Before you get worked up I am not swearing at EMBC, I just wanted to stick this thread somewhere where it will not get indexed.
There is a meeting tomorrow of pontential new suppliers for EMBC and one of the people attending has asked if there is anything we wish to contribute as to what schools want out of them in the future.
My initial reply is below but if anyone wants to add things please let me know and I will pass it on.
Please note that comments of "just make it bloody well work for a change" can be taken as read, likewise "I'm not going with them if they are going to make me take 2 steps back" will be passed on too ...
Where to start ... the first place would be for you to have a read through the article here, http://www.edugeek.net/index.php?nam...article&sid=68 and see what you think of the comments made.
Secondly, the work done by Becta on IT Infrastructure (both the functional and technical specifications) need to be considered. Whoever the potential supplers are should be aware of these draft documents and whether they either meet what has already been put down, or that they are on the working party helping to write the documents. If you do not have copies of these documents (which can be a tad tedious) I can get them over to you ... but there is also information here, http://www.edugeek.net/index.php?nam...ewtopic&t=2840 .
Thirdly ... the standard network build. By all means have a minimum standard, but allow for schools to innovate and try new things. Perhaps there needs to be better communication between the LA, the EMBC and the service provider about what can be done and what needs discussion. Just saying "NO!" to someone who wants to be a little different is not the answer. With considerable effort it is possible to get EMBC to be adaptable, but there are unclear lines of communication and a feeling of 'them and us' between school (and not just techies) and the provider.
So ... a summary.
A break down of what you get and who controls it is needed. Only pay for what you need (connectivity, services, content). A minimum standard does not mean the only standard, but schools need to know how far they can push the boundaries too ... no point having a school asking for the stars if all you can reach is the moon. SLAs need to be between the end client (the school) and EMBC. The service provider needs to be accountable to both EMBC and the school. On some areas there is not a strong community feeling about EMBC, but is that the fault of the service provider or EMBC themselves?
Technological advances need to be shown to have an impact on education. Some things that need improving on service ... speed of access to emails, pre-caching, reliability of connection to both WAN and 'Net (no point having a 10 Meg line ... if you are running at 1 Meg to GCSE Bitesize due to poor caching). Adaptable structures in services provided, including more work on SSO within case studies.
It would be nice to have different packages to choose from with different upload and download speeds.
I never understand having symmetric speeds only, in our case a 2meg up/2meg down. We would be much better off with a 4meg down and 1meg up in fact perhaps even half a meg down but that might be pushing it. Download speeds are much more important then upload and 2meg is not enough download speed yet 2meg upload is far more then we ever use.
I could see 10meg up and 10meg down being to costly and wasted for us but 10meg down would be nice.
Easy to access email that’s fast. Email hardly gets used as the staff don’t like the interface or speed. Also important is 1 login name and password. It’s bad enough having to remember all the door passwords, PC login passwords with everything else then on top of all that, then mail and wired page logins. They need to be merged back together again or have the same username and password but different website links.
Redundant routing. I know they're working on this but it's still too easy to knock out far too many schools.
Better communication between all interested parties - schools, subcontractors and other interested agencies. If I need to explain to my boss why the internet didn't work and the explanation consists of "the helpdesk personnel don't know" - it makes them and me look bad.
Agree with the pick and mix approach to services, there's too much Borg atm.
Services (such as video-conferencing) being platform-independent on the client side.
Agree with supporting diversity - if school does $thing and it works well for them, then it's not a problem.
Better web hosting for schools on Unix/Linux boxes - many of us aren't using embc hosting because they can't provide what we need (PHP, Perl, MySQL).