Category: Education

Virtual Learning and Distance Education
What’s Going to Save Higher Education?

This crossroads we find ourselves at is inspiring, scary, and uncertain all at the same time. As University leaders struggle to find ways to recover, they must also find ways to teach that are more aligned with what we know about human cognitive architecture and less about tradition. Holding onto tradition stifles many students, but It also holds educators back from seeing possibilities that can arise from bringing methodologies together with technological advancements.

In a May 5, 2020 HBR article – Higher Ed Needs a Long-Term Plan for Virtual Learning, James DeVaney, Gideon Shimshon, Matthew Rascoff, and Jeff Maggioncalda acknowledge the staggering impact that Covid-19 has had on the global education system and the skyrocketing demand for online learning programs. To be sure, these emergency remote teaching applications are stop-gap measures only.  “As the emergency subsides but normal fails to return, higher ed institutions need to do more. There’s a good likelihood that virtual learning, in some capacity, will need to be a part of education for the foreseeable future.

Higher education institutions need a response framework that looks beyond the immediate actions. They have to prepare for an intermediate period of transition and begin future-proofing their institutions. Universities need to provide their own online content from their own faculty. Many professors have never designed nor delivered a course online, and that’s the challenge – rethinking the whole approach to teaching.  We will come back to this point later.

First, we will look at another challenge that universities face.

The HBR article points out that if the coronavirus pandemic occurred a decade earlier, universities would have been devastated. Today we have cloud computing, broadband access, and widespread smartphone adoption to help organizations adapt quickly to almost any situation as long as the Internet is stable. But not all educational institutions are equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

Advanced institutions like the University of Michigan, Imperial College London, and Duke University have already invested time and money in pioneering digital education strategies. Their faculties have been accustomed to online teaching for years. For example, in September 2002, the MIT Open Course Ware proof-of-concept pilot site opened to the public, offering 32 courses. In September 2003, MIT Open Course Ware published its 500th course, including some courses with complete streaming video lectures. By September 2004, 900 MIT courses were available online.

 

Remote learner using multiple cloud-based education apps.

 “Institutions that lack the necessary prerequisites of online learning and remote teaching face a daunting challenge.”

Many education leaders believe that IT infrastructure issues must be addressed before any real progress can be made towards virtual learning.

In the March 31, 2020 HBR article What the Shift to Virtual Learning Could Mean for the Future of Higher Ed, Vijay Govindarjan and Anup Srivastava urge educators to collect data and pay attention to three questions:

1.       Do students need a four-year residential experience?

2.       What improvements are required in IT infrastructure to make it more suitable for online education?

3.       What training efforts are required for faculty and students to facilitate changes in mindsets and behaviors?

Regarding the second question – What improvements are required in IT infrastructure – Govindarjan and Sirvastava point out that online settings amplify the digital divide. Some students have access to the latest model laptops, better bandwidths and more powerful Wi-Fi connections, while others don’t.  “Digital divide also exists among universities, which will become apparent in the current experiment. Top private universities have better IT infrastructure and higher IT support staff ratio for each faculty compared to budget-starved public universities.”

And the question of IT infrastructure doesn’t stop at digital equality. “Software for conference calls may be a good start, but it can’t handle some key functionalities such as accommodating large class sizes while also providing a personalized experience. Even in a 1,000-plus-student classroom, an instructor can sense if students are absorbing concepts, and will change the pace of the teaching accordingly. Instructors and students must note and should discuss their pain points and facilitate and demand technological development in those areas.”

Now that we have explored the IT infrastructure for online education, let’s return to our original challenge – the traditional old school (pun intended) approach to teaching.

Black and White portrait of John Dewey

 

There has to be whole new structure to how material is presented. Learning methodologies have to be reconsidered. In the original Star Trek series, Captain Kirk is often seen playing 3-Dimensional Chess with his second-command Mr. Spock. Invariably, Captain Kirk loses and the series is filled with Spock commenting about people’s actions, indicating 2-dimensional thinking. They’re not considering the X,Y and Z axes of outer space. It seems an apt metaphor for the way educators are trying to solve the puzzle. They know they have to transform, but how? How does a traditional university mindset transition from an in-person classroom environment to an online or hybrid model?

Educators will have to expand their views and ideas of how to present information. They must walk into another environment where there are more options and several possible integrations. Not just adding multiple activities, re-imagining seminars, and fine tuning how they teach courses online, but also dramatically rethinking the whole approach. Take a look at the technological mix of simulators and the emerging science of augmented and virtual reality.

