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BSF Thread, Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ? in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; Originally Posted by broc I don't think you would get too many arguments against the idea that wall-to-wall Cisco kit ...
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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by broc
    I don't think you would get too many arguments against the idea that wall-to-wall Cisco kit with enterprise class servers were the norm in schools, as long as it was not at the expense of being able to provide the levels of support schools need.

    I think most of the passionate arguments against BSF from the school-based ICT support community stem from the feelings that schools will end up paying more and getting less. Some of this undoubtedly comes from people feeling their careers are under threat but a lot of it comes from having experience of what life is like in schools, and what support students and staff in schools need to function. We don't believe the numbers stack up and we don't believe that the people pulling the strings have a clue about how school ICT works. It is not like commercial ICT; I know this having worked in a commercial environment for 30 years for a large Global ICT company.

    I would love to have a comms room full of Cisco networking kit and a server room full of Dell, Sun, IBM or HP servers but it will not fix the problem in the classroom down the corridor where the teacher cannot deliver the lesson they had planned because some piece of technology has let them down. Staff need an immediate response to this; logging it via a helpdesk for resolution sometime later today will not do.

    Unfortunately all the emphasis on BF & managed services is about the 'gloss', very little is said about support.

    At my school the 'experts' employed by the LA & P4S are impressing my SMT by saying we won't need ICT rooms; every student will get a personal computing device. They skip over the issues like where they will be stored during PE, or at lunch time, or what will happen when the batteries go flat. They ignore the fact that we would more than double the number of computers in school, they side-step the questions about how many support staff will the school have onsite to support > 1000 devices?

    They have their agenda, it is not ours.
    great post. I agree with everything you've said and you've given me an insight into what this could mean for the delivery of ICT into classrooms.
    Which I maybe hadn't fully appreciated. Those glossy Sun and Cisco brochures can blind don't you know

    I certainly got the feeling initially that it was job security that was at the root of the protestations and felt a certian amount of obstinance in the attitude towards bsf - but obviously there is the experience of NM's who've seen years of under investment and and all softs of guinea pig projects go awry. Which maybe this is another of.

    Quote Originally Posted by broc
    I don't think you would get too many arguments against the idea that wall-to-wall Cisco kit with enterprise class servers were the norm in schools, as long as it was not at the expense of being able to provide the levels of support schools need.
    Like you I've worked in corporate IT where it is common to see enteprise kit - and obviously i think primarily this is where the investment in ICT should be focused rather than short-termism and pet projects. From my previous posts I've strongly urged schools to think like small enterprises providing the money is avaiable - becuase that kind of rock solid reliability and support form the vendors ultimately helps delivery of ICT in the classroom.

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Quote Originally Posted by torledo
    BSF service provider will standardize on a certain brand of servers, switches, software. You might call it a one size fits all - but for example Dell or Cisco have enough variety in their products to ensure companies with different requirements get what they need. Surely school managers are fed up with poorly designed infrastructures they've inherited.
    Fair point ... once you have designed an architecture then you can pretty much put into it whatever fits the bill.

    Sure schools have different mix of pupils and teachers - but they're all trying to reach the same targets following the same curriculum. They all need whiteboards and electronic registration Surely their IT requirements don't differ that wildly.
    And this is where we get to the sticky bit.

    The archiecture (ie system design .. not the design of the glass dome on the roof) is not standard. Specialisms have already been pointed out but it goes further than that. It goes down to the ethos of the school and their approach to T&L.

    Take school A. They have been building an online curriculum to facilitate independent learning, where students have control of the pace of learning and the teachers are subject specialists helping them to understand key concepts before the student get on with embedding the skills.

    The take school B, who have a more direct approach, using some of the more traditional classroom techniques but incorporating IT to deliver resources and involve students.

    The first requires an online workspace that has whiteboard and resource sharing tools, the second requires decent classroom sizes with IWBs for student interaction.

    And that is a simple example without even straying into the dependency on which exam board or award you do ... or the politics behind being involved in project X which requires you to use a different approach to other schools!

