Managed services for classrooms of the future

Monday, 12 September, 2016 | Supplied by: Civica Asia Pacific

Peter Moyes Anglican Community School educates more than 1600 students at its campus north of Perth. Development of the school’s ICT environment is seen as critical to helping enhance learning and forms part of its ongoing strategy.

Philip Cartwright, the school’s business manager, said the effective integration of technology was critical to academic development. “We believe that better technology provides a better overall learning experience for students and teachers. It is critical that we provide and maintain solutions that help our school meet our broader strategic goals,” he said.

Civica became the school’s managed service provider in 2012 and has worked closely with it to develop a five-year strategy to propel Peter Moyes to the front of ICT in the education sector. Supporting an ‘always connected’ learning environment is a huge undertaking. Civica has four full-time staff working at Peter Moyes as part of its managed services solution. They oversee an environment that includes more than 1300 laptops and desktop PCs, 25 virtual servers, three ESX hosts and two 50-terabyte iSCSI capable storage area network (SAN) storage devices.

More recently, Civica has worked with the school to develop a unified wireless and wired network to provide connectivity to students, teachers and visitors throughout classrooms, offices and school grounds across an area of more than 100,000 square metres.

One of the challenges was improving connection speeds in a very ‘noisy’ wireless environment. Interference from a nearby radio transmission tower meant that connections would routinely drop to around 1 MBps and sometimes drop out. To solve this, Civica configured and deployed dual-band connection points in new locations. The school uses more than 100 Cisco 3700 series Access Point devices, as well as two Cisco 5508 wireless high-availability LAN controllers. The noise mitigation techniques and network deployments have seen data transfer rates of up to 40 MBps.

Another significant project has been the provisioning and maintenance of student, teacher and school devices. Peter Moyes currently offers personal laptops for Years 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10, and will roll them out to Years 5, 6, 11 and 12 in 2017–18. The start of each school year sees more than 500 new devices purchased and configured for students and, every third year, 100 replacement staff devices.

According to Richard Cackett, the school’s ICT coordinator, equipping so many students and teachers with the right technology is no easy task. “We need durable technology solutions that enhance the learning experience as well as provide a high level of performance. Picking and maintaining these devices is a time-consuming but important role, as students and teachers are heavily reliant on them,” he said.

Civica’s on-school team is responsible for providing ongoing technology support including maintaining updates, security software and repairs. The help desk deals with 3000–4000 requests per year.

With the deployed Maze and Civica iWise school management systems, parents are able to access the online portal for services such as checking up on homework requirements, paying tuition fees and receiving updates about school events. Maze also assists Peter Moyes in efficiently managing all back-office processes in one integrated system. Civica iWise is a web-based student information system with a rich set of administration tools. It also integrates with a range of school management systems, including Maze, and a number of third-party packages such as timetabling packages and learning management systems.

Phone: 02 8324 3000
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