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General Chat Thread, Unfriendly Article vents at Edugeek and its members in General; @Mattx & @ZH Come on ... are you honestly telling me that you cannot find lots of comments on here ...
  1. #91

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    @Mattx & @ZH

    Come on ... are you honestly telling me that you cannot find lots of comments on here from members wanting to stop others having control because *they always know best* and when they get asked for examples of why they did it, best practise and so on only a handful come forward.

    You know I am not going to publicly name and shame schools or members that have regular power battles in there schools, or with other schools, or with LAs. If you want anonymised examples I will give anonymised examples (and I have done previously where I can) but to close your eyes to the reality that people protect their own empires is naive.

    If we were all for that level of control, ensuring everyone had the same systems and so on ... then why did so many people moan about BSF. Yes, some moaned about the quality, but most moaned about control being taken away and given to someone else ... someone who might be equally as knowledgeable but it was about power.

    Managed services under BSF had so many flaws ... but when you have comments like "They are taking away my network" or "Don't they realise staff have different needs in different departments?" (anonymous examples from 2 members - 1 existing and one who left in disgust at EG, taken from my notes of conversations at BETT 2009) then don't start saying I am making gross assumptions based on a minority. We've all been there are ranted at someone else deciding something without our input, our experience ... yes, we have limited choices to make life easier on both workload for the IT staff and the school, but where it is done in isolation from others who should be involved in making decisions like that ... you all know my opinion on decisions being made behind closed doors ... even if done for the 'greater good'. And yes ... I've also already covered that YMMV in schools depending on budgets, support (or lack of) from SLT/SMT, ability of staff, etc ...

  2. #92

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    I agree about standardization - but not in the way you mean. Standardizing equipment does limit choice as GD says. It is exactly the one size fits all approach that most of edugeek was complaining about re managed BSF services a couple of years back -the perception was that they discourage innovation, because it is too much standardisation.

    We just took a different approach; Where we decided to concentrate is the services we provide rather than the desktops we provide. The majority of our services are web-based, or via terminal server, which of course can be limiting in itself, but it gives greater flexibility especially when a teacher wants to use a mac/android/ etc. It also allows students to get the same user experience when they are at home as when they are in the classroom; thus extending teaching beyond the four walls of the classroom. It's not the wrong way to do it, but it works for us.
    And the students without a computer at home? Without the fancy smartphone? Without the iPad? How are they catered for? What happens if you have an influx of such students, do they need to share the computers you have or work out some kind of rota system to get access? You are doing a one size fits all approach here, you're just changing the focus so that the target you're catering for is those who have access to devices your services are set up for, you're still excluding a group. There're always going to be both costs and benefits to anything like this, unless funding becomes available to provide all students with suitable devices.

    I would find it a tad churlish to prevent a student using their own device if they already have them, esp as it saves us money on Desktops. I'd see it akin to preventing a student using a subject textbook that they have paid for.
    You're seeing it in a rather strange way then - if I were a student and got out a different textbook, mid-class, in order to read and work from it rather than working with the rest of the class there'd be a problem in the eyes of the teacher. No one's talking about taking the device off them when they go home, or reading their own textbook when they're not mid-lesson and should be working with the rest of the class.

    My issues with the national curriculum, class sizes and standardized teaching notwithstanding I can certainly see where the problem comes in here.

    Sometimes it's just limited due to a lack of imagination
    Capacity for imagination and training often go hand in hand - there is a lot that can be done with just about any technology, but if you never get any training or time to experiment then none of it's going to happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    If we were all for that level of control, ensuring everyone had the same systems and so on ... then why did so many people moan about BSF. Yes, some moaned about the quality, but most moaned about control being taken away and given to someone else ... someone who might be equally as knowledgeable but it was about power...
    Ah - thats different though as my argument would be not that "i must have the power and be UBER!!!" it would be "the school now no longer has the power and the random commercial company that's main aim is to make a profit at all costs now has the power and is be UBER!!!" wo betide if the education of pupils gets in the way of making a profit, satisfying shareholders, etc etc.

