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Blue Skies Thread, School IT staff future in General; Hello everybody, What do you think of the future of it technicians in school? Our school is replacing all pcs ...
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    School IT staff future

    Hello everybody,

    What do you think of the future of it technicians in school? Our school is replacing all pcs with unmanaged iPads for all staff and students minus the odd admin staff with special requirements. All whiteboards are to be torn out, and replaced with plasma screens and given apple tv instead. Our wireless is looked after on a support contract and absolutely everything will be on the cloud, either iCloud or Dropbox. A printer will exist but the school wants to go paperless completely in a few years. You could say that the it department may get progressively quieter over the next couple if years now that we have a massive iPad fanboy pulling the strings (he turned his nose up at ultrabooks and the fancy i5's desktops we have with SSD that boot up in 12 seconds)

    In your opinion is this dramatic change happening in a lot of schools? To me it seems like it is based on the regional apple conference we have just hosted. As a result I have to ask the question, are the days of the traditional school it technician numbered? And if so what are the options moving forward for your average techie? Do you believe business would pick up the slack? I am currently studying my MCITP but with all the end is night talk for the PC/laptop and the massive drive by apple to stick iPads in every student and staff members hands, I wonder if windows based stuff is doomed in schools (and even in some moderate sized business) and all that will be needed in a school is perhaps one person to turn the apple tvs off and on again or help someone download an app from iTunes....perhaps the odd pc will need fixing. Maybe someone will break an iPad again and we will have to walk it to the shop for them.

    Cheers :-)

    By the way the decision maker is a deputy principle, not a it manager or director :-) and by god does he LOVE iPads lol.
    Last edited by captainbirdseye86; 2nd April 2012 at 10:01 PM.

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Our job is constantly evolving. Will we be supporting Windows networks in a few years time? Who knows. I started out on punch cards and then moved to mainframe. Things are happening now that I couldn't have started to dream about even 10 years ago.

    The "traditional technician" really hasn't been around very long.

    Will schools need support with what succeeds the current setup... you bet they will. Someone has to keep up with the technology.

    And the paperless school is a dream in my opinion. The chances of losing the printers is somewhere between slim and non-existent for some time yet!

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    Quote Originally Posted by captainbirdseye86 View Post
    Hello everybody,

    What do you think of the future of it technicians in school? Our school is replacing all pcs with unmanaged iPads for all staff and students minus the odd admin staff with special requirements. All whiteboards are to be torn out, and replaced with plasma screens and given apple tv instead. Our wireless is looked after on a support contract and absolutely everything will be on the cloud, either iCloud or Dropbox. A printer will exist but the school wants to go paperless completely in a few years. You could say that the it department may get progressively quieter over the next couple if years now that we have a massive iPad fanboy pulling the strings (he turned his nose up at ultrabooks and the fancy i5's desktops we have with SSD that boot up in 12 seconds)

    In your opinion is this dramatic change happening in a lot of schools? To me it seems like it is based on the regional apple conference we have just hosted. As a result I have to ask the question, are the days of the traditional school it technician numbered? And if so what are the options moving forward for your average techie? Do you believe business would pick up the slack? I am currently studying my MCITP but with all the end is night talk for the PC/laptop and the massive drive by apple to stick iPads in every student and staff members hands, I wonder if windows based stuff is doomed in schools (and even in some moderate sized business) and all that will be needed in a school is perhaps one person to turn the apple tvs off and on again or help someone download an app from iTunes....perhaps the odd pc will need fixing. Maybe someone will break an iPad again and we will have to walk it to the shop for them.

    Cheers :-)

    By the way the decision maker is a deputy principle, not a it manager or director :-) and by god does he LOVE iPads lol.

    Wait for it to fail - you can't do everything in the world that is needed in schools on an iPad


    Just one reason we are paid to do a job. ipads have there place and replacing everything with them is not it.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Ouch, that much consumer gear in one place, I'd walk. There needs to be a balence not just the contents of whatever leaflet the seagull in charge is taken by at the time.