    Without this flexibility we lose innovation.

    For me, that is the big fight ... the fact that I also believe that some of the best people for understanding what works and what is a waste of time that has been tried too many times before are us lot and other Support Teams ... that is yet another point.
    You make some very good points, but surely each school needs the same kind of insfrastructure - an infrastructure that can handle all possible applications. The specifics and design can vary.. some schools may need a hierachical 3 layer switched network, others can do with just a core and access layer. Others may require multicast to be implemented for streaming video. But all these and other requirements as you know can be accomodated with one vendor - up to the cisco or hp or xx specialists to design the layout and choose the products accordingly.

    If a school needs wifi becuase of architectural issues no problem same vendor has the right product portfolio. Their team understand and can support the product because of design similarities and a standards based approach.

    Some schools may only need thin client computing for whatever reason
    - a single server vendor can accomodate them and another client who needs a less powerful machine. Now if the service providers are too rigid you have a problem if they are unable to fit the right product to the right use. Or you have a problem if the service provider doesn't justify a thin client infrastrtucre - just forcing their preferences above the needs of the school.

    But you get the most flexibility from standardisation - we know that Dell servers are based on a standard deisgn for disk drives, chipsets etc - just choose the right server for your need and you don't have to worry as they can all be managed using the same tools and diagnostic methods , for Cisco the Cisco CLI is the standard interface across the broad product portfolio, you don't need to dig out the manual - you recognize that blue cable to connect, you might be unfamiliar with the commands but tab completion will help you out in an intuitive manner, you know how to secure it and across a lot of products the components can be interchangeable. That's the ideal scenario and why the service provider should standardize for efficiency. But obviously they're not idealists like me.

    Sure in the classroom there is more of a headache - and i agree with what you've said about T&L requirements. But well designed standards based infrastructure can andle any application you want to run on top of it.
    That's the beauty of modern converged networks.

    And surely the infrastructure is the starting point.

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by torledo
    But you get the most flexibility from standardisation - we know that Dell servers are based on a standard deisgn for disk drives, chipsets etc - just choose the right server for your need and you don't have to worry as they can all be managed using the same tools and diagnostic methods
    But the schools staff wont have any say on that, or manage the server using those tools, In BSF's plans that will be handled centrally

    Quote Originally Posted by torledo
    for Cisco the Cisco CLI is the standard interface across the broad product portfolio, you don't need to dig out the manual - you recognize that blue cable to connect, you might be unfamiliar with the commands but tab completion will help you out in an intuitive manner, you know how to secure it and across a lot of products the components can be interchangeable.
    Again the school techs wond do it. It'll be done remotely. Then you get on to 4-5 day priorities, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by torledo
    That's the ideal scenario and why the service provider should standardize for efficiency. But obviously they're not idealists like me.
    You're an idealist. Try looking at as a realist for 5 mins. If you are a school technician, you wont work for the school anymore, you'll be one of a few thousand, likely to be moved to another school if theres absense etc. nothing the school can do about it, you're line manager will be a voice at the end of a phone you might see once a term if you are luck as he'll have 20 schools to visit. If you are a school NM it's P45 time. The types of regulations and procedures BSF will bring in would make a better system, would make life easier for techs, but theres a reason we dont do those things anyway i.e. Teachers. A long drawn out procedure for getting support will have a real effect on T&L, a negative one.

    Quote Originally Posted by torledo
    Sure in the classroom there is more of a headache - and i agree with what you've said about T&L requirements. But well designed standards based infrastructure can andle any application you want to run on top of it.
    That's the beauty of modern converged networks.

    And surely the infrastructure is the starting point.
    But how many problems in the class are to do with the infrastructure or because of a network issue, they're usually because a teacher cant press fn-f5, or some darling kid has unplugged their network cable, or switched the interactive whiteboard off, or a kid unplugs a mouse and bends the pins trying to force it back in. Or the "fantastic software that will really make a difference on a pupils learning" is actually a badly written piece of VB with an access back-end. Having a fantastic up-to-date infrastructure wont cope with a piece of software designed for windows 3.1

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    THe infrastructure is specified in the Technical and Functional Specifications for IT INfrastructure, 2 documents from Becta.

