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General Chat Thread, Obstacles In ICT Implementations? in General; A colleague of mine is doing research into the kind of obstacles Heads of ICT / ICT Managers face when ...
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    Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    A colleague of mine is doing research into the kind of obstacles Heads of ICT / ICT Managers face when they try to introduce new IT systems to the school. The kinds of things he is thinking of include picking a VLE, home access to programs / user files, video conferencing systems or anything else you can think of.

    He would also be interested if you could provide information upon what the obstacle was, how it was created, why it was created and what were the reasons given to you. If you found away around it then that would also be great to hear :-)

    He is keen that this does not just turn into a slagging match. He is hoping to do some positive work on addressing the problem but first he needs to know what the problem is and what is the extent.

    You don't have to provide any names / locations if you don't want to.

    If you prefer you can e-mail me at dagza72@gmail.com and I will pass on the content of your message.

    Thanks

    Darren

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    10% technical 90% training

    IMHO training part is mostly made up of people not wanting the system to change (because it doesn't give clear imrovements to teaching and learning, usually they are right)

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    obstacles are varied, depending on IT policy within the school. Each case is different, some schools everything has to go to the governing body. Everything here over £4000 goes to governors for aproval.

    Agree with CyberNerd 90% training, but its mostly experience. The actual use and logical thinking required. The ability to pick up simple software packages easily, web based, or other. We have share point with class server do i honestly beleive anyone will start creating content within the next 2 years, i very much doubt it. Will we get a e-learning co-ordinator to wipe everyones ar$e "probably" i know its not in my job description.

    Thats the problem, theres your obstacle, we need new teachers lol

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    The biggest obstacle I face as a network manager is being interrupted by people who automatically assume their problem is more important than whatever task I happen to be doing, and who take exception when I tell them they will have to wait.

    I would say that having an effective problem management system/process in place which everyone adheres to would remove most of this obstacle; I recognise there will always be the 'emergency' situations that need immediate action but I am sure my team could be more productive if we were able to plan and manage problems more effectively.

    My difficulty with implementing a problem management system is lack of support from above and a general unwillingness to use it from staff.

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    Thanks for the replies so far.

    From what he was saying he is more looking at policies and decisions being made higher up in the school or outside of the school which prevent progress being made (such as the school's ISP not opening a port as a simplistic example).

    Training, supporting and ecouraging staff are vital to getting these systems to be used to their full potential but in his role he sees a lot of good project ideas from schools which don't get that far and he wants to explore the reasons why this occurs and identify common themes / trends and the like.

    Darren

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    IF it doesn't even get to the point of giving training then normally I find it is because of lack of time (the usual overworked, under staffed, under paid scenario) or that staff don't see the point (or don't see it as helpful/part of the job/anything to do with them what-so-ever) so don't bother responding to requests, passing information, helping with pilots/testing, or at the an extreme get unions involved to block it

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    For me, its a combination of a lack of planning, and (even if I plan it all) a signicant lack of decision making, so that after having gained agreemernt and done the planning, important decisions are reversed prior to implementation, leading to have to bodge things if we're up against a "real" deadline or wasting time going back and replanning it all again.

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    From what he was saying he is more looking at policies and decisions being made higher up in the school or outside of the school which prevent progress being made (such as the school's ISP not opening a port as a simplistic example).
    Only time I projects being blocked from above is their general lack of planning - usually to do with budgets. eg project y can't be completed until someone pays for project x.
    I think this stems from the fact that mostly school managers are ex or current teachers, who don't really have any experience of ICT project management.

    I've read documents from Becta (who advise LEA's on ICT policy) and I don't think they really prevent any improvements at all - on the contrary, advise from Beta usually emphasises forward planning, and getting around the problems we all face such as Broc's example of change/support managment etc. The problem that I see is that SMT don't listen to this advise. One member of SMT actually told me that Becta 'don't know what they are talking about' w.r.t ICT in schools.

    I think in the future the BSF schools will ultimately suffer from inovative projects being blocked more than we do at the moment, but thats the price of outsourcing.

    There is an ongoing post about how LEAs can block uptake of moodle: http://www.edugeek.net/index.php?nam...&p=37307#37307

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    Where do I start.

    I suppose we need to start small (inside the school) and work our way outwards.