 

Imagining Three-Dimensional Education in the New Normal

Curtis Bonk, Indiana University’s Professor of Education and author of The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education, tells us that, “This is a revolution. Education doesn’t have to take place with the teacher front and center and students sitting in rows. It can take place outside, under a tree branch, on a boat or plane, in a grocery store or while hiking, if you have an Internet connection.”

Imperial College London is one of the institutions that was set up with cloud-based, distance education systems before the pandemic started. They are certainly in a better position now because of it. They’re using the phrase “multi-mode teaching” to describe how they are approaching this coming fall semester. Others are using the term “blended learning” to describe the same hybrid approach to the online/on-premise teaching environment.

“Our multi-mode learning in the Autumn term will be a change from the traditional university experience, but we are confident it will be an exciting, innovative and most importantly safe approach for our students and staff in these uncertain times. It will also enable students to graduate from the College as highly skilled individuals, sought out by employers.”

Imperial College London has been at the forefront of utilizing the cloud for GPU-heavy, cloud-based applications such as augmented and virtual reality, interventional radiology simulation, and virtual 3D modeling for their Department of Earth Science and Engineering. Even using cloud resources to bring in guest lecturers via hologram teaching has been explored and used by Imperial College London.

 

The Challenge of Specialized Schools in Today’s Environment

The example of Imperial College of London’s innovative thinking puts a spotlight on the issues that specialized schools are facing right now in relation to the discussion of on-site and learn-from-home teaching scenarios. While other schools may be able to limp along with off-the-shelf video conferencing tools for a while, schools involved in architecture, engineering, design, animation, and video production are struggling.

Why?

Because the GPU-heavy applications (like AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS) utilized by these schools and their students have significant hardware requirements not found in your average laptop –  a solution has to be sourced. To solve their dilemma, these specialized schools are moving to solutions like IronOrbit’s INFINITY Workspaces that allow users to use NVIDIA GPU technology in a cloud environment. With this configuration, teachers and students can use average computers to access cloud-based GPU-heavy programs with zero latency. This use of the cloud’s computing power and ability to help schools save money on in-house IT hardware demonstrates one of the reasons that schools with science, engineering, and art departments are considering the cloud as well.

 

A Priority Higher Than Education

Francis Jim Tuscano, founder of empowerED, brings an important truth to light in this new era of education.

“In the new normal, as students get exposed more often to the Internet, teachers should always consider student’s privacy, safety, security, and digital well-being as top priorities for a successful remote or online learning.”

With increased screen time comes more opportunities to endanger students with online threats such as Zoom-bombing, cyberbullying, and predatory behavior. Part of imagining a “new normal” in education includes a heavy dose of technology focusing on the online safety of students. Safety has to take center stage.

Bringing all of an institution’s students into a controlled, protected, cloud-based learning environment is one of the ways schools, community colleges, trade schools, and universities are handling the security issue.

Helping Post-Secondary Teachers Utilize the Full Range of Their Skillset

Today, like no other time in history, information is available to anyone for free. The Internet is full of books, articles, videos, courses, etc. We no longer live in a world where teachers are the sole source for obtaining knowledge on a topic.

But, teachers were never just the person who reads a book and then presents the material to the class. They’ve always taken on the role of facilitating the educational journey of the students and coaching them on their individual paths. The abundance of information and the proliferation of the technology used to access this information has had an impact on the evolving role of the educator in our society.

Educators are now leveraging IT solutions to replace or supplement traditional learning norms with self-directed learning experiences that are personalized to the student’s education and life or career trajectory. The classroom – whether virtual or on-site – is facilitated by the faculty to become a zone of guidance, collaboration, and communication, as well as instruction.

Where Did Education Technology Begin? — A Nod, and a Connection, to the Past

Education technology has always been with us. It’s just improved over time. There was a time when education was learned by word of mouth, then Gutenburg invented the printing press. It wasn’t so long ago that grade-school students used tablets and chalk in one-room schoolhouses. Today, paper and pen have been replaced with an iPad or Android tablet and stylus. Cloud-based administration and teaching environments are the next steps in this ever-evolving process.

To answer the question more directly, the use of hardware and software for school administration and teaching has its origin in universities across the world and in the military. Each of these institutions had the impetus and the resources in the early days to imagine what technology could do for education.

Education writer and speaker, Audrey Watters, gave a speech at the CENTRO symposium  in Mexico City in which she said, “When we talk about “the future of education” as an explicitly technological future, I want us to remember that “the history of education” has long been technological – thousands of years of writing, hundreds of years of print, a century of “teaching machines,” 75 years of computing, almost 60 years of computer-assisted instruction, at least 40 years of the learning management system, more than 25 years of one-to-one laptop programs, a decade (give or take a year) of mobile learning.” 

