IT DirectorToday we’re excited to share the story of Gestalt Community Schools (GCS), a Memphis, Tenn. charter school network devoted to creating educational opportunities in struggling Memphis communities. For this edition of Field Reports, we spoke with GCS IT director Cole Conrad about why OpenDNS Enterprise is the perfect fit for a school system dedicated to using technology to enhance the learning process.

OpenDNS: Your district’s philosophies surrounding technology are definitely cutting edge. Tell us a bit about your approach.

Cole: Our belief in the use of technology as a tool to engage and deliver the most comprehensive learning environment to our scholars is what drives much of our data-driven model and allows us to focus more on the scholar and less on the items that can slow things down (such as paperwork). This applies on both ends of the spectrum, from our 1:1 Macbook program to our use of cloud-based and hosted services whenever possible.

OpenDNS: You were in the market for a more comprehensive security solution to protect your schools’ networks. What exactly were you looking for?

Cole: Since we have three schools and more than 1,000 devices that rely on our networks, we needed a solution that would protect students and staff even when they were outside the local network. Specifically, we were looking for a solution that would ensure that Web-based distractions and adult content would never make it into our network. We also needed a way to ensure that malware wouldn’t be able to spread across our networks and disrupt the learning process.

OpenDNS: How does OpenDNS Enterprise’s malware protection and Web filtering make your life easier?

Cole: Since we deployed OpenDNS Enterprise, we are no longer worried about things slipping into our network that shouldn’t be there. Thanks to the Web-based Dashboard, my IT team can filter and manage content even when they aren’t in the office. Malware issues are now also a thing of the past. OpenDNS Enterprise has us covered by preventing malware before it can even hit our network, allowing my team and I to focus more on the needs of the students and less on chasing down malware and filtering issues.

OpenDNS: Has OpenDNS Enterprise been a good fit for your school?

Cole: Absolutely. Not only does OpenDNS Enterprise provide solid malware protection and Web filtering, but it also accommodates our school system’s plan for rapid expansion over the next few years. We intend to grow to over 5,000 devices and because OpenDNS Enterprise is easily scalable, I have no worries about using the service through this and any future growth.

OpenDNS: As an IT expert, what are your favorite features of our service?

Cole: I love that OpenDNS Enterprise is remotely accessible, adjustable and easily configured. The service is a prime example of a SaaS product as it should be built, and it’s simple enough that I’d walk my parents through it over the phone if they needed it. I also love the ease of use for implementation. It took me 10 minutes to get OpenDNS Enterprise set-up to secure our network.

Get more information about how OpenDNS can work for your school.

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