    Thats a whole different ball game and I am willing to wager that is what most NM's had the problem with in BSF (that and the fact they were being Tuped from a secure job into an unsecure job). Its not the NM losing the power, its the School.

    Butuz

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    Text books ... I love that discussion.

    There are many schools out there that use different copies or even versions of some text books as they make do with what they have access to.

    The same way with most technology ... if it can do a certain task (word processing for example) then does it matter what the device is or who owns it? If we are talking about how they get access to the tool itself, then that is why some people are seeing the cloud as a viable option, whereas others are making use of existing investment (eg citrix systems) to make tools available. Most of the time when a word processor is needed it is not to learn how to use it in ICT lessons, it is to do a myriad of other things. Yes, the core principles and skills need to be there, but once they are who cares what is used?

    If we are saying it is too difficult to manage reliably then rather than saying "We shouldn't do it" then we should be putting our collective brain together, finding examples of how it can work or creating betters ways it should work.

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    The bit where I agree with John is that in many schools the IT Team are all about limiting choice rather than creating it. Sometimes it is for good reasons ... but for a good amount it is about power and control.
    ?
    In an ideal world I'd love to allow people to use whatever they want to use but in reality there's only X amount of us at work and we can only support so much. If we let people install/use whatever they want we'd still be expected to fully support/manage it even if it was agreed before hand that we would not. There is only so much we can be expected to know
    A lot of the time there really is no need for some of the stuff that is requested when already installed stuff does the job fine.

    I try to give users choice where I can, i.e I support both firefox and IE, but I'm not going to install every browser under the sun and give myself a much bigger workload for the convience of one or two users.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Text books ... I love that discussion.

    There are many schools out there that use different copies or even versions of some text books as they make do with what they have access to.
    You might almost say a text book discussion.

    The same way with most technology ... if it can do a certain task (word processing for example) then does it matter what the device is or who owns it?
    Yep - absolutely. What's the management overhead for the device? Does it require additions to the system in order to do a certain task? Are there obstacles or drawbacks? Are there any particular benefits and reasons for using the device, or is it just doing technology for shininess' sake? What are the costs, and what are the savings?

    If we are talking about how they get access to the tool itself, then that is why some people are seeing the cloud as a viable option, whereas others are making use of existing investment (eg citrix systems) to make tools available. Most of the time when a word processor is needed it is not to learn how to use it in ICT lessons, it is to do a myriad of other things. Yes, the core principles and skills need to be there, but once they are who cares what is used?

    If we are saying it is too difficult to manage reliably then rather than saying "We shouldn't do it" then we should be putting our collective brain together, finding examples of how it can work or creating betters ways it should work.
    With infinite resources, anything's possible. Few people live in a situation where they have infinite resources, and therefore it is entirely reasonable for them to say "I have me and two technicians to deal with the 400 laptops, 1200 desktops, 18 servers, countless printers, scanners and accessories and so no, I cannot spare the resource to set up a Citrix server so you can get on to the network with your iPad - go use one of the desktops or laptops or find a way to get me enough resource to manage what we already are managing without being massively overcommitted, and then we'll look at new projects".

  7. #97

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    @Mattx & @ZH

    Come on ... are you honestly telling me that you cannot find lots of comments on here from members wanting to stop others having control because *they always know best* and when they get asked for examples of why they did it, best practise and so on only a handful come forward.
    Thats not always an element of power though - if the person is doing their job correctly then it's about what is best for the school as a whole & if they are good at their job and know more than say some of the teachers or SMT then yes they certainly will know best. However it is also their duty to do what ever they are told or instructed - even if they don't agree with it. I will always provide examples of why something is not a good idea and I will do so in writing / E-mail making sure I cc all the relevant parties that need informing about it. If after that it's ignored then I know I have covered my backside. After all my job descirption is 'ICT Technician', not manager, not head-master, not bursar. If they wish to ignore my suggestions or concerns I have knowing that I've been there, done that, got the t-shirt, then fine - it rests with them - I've done my part. The power is with them, not with me. And like I said if the techie continues to ignore orders then the school has the 'power' to do something about it.

