As you’ll no doubt be well aware, the third lockdown has meant the continuation of an almost entirely new process in the lives of many parents: home schooling. It’s all been made possible with some recent improvements and innovations to how children learn. It wouldn’t have been possible 15 years ago!
Naturally, the instant go-to was online conferencing software. This has allowed kids to keep in contact with their teachers as much as their friends with many lessons now being delivered “online” through webcams and using microphones. These come as standard now on most laptops, but 10 years ago these technologies would have only existed on the higher end machines.
The servers for these services had demands put on them like never before. With tens of millions more users, servers were pushed to breaking point. While always having a “paid” option, many users just used the free version of these services. This meant that they didn’t get to select their service level agreements and this could sometimes result in poor connections/call quality. As a result paid user levels increased, and, some of these companies have seen their revenues almost quadruple.
While not exclusively restricted to schools and education, some of these apps have also been forced to make fundamental changes to the way they operate. There were reports of individuals joining calls they were never invited to, some of these in less malicious, even funny ways, others in ways that you wouldn’t want your children being involved in. As a result, some of these platforms have upped their security and login processes, with administrators given the ability to restrict users streaming capabilities and new processes introduced such as guests having to wait in a lobby to be admitted into calls.
Resources and server loads
With home schooling comes the requirement for students to download resources. This may sound like a small element of the learning process, but if documents are being downloaded hundreds of times from the same server at the same time, and the file size is even a few MB, this causes considerable strain on servers and connections. Concerns have been raised over the server infrastructure that schools use – previously teachers might upload a file and use it in the classroom or print it out. Now there are hundreds of files needed for the hundreds of thousands of students working online. These documents are all hosted online, stored on servers, so storage is now at a premium.
Cloud hosting has helped in a big way here in the education sector. The ability to add more storage quickly, and scale up to meet demand has given schools and colleges the flexibility to change with their immediate requirements. Often, lessons are recorded and stored for future use. These recordings aren’t small files so IT departments should be looking at their current storage and hosting abilities to assess whether their current infrastructure is at breaking point. A virtual data centre offered by cloud hosting will meet demands with greater ease than an on premise solution would.
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