As a key learning tool of the 21st century, information and communications technology (ICT) is important to staff and students at Dean Close School, in Cheltenham, United Kingdom (U.K.). With approximately 500 personal computers on campus and an additional 500 portable computers brought to school by pupils, ICT staff were kept busy maintaining a large inventory of computers. It made sense to streamline maintenance and provide the latest technology to students and staff by deploying Windows Server® 2008 R2 with Microsoft® operating system Windows® 7. In a staged deployment, ICT administrators are rolling out Windows 7 across the campus, giving a wide range of users—including students, teachers, administrators, and marketing and operations staff—the opportunity to use the operating system. Requests for Windows 7 have now increased, as more people on campus see their colleagues using it.
Dean Close School in Cheltenham in the United Kingdom (U.K.) is a co-educational day and boarding school, for three to 18-year-old students. Established in 1886, it is currently rated among the top 100 schools in the U.K. by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Exam results reflect this high rating. For example, in 2007 students taking A-Level exams achieved a 100 per cent pass rate, with 81 per cent graded A or B. In recent years, one in six students leaving Dean Close achieves a place at Oxbridge.
Providing the latest learning tools, including cutting-edge technology, is a priority at Dean Close School. Classrooms are equipped with computers, and computer labs give students further opportunity to use technology every day.
While staff have generally been satisfied with the way technology has been used in administration, teaching, and learning, IT Manager Nyall Monkton was eager to upgrade computers on campus from Windows® XP and Windows Server® 2003. “When students started bringing their own laptops to school with pre-release versions of Windows 7 installed, we didn’t have the capacity to support them,” says Monkton.
||“Dean Close School was the perfect customer. Its staff are forward-thinking and eager to embrace new technology.”
Software Manager, Bechtle
Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Bechtle had already helped the school obtain special pricing for software used on campus through the Microsoft Schools Agreement, a subscription-licensing programme created for primary and secondary schools. In mid-2009, Bechtle asked Monkton if Dean Close School would like to use the same agreement to participate in an early adopter programme for Windows 7. The agreement included software assurance, guaranteeing that the school would receive free upgrades of the software on that agreement during the life of the licence. Richard Gibbons, Software Manager at Bechtle, says: “We knew that Microsoft was looking for mid-market customers to deploy the beta version of Windows 7. Dean Close School was the perfect customer. Its staff are forward-thinking and eager to embrace new technology.”
Monkton received permission from the school’s finance department to go ahead with the project at the end of June. In July, he deployed Windows 7 on the first set of machines. After staff at Dean Close School had the opportunity to test the new system, Bechtle attended a meeting at the school to demonstrate key features of Windows 7. “Monkton and his staff wanted to learn from the process and do the rest of the deployment themselves—our goal was to give them enough information to do so. The demonstration was also a good opportunity to identify the specific features the school wanted,” says Gibbons. Because security and mobility are top priorities, Monkton wanted to use the combined solution of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 so that students and staff could use remote access feature DirectAccess, and security features BitLocker™, BitLocker To Go™, and AppLocker™.
Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise was deployed a couple of days later. The following week, Monkton and his team installed Windows 7 on additional groups of computers in administration, facilities management, the on-campus theatre, and teaching and learning. Monkton made sure to include a student computer lab with 27 machines and a marketing staff member as part of the early deployment. When students log on to the school network on their own computers they will also have the opportunity to upgrade to Windows 7. “Overall, this was a straightforward deployment. Windows 7 has integrated nicely with existing applications, including proprietary software used in education,” says Monkton.
Providing the most up-to-date technology to students and staff reflects the excellent reputation of Dean Close School. Students of all ages like the intuitive, user-friendly interface and the streamlined way Windows 7 manages files and increases staff productivity. Launching Windows 7 with Windows Server 2008 R2 meant that students and staff could take advantage of additional features—such as BranchCache™ and DirectAccess—made possible by the combined solution. DirectAccess streamlines the way users log on to the system remotely, so teachers have more time to spend on activities that will enhance their students’ learning experiences. BitLocker protects data saved on memory sticks often used by students and staff to save documents while AppLocker makes the system more secure, preventing unauthorised applications from running.
Cutting-Edge Technology Raises the Profile of the School
||“Overall, this was a straightforward deployment. Windows 7 has integrated nicely with existing applications, including proprietary software used in education.”