In that same speech, Audrey Watters gave the following insight, “Technologies are as likely to re-inscribe traditional practices as to alter them.”

Collaboration teams working remotely.

Is the Advancement of Education Technology Inevitable?

The short answer is, YES. However, the subject is more nuanced than a simple YES/NO answer. Over the years, education technology has followed the advancement and acceptance of technologies in business. As the competition in the business world winnowed the best from the field of available technologies, educators then felt comfortable adopting and adapting those systems for educational purposes.

The cloud is no different. It’s really only been over the past ten years that businesses have discovered and embraced cloud technologies for the business realm. Education has now followed suit, being pushed in this instance dramatically by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education technology will continue to expand and evolve, partially because education is a large market. For example, as of today, more than 20,000 education applications have been developed for the iPad alone. As remote learning and hybrid models become a mainstay, the practical applications of technology become more apparent.

Universities have even used the cloud to facilitate Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to help people gain an interest in the sciences and give people an opportunity to further their education during the pandemic. These same technologies will continue to be utilized as everyone from trade schools to Ivy League institutions, like MIT, engage the public and influence the next generation of students to come to their school.

 

Is Education Technology Really a Disruptor?

While it’s easy to talk about disruption and use words like “transform” or “revolutionize,” the truth is that technology should be viewed as an enabler.

Here’s an example, for hundreds of years, voting for our political leaders was done by paper ballot. Those paper ballots were then counted by hand.

Now, we have ballot-counting machines, and some municipalities allow electronic voting.

Has that changed politics? Not really.

But these advancements have made it easier for precincts to tally and submit their constituents’ votes.

Educational technology is the same.

Yes, some things will change, but most things will stay the same. The difference is, cloud-based technology will make it easier for teachers and administrators to accomplish what they are already working hard to do each day.

One of the challenges colleges and universities are currently facing is the public opinion of higher education without the trappings of the facilities, classroom environment, and college social life experience. By going further than simply moving existing educational techniques into the cloud, colleges and universities can provide educational value that wasn’t available within the limitations of a physical classroom. There are new opportunities to learn in ways that more closely resemble real-world experiences.

Researchers in the Learning Sciences are “dedicated to the interdisciplinary empirical investigation of learning as it exists in real-world settings and to how learning may be facilitated both with and without technology.” (isls.org). An important point to keep in mind as we explore this question of virtual classrooms is that “not all learning is the same.”The best way to learn probably is through Authentic Learning where students learn by performing the actual task itself. The second-best way is Situated Learning which is the closet to the real thing as possible. Students learn through simulation and solving problems in context.

Dr. Michael Kolodziej, in his online video presentation to National University on The Future of Virtual Education,  points out, “Along with new opportunities come new realities and new possibilities.”

New Realities. New Possibilities.

There are four categories of learning technology: Simulation, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, and Virtual Reality. A Simulation experience happens on a flat screen, while Virtual Reality is immersive. Kolodziej shares a fascinating video recording of him in full VR regalia, exploring the International Space Station. Not only does he get to explore the space station, but he also gets to exit the station, travel outside and make a repair using hand controls. “It’s an incredible immersive experience allowing you to imagine the context, to be in the context of a situation without having to actually be there.”

Sustine Chapel
On YouTube you can plug ito a 360 Virtual Reality tour of the Sistine Chapel.

Dr. Kolodziej goes on to share another example of Virtual Reality learning by exploring – this YouTube video shows an immersive VR of the Sistine Chapel. Of course, on YouTube it sits on your flat screen, but plug your Smartphone into a Virtual Reality headset and you’re suddenly there. “You are immediately immersed and transformed into a new space and time. You can think about, experience, and see things in ways that weren’t previously possible. You can travel the world in Virtual Reality.

 

 

 

 

 

The splash page of "A Walk Through Dementia" website.
Developed by the Alzheimer’s Research Center UK, this app presents a virtual reality experience. Visitors are able to look at everyday life through a new lens.

Similarly, another virtual reality model can be found online at A Walk Through Dementia.  The experience is designed to give visitors a better understanding of how someone with dementia experiences everyday life.

Prior to this VR experience being added to a college curriculum, students were tasked with reading a textbook and answering some questions. That’s the traditional model. Using VR for immersive learning enables a paradigm shift by standing in the shoes of someone having trouble finding their way home. You can truly understand what it’s like to have Dementia. It’s a much more impactful way to learn.

 

Comprehensive Approach – Not Just Plug and Play Software Solutions

Ursula Franklin (1921-2016), during her forty-year tenure at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, described technology as a much larger picture than software or hardware. She saw technology as a holistic system comprised of organization, methods, procedures, and mindset. For her, the hardware and software only played a supporting role in what she saw as the larger nature of technology.