    In the school you have issues of Leadership (is there any in your school?), Planning (a 3-5 year plan is unheard of in a number of schools for ICT and IT Infrastructure ... usually because the school only has a one year development plan and has difficulty sharing / showing long term goals), Implementation (it doesn't how well you plan it, if it falls down at the first hurdle due to poor funding, inadequate staffing, unrealistic time frames.) and let's not forget Training (if you can't train people how to use or do something you might as well just give up the project).

    The above occurs for a number of reasons. Inertia in the teaching staff due to 'initiative overload', union guidelines, lack of interest or just plain laziness. Curriculum restraints ... there is no point producing an all singing, all dancing VLE for PE ... sometimes what you is needed is not what you are delivering. Restraints on resources ... independant learning is an ideal that some schools have difficulty moving towards due to shortage of resources (not enough machines ... either just not enough, or not enough of the right machines) ... or behaviour issues (independant learning does, to some extent, require trust of the students ... trusting them not to trash kit if left to their own devices, trusting them to actually get on with their work... )

    Then you move out to middle leaders (heads of department, heads of year ... ) You need these people on board with any changes. If they decide it is not for them, then you struggle to change the curriculum to fit around the project you are working on. They are the people that can cause most problems within the school as they are the most stressed and pressured to get results. One minute they may be clutching at straws to help them get a few more people a pass ... but the next they are reluctant to change anything in case it doesn't work and their results go down the pan. I fine line and it usually takes a brave HoD to risk a project without pressure from further up.

    Then you have Senior Leaders (or Senior Mnaglement if you prefer to describe the blockers or problem creators). Devolved Leadership will get you so far with projects ... but you need one person to say "do it" sometimes. Sudden swings of policy (if policy exists of course) can scupper many things ... we all know that people further up the chain need to make decisions based around the 'bigger picture' but sometimes those decisions have massive ramifications and you are not given time to prepare for them, and you get it in the neck from staff (lowering faith in both the IT infrastructure and the use of ICT in lessons).

    Then we get to the outside parties ... first we have Local Authorities. LAs have advisors. Quite often they have quite clear ideas about what they want *all* schools in *their* LA to do, irregardless of what a school wants. If you want help with a particular OS because of a new course they may spend ages persuading your SLT that it would be a waste of money ... the same with other systems such as VLEs or specific hardware. This varies from LA to LA ... and, of course, each individual advisor. Sometimes the constraints from LA are budgetary. Money is ring-fenced or withheld because they want things to progress down a certain route. You also have to contend with some LAs wanting to centralise many things.

    Then you have agencies like OFSTED that might question your ideals, The issues with having to asnwer to too many masters (Governors / parents / community, LA, SSAT, DfES, QCA, OFSTED) ... often with conficting information.

    I'll email with specific examples of the above ... some from present and previous schools ... some from other schools that I know of.

    Does that pretty much cover what you are looking for with regards to the areas of concern?

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    GrumbleDook has hit the nails on the head there, but I think it should be emphasised that the greatest stumbling block faced by most schools is financing.

    Not just for equipment but for training staff and support. A lot of the time the plans are in place, the ideas how to use facilities are there but the finances are not.

    I've been fortunate in that funding over the last 3 years has been forthcoming which has taken us from very poor ICT practitioners to one of the best in the country and we still have goals to aim for over the next 3 years.

    Most of what we have done has been achieved by ourselves in-house and not relied on the LEA/ISP. This enabled us to keep the playing field small, ensuring that communication between the relevant parties is over the shortest distance possible, only involving outside authorities when absolutly necessary, for example opening ports or taking advantage of reduced costs for Anti-Virus software etc.

    However, that is not to say we ignore the LEA, in fact we often help by piloting software whenever possible and discuss ideas. We just find that the LEA is usually too slow to react sometimes to a need required by staff or students. This is understandable in that they have to consider the ramifications across the whole area.

    It's not so much that organisations are obstructive, just that either the financial support isn't there or other schools in the area are unable to cope with new ideas due to a lack of training or experienced staff.

    (I think I rambled on a bit there - sorry)

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    Quote Originally Posted by broc
    The biggest obstacle I face as a network manager is being interrupted by people who automatically assume their problem is more important than whatever task I happen to be doing, and who take exception when I tell them they will have to wait.

    I would say that having an effective problem management system/process in place which everyone adheres to would remove most of this obstacle; I recognise there will always be the 'emergency' situations that need immediate action but I am sure my team could be more productive if we were able to plan and manage problems more effectively.

