How Can a Managed Service Provider Support Remote Learning in Higher Education?

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As campuses around the world continue to shift to remote and virtual learning due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, IT departments are leaning on their existing infrastructure to support students, faculty, and staff. However, the uptick in demand and increased usage has pushed institutions’ technologies to the limit, causing them to take a hard look at their overall IT solution and processes, and evaluate for areas of improvement. Enhanced security measures, additional licenses, video conferencing tools, and top-notch technical support – among other resources – are absolutely necessary to safely and effectively implement remote learning practices. Fortunately, school districts and higher education facilities have options when it comes to reinforcing their IT to provide the best solutions and technologies possible to their end users. One way this can be accomplished is through partnering with a managed service provider.

Benefits of Partnering with a Managed Service Provider for Remote Learning Needs

Diminish Downtime of Students & Faculty

Managed service providers take a proactive approach to their clients’ network health. With monitoring and management practices in place, more often than not, they will be able to detect and correct any potential threats to IT systems before it can have any effect on end users.  If any issues do arise that cannot be contained initially, managed service providers have proven methodologies in both remediation or supplemental support to quickly remediate the situation and get users fully functioning. These aggressive tactics lead to reduced technical downtime for students, faculty, and staff, which in turn contributes to increased productivity across the organization.

Leverage On-Demand Resources to Reduce Stress

Far too often, in-house IT teams spend much of their time and resources troubleshooting basic IT incidents such as password resets, internet connectivity issues, and more. These efforts may take the focus away from higher priority items, such as equipment refreshes or replacements, new technology rollouts, and the ever-increasing need for digital platforms for students. When educational facilities smartsource their level 1 IT support desk to a managed service provider, they will regain time to concentrate on important projects and initiatives while having the assurance that student, staff, and faculty’s technology demands are being handled.  In addition, managed service providers can offer level 1 support beyond that of just IT. It is becoming increasingly common for school districts, colleges, and universities alike to adopt other types of support desks to assist with things like course enrollment and financial aid.  Managed service providers can also offer 24/7 application support for a variety of tools and technologies, including learning management systems, student portals, Office 365 and Zoom, and much more. Another benefit of partnering with a managed service provider is having a knowledgeable and experienced resource to aid with security protocols and new technology deployments.

Receive IT Expertise When Needed

With the rising popularity of remote learning comes a surge in IT-related issues and requests. While in-house teams are used to providing support to their end users, they may not be adequately staffed or equipped to address a much larger volume of tickets.  By partnering with a managed service provider for remote learning IT needs, educational facilities can take advantage of 24/7 access to expert-level support, including assessment of general IT issues as well as configuration and implementation of technology applications. Under certain circumstances, a more advanced level of support may be required for a particularly pressing or high priority IT issue. As these situations occur, managed service providers can escalate the issue to the appropriate personnel to ensure a timely resolution.

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Remote Support at any Location

As many higher education institutions have multiple locations, it can be challenging for IT departments to provide consistent support across facilities. Whether IT staff has been furloughed or laid off or there are simply not enough internal resources to be on-site at each location, managed service providers can support multiple campuses simultaneously

This support can come in the form of break/fix assistance, where the managed service provider investigates any IT issues hindering students or faculty from utilizing their technology and provides a solution. This can typically be done on-site or remotely. 

Managed service providers can also offer logistics support when preparing students and faculty to learn (and educate) remotely, both from a hardware and software perspective. 

Many providers can procure and manage licensing and VPN connections, ensuring end users have 24/7 access to a secure and reliable network. They can also assist with the configuration and support of video conferencing platforms and learning management systems for an optimal remote learning arrangement.

With the rising adoption of remote learning, many higher education facilities have looked to the cloud for a more flexible and secure solution. Partnering with a managed service provider who is also a certified cloud service provider (CSP) offers numerous benefits to a college or university. Not only can they aid in the entire planning and transition process, but some providers also offer ongoing support, including managing all communication with the cloud vendor, to save in-house resources time.  

Campuses may also find it beneficial to partner with a provider that offers support for other IT projects.

Simplified Onboarding with Tool Agnostic Approach

While many schools, colleges, or universities may already have IT toolsets in place – such as a ticketing system or chat support – some do not. When partnering with a managed service provider, oftentimes the customer has the option to leverage the service provider’s existing ITSM toolsets as part of the agreement. 

This offers multiple benefits to an organization, most notably a painless onboarding process, little to no time to begin implementing the toolsets, and tremendous cost savings by not having to invest in new technology. 

Utilizing a managed service provider’s toolsets also ensures campuses are running the most efficient and updated technology to afford their end users a quick resolution for their IT queries and an overall seamless experience.

Staffing Services for any IT Need

As COVID-19 has completely transformed how educational facilities operate, so too have changes been made regarding personnel. Newfound budgetary constraints may have prompted school districts and colleges to scale back on their full-time employee roster, leading to layoffs and furloughs. 

However, due to the likely increase in demand related to IT support from students, faculty, and staff, these educational facilities may still require supplemental IT resources as they continue to navigate the fallout from the pandemic. 

In addition to assisting organizations firsthand with their IT solution, some managed service providers also offer staffing services, where they actively source and place qualified candidates for a vast array of IT-related jobs. With multiple hiring models – including contract, contract-to-hire, or direct hire candidates – there are options to fit any budget, skill set, or period of time.

Even if a school district, college, or university hasn’t been directly impacted by COVID-19, this can still be beneficial to backfill staff out on vacation or taking an extended leave of absence.

Want to Learn More?

Partner with an MSP to Get the Support You Need

If your school or university is struggling to provide support to your end users or requires additional IT resources to keep up with demand, Buchanan Technologies can help. 

Buchanan Technologies continues to provide services ranging from personalized helpdesk solutions to on-site IT support for educational facilities needing to better accommodate their users during this transitory period of remote learning. For more information or to receive a free, no-obligation quote for your school or university, contact Buchanan today.

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