    You know I am not going to publicly name and shame schools or members that have regular power battles in there schools, or with other schools, or with LAs. If you want anonymised examples I will give anonymised examples (and I have done previously where I can) but to close your eyes to the reality that people protect their own empires is naive.

    If we were all for that level of control, ensuring everyone had the same systems and so on ... then why did so many people moan about BSF. Yes, some moaned about the quality, but most moaned about control being taken away and given to someone else ... someone who might be equally as knowledgeable but it was about power.

    Managed services under BSF had so many flaws ... but when you have comments like "They are taking away my network" or "Don't they realise staff have different needs in different departments?" (anonymous examples from 2 members - 1 existing and one who left in disgust at EG, taken from my notes of conversations at BETT 2009) then don't start saying I am making gross assumptions based on a minority. We've all been there are ranted at someone else deciding something without our input, our experience ... yes, we have limited choices to make life easier on both workload for the IT staff and the school, but where it is done in isolation from others who should be involved in making decisions like that ... you all know my opinion on decisions being made behind closed doors ... even if done for the 'greater good'. And yes ... I've also already covered that YMMV in schools depending on budgets, support (or lack of) from SLT/SMT, ability of staff, etc ...
    The BSF was not just about ICT in schools, it was about schools which were falling down being re-built etc. And it was not just ICT that was in the firing line when it came to jobs etc. All staff at the schools would be effected in some manner. I'm now talking with my school gov hat on as I work in a private school which is not effected. For me [ and the school I'm a gov at ] the BSF could not come faster enough. The school [ a primary ] too small and falling down was crying out for help. It was part of the BSF because two schools within a 2 min walk were also being possibly merged and it would make sence for the primary to be included within this project. Anyway it was one of the ones scrapped by that idiot Gove. Funnily enough now we are being infomed that because of the huge increase in places needed for our borough that around a few million quid has magically been found to sort this out for maybe the school. So plans are now in motion but, and this is a BIG but the gov body, teachers, parents have to be involved in EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of it. They will have to their voices heard in order for this to be a success.
    If there are elements of BSF failing because of people complaining about the lack of control they have then what options were in place before it happened ? Were these highlighted before it all happened - if not then I agree that is wrong and it should be dealt with but really [ in my opinion again ] - you have to make sure you are part of the process - that's life, not just in schools but in normal business too. Some may have lost their jobs, been there done it myself - again all part of this thing called life but to state power is a route towards this in my opinion is rather lame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    I would find it a tad churlish to prevent a student using their own device if they already have them, esp as it saves us money on Desktops. I'd see it akin to preventing a student using a subject textbook that they have paid for.
    But would you feel the same if said textbook contained something inappropriate to the lesson, or contained something else - handwritten answers to certain questions or topics?

    While it would be nice in a perfect world to allow user's own devices on the networks, the amount of viruses on memory sticks shows that people can't look after their equipment. What about if the equipment contains games and the user is disrupting the lesson with it? Or a non legit version of Windows or Office? Where does that leave the school?

    I don't think you can compare a textbook with a computer.
    Last edited by Gibbo; 23rd February 2011 at 01:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    Ah - thats different though as my argument would be not that "i must have the power and be UBER!!!" it would be "the school now no longer has the power and the random commercial company that's main aim is to make a profit at all costs now has the power and is be UBER!!!" wo betide if the education of pupils gets in the way of making a profit, satisfying shareholders, etc etc.

    Thats a whole different ball game and I am willing to wager that is what most NM's had the problem with in BSF (that and the fact they were being Tuped from a secure job into an unsecure job). Its not the NM losing the power, its the School.