    My difficulty with implementing a problem management system is lack of support from above and a general unwillingness to use it from staff.
    I think I'd take exception if you told me I had to wait ... If I've come to you with a problem, it's because I want it solved. Give me a time when it will be solved .. OK .. but don't tell me to wait!

    What is important is not that the whole system works 'perfectly' (do they ever?) but that ICT can be used to teach the pupils. If a teacher has a problem using ICT equipment for teaching, then that is priority.

    In my experience, any problem management system becomes an obstacle in itself. Ticket systems basically just seem to delay resolutions. Often problems are not mentionned because staff do not know how to use the ticket system (basically they just want the problem fixed .. why should they have to learn how to use a ticket system?). Tickets are then rated as urgent or otherwise by people who have not experienced the problem and non-urgent tickets just get pushed further down the queue as more tickets are raised, consequently a small problem gets left, gets worse or is simply forgotten about;-which is not a very effective system.
    It sometimes seems as if more time is spent working the system rather than solving problems.
    Basically, we shouldn't allow our heads to get too buried in the system that we lose sight of the purpose of the technology, which is to primarily to help pupils learn.

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    You should probably read up on BECTA's FITS scheme deerwood/alan-d...

    http://becta.org.uk/tsas/

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    We have rightly identified a lack of training as an obstacle to ICT implementation. Training is often overlooked when planning for new equipment or new approaches in ICT. Schools are often prepared to spend thousands of pounds on new hardware or software but very little on training. Which is a great shame and almost a disgrace when we consider that schools may be paying very little for the software by purchasing using elcs. Surely some of the money saved could be put toward training?

    Schools or LAs will often lok for some element of training to be included in the purchase cost. Which is basically a sound idea. However, such training is usually based around how the software/hardware works rather than how it can be used in teaching or how it can be fitted into lesson planning etc..

    Even where a school has paid for training with its purchase, not all schools take up the training. Which is very surprising seeing as they have paid for it. Perhaps they cannot always see the need for training, perhaps it is not always possible to arrange the training (supply cover, twilight or staff meeting time not being available etc..), perhaps they simply forget that training is available. Consequently, there are probably a great number of software titles that lie in cupboards or hidden on networks that never get used or, if they are used, are probably not used as best they could be.

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    Quote Originally Posted by deerwood
    Quote Originally Posted by broc
    The biggest obstacle I face as a network manager is being interrupted by people who automatically assume their problem is more important than whatever task I happen to be doing, and who take exception when I tell them they will have to wait.

    I would say that having an effective problem management system/process in place which everyone adheres to would remove most of this obstacle; I recognise there will always be the 'emergency' situations that need immediate action but I am sure my team could be more productive if we were able to plan and manage problems more effectively.

    My difficulty with implementing a problem management system is lack of support from above and a general unwillingness to use it from staff.
    I think I'd take exception if you told me I had to wait ... If I've come to you with a problem, it's because I want it solved. Give me a time when it will be solved .. OK .. but don't tell me to wait!
    Putting it politely... and backing it up with an example from another section of the workforce... tosh! Actually ... that comes across a bit harsh, but let me explain. If, as a paramedic, you are dealing with a number of casualties you use your professional judgement to prioritise injuries. There are well documented procedures for this and people tend only to question them during the 'panic' moments, but in hind-sight agree that the paramedic did the right thing.

    Whilst tech support does not save lives (it's important, but not that important) the incident management and problem management principles that are used are very common across a wide range of fields, whether it is emergency medical care, H M Armed Forces or zoos. The inability to give a specified fix time when someone comes to the door with a problem is not unique to tech support, whether it is in schools or elsewhere. That is why SLAs are published ... they can also give sample fix times (passwords changed within 15 mins .. new software installed at half-term as long as it is given to the support team1 week beforehand) ... If this is in place then staff should not feel put out if they are told "thank you for letting me know of the problem, we will get back to you later".

    What is important is not that the whole system works 'perfectly' (do they ever?) but that ICT can be used to teach the pupils. If a teacher has a problem using ICT equipment for teaching, then that is priority.
    But that *is* the whole system working perfectly!!! What happens if you are having a problem delivering a lesson to a single class but a groups of teachers are delivering a different lesson (same lesson at the same time), eg sections of DiDA, but a resource they need is not working ... who is more important? You with one class or them with four? And the 5 minutes that the techie spends discussing this with you is 5 more minutes that *5* classes are stuffed. This is what most techies mean by people interfering.

