IT departments in schools have received a boost with the Luther College taking out the people’s choice award at Optus’ ultimate IT challenge.
The school received 217 ‘likes’ on Facebook after the Australian public was asked to cast their vote on their favourite awards entry.
The College’s chief technology officer, Christopher Topp, said the award was a large step forward for the education sector.
“We thought we’d put up some of the technology that we use in education because we do think its substantially ahead of most other offerings in your average IT department; the challenges that we face in education are completely different," Topp said.
“We have to go over and above what something says it will do on the box because that’s the environment in which we work.”
Topp also entered the enterprise category of the awards which was taken out by Luxottica.
Topp said the award was a great honour for the school and recognised many issues that IT departments in the education sector face on a regular basis.
“We need high availability 365 days a year, 24/7, and that’s basically what we offer as a solution through the Luther College network,” he said.
“In order to do that, we have to make sure we work with partners who can stand up to the rigors of education, and to the day-in day-out operation without any failure.”
The changing nature of education is one such challenge Topp has to accommodate through the use of technology.
“I think the face of education has changed completely in the last few years to one of continuous access to technology and continuous access to learning management systems,” he said. “Everyone’s working style is different – some are working until 11 or 12 at night while others are getting online from 5 or 6am.”
Maintaining a duty of care to students through IT is another balancing act, but one that Topp views as essential if the right systems are put in place.
“It is more complicated because you have your duty of care for the students and the users of the network – from a security point of view, you have a double edged sword,” he said.
“Getting the balance right can be quite complicated, and having the right systems in place to back that up is something we’ve had a lot of experience in and we’re glad it’s set up in the way it is.”
Next on Topp’s IT agenda is the implementation of desktop virtualisation, which Luther College hopes to achieve in the next few years.
“Looking forward, certainly we’re looking at high availability of virtualisation, in terms of desktop virtualisation,” he said. “Desktop virtualisation over the next five or six years we would see as being a technology that’s going to become mainstream”
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