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General Chat Thread, Starting from scratch in General; Sometimes that happens when people are in a position where they can only feed back other people's thinking, woolly-headed or ...
  1. #31

    Ephelyon's Avatar
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    Sometimes that happens when people are in a position where they can only feed back other people's thinking, woolly-headed or otherwise. I'm sure many of us have been in that position with suppliers when we are obliged to ask for what the SLT wants, even though it's not something we'd have proposed ourselves in a million years. We don't know that isn't the case for the OP. Indeed, I'd expect that at this level many of the framing decisions - around shinies or otherwise - are being taken by the SLT (or SLT-to-be if this is a completely new school).

    For a new Leadership Team investigating potential avenues for technology-supported pedagogy, schools like the Essa Academy in Bolton can be perceived as "beacons" for others to follow. Naturally in an existing school we can make plenty of arguments against that if we so choose, based on existing infrastructure and the like... but in a new school all the doors could be seen as open. Even the ones with nasties on the other side, which indeed, the uninitiated might not realise. The OP might have the arguably unenviable task of convincing them not to go there in the end.

    I'd also invite members to consider that if they believe the OP is wasting their time, the very easy alternative is simply not to comment.

  2. #32

    teejay's Avatar
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    @Ephelyon the recommendation to look into the EU tendering process is because it's complex and there are certain procedures you have to follow even at an early stage, the current outline the OP has posted breaks the EU guidelines, which is why I said to go do some research.

  3. #33

    Ephelyon's Avatar
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    Let me be clear that I'm certainly not disagreeing with that and, if the tender is already rapidly moving towards promulgation, naturally it's good advice.

    But it strikes me that what's been posted could be more of a consultative brief to be used internally - possibly even with a focus on our purposes here on EduGeek - and that nothing has yet gone forward for supplier attention. Either way I imagine the discussion could benefit from more detailed explanation as to the situation the OP is in and what stage the school is at with this process.

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  5. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roberto View Post
    I don't want to make things worse but I suspect some of the tension here is that the OP keeps saying thank you for the feedback to people then proceeding as if the feedback was never given. This looks less and less a genuine search for knowledge and help and more of someone wanting blessings for their already solidified plans to buy shiny stuff because it's shiny.

    Take the comment about sending letters to parents home as emails being used as a justification to buy ipads. That's evidence right there of either an agenda that's already been decided upon that is in search of a justification or of some very wooly-headed thinking.
    Wooly Headed? Me? - possibly Guilty as charged.

    As I said in an earlier post This is the first time I have been involved with opening a secondary school - several theme parks, yes, schools no.

    We have been in someways influenced by many of the team being professional Mac users, often in more traditionally Windows roles. The relative rarity of malware is a factor as id Apples separation of OS and data. BUT I think that makes my quiery here more telling. If I had made up my mind, without reservation, I'd have got into bed with the Apple store and it would have been a job done. I am here to canvas opinion, perhaps play devil's advocate to test my preconceived ideas...

    Again, any and all feedback is welcomed.

  6. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    Let me be clear that I'm certainly not disagreeing with that and, if the tender is already rapidly moving towards promulgation, naturally it's good advice.

    But it strikes me that what's been posted could be more of a consultative brief to be used internally - possibly even with a focus on our purposes here on EduGeek - and that nothing has yet gone forward for supplier attention. Either way I imagine the discussion could benefit from more detailed explanation as to the situation the OP is in and what stage the school is at with this process.
    Ephelyon - Many thanks for your understanding. To answer your question;
    I am one of a group of parents working to open a much needed secondary school
    I am a geek by profession but a creative web geek - hence I come seeking knowledge!
    I AM an Apple user / fanboy but that dosn't mean I am closed minded or wearing blinkers to other brands
    As a group our concern is to make the BEST POSSIBLE school for our children - there is no other agenda!
    Time is against us. The local council's provision for secondary school places is less than adequate. As of 2014 the provision of places is short by 8 - 10 classes
    We are working to a budget. My primary focus is on the backbone infrastructure. user devices will come and go but the network needs to be the best that I can get, it won't be changing anytime soon. I need advice on the best possible solution to hedge my bets on future proofing the school
    Having tentatively spoken to a couple of suppliers their focus in not on the capital infrastructure but on the ongoing revenue stream - if anyone else starts a meeting with - So... let me talk to you about MicroSoft's exciting [cash cow], Office 365! Murder will be done!
    (Rant over)

    Again, Many thanks!

  7. #36

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    A couple of things to cover here.

    1 - the separation of core and end user devices is a common approach (and a fairly good one) but make sure that as you make decisions about suitable tech (hardware and software) for end user devices that you adapt the core tech appropriately.

