Established in 2006, Metro Early College High School (Metro) was born out of the desire of both The Ohio State University and Battelle to create a “small” STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) school with a “big footprint.” Made possible through the facilitation and network of the Educational Council, Metro is the platform school for The Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN), and was the first higher education (The Ohio State University), business (Battelle Memorial Institute), and K-12 partnership for STEM learning in Ohio. In 2015, Metro partnered with Fortis Cyber Solutions to manage the school’s Information Technology function which included over 1,000 individual student devices. These devices are at the heart of the school’s success in providing a 1:1 computing environment. And the goal of the partnership was to accomplish three main objectives: lower the total cost of ownership associated with managing their investments in technology, increase the on-going reliability of technology resources, and improve service responsiveness to teachers and students throughout the school.
In the fast pace world of K-12 education where classroom computing power is an essential part of the classroom learning experience, schools and district must employ an asset management strategy that addresses current needs but can also anticipate shifts in demand. At Metro, the Fortis Cyber Solutions’ strategy was to ensure that 1/3 of all assets in the total inventory remain available for unexpected repairs, calamity days, testing, and/or classroom labs. With this approach, it reduces classroom downtime and interruptions in curriculum that could result from the unavailability of classroom technology.
The rising prevalence of educational tools being delivered from the proverbial cloud is creating a higher dependency on reliability Internet access. And in most classrooms, access to the Internet is provided via wireless technologies. By partnering with Fortis Cyber Solutions, Metro now has an on premise partner to monitor wireless Access Point saturation across frequencies, isolate traffic across specific SSIDs, and to ensure bandwidth throughput as more and more students pour into classrooms with multiple devices.
The diversity of software platforms used in K-12 schools and districts, whether onsite or in the cloud, continues to grow. And teachers and students continually are grappling with the problem of keeping their passwords in sync. At Metro, Fortis Cyber Solutions has implemented policy and configurations requiring all application software in use to communicate with their central directory service. The goal is to simplify access to all of these software applications by allowing teachers and students to use a single username/password combination for access.
Information Technology is complex and this complexity grows everyday as new innovation replaces legacy devices, software, and methodologies. As a result, to keep pace with change, K-12 schools and districts are challenged with identifying and retaining their own technology support resources that can anticipate and respond. By partnering with Fortis Cyber Solutions, Metro has gained access to all of the key skill sets needed to effectively address the risks created by the pace of the introduction of new technology innovation. They moved from a single resource model to an onsite team of four resources flanked by a team specialist. This provides Metro with a broader available skill set which allows issues to be resolved faster and at a lower cost.
Prior to the Fortis Cyber Solutions partnership, there was very little by way of documentation as to why technology was chosen, the configuration of the environment, or how each of the technologies installed would be upgraded and recovered in case of failure. The Fortis Cyber Solutions partnership brought the installation of a formal governance process steeped in Business Continuity Planning and best practices to bring peace of mind and accountability to how Metro’s Information Technology infrastructure is managed.