    These are not shopping lists but strong guidelines for what all builds should conform to and what schools should aim towards when replacing / refreshing kit over the coming years.

    It does not specify that a standard architecture should be used, but lays out the standards to be used and appropriate technologies depending on needs.

    This is why we talk about a raised baseline of IT Facilities. It is based on the idea of a solution in a school that gives 99.999% uptime during school hours, access to services from home, a range of appropriate technologies that *just work* and the staff / company that can make sure this happens.

    The specific technologies vary ... how they are implemented varies (just look at discussions on mandatory, roaming and default profiles) and the best thing you can do is generate some best practice about it instead.

    The requirements for technology should fit around the requirements of the school, not the technology dictating to the school that things have to be done a certain way.

    If a school *opts* to use a specific technology that takes them down one route (eg using Macs for audio / video editing) then that is there choice ... not a one size fits all option.

    I have seen schools lose out ... then again I have seen schools gain as teh Managed Service Provider tailors the service to the needs of the schools ... but it varies.

    Yes, a standard infrastructure is good if it raises the bar ... but the reason that the Managed Service Providers are doing it is nothign to do with education and the needs of the school. It is down to being the most cost effective method of providing a high initial level of facilities to schools involved. Even *they* admit to that.

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by torledo
    Yes Birmingham and Rochdale I've used because they seem to have gone down the route of having, for want of a better word, Cisco powered networks so that the infrastructure is good enough that they are able to host these services.
    I'm a little puzzled here. You've used Rochdale as an example of an LA successfully outsourcing services in a previous post. What exactly do you mean by that? Which services have been outsourced? If there's anyone (in IT) working in Rochdale schools who has been outsourced, or knows of anyone who's been outsourced, could they please post here?
    Rochdale's two CLC's have naturally got Cisco powered networks, and my own school is almost all Cisco, but that is not the case in all the schools.

    Again, I'll draw your attention to the fact that the current group managing the Council's services, tried to charge the charity set up to provide training for Rochdale schools £5000 for two computers. £1000 for the actual machines, and £4000 to add them to the network. Where are the savings large organisations can make through their buying power in this case?

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    @ torledo

    I think you are missing the point.

    Take a look at this What Salary?

    Then you would realize that most of us dont do it for the money. Schools have a limited budget and for the main - can see that the BSF etc, etc will be a very expensive waste. Money that could be spent elsewhere to give our students a better school life.
    We can all see most of the problems coming - not just about the infrastucture / standardisation. We see the day to day issues that for the main - others are ignoring. Who is going to look after the 'not so computer savy' teachers? or are you going to ignore that and therefore in turn, will the lessons suffer?
    What would you say when a school has simply no more money to spend on other areas - because it now spends alot more on support - to our children when part of the school is falling to bits, or drama productions cannot get funding, etc, etc.

    This is happening to me - I am a ETTA level 2 qualified Table Tennis coach. For me to take a couple of school teams forward - to teach a healthy sport, to give some students a sense of something in their school career, challenge other schools, etc, etc - I need a table, nets, bats and balls.
    I cannot get funding for this - Why? because the money is going on other more 'important' things. With less money in the pot (and more spent on IT support) how many other extra curricular things will go by the wayside?

    I agree that the best way forward is clear guidelines (nationally) from our LEA's - the Uber consultant - which we as technicians and NM's can fall back on for backup to win the case.

    Best value will become a thing of the past - and if you think it wont - WAKE UP!

    Will our teachers and students get 'Best value' ?
    Dream On.

    That for me is the issue (well - apart from my my job! )

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    My first contact with a large Managed Service Company in my first week starting in the Education sector was when the "company" wanted to charge a primary School £800 to add an additional 80GB IDE HDD to a server...