    2 - saying that ... focussing on deciding on tech first is pointless! The amount of tech, services, design and implementation you are looking at *over a set period* (ie likely to be at least 3 years but could be 5) is going to require either a single large tender (EU level possibly, as previously mentioned) or several smaller tenders that will need careful management between them. These tenders have to be based on functional requirements and not tech specific, though you can go down the Single Vendor route (ie a single manufacturer or distributor if the functionality required is not available from multiple sources or there are other contractual reasons for Single Vendor) if you do it carefully.

    3 - Free schools can get additional advice about working to build tenders for this sort if thing from EFA. Make use of them as they are a gold mine of information. They have access to expertise from former Becta and PfS staff on this.

    4 - don't be scared to go to the DfE framework to buy in a consultant to do this work for you. In the same way you are getting good advice here, there are specialists who write these vision statements / functional requirements / technical specifications. Other consultants are available and a number of them are members. As much as the membership is giving advice for free (based on a lot of real world experience) to get the final requirements complete I would go to a specialist. Procurement in the public sector can be ... interesting!

    5 - if you check the Becta archives (available from the National Archives website) you will find 2 helpful documents. These are the IT infrastructure functional requirements and technical specification documents. Whilst out of date now (for both areas) they can give you the back bone of where to start. Don't treat things as a shopping list though ... otherwise you *will* want to buy everything.

    6 - don't worry about the Apple/anti-Apple or tablet/anti-tablet discussions. There are times when the functional requirements (ie the curriculum and school ethos is going to be based on a very particular approach) can be driven by key staff wanting to work in a particular way. There is nothing wrong with this if it delivers the required goals of the school, but you just have to be careful that it a) is not in breach of procurement rules, b) is not going to cause difficulties in future years (EG those key staff moving on and new staff have a different drive) and c) is not going to be financially unsustainable.

    I would recommend you speak to other free schools, schools just coming out of the 5 year IT services within BSF, EFA, groups that link building design/technology/learning together (have a look for work by Prof Stephen Heppell, the LearnSpace project in Northants, etc) and keep asking here for feedback too.

  8. 4 Thanks to GrumbleDook:

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  9. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mouse77e View Post
    Having tentatively spoken to a couple of suppliers their focus in not on the capital infrastructure but on the ongoing revenue stream
    You can't entirely blame them for that, though you can choose to do business with someone else if they're being idiots about it. They're trying to solve their problem which is to earn their employer enough money to keep them all employed and what have you, so it's good that you've got a healthy dose of 'experience' on your side to ensure that the discussion remains focussed on your employer solving it's problems, not just their employer solving theirs.

    Sorry I know you're well aware of that but it's easy to let that 'slip' from your thoughts and it's good to keep it in the front of your mind, what both sides want from a discussion, so that you can reach a path that's fair to both 'sides'. When we did the capital bids for our new college campus there were several places where compromises were called for and sometimes we were the ones that had to bend our necks just as much as it was the vendors that had to bend on other items on the list.

    If you want to do business with someone or they with you, then it has to be worth everyone's while, right?
    Last edited by Roberto; 22nd July 2013 at 09:12 AM.

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  11. #38
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    @GrumbleDook has some really good points.

    If I was you I would read through every post here and note down everything, there is some anti apple here (I am one) even though I own an iPad and an iPhone. Wouldn't mind owning a Mac either but the anti in my experience has nothing to do with apple but those who are very pro apple. I have had the "but they work better" or the "Software doesn't work on windows" which has been lies, you spend £1000 on a Mac and of course its going to work better then a £300 Windows pc. The Mac is going to be much more stable if you are limiting what gets used/installed, I have seen endless amount of technicians install all sorts of junk on their pcs constantly then wonder why they are rebuilding them a few months later. Also in my experience the ICT suites with Windows are constantly being used and booked out yet the Macs every time I walk past them they are not being used. Again all this has been my experience but all the software I have seen used there are windows version available.

    As others have said I would ask for advice from schools currently going through the end of BSF or 1:1 devices.

    We are here 1:1 with year 7 and 8, our new year 7 will have the same. Our netbook scheme has its positives and its flaws and I wont blow sunshine up anyones nose to say how fantastic it is. Its a lot of work and it isn't as smooth as some might say. Some teachers are unhappy about it because there are still charging issues or students forgetting them. I would also be tempted to do a survey for all teachers to answer it and see the out come.

    Our repairs range from 7-13 netbooks a week (usually smashed screens), we currently do this on site but the new year 7s will have them sent off. Our current year 7s have good netbook bags which give more protection yet students do treat them like they would with their school books (throwing their bags). If I was you I would seriously consider 5 years down the line, its why some schools are still sticking to desktops - it works, it may not be fancy or pretty but it works and schools are about students educational needs.

    If you want a good amount of detail regarding our mobile devices, pros, cons and teachers reactions with the work load your more than welcome to PM me.
    Last edited by mthomas08; 22nd July 2013 at 10:18 AM.