    In my experience, any problem management system becomes an obstacle in itself. Ticket systems basically just seem to delay resolutions. Often problems are not mentionned because staff do not know how to use the ticket system (basically they just want the problem fixed .. why should they have to learn how to use a ticket system?). Tickets are then rated as urgent or otherwise by people who have not experienced the problem and non-urgent tickets just get pushed further down the queue as more tickets are raised, consequently a small problem gets left, gets worse or is simply forgotten about;-which is not a very effective system.
    It sometimes seems as if more time is spent working the system rather than solving problems.
    Basically, we shouldn't allow our heads to get too buried in the system that we lose sight of the purpose of the technology, which is to primarily to help pupils learn.
    I think people are starting to talk at cross purposes here ... we have incident management (how it gets reported and how it gets dealt with) and problem management (the prioritising of incidents and looking at long term issues)

    You have obviously had bad experience of incident management ... probably due to the lack of problem management. When tech support teams are moving towards systems like FITS or ITIL it is difficult to roll it all out in one big shot ... the training implications of that are horrendous. It tends to be done piecemeal instead ... and it needs the support of people further up the chain to esure it gets used and staff have adequate training in using the systems.

    Because of the lack of funding it is sometimes hard to buy into ready made solutions which require minimal training for staff to use (please note that I say 'staff' ... not teaching staff because all staff call on tech support and if you want to get paid or have any orders processed then you had better allow them to help people in finance when they need it too).

    Training the support team is essential as well ... there is not enough going on other than vendor specific training. More is needed ... communication skills, project management, leading from the middle (NCSL do a Leading from the middle course for associate staff now), and so on ... people tend to forget about these types of training.

    Now we get to the uncomfortable bit.

    If a well experienced, well qualified doctor tells you to go away because he is dealing with something else you would do. If a teacher is in the middle of a lesson you would not expect to disturb them unless it was needed. You would not tell a Corgi registered heating engineer how to fit pipes.

    It is very, very common for any and every member of staff (not just teachers) to tell techies how to do their job. This is not solely the issue in schools ... but anywhere that has IT. It is very rarely personal when you get told to go away and mind your own business ... unfortunately it is often taken that way though.

    To set up any major ICT project takes time ... it takes considerable planning and people not moving the goal posts. If goal posts have to be moved then only let it be the relevant people moving them (ie the Head, the NM, the Bursar / Business Manager ... and maybe the Head of ICT where relevant). Respect this and things go a lot smoother.

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    Re: Obstacles In ICT Implementations?

    Quote Originally Posted by deerwood
    Quote Originally Posted by broc
    The biggest obstacle I face as a network manager is being interrupted by people who automatically assume their problem is more important than whatever task I happen to be doing, and who take exception when I tell them they will have to wait.

    I would say that having an effective problem management system/process in place which everyone adheres to would remove most of this obstacle; I recognise there will always be the 'emergency' situations that need immediate action but I am sure my team could be more productive if we were able to plan and manage problems more effectively.

    My difficulty with implementing a problem management system is lack of support from above and a general unwillingness to use it from staff.
    In my experience, any problem management system becomes an obstacle in itself. Ticket systems basically just seem to delay resolutions. Often problems are not mentionned because staff do not know how to use the ticket system (basically they just want the problem fixed .. why should they have to learn how to use a ticket system?). Tickets are then rated as urgent or otherwise by people who have not experienced the problem and non-urgent tickets just get pushed further down the queue as more tickets are raised, consequently a small problem gets left, gets worse or is simply forgotten about;-which is not a very effective system.
    It sometimes seems as if more time is spent working the system rather than solving problems.
    Basically, we shouldn't allow our heads to get too buried in the system that we lose sight of the purpose of the technology, which is to primarily to help pupils learn.
    I am not sure you have fully realised the potential of a helpdesk system yet. Maybe you had a bad experience due to lack of support.
    Give the FITS pocket guide service desk section a read to give you a good overview of what can be acomplished.

    We have Liberum setup for 10 months and it has helped a lot when staff have used it, yes it requires training them and constant reminding them to use it. But when they do use it we get great results with it.

    As for telling them to wait, I do try this by reminding them to log it on the helpdesk then it will be looked at in turn. I can only do so many things in a day and need to prioritise. Also I can prepare well for each job as I will know what tools / software to take with me will be needed if they log it accurately.



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