Let’s face it.

There are hundreds of companies out there promoting technology solutions for educators. Some of those technologies are fantastic and will help your school immensely. Others fall short of fail miserably and should be pulled from the shelves.

What most aren’t discussing is the need for an over-arching approach to a systemic adoption of technology that will have a positive impact throughout your school, community college, or university.

Why?

Well, most of the technologies currently offered to educational institutions are built to address one issue. For example, the online conference tool Zoom, which was adopted by millions of teachers and students worldwide despite the fact that Zoom has a history of security problems.

Moving into a cloud environment allows you to leverage the cloud to comprehensively and systematically overhaul how your school is using technology at all levels including security and compliance. Other standard cloud benefits include cost savings, ease of use, increased storage capacity and automation, and freeing up IT staff.

 

The Democratization of Education

Beyond our borders, countries are looking at cloud technology to bring equality and democratization to their educational systems. Anita Lie, Professor of Education at Widya Mandala Catholic University Surabaya, in a Jakarta Post article titled, “The New Normal in Education” stated, “Re-imagining anew forms of education may open doors for more equitable quality education for all young Indonesians. Despite all the COVID-19 maladies, the pandemic disruption has brought awareness to new possibilities in reviving our education system and in ushering young Indonesians into the future on a more level playing field.”

One of the concerns surrounding online educational opportunities here in the USA is the cost of devices and Internet for the student learning from home. Fortunately, the cloud gives greater opportunity to marginalized and under-served populations that may not have the resources for a fancy computer with all the bells and whistles. Instead, cloud portals can be used to allow any student with any device that has the bare minimum power to surf the Internet (which nearly all do) to be able to learn in the same online environment as a student with financial advantages.

3 female students and one dark skinned male student at school tables wearing mask.

 

How Can Technology Help Educators Imagine the Next Evolution of Education?

Cloud-Based Learning Management Systems (LMS) – Learning Management Systems have their origins in the late 1990s. Since that time, they have become a critical tool in education delivery. In more recent years, Learning Management Systems have found their way into the cloud to enable easier and secure data storage and workflow mobility for school administration departments. The flexibility of the cloud allows administrative teams to discover new and more efficient ways of operating.

Modular Learning vs. Linear Learning – Cloud-based learning platforms allow for some flexibility in adapting education to the individual. Sure, everyone has to learn certain things in order, but niche electives can be offered, and students can enjoy a far more tailored educational experience. Delivering niche electives in a modular learning format helps students get used to learning in the ways that they will later in life.

Online Education for the Ways People Learn – Visual learners, academic learners, auditory learners, and tactile learners have different preferences. The use of cloud infrastructure and lessons pushed out in print, audio, and video allows an educational institution to deliver the same material in a way that each student will best understand the material. Thought will have to be given to determine how to best facilitate the ease of learning for hands-on, tactile learners. However, this is a challenge even in a traditional classroom setting.

Avatars – Some of the hesitation of students regarding live online classroom interaction is the video component. Thankfully, online gaming granted us the concept of the Avatar. When schools give their students the option between creating an Avatar version of themselves or a live video feed, it helps deal with concerns students may have with their appearance or hesitation with showing their living conditions on camera. Although these issues must be lovingly addressed in the proper setting, Avatars help bridge the gap and allow for more comfort in an online classroom for those who are uncomfortable with the camera. Avatars help level the playing field for some students in a way that cannot be leveled within a classroom environment.

IN CONCLUSION

Although educators responded swiftly and effectively to the pandemic, there’s still more to be done for long-term recovery and paving the way for future sustainability. It’s critical that universities take action now to develop their own long-term strategy, allocate resources, or perhaps devise new ones. For example, streamlining operations and offering more options customized to the individual needs of the student. Virtual learning is sure to play a key role, but developing the strategy will have to embrace the kinds of instructional connection points present in a traditional classroom environment. Interactivity is important. As Johns Hopkins University’s professor William G. Durden points out in his insightful article Turning the Tide on Online Learning, people need to be seen, heard, and exchange ideas. This is the kind of impact that helps affirm identity of the student by the instructor and the other students. As long as people are able to engage that way, and the content they’re learning is substantial, they will stay motivated over a sustained period of time.

Closing with the visionary words of Dr. Michael Kolodziej talking about Artificial Intelligence and Adaptive Learning, “Learning is more than information transfer. The idea that we can program a machine and the machine can program the person is seductive from a process and scaling perspective. The reality is that these things are not that simple. When we think about how to get educators into the meaningful stuff like good learning, authentic and situated learning, we know that Artificial Intelligence platforms can helps us, but they will never replace us.”

