mobile, which is quite a new way of working for us.”
With Microsoft Office 365, the ability to share documents has seen a big shift in how staff work, and how students can collaborate. Cloud-based documents are easily shared, so the need to email documents to one another is obsolete. Instant messaging is a big hit, and student message runners between classrooms and administration are a thing of the past. Conference calling from multiple locations is an exciting new development, resulting in a complete rethink around meetings now physical proximity is no longer needed.
Not unexpectedly, the move to a cloud environment saw the school’s internet usage skyrocket, so the school quickly enrolled in the fully-funded Network for Learning (N4L). Fuji Xerox helped the school carry out the audit needed to fast track enrolment, achieving access to N4L’s network not long after the OptimiseIT solution went live.
With the OptimiseIT solution supporting a move to a BYOD, the school has reduced the number of ‘owned’ PCs, with students using their own smartphones and tablets. The placement of print devices through the school has also been rationalised, and each user, students and staff alike, has an individual log in.
The OptimiseIT model means that the school’s OPEX is fully predictable. “The only surprises we have now,” said Hardwidge, “are ones that we make happen.”
She is passionate about ensuring that the time children spend at intermediate level is well spent. “We’ve got a very strong platform for our kids to work from; we can set them up with the core skills that are going to make them successful in the workforce. There’s no point in us operating in a way that doesn’t reflect what they will experience when they move out into a wider technology-driven environment.”
With all issues are directed to one local support desk and resolved same day, often within 10 minutes of making contact, Eltringham has praise for the new infrastructure service supplier. “Exceptional issues, such as a lightning strike impacting the school’s building management solution, have received knowledgeable and effective support. Unique issues, like the school’s highly secure ‘Fort Knox’ wireless solution, receive careful, responsive management,” she concludes.