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    I think you've touched on a few key points there.

    Firstly unmanaged vs managed - in every situation where I've seen iPads in schools, it literally is a full time job as you're constantly correcting or fixing problems and re-syncing apps. The irony here is that it will make teachers jobs harder as consistency will always be more suited to a classroom environment. I've seen quite a number of stressed out teachers who realise that maybe they have been sucked in to the Apple marketing and they do still need that Windows PC after all.

    We've been using cloud technology for years - most commonly in the form of webmail. Saving all data in the cloud is still a long way off and is a lot more demanding on internet bandwidth. There are still data protection issues, who owns the data, is the data backed up or stored on a redundant server? These are many questions teachers probably haven't given a great deal of thought.

    There are also fundamental problems with the iPad, such as the lack of Flash support. There are many educational websites that still won't work. Again, explaining this to a teacher that we're going through a transitional period from Flash to HTML5, it will probably take another 10 years. All that useful content will be locked out.

    A paperless environment in a school? I doubt it even in my lifetime. Printing options on the iPad are pretty much next to nothing and Apple's official answer is to sync it back to a Mac or PC. It's not very practical and it defeats the objective completely.

    I do think it's important to teach pupils there are alternatives to Windows, but I think it's very much the icing on the cake. Tablet technology is still very limited (in many respects) and a traditional netbook or notebook can do more for a fraction of the price. You also have to ask the question of what can an iPad do a Windows notebook cannot? And how many Lesson Objectives does the iPad really support? Sure, there are thousands of apps out there, but how many are really any good or useful? Angry Birds doesn't help a pupil learn anything. You'll probably find you can Google a website and download/use something for free.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Firstly unmanaged vs managed - in every situation where I've seen iPads in schools, it literally is a full time job as you're constantly correcting or fixing problems and re-syncing apps.
    I've always though keeping Windows laptops consistent is hard enough with the Windows manglement e.g. rolling out a new SmartBoard gallery or similar, doesn't exactly suit wireless, or laptops that are sat in a trolley right now etc. [Yes you can get the magic ones in networked trolleys that WOL and do things without frying themselves etc., but it costs]

    And how many Lesson Objectives does the iPad really support? Sure, there are thousands of apps out there, but how many are really any good or useful?
    That is the *key* question... just wish more folk who unlike me are supposedly qualified to know, actually asked it.

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    @captainbirdseye86:

    Which app will they be using for the taking of registers evey lesson and which app will they use for data analysis of pupil data?

    How will staff make reports and record exam data?

    I take it you use a web based MIS system?

    How will security be taken care of, I ask as I have just been involved with a security issue involving an Ipad and this has been very difficult, in fact I have no data to report on due to the user resetting the Ipad back to its original state. I have heard of no way to get this data back other than to restore it from the computer it was connected to in order to set it up in the first place. I have had no luck on this front and have given a full report of this.

    It seems that quite a few academics have advocated the full use of Apple equipment throughout academies and schools without the insight of good sound information but just on a whim of being the first school along this route.

    I do hope for the schools sake that this strategy is not taken to the endth and a degree of sanity rules, whatever I would take this opportunity to question outright the strategic direction that this will take the school towards and all the pitfalls that will go with it, put this too the HT and see what they have to say about it.

    Also I would definately be looking to take my skills elsewhere, as for other schools and technical staff therein, i would think that most schools do not have the finances to advocate going down this route and so will require technical staff to endure with the normal Windows networks with a smidgin of Apple equipment in specialist departments.

    As for cloud computing, as has been mentioned this is just another buzzword for the internet, there are still issues surrounding security of data and this will take sometime before leaders of good schools will advocate using their student data within the cloud.

    This is just my take on it, yes use Google docs, live Edu etc etc but even this leaves a single point of failure in any school and this is the internet connection which even with today's technological advances, can still fail, which in certain areas of the country, still does.

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    @captainbirdseye86 certainly deserves a thank you for this interesting and provokative posting some really fab replies as well. What is the answer to security for iPads and other ultra portable Apple devices being not the least. My school is also venturing forth into the iWorld and the first I knew of this was after being asked to add some devices to our wireless. It was my first time hands on with any Apple other than an iMac!

