Digital technology is improving student outcomes, streamlining administration and supporting the wider community for Bay of Islands College (BoIC), a year 9-13 secondary school with a roll of 300-plus students located in Kawakawa. “Chromebooks for students, professional development for teachers and more digital resources for pedagogy are all having a huge positive impact at our school,” says Debbie Russell, Principal’s PA / Office Manager at BoIC.
“We can now take advantage of the benefits of technology and transform lives with a robust and secure network and expert technical support from New Era,” she continues. “This has enabled us to fully engage with Manaiakalani and the Kaikohekohe Trust to build digital fluency amongst students and staff. As a result we can prepare our students and their families for the future with confidence.”
Network upgrade requirement
BoIC’s journey to fully embrace digital technology kicked into high gear in 2016 when they engaged with New Era. “Our then current network was reaching the end of it’s ‘use-by’ date,” explains Ms Russell, “and was a source of constant frustration. I personally spent at least ten hours a week – over and above my regular duties – trying to sort out network performance issues, licensing, trouble-shooting, you name it. I’m not an ICT expert but I was, by default, getting a crash course in system administration.”
The decision was made to investigate options to improve the situation.
“We were invited to prepare a proposal for a complete network upgrade,” says Jonathan Smith, Client Manager & Technical Team Leader – Te Tai Tokerau at New Era. “Bay of Islands College was an essentially a ‘green fields’ opportunity as they needed to replace or upgrade their entire infrastructure. They were keen to add more digital resource but their network was holding them back.”
Under the Hood audit
“We performed an ‘Under the Hood’ network audit so that we could ascertain BoIC’s current capabilities, traffic requirements and plans for the future,” continues Smith. “They had made a good start on their programme but the technology had moved on since they installed their original equipment and some of their software was inappropriate.
“We proposed that BoIC transition their networking requirements to our cloud-based infrastructure solution EduServe 2, upgrade their BYOD (bring your own device) / WiFi capabilities and engage with us to manage their ICT support and maintenance requirements.”
It was the Under the Hood audit and EduServe 2 that impressed the most. “New Era clearly understood our requirements and proposed a solution that would allow us to move forward with our digital transformation,” says Ms Russell.
BoIC signed up with New Era from the beginning of the 2017 school year.
The New Era team migrated BoIC’s network operations to EduServe 2, installed more BYOD access points and re-configured more than 300 network-connected devices and 100 Chromebooks over a two-week period during the school holidays.
“There was no disruption at all,” notes Ms Russell. “Just the opposite. Network performance improved immediately and the New Era onsite technician was able to resolve any issues, giving me more time to devote to other school projects.”
“The advantage of EduServe 2 for a school like BoIC,” continues Mr Smith, “is that it has been optimised to work smoothly with standard NZ education software such as Kamar, Musac and FamilyZone. Plus, since the network is managed from our central facility, we can provide guaranteed uptime with stringent service level agreements.”
“From the onset,” explains Ms Russell, “the New Era team have provided our school, our staff and our students with dedicated and committed ICT support. They resolve the day-to-day ICT issues that arise and have helped us effectively manage the school’s IT needs moving into the future.”
“Since the initial engagement,” she continues, “we have built a highly-professional and friendly relationship with New Era. Their commitment, support and encouragement to our school has been just awesome. The help desk has always been readily available to assist us when needed and the onsite technicians we have are just amazing.
“We have been able to rely upon them to manage and keep us up to date with whatever our school has needed in the way of renewal of licenses etc. And New Era keeps us informed of the many updates in the ICT world, especially those that would benefit our school and our student’s learning.
“We look forward to continuing with this great working relationship into the future,” she concludes.