    Butuz
    I wish that were the case ... most who TUPED over realised that they had more power than ever as they could stick two fingers up to the people in the school who constantly broke the rules about giving you software at the last minute to install, buying their own kit and expecting it to work and all those useless white elephants which have been mentioned in other threads. Some who TUPED over were being gotten rid of (personal protection of their own job) so they tried to engineer a job for themselves at the school ... and in spite of examples about how this could be done for the benefit of the school it was done for the benefit of the person. Now I don't blame them for that ... on a personal level I can fully understand that and this is something Unions could have / should have been able to provide advice on ... but where it has worked well is when it has been a primarily educationalist role, needing some particular technical expertise, such as Moodle / VLE managers, A/V specialists, etc.

    I know that sometimes control has to be taken because if not then nothing gets done ... we have some wonderful examples within our membership of that happening, generally for good reasons, but those who privately are happy to discuss the corners they have cut, deals with the devil they have had to make ... and most of us have had to make them (I'm still serving my sentence for mine) ... and so when others say they will admit to being jaded about having to deal manglement and teachers ... I'm happy to admit I get jaded by trying to deal with folk that are resistant to change, folk who can't/don't/won't communicate with others (even in their own departments or teams) and folk who won't even constructively look at arguments or points of discussion put forward by others purely because they are not their own. This applies to IT Support, teachers, SLT, Manglement, parents, suppliers, advisors, national agencies ... please feel free to add more onto that list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattx View Post
    The BSF was not just about ICT in schools, it was about schools which were falling down being re-built etc.
    There was a good post by RichyS on The Reg last month about BSF:

    Or, you know, a few of these councils could have acted responsibly and maintained these schools as they went along; rather then letting them fall into rack and ruin...
    I think this point has been missed in the BSF argument. You see pictures of schools with holes in roofs on the media. What were the site management staff doing?

    I know of a school which was BSFed, there was nothing wrong with the old building, it was perfectly sound. It just looked old and dated.

  11. #101

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    If we are saying it is too difficult to manage reliably then rather than saying "We shouldn't do it" then we should be putting our collective brain together, finding examples of how it can work or creating betters ways it should work.
    This is treading on the line of software development / content creation again. Are you saying that because teacher x finds some bit of software they think is great and will only run on XP SP1 with hotfixs up to KB135711 that we should dedicate time to make it work or rewrite the software/content. Most people have a full work load as it is, I'm sure you've read the posts of members with full helpdesks doing overtime just to try and keep up with the kit they are expected to support now and dropping staff on top of that.

    Your quest for reasoning behind decisions can be good but it seems that sometimes you don't acknolage or take on board examples were they are provided (see my post above). Also sometimes stuff is sensitive and can't be shared as it is because of internal matters and policy thus putting the poster in danger if they discussed it more fully.

    Not everything in the world needs to be documented and outlined to you in a policy to work, the world is not wikipedia. It seems that you take this lack of provided documentation or written policies as proof that you are right rather than as a lack of willingness or ability to share from the OP.
    Last edited by SYNACK; 23rd February 2011 at 02:17 PM.

  12. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Your quest for reasoning behind decisions can be good but it seems that sometimes you don't acknolage or take on board examples were they are provided (see my post above). Also sometimes stuff is sensitive and can't be shared as it is because of internal matters and policy thus putting the poster in danger if they discussed it more fully.

    Not everything in the world needs to be documented and outlined to you in a policy to work, the world is not wikipedia. It seems that you take this lack of provided documentation or written policies as proof that you are right rather than as a lack of willingness or ability to share from the OP.
    No ... I do fully acknowledge examples you have posted ... which is why I say YMMV, other factors are involved that are completely out of *anyone's* control (eg Gove taking back a chunk of money, changes of SLT resulting in long term plans being scrapped, personal attacks by certain staff done to discredit member of the IT team, the scrapping of BSF with no real idea about what is happening with the capital build program instead), but I do ask that people allow others to have equally valid points of view.

