AWS Public Sector Blog

How East Central Ohio ESC supports student success and saves schools thousands of dollars with AWS

How East Central Ohio ESC supports student success and saves schools thousands of dollars with AWS

Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs like architecture, design, and digital editing can require significant computing power and high-end graphics cards. The computers needed to run these resource-heavy applications can cost thousands of dollars each and are generally located within computer labs. While many schools across the US provide students with laptops to provide access to web-based applications, these laptops often don’t have the computing power to support these types of programs—limiting students’ time and ability to complete school work requiring these applications.

The East Central Ohio Educational Service Center (East Central Ohio ESC) addresses this issue for central east Ohio schools by using Amazon Web Services (AWS). With the cloud, East Central Ohio ESC helps school districts save thousands of dollars, and in one case up to a million, providing students and teachers with the computing resources they need to succeed in their classes from anywhere.

Creating accessible education programs with cloud-based resources

The East Central Ohio ESC was created to provide support to underserved small and rural districts within East Central Ohio. As part of Ohio’s Education Serve Center (ESC) consortium, East Central Ohio ESC is a large-scale service provider of administrative, academic, fiscal, and operational support services for the East Central Ohio school district, serving over 28K students and two-thousand teachers. East Central Ohio ESC is dedicated to providing the technology and services schools need to improve student success.

To this end, East Central Ohio ESC uses the cloud to help school districts provide equitable and accessible education by giving students the ability to access the programs and resources they need from home.

For example, if a student is taking an architecture class, they may need to use an AutoDesk program like Inventor, Revit, or AutoCAD, which require high levels of processing speed and memory. Many students do not have a computer at home that can handle resource-intensive applications like these and others, including Project Lead the Way or the Adobe Creative Cloud. This means that students who might need extra time on projects after school, or who are interested in exploring new projects on the weekend, don’t have access to the computing power they need.

But East Central Ohio ESC connects schools with Amazon AppStream 2.0, a fully managed application streaming service that provides users with instant access to their desktop applications from anywhere. Using AppStream 2.0, schools can provide access to these programs remotely from even low-cost school-issued devices—enabling learning outside of the school campus.

With AppStream 2.0, students can access the computer applications they need remotely, anytime, anywhere. This improves outcomes not only for the students, but for the school districts too, who no longer need to buy hundreds of expensive computers that are restricted to only being used during school hours. Schools can use less expensive devices that can access the same applications typically supported on more expensive computers, saving the school thousands of dollars in hardware costs and providing students with greater access to resources.

“Ohio schools are offering some excellent courses that prepare students for careers in high-demand fields like civil engineering, aerospace, and graphic design,” said Randy Lucas, superintendent of the East Central Ohio ESC. “But the cost of materials for these courses can be exorbitant. Students are learning on top-of-the-line applications which require top-of-the-line computers. This can be cost prohibitive for schools and students. The East Central Ohio ESC was able to use Amazon AppStream 2.0 to remove this barrier. In one instance, we were able to save an educational institution a million dollars. They’d been providing full laptops to their students every year for career readiness training. Using AppStream 2.0, we were able to transition them to less expensive systems…”

The pandemic led schools to look for innovative ways to access technology and ESC was there to help. “Districts were spending 40, 50, 60 thousand dollars on lab computers. When the pandemic hit, those systems sat unused,” said Lucas. “AppStream 2.0 enables students to use those computers from home, after hours, on weekends. It made that investment accessible.”

Expanding student opportunities in the cloud

The East Central Ohio ESC’s work with AWS doesn’t stop with AppStream 2.0. It also helped implement the AWS Academy training and certification program at the Buckeye Career Center, an organization that offers over 30 career-technical education programs for high school students, nine full-time adult education programs, and numerous part-time courses for adults. AWS Academy prepares students to pursue industry-recognized certifications and in-demand cloud jobs.

In April 2023, one of the Buckeye Career Center’s students won the Amazon Future Engineer College Scholarship, which includes a 12-week Amazon internship in Seattle following his first year of college. This student will be interning with the East Central Ohio ESC over the summer. The East Central Ohio ESC is not only helping educational institutions cut costs, but is also creating new programs and career opportunities for students.

What’s next for the East Central Ohio ESC

The East Central Ohio ESC has seen an increase in demand of their services. It went from a handful of employees in 2019 to more than 500 total employees today, with a jump from three to 18 technical staff, serving 35 organizations. The demand is in large part due to their innovation and thinking big for customers, powered by AWS.

In addition to connecting students to remote resources with AppStream 2.0, the East Central Ohio ESC helps schools improve web hosting, data storage and resiliency, disaster recovery, and overcome staffing-related challenges. Educational institutions are seeing IT staffing shortages as a result of retirements and competition with the private sector, and ESCs are positioned to provide solutions to these challenges via managed services. By offsetting the impact of these challenges, the East Central Ohio ESC helps these organizations focus on their missions.

“We are helping institutions and organizations across local districts and municipalities take advantage of solutions and savings in the AWS Cloud,” said Nic Brown, the Executive Director of Information Technology at the East Central Ohio ESC. Read more about the East Central Ohio ESC.

Learn more about AWS’s commitment to invest roughly $7.8 billion by the end of 2029 to expand its data center operations in central Ohio.

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Tara Anderson

Tara Anderson

Tara Anderson is a strategy and business development manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS), responsible for enabling K12 regional educational service agencies (ESAs) across the US to expand their services to support underserved K12 districts. In her role, Tara works with ESAs to modernize technology, applications, and services; increase efficiency and agility; and lead statewide K12 projects. Tara is passionate about helping ESAs innovate and create equitable solutions and economies of scale for districts of all sizes. Outside of work, Tara enjoys traveling to new places and spending time with her family, doodles, and horses.