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U.S. schools are under increasing pressure to do well on state and national assessments. These exams influence the ratings and funding levels that they receive, and they may determine whether a student is promoted from one grade to the next.

Schools need robust IT infrastructure in order to support their yearly testing cycles, which at some institutions may involve thousands of students taking turns on computers. They already face stiff challenges in getting sufficient broadband and Wi-Fi speeds for online testing, making it critical that they have protection from additional risks such as malware and adware that could compromise the computer lab.

Restore software simplifies the school IT management process. Administrators get fine-tuned control over all endpoints and can roll them back to a safe configuration with a simple restart

Wi-Fi, broadband difficulties may compromise testing efforts
Numerous schools in the U.S. have broadband speeds comparable to a home, even though they serve 200 times as many users. This shortcoming could be a problem as they undertake the Common Core assessments in reading and mathematics during the 2014-2015 school year, since these tests are conducted online.

Seventy-two percent of schools lack the network connectivity to support new Web-based learning initiatives, from testing to collaborative exercises via the cloud. They will need additional investment in wiring and Wi-Fi equipment, but federal funding is constrained, with enough money only to ensure that schools get basic Internet access.

Some students are putting off assignments to do them on computers at home, where they have access to faster connections. Schools have tried to broaden their technology initiatives by introducing iPad and Chromebooks, but these devices are not beneficial to learning without reliable Internet service.

In Los Angeles, the city’s school district has had similar issues with its Wi-Fi infrastructure, the expansion of which has not kept pace with the organization’s ambitious iPad initiative. Officials planned to procure tablets for each of the district’s 651,322 students, but slow Wi-Fi may be holding them back.

The tablets were meant to be part of the district’s testing efforts, but it may have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure proper connectivity for each one. Other schools have already gone through similar processes. An instructor at an Iowa elementary school stated that the Internet connection went down during testing a year ago, but was subsequently upgraded and is now suitable even for Skype.

Protecting school computers from malware and crashes
Schools face significant challenges in managing networks for testing and daily lessons. Aside from slow speeds, some institutions have experienced problems with popular mobile applications such as Snapchat, which was recently prohibited on one British school’s Wi-Fi network.

Distractions and malware can easily find their ways into computer labs and compromise critical infrastructure. To mitigate risk and ensure that testing efforts proceed as normal, school IT administrators can utilize restore on reboot software.

With only a reboot, unwanted configuration changes can be removed, along with malicious content from the Web. Optimal configurations can be frozen on target endpoints, yet administrators still have the ability to download Windows updates for these devices and apply them once they’re thawed. As a result, IT departments gain much flexibility in managing school computer systems in an increasingly challenging environment.

About The Author

Scott Cornell

When he’s not knee deep in blogging and all things tech, Scott spends his free time playing ultimate Frisbee and watching foreign films. An expert in emerging tech trends, Scott always has his ear to ground for breaking news related to IT security.

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