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  13. #39

    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Just had a quick reread of this thread and I'm left slightly confused. What exactly is your brief? You mention "today's ideal infrastructure". Is it to make a case for/against 1:1 devices with a preference towards the Apple model? or is it a case of defining the requirements of the core infrastructure that will support the devices and software the school chooses for teaching and learning? Is this a document that will define that questions and requirements so decisions can be made about what to purchase and what to put out to tender?

    I agree with others, it may be worth taking a step back from the end product or a single supplier and taking a wider view. It almost seems that questions and decisions are being formed around a final solution rather than the other way round?

    Can I ask what your role is in the project? I'm getting the sense of a governor/parent being asked to take a lead. If that's the case then a consultant or network manager may be a good investment?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    Can I ask what your role is in the project? I'm getting the sense of a governor/parent being asked to take a lead. If that's the case then a consultant or network manager may be a good investment?
    I am getting to agree with you - In fact I have just reached out to the consultant working on one of the local school's projects and offered him beer in return for an initial chat!

  16. #41
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    Apple blames days-long Developer Center outage on “intruder" Yes apple really safe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosker View Post
    Apple blames days-long Developer Center outage on “intruder" Yes apple really safe
    WOW! Can you imagine if that happened to Windows?

    Sorry but there seems to be a little too much sniping on Apple for the sake of it going on. I have move on to the core infrastructure decisions and away from the end user devices. But thank you for your interest... Bah Humbug!

  18. #43

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    Not really the right place for that, Hosker...

    But yes, you need to find the technology to suit the requirements, not the other way round; tech is little more than a tool and you wouldn't buy your tools before deciding on your trade Apple, not apple, whatever you do, it needs to help the students and staff and the users shouldn't need to be a slave to them. I was very blunt before as I have a bee in my bonnet about some places that have gone out to be the biggest, brightest and best. They look it, they say it in their brochures and blurb, but they failed massively in the most important part; getting the kids the right education.

    I believe students should have access to a mix of systems at appropriate times. I think it's already been mentioned before that you really should go Mac for music and media, as anyone doing that sort of work would indeed be likely to use those in industry. However, no sane enterprise is running Apple hardware in day to day office/business running.
    iPads are great, there's no mistake; when there's a proper plan in place, they can really help education even for the small reasons like "It's not as boring as a normal lesson, therefore they tend to pay attention more". If that's the case when they're used day in, day out, I don't know. Actually running and mixing different systems is a challenge but it is doable. I certainly think that schools shouldn't be entirely wireless - resiliency should be key (I note you mentioned about hardwired admin systems) but again, they should all be on the same physical network infrastructure these days anyway. Plus of course you wouldn't be running anything specific like your media/music stuff wirelessly, plus anything that needs a decent constant connection wouldn't either.

    Your beer-meeting is a good idea; let's face it, most technical staff know little of the curricular requirements other than what they're told, and most parents/governors/teaching staff/slt know little of the technical side other than what they need to know. A very layman's term is the latter needs to put out that ideal scenario, and someone who is in the "Can Do" business can come in and judge the feasibility of it. Doing it side by side is a good idea. The vendor lock in is dangerous for all involved for reasons already discussed, therefore the infrastructure should be able to cope with anything you can throw at it. That sort of goes without saying too; perhaps it may be better in this day and age to look seriously at BYOD scenarios as well as, or perhaps instead of a large amount of provided hardware. Fixed hardware management systems, MDM systems are many - SCCM and Meraki are two common ones which could and are often mixed and with the right licensing in place, you could save a lot of effort and money, especially going the Windows route.

    There's a very good reason Macs are often limited to certain types of work, and a very good reason they're rarely deployed around entire schools, again already discussed. Get the right people on board and help plan for the future as well as the current.

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  20. #44

    Ephelyon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by synaesthesia View Post
    let's face it, most technical staff know little of the curricular requirements other than what they're told, and most parents/governors/teaching staff/slt know little of the technical side other than what they need to know
    But in an ideal situation, both groups can and do try; some can even be relatively successful at that on both "sides" of the equation.

  21. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosker View Post
    Apple blames days-long Developer Center outage on “intruder" Yes apple really safe

    Intrusions happen. I've seen microsoft.com sites go down due to hackers (not Microsoft Deutschland | Geräte und Dienste but still some pretty big sites.)
    I've seen large parts of chat.microsoft.com go down, back in the day when IRC chat was a thing and everyone had a chat server, because someone kicked a plug out of a wall-socket in someone's office.

    I've seen the apache website homepage get hacked - the hackers uploaded one of those "designed in Microsoft Frontpage" buttons which made me laugh.

    Intrusions happen. I wouldn't especially penalise the vendors for that. It's how they deal with it next that matters.

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