    I informed the head and the price was dropped to £300 as the company was shocked that an ICT Specialist was onsite and querying their costs and practice..

    The second was when I saw in a few Primaries a CD Server tat cost £3000+ just sitting there doing nothing.... I asked about this and they said that they wee sold the CD Server to store CD's on the network....

    What the company failed to mention that it would only store CD purchased from them in there Packages..

    So from that day on I knew that I had to defend my Primaries and Secondaries from being ripped off..

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    THe infrastructure is specified in the Technical and Functional Specifications for IT INfrastructure, 2 documents from Becta.

    These are not shopping lists but strong guidelines for what all builds should conform to and what schools should aim towards when replacing / refreshing kit over the coming years.

    It does not specify that a standard architecture should be used, but lays out the standards to be used and appropriate technologies depending on needs.

    This is why we talk about a raised baseline of IT Facilities. It is based on the idea of a solution in a school that gives 99.999% uptime during school hours, access to services from home, a range of appropriate technologies that *just work* and the staff / company that can make sure this happens.

    The specific technologies vary ... how they are implemented varies (just look at discussions on mandatory, roaming and default profiles) and the best thing you can do is generate some best practice about it instead.

    The requirements for technology should fit around the requirements of the school, not the technology dictating to the school that things have to be done a certain way.

    If a school *opts* to use a specific technology that takes them down one route (eg using Macs for audio / video editing) then that is there choice ... not a one size fits all option.

    I have seen schools lose out ... then again I have seen schools gain as teh Managed Service Provider tailors the service to the needs of the schools ... but it varies.

    Yes, a standard infrastructure is good if it raises the bar ... but the reason that the Managed Service Providers are doing it is nothign to do with education and the needs of the school. It is down to being the most cost effective method of providing a high initial level of facilities to schools involved. Even *they* admit to that.
    I personally advocate choice in the solutions that need to be deployed - whether that's Macs for audio and video work, even ibm i series based client-server solutions (replacement for AS/400) for staff if the money and justification is there just so long as the solution can be managed successfully.

    My problem is that there are a lot of schools who don't follow the becta frameworks or understand best practice or basic ITIL. And those schools implement the solutions where you need a forklift upgrade after a couple of years because the needs of staff and students aren't being met and because the solutions that were implemented can't scale becuase of design and procurement cockups. Sometimes that's because of lack of expertise or because they were sold the wrong solution - never a good idea to be so reliant on salesmen to tell you what you need.

    BTW the examples i used weren't of authorities 'outsourcing' their IT but of providing hosted services for their schools which is a form of managed IT is it not ? I'm 99% confident rochdale provide hosted services as do most authorities.

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    the last paragraph was a response to beeswaxx's query.

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    TO Daveyboy,

    There is a big issue with the IT proficiency of certain teachers.

    There are a lot of initiatives and part of a teachers CPD should be them enabling skills in using ICT for teaching and Learning.

    Now I know your response will be an issue of time - they just don't have the time to learn the applictions or to become office or lotus notes gurus - and that's where they rely on your help. Which is fair enough - but with schools becoming more and more IT-centric (in terms of the use of ICT) it needs to be a requirement for teachers to enhance their professional development in these areas - it's not their job to know why their projector image has moved 2 ft to the right, but then through experience they may habe worked out fn and the approriate F key on their laptop toggles the external display choices i know it's something evryone knows but i'm sure it helps that they don't have to drag you half way across school to be shown that

    It's difficult for a history teacher who focuses his or her efforts on preparing lessons to develop their ICT professional skills - but to be honest a good teacher whose invested time in getting to grips with publisher or powerpoint will know more about how to accomplsh a task in those applications than you do. The technical glitches - sure that's your domain - but sometimes they'll know through experience and intitative how to resolve minor issues. They should know the ins and outs of the classrooms and take ownership of all aspects of that area.

