What are legacy systems and technologies and why should districts update?

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What are legacy systems and technologies?

Simply put, legacy technology and systems include hardware, software, devices, and IT infrastructure that persist in classrooms and school buildings beyond their useful life.

Burnt out projectors, cracking laptops with insufficient memory, overloaded Wi-Fi networks and outdated software are some of the things that teachers and administrators regularly encounter.

Similarly, computer labs with desktop devices are now considered legacy systems.

“When I started in 2013, we had a few Windows-based computer labs,” says David Miyashiro, superintendent of the Cajon Valley Union School District in Southern California. “Technology was a destination children were heading to, not a part of the environment. Going from a technological wasteland to an individual environment was a lot of work in the beginning.

According to John Zumph, executive director of IT at Tempe Union High School District in Arizona, other common legacy systems found in schools are unmanaged switches and routers that can pose a serious security risk.

“Some of the older switches are no longer supported by their vendors,” he says. “They’re not patched and a district can get stuck, unable to replace the technology.”

RELATED: How can operational security help K-12 districts protect against cyberattacks?

How are teachers affected by legacy technology?

A lack of investment in classroom technology can leave teachers stressed and resentful of the district – it can even lead to conflict or accusations of favoritism between colleagues if one gets a newer device.

“Traditionally, teachers have kept devices longer than they should,” says Zumph. But they often have no choice, as the options may be to use old technology or nothing at all.

While educators work hard to keep their cool in the classroom, the stress of failing technology can boil over at the worst times. For example, if a teacher wants to use memory-intensive software during a lesson but only has 2 gigabytes of memory on a school-provided laptop, “it’s really going to blow up,” Zumph says. “They’re frustrated, and that frustration shows in the students.”

As end users of school technology—and as the first line of defense when a technical issue interrupts a lesson plan—educators need a seamless experience so they can create and maintain an enabling environment for learning. student learning.

How can schools transition to modern technology?

Both Zumph and Miyashiro emphasize that building collaborative and trusting relationships internally with IT staff and other school employees is the first step for any district pursuing major upgrades to existing technology.

It is equally important to nurture relationships with district residents, parents, and local stakeholders who may support bonds, grants, or other sources of funding for IT investment. Communicating clearly about why a budget increase is needed — and what teacher and student experiences would look like without a particular upgrade or device — helps make a difference.

READ NEXT: Data analytics tools show the impact of educational technology in K-12 districts.

“There’s a misconception of what school districts actually need today, as opposed to 10, 15, or 30 years ago,” Zumph says. “There’s a big paradigm shift going on, and it’s not being communicated very well. Everyone has their own vision of schools and how they work, and breaking that perception takes a lot of work. Sometimes in education we don’t have the extra time to do that work.

The less glamorous details of tech use — like the fact that, unlike individuals, school districts generally can’t use software for free and must pay for annual licenses — get lost in school board debates over raises. budgets.

“It’s an invisible expense. It’s not brilliant, it’s not new, it’s not brilliant, but there needs to be transparency about what it actually costs to run a program,” says Zumph.

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