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General Chat Thread, A Point Of View: "School Networks – No Longer Just A Man In A Cupboard…" in General; ... and all of that is not to mention the things we deal with that never even cross the screens ...
  1. #31
    leco's Avatar
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    ... and all of that is not to mention the things we deal with that never even cross the screens for our users. Thinking of the updates, browser choice, "automatic" app deployment on somebody's whim.

    I am unable to compare life as a school technician to one in a commercial environment, but I do often wonder what "living in the real world" would be like. (That comment on "real world" is thrown at me if I complain about my work life to anyone outside of school btw.)

    I agree with mattx, I actually do like learning but please give me a break and let me do it in your time and not what is supposed to be mine.

  2. #32

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    @mattx & leco

    I can echo your sentiments regarding technical training; almost all of the technical knowledge I have gained working at my school in the last 7 years has been done informally, snatching the odd hour or so here & there, or reading, researching, or experimenting at home. I have largely given this up now because of BSF & the uncertainty surrounding the technical solution being proposed by our LA.

    On a more positive note, we have been told under our new roles (as part of a BSF managed service) technical training will be properly funded with time allocated as part of the job. Some of it is likely to happen before the service starts, and if necessary the MSP has indicated it will provide resource to support my school while we are being trained.

  3. #33
    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattx View Post
    This is the problem I am now having, along with the brainless tasks of showing the teacher a million times how to get the IWB working, or how a volume control works you now have to be an expert on the 100s of apps installed and quite frankly I have NO INTEREST in those applications. Call me lazy, but that is NOT MY JOB. If they work then that is my job done, call me when they error.
    I no longer want to have to learn new OS in my own time, I don't want to learn about VMware / ESx but I have to, I don't want to learn about SANS, ISCSI and all that but I have to and I have to in my own time but now I don't want to. I have my OWN life and my own children to bring up, I don't want to know about this things anymore - however send me on training courses during YOUR time and I won't have a problem.....
    i am, or rather was, in a similar boat. I didn't want to have anything to do with doing application usage support, and fortunately management agreed that it was the role of the teachers to understand and work with the applications.....as you say i'm there for the error messages.

    and i've got to the stage where i'd really rather not fill my head with the stuff i need to know about. Time away from the day job within work hours to do the training is one thing.....or allocating time specifically for training, but to come home and have to do it - and the sacrifices that entails..........well, to be fair i'm getting quite partial to the idea of doing nothing of an evening or weekend.

  4. #34

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    I've been doing it the other way around for quite a long time.

    I worked out fairly early on in my career in schools that the best way to help the staff and students get the most out of the software was to understand it, understand what they wanted to do with it and help them make a decision about whether it was the best thing to be used. By doing so I found that I could strip out a lot of the software that was causing problems, had less user problems from those staff and was able to get on with other things. A lot of this involved sitting down with staff and asking questions, looking at their schemes of work and so on.

    I was lucky though ... I was in a school that had the schemes of work available (not just ICT but pretty much all subjects) and as long as you got the right teacher they were very helpful. Admittedly it wasn't done with the knowledge of senior manglement and they did not like it when they did find out ... but it worked for me.

  5. Thanks to GrumbleDook from:

    bossman (3rd March 2010)

  6. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfisher View Post
    Posted reply on your response blog!

    Wish my ICT budget was £75k... I've been informed we have a £6k budget and 8-10k capital funding.... and that's it!

    Primary ICT is even more underfunded than secondary, they rely on grants once a decade to keep up to scratch.

    The problem is, Secondary school's budgets invariably go into flogging the dead horse of a network to keep ticking along as long as it can, meaning no money for peripherals like whiteboards, visualisers etc.

    Primary's rely on grants to buy equipment, so tend to have a good amount of IWB's and other learning aids, but their core network is generally years behind what it should be.
    oh man and i thought we were bad, we are looking at 60k budget and thats it, ~500 computers (150 staff laptops, ~120 student laptops, rest are desktops), 13 servers, 8 color printers, god knows how many black and white printers... and this 60k has to include new laptops to replace the 40, 6year old laptops and 30 projectors oh yea and 2 IWBs that just decided to break this year.... our budget used to be around 200k 5years ago, its been declining fast since then. we probably need around 160k just to function at a optimal level and atleast 250-300k to get back up to some sort of decent standard. however we fear that when the new budget rolls around we will be getting even less than 60k and thats the sad bit, we are out of cash, pulling spare parts from a pile of around 60 laptops to keep the school computers running and we work in a cupboard that allows us to work on 2 computers at a time while there always seems to be double that broken... dire times


    the funny thing we got some slight relief with 25k capitol and got told we had to spend it on NEW equipment but not to replace the OLD equipment ohno to add onto the network, we had to fight that movement fast, how in hell does it make sence to buy more new equipment when you cant even afford to run the old equipment?! unfortunately this 25k went on replacing 3 printers, 3 projectors, toner cartridges, and some machines(we had some m200 6yr old machines for replacement 30 total) 10 M750 toshiba's for our uses that dont have acccess to a IWB, 20 U500 Toshiba's (really nice machines) for the others.

    /rant

    i too wonder what it would be like to work in one specific area of IT in Industry, rather than dealing with software deployment, SIMS, data backups, HTML, PHP, ASP, SQL, Group Policy, Active Directory, training staff(i teach VTLE and Netsupport on teacher training days) etc

  7. #36

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    In fact Bossman I am really pleased you have bought this up [ number of apps having to install and try and support ] as this is now something I am going to raise at our next ICT meeting. I have already pointed the NM, ICT Teacher and Bursar to the main article so at least [ if they read it ] they will have some pre warning !!

