As school districts prepare for the new year, the topic of distance learning has been top of mind across the globe. As more schools opt for remote or hybrid-style learning curriculums, school systems must utilize new technology to offer the same level of learning students receive in a traditional classroom setting.

This means that teachers and students alike are having to learn and use new tools to participate in their daily activities. This adds a new layer of complexity for users, as well as security concerns for IT staff.

We’ve compiled a list of the best collaboration and security tools to add to your distance learning toolkit. These tools will help keep staff and students productive without sacrificing security and network protection.


Cisco Webex

Cisco Webex, a unified communications tool aimed at creating new methods for collaboration, emulates a traditional classroom environment better than most UC tools. It’s stacked with features like screen sharing, file transfers, chat, and video, allowing students and teachers to work together in real time, almost as if they were in the classroom together.

Bundling all of these functions together in one tool creates a simplified way for students to learn and teachers to teach, without having to figure out difficult, kludgy new technology. The screen sharing capabilities allow teachers to present lessons seamlessly, and the video function allows
students and teachers to connect and read facial expressions, body language, and more.

With the file transfer tool, teachers can instantly push learning materials digitally to each student’s learning device, reducing the need for hard copies. The chat tool makes private, 1:1 time with instructors even more accessible than in the classroom, where students and teachers
often have to coordinate outside of class time for private meetings or assistance.

Webex can also record and archive all meetings, allowing for easy access to past classes. This means that students with remote connectivity issues or those who need to miss class won’t miss out on the content and experience of a live class.


Cisco Umbrella

When collaborating remotely, security is a major point of concern for the IT staff of educational facilities. Cisco Umbrella offers a way for staff to gain enhanced visibility to all devices, both on the network and off. It allows for consistent DNS and web security policies across all devices,
whether you’re in the classroom or accessing class documents from home.

Cisco Umbrella also offers IT staff the ability to block traffic to certain websites from school- owned devices, ensuring that the tools provided to students are being used for learning tasks only.

Its reporting capabilities also allow enhanced visibility into all cloud applications being used across your network and remote devices, which comes in handy during times where remote learning is going on 100% of the time. These auto-generated reports provide insight into the
application’s web security score, compliance information, and more.

Cisco Duo

The landscape of learning during the 2020-2021 school year is likely going to start remotely and stay that way, whether it’s 100% remote or a hybrid scenario. With an influx of new devices, either provided by the school or student-owned, comes a new wave of security concerns. Schools need a way to verify who is accessing their applications and proprietary information, and multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a great starting point.

With Cisco Duo, school systems can verify the identity of every device attempting to connect to their cloud applications, even checking the health of the device before allowing access. The MFA prompts are easy to use and customizable on a per-user basis, increasing the buy-in from students and teachers alike. Additionally, the ability to link multiple applications to a single duo account allows for an added layer of simplicity for all users.

Final Thoughts

Our team at Custom Computer Specialists understands the value of leveraging networking and unified communications tools to enhance your remote learning infrastructure. Our highly skilled engineering staff take the time to develop holistic solutions that make sense from a technical
standpoint, as well as a financial one.

Are you prepared for distance learning in the 2020-2021 school year and beyond? Contact our
team of specialists to get your IT Action Plan in place today.