How can educators convert this crisis into an opportunity? That’s the big question.

 

To learn more about how we’re helping to answer that question, please call 888-753-5060 or visit our Education Solutions below

 

 

 

 

Got Enough Bandwidth For Distance Education?
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Got Enough Bandwidth For Distance Education?

Section 1

Author: John McMahon

Read time: 7min

Virtual Learning and Distance Education struggle to find the right combination of technology to effectively teach online. Educators around the world are now in some phase of COVID recovery. Each state and county have their own guidelines which are shifting constantly as the situation changes. Some schools may have full classrooms again. While others will be working with smaller, social-distanced class sizes.

Maybe, your school, college, or university will decide that everything is moving towards a long-term virtual model. For most educational institutions, it’s going to be a hybrid arrangement between on-site classroom attendance and virtual, distance learning.

So, here’s the question that thousands of school administrators across the country are considering:

Can My Network and Internet Connection Handle the Traffic of a Virtual Classroom System?

It’s a good question. Why? Because now, more than ever, technology impacts the quality of your students’ education.

To put the issue simply, a generation that thrives on streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video, and Apple TV, aren’t going to learn well with video that is stuck buffering and audio that’s out of sync. You have to get your network’s upload and download speed working smoothly before you launch this year’s fall semester.

 

What Network Upgrades May Be Necessary?

For the most part, school networks across the country have been put in place for low-data functions like email, online collaboration, and web-surfing. They basically help the school keep in communication with students and parents, offer minimal learning and classroom functionality, and allow teachers to show videos in class. The basic networks won’t be enough when it comes to streaming lectures from all your classrooms and handling the incoming data streams from students offsite.

You may need an entirely new network, or you may need one or some of these upgrades:

  • Upgrade from copper wiring to fiber optic cabling
  • Extended WiFi coverage with new routers and more wireless access points
  • Upgrade cabling for hardwired stations in each classroom
  • Integrate a secondary internet service provider for a redundant internet connection

 

What Upload and Download Speeds Do You Need?

The conversation of upload and download speeds gets complex quickly and is dependent upon a multitude of factors, including the number of concurrent students on the system and the quality of audio& video streams broadcast to remote students.

To simplify the discussion, let’s take a look at a few of the systems which you are familiar with:

  • Skype suggests 8Mbps upload and 512kbps download with a group of seven or more participants.
  • Zoom recommends 3Mbps upload and 2.5Mbps download for sending and receiving 1080p HD video.
  • Google Meet needs 3.2Mbps upload and 4.0Mbps download with 10 participants.
  • GotoMeeting requires up to 8Mbps upload and 1mbps download for teachers that want to screenshare notes and virtual whiteboards with their students.

 

The numbers may seem reasonable and easily accommodated by each school’s current setup until we realize that these numbers would be minimums for each classroom. For example, it starts adding up quickly if you have over a hundred classrooms. You have to multiply the speed required for the application you want to use by the number of classrooms you have. You should also add bandwidth for any administrative needs.

 

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The Internet isn’t great! 

The IronOrbit solution doesn’t use your local bandwidth, it uses ours. We have 5 separate gigabit connections to the Internet, so your bandwidth basically becomes unlimited. Imagine, any slowness or frustrations faculty and students have been having with their internet connection will vanish. In its place will be a seamless experience that matches that of a high-end physical PC, except this one is optimized for today’s modern apps with all the benefits of cloud technology, including rapid turn-up, service elasticity and cloud-economics.

What to Do?

Like any complex task, it’s essential to contact IT professionals who are familiar with these types of challenges and demands on technology. It’s equally important to look at the track record of the consultants you are bringing in to advise you. Are they experienced in setting up reliable virtual environments where hundreds or even thousands can access your virtual desktops remotely?

The IronOrbit team stands apart from our competition in this area because we don’t have to rely on the cloud infrastructure of Skype, Google, Zoom, or Citrix/LogMein to provide your educational facility with top-notch distance learning capabilities. Our IT specialists work with our clients and their internet service providers to deal with any bandwidth issues.

Then, we provide an online platform to stream classroom audio & video from our global network of private and highly secure Tier 4 datacenters. It’s a turnkey solution and available for a low, fixed monthly fee.

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Virtual learning methodologies will have to be adopted as universities struggle to recvoer.
What You Need to Know About Setting Up Online Learning
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What You Need To Know About Setting Up Online Learning

Virtual learning methodologies will have to be adopted as universities struggle to recvoer.
Section 1

Author: John McMahon

Read time: 4min

As the demand for online learning skyrockets, educators realize they’re in the midst of an enduring digital transformation. The dynamic state of our current learning environments have forced many schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions to move to an online classroom setup. Some institutions were providing online learning portals before the COVID-19 pandemic and are familiar with the structure and requirements.

