With Classrooms Closed, Technology Opens New Possibilities

As COVID-19 swept across the world, the routines of students, teachers, administrators and families were upended. Schools were forced to close for all levels of education, and even today, it’s unclear whether students will return in the fall to school as they knew it.

As families contended with disruption, school systems around the world found themselves relying on technology to maintain a sense of continuity.

Still, school administrators weren’t just shopping for new computers. They were trying to ensure all students were able to engage in learning at home. The transition to distance learning put significant additional demands on already stressed IT systems. And, important after-school programs had to be sustained in addition to regular lessons.

“We’ve seen levels of need from schools around the world that many may have considered insurmountable,” said Aongus Hegarty, President of International Sales, Dell Technologies. “We’ve also been heartened and inspired by the dedication and perseverance of educators throughout this crisis. COVID-19 didn’t allow them to phase in projects, it had no regard for budget or logistics or the home lives of their students. The fact that so many school systems have been able to provide educational resources and continue with assigned curricula is a testament to the spirit of those administrators, teachers and students.”

Dell Technologies has helped schools around the world with the large-scale transition to distance learning.

When schools suddenly closed in England, the UK Department for Education sought 67,000 Dell Chromebooks within weeks. Dell Technologies delivered, and the department can now help ensure that thousands of disadvantaged children can stay in touch with their teachers and continue their education through online classes. The Chromebooks also help children and young people stay in touch with the social services they need.

COVID-19 drove schools in Belgium to begin holding classes remotely using Smartbit’s Smartschool platform. This caused Smartbit’s IT demand to spike to 40 times normal levels. Smartbit knew it needed to increase capacity of its existing Dell VxRail systems very quickly. But that wasn’t all. Smartbit needed more core and top-of-rack switches and cables, a scalable object storage platform, fast-tracked deployment services and a renewal plan that managed costs and streamlined how the company purchases capacity in the future. Dell Technologies was able to support Smartbit’s needs, deploying the first and second waves of additional infrastructure quickly, helping students to continue to learn and engage.

The College for Creative Studies caters to students interested in careers in the arts and other creative fields. The school itself had to get creative with its IT plans when COVID-19 became a full-blown pandemic. The Detroit, Mich.,-based nonprofit school was in the midst of planning an IT project, but those plans had to immediately and urgently shift toward a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment to provide streamlined remote access for students. The Dell Technologies team provided the school with guidance and consulting to develop and deploy a customized VDI solution that matched students’ IT needs, including high-end graphics-intensive programs. Now, the college also has a continuity plan in place in the event of future disruptions, as well as increased storage and compute capacity that can support a greater variety of learning modes and needs long-term.

It’s always been the mission of the American School of Milan to make sure students are ready for the future. But the severe impact of COVID-19 in Italy meant students, teachers and administrators would have to change their approach to education in the present. Under countrywide lockdown, the school and its more than 1,000 students and staff leaned heavily on its robust IT strategy, as well as Dell servers and laptops to make sure students would be able to interact with their teachers and classmates, and to make sure administrators could continue to run the school. The school didn’t lose a single day of class. And even though the classroom will likely never be the same, the school can return its focus to preparing students for the future.

Learn more about how Dell Technologies works with educators and administrators from around the world to provide them with the resources and technology they need to enable learning both inside and outside of the classroom.

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