IT | Security

How Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School Secures, Manages and Monitors Remote Learning Devices with Absolute Endpoint Resilience

By: Surita Bains | 6/2/2020 | 4 min read

More than twenty years ago, students in western Pennsylvania lost their area high school and the nearest option for displaced students was across state lines in Ohio. Rather than send their students out of state, administrators stepped in with a bold, all-new approach and launched a fully online school. Today, PA Cyber, one of the largest, most experienced online K-12 schools in the nation, offers virtual learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curriculum with state-certified and highly qualified teachers and rich academic content.

It’s also a flourishing remote learning environment that many others schools are now trying to duplicate.

PA Cyber is a pioneer in remote learning. And because they have been so far out front in the field, “we were able to find the potholes before people even knew there were potholes,” said Dean Phillips, Director of Technology at PA Cyber. “By the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we had already evolved into a bulletproof system.”

Visibility & Control Over Remote Learning Devices

With approximately 15,000 devices spread across Pennsylvania, PA Cyber needed a way to manage and secure the devices remotely. And because budgets are always tight, they also needed a way to recover devices in a timely manner and ensure students returned the school-owned equipment.

PA Cyber first turned to Absolute Control to gain unbreakable visibility into device location and the ability to remotely freeze and wipe them if they weren’t returned. With the later addition of Absolute Application Persistence, the school can also ensure an always-on, two-way connection to their IT management solution, Kaseya, which they use to remotely push out security patches, new applications and scripts.

For PA Cyber, reclaiming devices is critical to ensuring the right resources are available for incoming students. With Absolute Control, the IT team is able to remotely locate the laptops, and freeze them when necessary, which has since increased their device reclamation rate significantly.

“At a brick and mortar school, students mostly enroll in August or September,” Phillips explained. “At PA Cyber, enrollments happen throughout the year and it’s really important we get it right. Absolute helps us maximize the number of laptops we get back in a timely manner. If we don’t have the equipment in place, we can’t equip our students.”

Prior to implementing Kaseya, students would have to call in to the school’s IT help desk for support. Or, IT would have to call student families and apply security patches or add applications one by one. The required hours and tech time were astronomical. As Kaseya became an important application for all of PA Cyber, Absolute Application Persistence became key to reinforcing Kaseya by ensuring it was always on and always running.  As an undeletable tether to not only the devices, but also to the IT management Absolute Application Persistence made sure everything would continue to run seamlessly for students and staff.

Device visibility and remote management, along with Absolute Application Persistence ensures PA Cyber now has a resilient endpoint device fleet.

Experts in their Field

Today, as schools across the country are scrambling to stand up, monitor, manage and measure distance learning programs in the “new normal,” PA Cyber is getting plenty of inquiry calls on how to do it right.

“Education over the internet isn’t easy for brick and mortar schools. It’s taken our organization some time to get to the point where it’s an everyday occurrence for us. Thankfully, with the right technology resources in place, including Absolute, we can ensure an exceptional, seamless remote learning experience,” Phillips said.

To learn more about how PA Cyber Charter relies on Absolute for effective execution of their remote learning program, download the case study: A Pioneer in Remote Learning, PA Cyber Relies on Absolute for Unbreakable Endpoint Resilience.