However, many school administrators are struggling with the setup, security, and ongoing maintenance of converting to a technological education platform. If your institution is one of that is frantically grappling with the need to source, purchase, install, and train on new equipment, don’t worry. You’re not alone, and we’re happy to help.

Cloud Computing has Made Virtual Classrooms Affordable, Secure, and Intuitive for Both the Teacher and the Student.

The schools, colleges, and universities that IronOrbit works with are having success with distance education by leveraging cloud workspaces and Microsoft 365 combined with the cloud-based tools they are already using. With these administrative tools in place, it’s time to consider integrating an interactive online audio and video interface between your teachers and their students at home. Many educators are trying to figure out the best video conferencing tools available to them and their students. Maybe you’re making do with one of these solutions now. But like many others, you’re finding that audio and video quality or speed of customer service are suffering on these platforms because they weren’t designed to handle the volume of traffic that they are today.

So, what’s the solution?

The answer is a cloud-based online classroom built and designed for your institution, faculty, and student body. Our custom solutions solve the following problems:

  • Audio and video issues caused by vendor limitations
  • Audio and video issues caused by computer processor power limitations
  • Extended wait and hold times for customer support
  • Lack of training for your staff, faculty, and students
  • High costs associated with in-demand video conferencing services
  • Cyberattacks and security breaches
Text books, students, and faculty interact virtually on mobile devices and other electronics.

Here’s What You Need to Know about Setting Up Robust and Secure Online Learning Environments

1. Build for the Future
There are a number of video conferencing solutions on the market that could be used in a pinch. That doesn’t mean they are the right fit for you. You want the online student experience to be as engaging as possible. If you have courses in architectural design, 3D modeling, film editing, or animation, you need the end user’s experience with these programs to be seamless…just like it was in a classroom environment. Get the right advice from the beginning. Set up an online learning environment that will provide you quality service today, tomorrow, and well into the future. This will save you time, money, hassle, and headaches.

2. Think about Security
Every school is flocking to cloud-based, video conferencing right now. Few are thinking about securing their calls and protecting their students’ and teachers’ confidential information on these platforms. Don’t trust the platform you choose will secure your information. By partnering with IronOrbit, you benefit from our cloud security expertise. Working together, we’ll make the right choices for your institution.

3. Choose the Functionality that Works for You
When you move from cloud meeting applications designed for small business to business meetings, to enterprise solutions developed for hundreds of attendees, you get more options. Educational institutions are different than small or large businesses, and having the ability to configure your online classroom platform to your exact specifications makes a world of difference for teachers, administrators, and students.

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For more information about future-proofing your learning environment, please call

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How Can IronOrbit Improve Your Ability to Provide World-Class Educational Experiences?


Whether you are looking to provide each student with a cloud-based workspace or needing a modern solution for administrative workflow, moving processes into the cloud is a proven strategy.

IronOrbit works with educational institutions of every size to help improve collaboration among the administrative staff, lower IT operational costs, and provide dependable learning and productivity platforms for students.

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Ready to Overcome Your Technology Roadblocks?

The ability to overcome the staggering challenges facing education technology in today's climate is one key reason educators choose to move operations to the cloud. The most obvious reason is streamlined and budget-friendly IT costs.


In earlier days, educational facilities were hampered by antiquated on-site hardware that couldn’t be upgraded without considerable effort, red tape, and expense. Moving to the cloud solves that dilemma and empowers you and your staff to work and teach without limits. Even with decreasing budgets, the cloud can help. The cloud also offers increased productivity and a new way of educating a whole new generation.

Who we serve
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What Educational Institutions Does the IronOrbit Team Serve?


  • Public Schools
  • Charter Schools
  • Community Colleges
  • Universities
  • Educational Research Facilities
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What Are IronOrbit INFINITY Workspaces?


Now, more than ever, educational institutions need easily accessible and dynamic computing, communications, and collaboration capabilities. Put simply, IronOrbit INFINITY Workspaces (hosted desktops), are your computers in the cloud. And they're optimized for what educational facilities need to accomplish.

Your applications, your files, your operating system – even your personal desktop shortcuts and settings – it’s all there for you. INFINITY Workspaces are faster and more powerful than your laptop or desktop computers and can be accessed securely via any internet-connected device.