  8. #37

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    I have added comment to the blog but to expand slightly here.

    The nail on the head for me is differences between schools if you have a good SLT who view ICT in high regards wages can be commanded. If on the other hand ICT is seen as a addon then the support will be seen as that.

    Russell

  9. #38

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    Think yourselves lucky to have a budget, I didn't get enough to cover the cost of toner this year because of BSF.... but wait until you see what the school has to pay for equipment as part of BSF.... then you will really want to cry

  10. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by russdev View Post
    I have added comment to the blog but to expand slightly here.

    The nail on the head for me is differences between schools if you have a good SLT who view ICT in high regards wages can be commanded. If on the other hand ICT is seen as a addon then the support will be seen as that.

    Russell
    100% agree with that! But I think a lot of schools are now turning that corner and it's a trend that's been happening for the last 2 or 3 years. I mean lets face it at the end of the day if the servers where switched off the data manager, heads pa, deputy headand business manager would all be at my door complaining long before the ICT teachers turned up to ask what is going on.

    ICT in schools has become mission critical. And I think SLT are beginning to see it that way and realise our value even if they don't understand the work we do.

  11. Thanks to tmcd35 from:

    bossman (3rd March 2010)

  12. #40

    broc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    ICT in schools has become mission critical.
    That is a key message promoted by Partnership for Schools and is one of the reasons why they are adamant that BSF schools sign up to managed services because in their opinion a managed service will deliver a more professional, industry strength solution than most schools can do going it alone.

    It is a tough message to argue against, even for the best of schools. I know that in many respects a managed service will be better for my school, I also know that there are as many aspects that will be worse, not the least being the cost of the service.

    I also believe that many BSF projects are confused about the difference between best & best value...... we don't need the best at all costs in school, we need something that will do the job & is affordable.

    Spending 40% of the total equipment budget on Cisco networking kit may be a case in point....

  13. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by russdev View Post
    I have added comment to the blog
    Thanks for your comment, Russell!

    I suppose the logical question to come out of all of this is: given all the information, what would be the realistic solution? Schools employing their own, internally regulated and funded, IT support departments? Forming "support coalitions" with other schools in the LEA providing centralised support, but maintaining individual funding (almost like a mini-outsource)? Outsourcing completely to an IT specialist? etc etc etc...

    I quite like the idea of a coalition with other schools in the sense that a lot of services are duplicated, unnecessarily, across secondary schools - are there benefits to be had from centralising some of these?

    Also, with that in mind it would put in place a rigid structure of responsibility and management - the Network Manager would have Senior Techs for each school, and each Senior Tech would have one or two Jr Techs 'on the ground'.

    Forgive my idealism, and feel free to shoot me down if you think it's a poor methodology!

  14. #42

    Domino's Avatar
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    Personally, it'd be far better for schools to hire a IT manager with business experience (as many have)

    My main issue when at the school was that we were totally at the whim of the heads latest fad.

    My budget was used completely when she ordered a laptop for every member of staff - meaning my smoothwall/ruckus/netbook scheme was pushed out another year. And then I got the brunt of complaints about that.

    I'm not saying it should be more 'us versus them' - but I feel a member of the SMT should be technically and business minded to lead improvement and also explain concepts and requirements.

    Yet again, this is only from my experience - and I fear the main problem will turn out to be the differing attitudes and experiences depending on your workplace/LEA

  15. #43

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    @Domino
    Coming from a business background would not stop some Heads (or others) making silly purchases or planning (or lack of planning) decisions.

    When we are talking about 'industry' we are talking about people how have experience of planning and are given the role to do that job without the interference of manglement.

    You know my thoughts on this ... and I try not to sound like a broken record but FITS is where this is trying to be changed. Getting that message across to heads is difficult. FITS is far more relevant to schools than ITIL is. It might be that long term a school who still has their own support (post BSF ... you never know) will go the next step and go down the ITIL route, but unlikely if they have FITS in place.

  16. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    @Domino
    Coming from a business background would not stop some Heads (or others) making silly purchases or planning (or lack of planning) decisions.

    When we are talking about 'industry' we are talking about people how have experience of planning and are given the role to do that job without the interference of manglement.

    You know my thoughts on this ... and I try not to sound like a broken record but FITS is where this is trying to be changed. Getting that message across to heads is difficult. FITS is far more relevant to schools than ITIL is. It might be that long term a school who still has their own support (post BSF ... you never know) will go the next step and go down the ITIL route, but unlikely if they have FITS in place.
    After a meeting with FITS this morning we shall be seeing a lot more of them on EduGeek in the very near future

  17. #45

    russdev's Avatar
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    A number things as a follow up..

    First I do think sometimes hiring someone from a business background can be wrong. As sometimes people with business background do not understand the 'education side'.

    Another point we say about wages in industry being better but a blog post from Mike at ComputerWorldUK brought something up interesting.

    IT strikes, a sign of the times? - Community - ComputerworldUK

    Surprising too is the minimum basic wage of £12,000 promised by the union. IT service companies promise to reduce user organisations’ costs through economies of scale and labour arbitrage – a fancy way of saying they will push down staffing costs.
    So people think that industry have higher wages and yes this was true 2 years back but under current climate that is not so true.

    Russ

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