After years of research, planning, and budgeting, Rankin County School District began its 1-to-1 initiative in the 2015 school year. It offers a unique opportunity for all students to leverage cutting-edge technology in the educational process, but it also takes a well-planned infrastructure to ensure success.
“We have student tech teams at every school to support the 1-to-1 initiative,” said Amanda Harris, Director of Technology for the school district. “They are the initial point of contact for every student or teacher with a laptop issue, and we absolutely, positively could not do 1-to-1 without them.”
Before they rolled out 1-to-1, they needed a system that all of those tech teams could use for incident management. After all, they would be supporting 28 schools and nearly 20,000 students.
“Our old work order system was written in-house by someone who left us for Silicon Valley,” said Ginger McKenzie, SIS Administrator. “We couldn’t support it or update it, so we needed something that we didn’t need to maintain ourselves.”
After evaluating different products, they settled on Samanage to support their upcoming initiative. In addition to IT support, Rankin County School District decided to move facilities and maintenance requests into Samanage as well.
“It was easy to use. It supported our initial goals in addition to our long-term goals for IT asset management and automated workflows,” said Harris.
Once they had made the decision, the first step was to move all of the data from their homegrown system into Samanage. McKenzie was able to import all of the old tickets into Samanage, including comments.
“That data was important, particularly to the maintenance team,” McKenzie said. “They needed to know when they had purchased air conditioners and things like that, so that portion of implementation was huge for us.”
Next, they needed to set up their processes. How would users submit tickets? How would they track the life cycles of all these assets? How would they optimize the experience for students and teachers to resolve their issues quickly?
“We don’t want to ask a seventh grader to submit a ticket,” Harris said. “Our students simply bring the laptop to our student tech teams, and they create the ticket through the service portal. Now we have a process and a complete record of these issues. Samanage gives them a perfect platform to operate.”
“We really like using the categories and subcategories to automate the assignments for different types of tickets,” added Elaine Low, Technical Support Specialist.
Once those student tech teams create tickets, the IT team works with the ticket either through their field level techs or from their office. In fact, most of the repairs happen at a single IT office, which means those devices change hands and change locations regularly. The IT team used the Samanage integration with OneLogin to assign those assets to students.
“Having the asset data with the user data has given us a way to track all of that data in a single location,” said Harris. “It ensures that we know exactly where every device is, and we have a complete history of any issues with the device.”
In addition, the Samanage service catalog has been valuable in terms of consolidating some of their regular processes.
“We use the service catalog for everything that we can,” said Low. “Whenever I hear about a request, my first suggestion is to create a form for that.”
“Our guidance counselors submit forms to add courses to their school,” McKenzie explained. “HR uses them for new employees. Facilities uses them for maintenance orders. This way, when the requests come to us, they already have workflows built in. It’s wonderful.”
Using one platform for all of those schools and locations would ordinarily come with challenges, but Low said they’ve been able to streamline the requests, ensuring a certain level of order and priority. They have used some of the customization options within Samanage to prevent a free-for-all.
“One of my favorite parts of Samanage is the roles,” said Low. “Everyone gets access to everyday things, but we can restrict the specialized functionality, which is very helpful. We don’t need every teacher submitting work orders whenever a light bulb is out.”
Providing a Unique Student Experience with Technology
The IT team at Rankin County School District implemented so much functionality in a short turnaround time that the benefits were immediately visible.
“Samanage has allowed us to be more responsive to issues,” said Low. “If we had restricted it to email or phone support, we would have a huge backlog. This cuts down the noise, allows us to divide and conquer, keeps clean records, and all that drives our resolution turnaround time way down.”
So, what’s the impact of the 1-to-1 initiative within the schools?
“We’ve eliminated the need for notebooks of paper and multiple books in many situations, so they have a lot less to lug around from class to class,” said Low. “We’ve opened up new ways for teachers to communicate with them and present the material.”
“Some of these students would never have the opportunity to work with these devices,” added McKenzie. “Because of the success of 1-to-1, they’re able to work on different projects like graphic design or yearbooks outside of the standard lab environment.”
“We worked really hard on this opportunity for our students, and we’re proud that Rankin County can offer this to families,” said Harris. "One of the goals of Rankin County School District is to use technology and resources for collaboration, innovation, research, analysis, and problem solving. Samange is one of the tools that actively helps us reach this goal."
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