 

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INFINITY Features

INFINITY Workspaces come with these advantages:

Infinite Upgrades Infinite Bandwidth
Infinite Computing Power Industry-Leading Security
Geo-Redundant Data and Workflow Backups
Organizational Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Monitored IT Compliance to Legislative Mandates
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Why Work with IronOrbit for Your Educational Technology Solutions?

We recognize that there are dozens of IT service firms and cloud providers out there, and we’re honored that you have come to the IronOrbit site. Why partner with IronOrbit? Our answer can be boiled down to three words – innovation, reliability, passion.

Innovation

Because of the way IronOrbit’s private, Tier-4 certified data centers are structured, our team can help you build the infrastructure you need as you imagine the next generation of learning methods and tools. Limitless computing power and storage opens up options that were never possible with older, in-house IT systems.

Reliability

Recent events have taught the world that your IT systems have to be reliable going into a crisis if you want to respond quickly and keep your students on track. IronOrbit’s service offerings enable you to run administrative processes and teach at your school facility or remotely from anywhere with an internet connection.

Passion

Education is one of the sectors that IronOrbit has embraced because we are passionate about helping you improve the lives and the future of your students. We’re proud to play a small or supporting role in your efforts.

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What About Your IT Team
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What About Your Internal IT Team?


The IronOrbit model does not seek to eliminate or replace loved and respected members of your IT support staff. Instead, we make their day-to-day work easier by taking tedious, mundane IT maintenance and security tasks off their plate, so they can focus on end-user issues.

The IronOrbit team supplements your internal IT staff in a way that helps them accomplish more with what they have while giving them access to the cutting-edge capacities they need to fuel your advancements in education.

More Advantages

More IronOrbit Advantages for Educational Institutions

  • Cost Savings
  • Cybersecurity
  • Scalability
  • Unlimited Computing Capacity
  • Unlimited OS Updates
  • Computing Speed
  • Flexibility
  • Mobility
  • Near-Zero Downtime
Services DIV

What Else Does IronOrbit Do for Schools?

Application Hosting

Applications are housed and used in a cloud environment for security and easy access for students, teachers, and administrative staff.

Server Hosting

Custom-built cloud servers are set up to your institution’s requirements and specifications. Maintenance included.

Organizational Continuity

Organizational Continuity with turnkey backup and disaster recovery solutions ensure that negative circumstances don’t remove your access to files and administrative workflow.

Microsoft 365 Support

Reliable 24/7/365 tech support and fully-managed data backups for Microsoft 365.

Security & Compliance

Helping educational institutions protect students and staff while meeting legislative compliance requirements for operations and funding.

Data Centers

Use our global network of data centers to expand the educational experience you provide to your students – without compromising on security.

Read our blog

Read more about Technology & Education


Our blog contains a wealth of information on the everchanging landscape of technology and education. Read about how technology is playing a key role in how educational institutions persevere through these changing times. Innovations and solutions that can change lives are happening every minute. Don't miss a thing.

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3 Things You Should Do To Launch Online Courses

The Traditional Classrooms Have Moved On-Line

What You Need to Know About Setting Up Online Learning

The dynamic environment in which we all now work and learn has forced many schools, colleges, and universities to move to an online classroom setup.

Some educational institutions were providing online learning portals before the COVID-19 pandemic and are familiar with the setup and security requirements. However, many school administrators are struggling with the setup, security, and ongoing maintenance of what is now a technological education platform.

If your institution is one of those that is now frantically grappling with the need to source, purchase, install, and train on new equipment, don’t worry. You’re not alone, and we’re happy to help.

Cloud Computing Has Made Virtual Classrooms Affordable, Secure, and Intuitive for Both the Teacher and the Student.

The schools, colleges, and universities that the IronOrbit team works with are having success with distance education by leveraging cloud workspaces and Microsoft 365 combined with the cloud-based tools they have been using all along. With those administrative tools in place, it’s time to get rolling on an online audio/visual interface between your teachers and their students at home.

Many educators are trying to figure out the best video conferencing tools available to them and their students. Maybe you’re making do with one of these solutions now. But like many others, you’re finding that audio/video quality and speed of customer service are suffering on these platforms because they weren’t built for the volume of traffic that they are now facing.

So, what’s the solution?

The answer is a cloud-based online classroom built and designed for your institution and your online students. Having our custom setup solves the following problems:

• Audio and video issues caused by insufficient vendor resources
• Audio and video issues caused by limitations of computer processor speeds
• Long customer support lineups
• Lack of training for your staff, teachers, and students
• High costs associated with in-demand video conferencing services
• Cyberattacks and security breaches

Here’s What You Need to Know About Setting Up Robust and Secure Online Learning Environments

1. Build for the Future
There are a number of video conferencing solutions on the market that could be used in a pinch. That doesn’t mean they are the right fit for you. You want the online student experience to be as engaging as possible. If you have courses in architectural design, 3-D modeling, film editing, or animation, you need the end-users experiences with these programs to be seamless…just like it was in a classroom environment. Get the right advice from the beginning. Set up an online learning environment that will provide you quality service today, tomorrow, and well into the future. This will save you time, money, hassle, and headaches.

