Old-school education comes of age
Since 1936 St. Thomas Aquinas High School has provided four-year high school education in the Catholic tradition. When the Fort Lauderdale-based school was ready to launch its Innovation Initiative Center, it turned to United Data Technologies (UDT) to help realize its vision for 21st century digital learning.
Opened in November 2013, the 5,000-square foot Center provides an inspiring environment equipped with the latest Cisco technology. Built on the site of the old school library that once held 27,000 books, the Center is the hub of a digital campus in which students use their individual Chromebook devices to access electronic books.
The Innovation Initiative Center features five glass-walled classrooms equipped with interactive touch-screen monitors and projectors, as well as high-definition videoconferencing capabilities for interactive long-distance learning, virtual field trips and guest lectures. Rolling desks enable students to gather in work groups for easy collaboration.
Creating the 21st century classroom “The vision is to provide an inspiring environment with technology that allows educators to transfer knowledge digitally, and allows students to learn and share like never before,” said Jesus Pena, VP of Sales & Services for UDT. UDT’s solution for St. Thomas Aquinas promotes anytime/anywhere teaching and learning in ways that are both accessible and engaging. For example, the Cisco Show and Share application helps optimize collaboration through simple user- generated video creations and personalized connections.
UDT’s core classroom comes equipped with a virtual student response system that is compatible with a broad variety of mobile devices. It provides quick access to video conferencing, live streaming, interactive projectors, and other content sources. UDT supports St. Thomas Aquinas’s vision with professional development services that enable its educators to leverage their new technology to its fullest potential. UDT offers an instructional support desk staffed by professionals who can answer technology questions related to digital learning.
“UDT has transformed the education practices of St. Thomas Aquinas,” said Monsignor Kelly. Their approach has enabled interactive, next- generation experiences that inspire critical thinking, collaborative problem solving, and creativity.”
Your 21st century learners are here – are you ready?
Change how your students learn by transforming where it happens. Like St. Thomas Aquinas, it’s time to realize your vision for technology in education: transform, engage and empower through a 360° relationship UDT.
Since 1996 AFS Acceptance has provided full-service auto financing for franchise and independent car dealers. As a recent member of the “Inc. 5000” list, AFS knows that it needs the IT capabilities that customers expect from an up-and-coming financial enterprise … and it chose United Data Technologies to help put those capabilities in place for AFS.
The Plantation, Florida-based company found that its IT system and service requirements outstripped its ability to retain head count; it required support personnel with knowledge of “the AFS way”; and, it needed a strong professional bench to provide supplemental support to accommodate growth.
“UDT was a good choice for its breadth of expertise,” said Lisa Sipe, Chief Information Officer for AFS. “We were at the mercy of, let’s say, ‘fragile artifacts’: the reliability of some servers was in doubt. They were susceptible to breakdown, threatening sensitive information. It was not a stable infrastructure.” As AFS planned to add new systems for better reliability and scalability, it went looking for a reliable partner to help build an infrastructure for tomorrow.
During the search process, “References about UDT and its service quality were outstanding,” said Rich Brand, Chief Technology Officer with QAT Global, a consultant retained by AFS. “Their technical and sales presentation fulfilled all requirements. Their sales staff responded to AFS’s shifting needs during the RFP period. And, they came highly recommended by trusted advisor to senior AFS management.”
UDT worked with AFS on multiple levels: they offered a managed services approach with a team to manage the infrastructure for stability, scalability and reliability. In addition, AFS was migrating to Microsoft Office 365 software as a service. And, UDT was able to provide help desk support, to get AFS through the transition. “It was nice to leverage for day-to-day support as well as special requirements,” said Sipe.
Even the best transitions bump up against challenges, she conceded. “It’s easy to find a fair-weather partner, but that’s never the case. The best part about UDT is how they worked through difficulties, put a great conflict resolution process in place, and showed a real desire to see the customer succeed.”
The relationship continues and currently AFS Acceptance and UDT are considering recommendations for new architecture, addressing disaster recovery improvements, and refining their more stable operating environment. The basics are taken care of, now we can move on to address other projects, she said.
AFS maintains a relatively small but vital in-house IT staff, relying on UDT’s deep bench of specialized expertise to address issues as needed. “I think of UDT as my partner,” said Sipe. “The role they play is something I don’t have, and we’re working together as colleagues, not competition.”
Enjoy a 360° relationship with UDT
AFS Acceptance is but one of many organizations that have discovered the advantages of Managed IT as a Service from UDT. Contact us today and let us demonstrate how we can help you reduce the risk, cost and complexity of managing IT solutions.