IT Manager, Dean Close School
Even schools with excellent reputations compete for students. Marketing efforts—such as the school tour—are especially important to schools such as Dean Close, which charge substantial fees. “Parents pay high tuition fees to send their children to Dean Close School, so they expect to see the latest technology in the school,” says Monkton. One of the student labs is set up as a showcase so visiting parents can see all the latest technology used on campus, including Windows 7. “Our marketing person who gives the tours was one of the first people at Dean Close School to experience the benefits of Windows 7 combined with Windows Server 2008 R2. She uses Windows 7 with Windows Server 2008 R2 every day, so during school tours she can easily point out the features and benefits of the system, fully supporting the school’s role as a provider of quality 21st-century education,” says Monkton.
Streamlined System Increases Productivity and Improves the Learning Experience
Streamlined systems in Windows 7 make it easy to access files and frequently used applications. Tasks such as printing and saving files are also quicker and easier. Staff spend less time on administrative tasks and more time improving the learning experience for students.
When lessons are conduced using classroom computers, many students are often downloading the same files from the school’s central server at the same time. With Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 deployed together, the BranchCache feature decreases the time students have to wait to download files, so teachers don’t have to slow down the pace of the lesson. This improves student interest and engagement.
Teachers often take work home with them. The DirectAccess feature provided by Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 reduces the time it takes to log on to the system remotely. “As the name implies, staff can log on directly without going through complicated processes. If everything works better and quicker, they have more time to think strategically and have a better work/life balance. This can only improve the quality of their teaching,” says Monkton.
Complete deployment at Dean Close School includes the Windows Automated Installation Kit and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, adding low-touch installation features to the system. “Customers can create a central image with all the applications users need, and deploy it without having to visit every desktop. This saves a significant amount of time for IT staff,” says Gibbons.
User-Friendly Interface Embraced by Students and Staff
The user interface of the operating system is cleaner looking than previous Microsoft operating systems. The taskbar displays more information in less space, while the system is intuitive and easy to use. “The graphics are much more appealing to students and staff. We’re still in our early days of use, but every day I receive requests for Windows 7 as staff see their colleagues using it,” says Monkton.
Increased Security Protects Students and Important Data
Security is vital in an educational setting. Children of all ages are doing research and getting learning materials online, while administrative data and student records are stored and accessed electronically. Windows 7 provides extra security features for important data and applications. BitLocker helps protect data on personal computers while BitLocker To Go protects data on removable memory sticks. “We’ve had a couple of break-ins and some machines have been stolen—BitLocker gives us additional peace of mind that data on computers will be secure,” says Monkton. AppLocker protects applications and prevents students downloading unauthorised applications.
Windows Server 2008 R2 also integrates well with the security systems already set up on campus, increasing safety and security even more, a key security feature for Monkton and his staff. He says: “Some students can’t resist trying to hack the system. After 21:00, when our boarding students get free time, we have the most of this type of activity. The security on Windows Server 2008 R2 is greatly improved over Windows Server 2003.”
Deploying Windows 7 Could Save the School £25,000
In Windows 7, Dean Close School has a cost-effective, up-to-date solution. “First of all, Microsoft licensing for education—the Schools Agreement—made it possible for us to afford Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, but that’s not the only saving we’ll see,” says Monkton.
||“In the future, we won’t need to maintain Citrix. This will save us £15,000 to £25,000.”
Nyall Monkton,IT Manager, Dean Close School
By using DirectAccess, the school will rely less on the Citrix servers it currently uses to manage information. “In the future, we won’t need to maintain Citrix. This will save us £15,000 to £25,000,” says Monkton.
Windows 7 also needs less memory to operate, so personal and portable computers will not need to be replaced as often. “We can use four and five-year-old machines with no performance problems, saving the school even more money, which can now be used on other things to enhance the student experience at Dean Close School,” says Monkton.
Faster and more reliable: Windows 7 will help your organisation use information technology to gain a competitive advantage in today’s new world of work. Your people will be able to be more productive anyway. You will be able to support your mobile work force with better access to shared data and collaboration tools. And your IT staff will have better tools and technologies to enhance corporate IT security, data protection, and more efficient deployment and management.
For more information about Windows 7, go to:
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