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    The school I work at is looking into the mass deployment of iPads to all staff and students but we have been realistic in which equipment will still remain on the network. 1) Specialist media systems for logic, final cut 2) Computer labs for BTEC ICT lessons 3) Drop in centre for access to PCS 4) Admin staff access.

    As great as iPads are in the real world they are still a consumer device and iPad in education is being stuck together with Sellotape to make something work to a degree. People like us will always will be needed in schools but our job will be come more of an ICT LSA for class room support. I predict a network manager is still needed but more of an account manager to deal with the existing network and support contracts.

    Just my thoughts

    Ross

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    I agree with @Ross2k5 "ipads are in the real world still a consumer device". We have had difficulties to maintain a class set of ipads and had various discussions about who should pay for apps, and getting documents off the ipads, and logging who's used and abused them, re syncing, breakages etc.

    I can see how they are a very useful tool within education, but I dont think you can completely get rid of the PC or the MAC in all areas, maybe even more so within the admin side of school dealings.

    We too are looking at deploying more ipads, under the agreement that the PCs will remain for the moment with an active reviewing process put in place.

    Paperless is something that only dreams are made of in my opinion. You can probably cut down on paper to an absolute minimum but never move away completely, unless that depends on the environment at your own school?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Power View Post
    Paperless is something that only dreams are made of in my opinion. You can probably cut down on paper to an absolute minimum but never move away completely, unless that depends on the environment at your own school?
    In 2004 part of the school's 5 year ICT plan was to go paperless. The amount of printing was decreasing slowly and the introduction of the VLE in 2007 was supposed to help with the ultimate aim.

    Fast forward to 2012, with a different Head Teacher, and I think we print more now than we did in 2007!

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    It is depressing how much this seems to be happening at the moment, more from a long term budget point of view than any sort of fear of our roles changing. There seems to be this feeling that once everyone in school has an iPad, that's it, job done - the cloud will be the answer to server infrastructure etc. When that batch of iPads is EOL (not sure how long that would be; maybe 5 years like a PC, maybe 2 like a phone!) the support costs will ramp. Oh - the current Apple TVs don't work with the new model (for example) - replace those too... If you're buying the whole lot at once, they'll all reach EOL at once.

    I see much of this technology as immature yet. It definitely has potential and a place in education, and embracing new technology is important. I'm just not sure why the new thing should replace the old across the board - what's wrong with mixing and matching to meet specific needs? God help anyone writing a 5000 word piece of coursework on a touchscreen, yet a PC can be slow and clunky to quickly check a webpage or research. These things need to live alongside each other to get the best fit IMO.

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    Our school is gradually buying the odd IPAD for the SLT. I showed them splashtop the app they can use to control their own windows based computer in the office! They love it! So what is the point? A laptop or a cheaper windows tablet would surly be of more use to them. Docs2go is a pain as you constantly have to re sync, and it doesn't have all the features that office 2010 has, which teachers don't seem to grasp.

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    Yeah, it certainly feels like the pace of change in schools is increasing when it comes to IT. To be honest I wouldn't worry about it as the future will only ever be more reliant on technology but you may find the skills required for you job change.

    For the first time I'm actually starting to wonder whether there's much of a future in "Windows" as a general end user device though. Given you can buy decent android tablets for £200, Ipad's for £300-400 I can't help but feel Microsoft is going to price itself out of the market when it brings out Windows8 tablets and starts asking what will likely be over £500 for them. I can see a lot of home users giving up on Windows altogether in the not too distant future if things keep going the way they are!

    Having said that in IT things always change so predicting the future is pretty tricky....
    Last edited by flyinghaggis; 3rd April 2012 at 09:09 AM.

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    If you don't agree with the plan, say so. If it's an unstoppable machine already then i would start looking elsewhere.

    I come out in hives if i'm surrounded by that much apple kit so i'd be off like a shot.

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