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    I work in a Rochdale school, beeswax, and I'm not aware of any outsourcing apart from the EDIT/impact partnership deal. I've worked in Rochdale for nearly 20 years and been involved in IT since the early days of TVEI: I wouldn't hold up their strategic management of IT as an example of anything, except perhaps for bumbling incompetence.

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by torledo
    My problem is that there are a lot of schools who don't follow the becta frameworks or understand best practice or basic ITIL. And those schools implement the solutions where you need a forklift upgrade after a couple of years because the needs of staff and students aren't being met and because the solutions that were implemented can't scale because of design and procurement cockups. Sometimes that's because of lack of expertise or because they were sold the wrong solution - never a good idea to be so reliant on salesmen to tell you what you need.
    Yes ... this is one of my problems too ... but is that a failing of the staff in the school or the leadership of the school?

    Support teams in schools may not always be involved in the devolved leadership for ICT and this is what SLICT and TeamSLICT was meant to address.

    Failure to have in place proper procurement and planning procedures could be purely down to the Head wanting to make a decision a few weeks before the end of term about a new IT room ... after the budget was sorted in April ... it is about Bursars wanting use just one company because they 'know it will be a good choice' ... it is about the funding strategy from the LA not making it to the NMs ... ao they don't know *what* should be the right amount of money to spend.

    The BSF model that everyone fears is where that section of leadership is not addressed within the school, but just bypassed and given to a commercial company to deal with.

    Just because new kit is going in on a 'standard' build it does not mean the leadership of ICT in the school will improve.

    By forcing schools to take part in dialogue and work out what they actually need, it also forces the school to take control of leadership in ICT. Unfortunately this is not happening in all schools involved and it is *not* the fault of suppliers ... it is *not* the fault of NMs ... it is the fault of the school leaders not being switched on and the LA putting pressure on schools to agree to things without an open dialogue.

    OK ... I will concede that I have just made a gross generalisation, but this is the sort of thing that can happen.

    PfS and SSAT appear to be worried that innovation and striving to develop your own school's needs will be dampened by BSF ... they are aware that some schools are opting to go other routes ... they are aware that some schools will take their skills and experience and deal with things themselves, even if it means a loss in funding.

    The best thing we can do as a community is to keep each other informed about what is going on, try to ensure that the schools we work in are aware of the opportunities and pitfalls, speak with suppliers and companies to find out what is going on (we are not talking about job protection here ... we are *not* a union!) and if some people want to view it as damage limitation they can .. .others can see it is ensuring that we have the chance to work with the various stakeholders.

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    @torledo

    Just so as I've got this straight -


    What you are saying is that teachers should learn how to use to the software, (part of their CPD) and therefore my concerns would not be an issue ?

    Right, so even more money spent on CPD, cover teachers and training then?

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by daveyboy
    @torledo

    Just so as I've got this straight -


    What you are saying is that teachers should learn how to use to the software, (part of their CPD) and therefore my concerns would not be an issue ?

    Right, so even more money spent on CPD, cover teachers and training then?
    You'd still have concerns Daveyboy, but I think teachers have to be more self-sufficient when it comes to the use of ICT. They're not exactly the stereotypical two finger typer (which my dad is btw ) and don't ask questions like..."So where does the tape go" and there are some teachers at the forefront of using ICT in new and innovative ways but overall the standard is far short of where it should be. I mean these teachers are supposed to be preparing our young people for a world where computers and software applications dominate the world of work. And yet all we seem to hear from teachers is complaints about computers replacing traditional teaching - when the crux of the matter is lack of ICT proficiency among teachers is also detrimental. And is something that needs to be addressed.

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    Re: Oi Oi.. Whats going on here then ?!?! PfS and BSF ?

    Ah yes, but what about those teachers who are still 2 finger typists, wont learn how to use computers and thanks to the support from the unions dont need to?

    @Torledo : If you dont have to deal with teachers asking "so where does this plug in?" and "what button do I press to put the image on the screen?" you are very lucky. I still have these questions fired at me far too often for my liking.

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