2. Think About Security
Every school is flocking to cloud-based, video conferencing right now. Few are thinking about securing their calls and protecting their students’ and teachers’ confidential information on these platforms. Don’t trust the platform you choose will secure your information. By partnering with IronOrbit, you benefit from our cloud security expertise. Working together, we’ll make the right choices for your institution.

3. Choose the Functionality that Works for You
When you move from cloud meeting applications designed for small, business to business meetings to solutions developed for hundreds of attendees, you get more options. Because educational institutions are different than small or large businesses, having the ability to configure your online classroom platform to your exact specifications makes a world of difference for teachers, administrators, and students.

For more information about Microsoft Teams and how we can help, Discover how quickly you can host online courses that are powerful, engaging, and seamless.

Call us at 1-888-753-5060 or click here.

The Benefits of Hosted Desktops for Colleges

Did you know that hosted desktops for colleges can decrease IT costs and increase the manageability, accessibility, flexibility, and security of their IT?

Hosted desktops are Windows desktop operating systems (usually Windows 7 or 8.1) that are installed and maintained on the servers of an IT hosting company. Users can easily access a hosted desktop via the Internet from a computer, tablet, smartphone, or thin client.

As with locally-installed Windows desktop OSes, you can use hosted desktops to install and run any Windows-compatible application. In most cases, each user is assigned to a specific hosted desktop, and this desktop retains all of the user’s files, applications, and settings, even after he or she logs out.

Is it worth the investment?

Usually, you pay the hosting company a monthly, per-user fee for your hosted desktop.

Some hosting companies also include IT management and support services with their hosted desktops. The support services include 24/7 technical support, security and performance monitoring, malware scanning, patch management and managed data backups.

Take note that the hosting company will continually update all of the software on your hosted desktops for you, including the OS and all of the PC applications.

For growing businesses with a primary focus on growth, using hosted desktops is definitely an advantage.

Most colleges use hosted desktops in the following ways:

  • Faculty and staff use them as their primary work desktop.
  • They use them instead of locally-installed operating systems in computer labs.
  • Hosted desktops provide students with access to certain applications that they need to be able to complete their coursework. Especially applications that they might not be able to afford on their own, such as the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, the Microsoft Office suite, and STEM applications like MATLAB and SPSS.

What are the main benefits of hosted desktops for colleges?

  1. They can decrease your IT costs

With hosted desktops, colleges don’t have to purchase any expensive onsite IT hosting hardware such as servers or storage arrays, and they don’t have to hire any additional IT personnel to manage them.

Hosted desktops are easily accessible from low-cost devices such as refurbished PCs or thin clients. They require less maintenance (since they don’t have hard drives or locally-installed operating systems) and are much more energy efficient than standard PCs.

In addition, users can securely access them from their personal devices. This means that the college doesn’t need to spend money on student devices. As an effect, colleges reduce their spending on computer labs.

  1. They are easy to manage

Hosted desktops are relatively easy to monitor, protect, update, troubleshoot, and back up. This is because they’re software-defined assets and are centralized onto a relatively small number of interconnected servers.

In addition, some hosting providers will handle many IT management and support tasks of the hosted desktops themselves.

  1. Easily accessible from anywhere, with any device 

Where there is an internet connection, you can access hosted desktops with any device. Whether you’re using a laptop, desktop, tablet, or a mobile phone.

This allows faculty and staff to access their work-related files and applications no matter where they are. It also allows students to access important resources no matter where they are. Whether they’re in class, at a computer lab, in their dorm room, or somewhere off campus.

  1. Easy to deploy, expand, and downsize 

You can quickly and easily add any amount of desktops, processing power, and storage capacity to your hosted desktop deployment at any time.

Downsizing or decommissioning your deployment is easy. But, the best thing about it is that you no longer have to deal with a pile of useless, expensive hardware.

The flexibility of this service makes it easier for colleges to adjust their IT as courses, faculty, and students change from one semester to the next.

  1. They are highly secure

Hosted desktops are highly secure. The data remains on the hosting provider’s servers at all times. The centralization of this data makes it easier to protect and prevents data loss from occurring. 

Plus, malware infections are easier to isolate and remove from hosted desktops than they are physical PCs.

To sign up for hosted desktops, colleges should contact their preferred IT hosting provider.