    Most of the folk here I tend to argue / discuss this with share the same frustrations, argue for similar things from a different point of view and to be honest, it is preaching to the converted at times (converted to something other than I would personally do, but it has been their choice, done through healthy discussion at their school/schools where possible and is done in the best interest of the school).

    When I go on with "The usual self important, holier than thou, condescending claptrap" I am targeting those that will not give people a chance, and the attack on John was that. Yes, I know some folk cannot be a fully public with some things and I do have a healthy history of chatting via PM, email, IM, phone to get a fuller picture ... but the automatic gainsaying that started in this thread because someone *dared* to say something different to what a number of EG regulars might want to hear.

    As for the example you use about the software development and the stuff needing XP SP1, etc ... what I would like people to talk about is how they spoke with that teacher instead of just the behind the red door rant about how such and such was stupid enough to ask for something that will not work. What was done to look at what it was needed for? What was done to look for an alternative? How was that costed and how much time did it take? Did they go for the alternative in the end? Was there any retraining needed for staff and students? How long did that take? What was the impact of having to do all of this on the support for the rest of the school?

    I know lots of people have too much to do ... and I will say there are only so many hours in the day. If your time is not being managed properly because you have to much to do then what can be done to change that? More staff (unlikely right now)? A reduction in what is provided / supported (because that will go down well)? A change in what and how things are done to try and make it more efficient?

    *That* is what I want to talk about ... not just head in the sand stuff. The approach some people take is a block to that ... and that is something that also frustrates me (see previous post). If people don't want that to talk about it ... then fine, I'll piss off to the back of the class ... but if people are not willing to help themselves / each other, find out how other schools are doing things differently or even discuss things ... well, no-one else will anymore.

  13. #103
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    After speaking with Dos_Box a lot (we are related after all) and reading posts on this site, I fully sympathise with the plight of schools and ICT.

    Having said that, I work in the business of IT (software dev house), and we are constantly having to backwards code our web apps for IE6 as many of the very large telcos only allow IE6 in house and have no plans to update.

    In house here we run XP, Vista and Windows 7, mainly because we only buy OS's with new machines, and we only (generally) get new machines whn old ones fail. And we are what I would call a cutting edge company!

    Based on this I would say that the mix of technologies in schools sounds exactly like what a pupil would face in industry!!

    From a personnal perspective, I employ people with skills. It's the skills that matter, and (as I get older) I find younger people with less underlying knowledge, more prevalent. As was pointed out earlier in the thread Word processing uses maybe 20 basic features, and so pretty much any WP package has these. Be it word 2.0, Word 2010, Openoffice or whatever. What I value is a person who can transfer skills between packages quickly.

    After all IT is always about change and pushing technology boundries, whilst using some quite old technologies to get there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    sounds like the beginnings of a Ph.D thesis
    Yep ... I did put it as one of several ideas to some friends who have recently started their Ph.D (or starting next year) and the look of horror on their faces (virtual or otherwise) was a prize to see. Since this is one that not even Becta was willing to tackle (well, instead we had SLICT and TeamSLICT instead) you can understand why folk are a tad scared of taking it on. The best which can be done is to point at the good/oustanding schools who are noted for their IT and show examples from them.

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    A quick point on BSF and schools falling apart, a number of LAs and schools (some of which had the maintenance budget given to them already) decided not to do anything to fix the failings as there was little point in wasting the taxpayers money fixing something due to be replaced. Catch 22 ... fix a problem in a building that will be knocked down in anything from 1-3 years and get grief in the press or from politicians about waste of money, or don't fix it and get grief for letting the kids learn in terrible conditions ... but have a bit more money to spend on other things including the new build when it arrives.

    The mistake that was frequently made though, was that no maintenance was done on many buildings ... so a small amount of money could have stopped problems arising or at least slowed the problem down until the new building was available. The same has happened with NHS, MoD, Police, etc ...

    The cynical amongst us might even look at those who intentionally did nothing so that the terrible state of the buildings in a few of the schools might push for everyone to jump onto BSF that bit sooner ... possibly.

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