I wouldn't go in, All guns blazing, I would make it a slow change.
When starting a new job at a new school, what are your priorities? How do you address issues?
My issue priorities are as follows
- Auditing the entire network from top to bottom, and will barcode everything, or do as much as possible.
- Filtering - If Bloxx/Websense/Smoothwall is in place I will leave it to do its job, if anything else I will pull out when licencing runs out and go for Smoothwall every time, as not much else is good for education. I found RobLungley to be the man at smoothwall who does me the best deals and I enjoy dealing with him so thats always a plus!
- Firewall - ensure a decent one is in place, netgear firewall is not a bad one from experience, ISA is also ok, but takes too much faffing about.
- Helpdesk - having a helpdesk makes the staff think things are gearing towards the future, and I found they improve efficiency and are great for proving a point if you think there is too much workload or if you think you need another worker.
- Infrastructure, at least 1 Cat5e / Cat6a point in every room for the need of the many - you would be surprised if a poor WIFI system is in place that one of these becomes handy! Always worth it in my opinion.
- Switching - ensure gigabit switches in each cab with fibre links between said cabs (a faster backbone = happier users IME, as it means they get quicker logon times and smoother internet)
- Making sure the cabinets are tidy - I hate messy cables and find that a tidy cabinet is easier to deal with than a messy one! I have been known to spend days re-configuring a cabinet to ensure it is VERY tidy.
- Wireless - usually aiming for 100% coverage of the inside of buildings and 70% coverage of the outside of the buildings. Generally makes people happy if they can connect in and outside!
- Virtualisation of servers - usually 1 server to cover 4 virtual servers works out about right for me, and obviously the green benefits are a good one to the bosses!
- Monitors - having flatscreens gives everyone the thought that they are new and run faster. It is inately odd how this happens but hey, it helps the user think things are running better!
- Desktop machines / laptops - usually a RAM upgrade usually does the trick, however some cases a new desktop / laptop is needed, I always audit the machines to make sure they are up to scratch!
- Staff survey - find out what they think is lacking in the network or what they need help with in terms of software/hardware and organise training
This is the order I do things, if anybody does it differently, I would be happy to see how
I wouldn't go in, All guns blazing, I would make it a slow change.
I would add on to the end of that (unless you would cover it in the audit) a check on licensing.
That list is not something to do in the first week/month. It takes me about 3 - 4 months to do the above.
Kettle, mini fridge in office and some decent coffee/tea. Always no 1 on my list
If the cabling looks to the usual standard in schools, hire a Fluke tester and check all the sockets.
Find the important people in school who can get things done or are good to have on your side.
Always get the site agent, receptionist, bursar and data person on side
Discover the skillset of your team (if you've got one) - make sure they are utilised to the best of their ability, find out if there any gaps in their knowledge which you could either help them with or put them on some training.
Ask if there is any outstanding jobs that the school is aware of, any of these that have been open for a while that you are able to fix early on will make a good impression.
Meet with all Heads of Departments individually - ask how their department could be improved via the use of ICT - listen to what they have to say, some will have valud points which you could introduce.
Speak with someone like the office manager - ask them what day to day tasks they carry out manually - could these be electronic to save time and money?
If you're the sole responsibility then I think you've got it pretty much nailed. However I suspect I would move #12 to the top. Without an "all guns ablazing" approach it would give you the opportunity to meet and greet staff, get an idea of how things work or how they think things should work, what your predecessor lacked or excelled at and very importantly instills a confidence in you that you are there to help and prepared to listen. Then when you start making changes (and I agree sometimes slow can be best) you can use what they've said as your guide. A list of points raised to you in your walkabout with a list of what you intend to do with your time both looks good and IS good.
I find that asking individual teachers first what they would like in terms of ICT helps more than going to dept heads. Individual teachers can give you a much broader range than dept heads. Dept heads / SMT are the last people I ask as if I get a range from teachers, I can use it to say "well some staff have said x rather than y and I feel it would be beneficial because of z"
No, but I am thinking incase I get one. I dont want to go around cutting peoples permissions etc if it is accepted practice they are allowed to do things, or go round limited or adding to their facilities if they have been limited to a certain amount already.
And trust me, 100+ staff gives you a much better grasp of things. I learnt from my contracted place which has 80 staff (combination of full and part time) dong a survey with them got me better results than just speaking to HoDs
1. Rather pointless waste of time. Schools should already have everything listed on an asset register as part of their finance regulations, Fmsis etc.
2. Humm yet another smoothwall is the best comment. Anyone would think edugeek is funded by these guys.
3. Again this would already be in place as part of the schools safeguarding obligations.
4. Good idea unless something is already in place and working well.
5. Cabling for cabling sake isn’t the best way to spend the schools funds.
6. Again unless current backbone is woefully inadequate would this be the best way to send funds.
7. Days patching a cabinet? Can’t say that’s very efficient.
8. Again unless you have a need / equipment that needs to used outside to you need to spending money on coverage that is not needed
Oh I could go on but I’m getting bored now. I am sorry but your post is just another self-promotion exercise shouting look at me, if I worked at your school I would do this this and this. Spend, spend spend! Really have you any idea of school budgets at the moment?
Yes I do, infact in some of the schools I have been to I have been the budget holder for many of them and I can stretch £4000 to cover an entire year for the IT department with ease...
As for your points, I shall answer them
1) Many schools lack equipment registers through lack of time / people to do it. I always do an IT asset register whether or not the school has one in place, reason being, if something is missing from the main register and I find it, or if something is missing from my list and should be there, it will show up. If they match the current register, then fantastic, not a waste of time!
2) I like smoothwall more than I like Bloxx, Websense or anything else. This is through personal experience, nothing else. I have seen barracuda in some places and it costs 4/5 times what smoothwall does and does the same job. Bloxx costs more as does websense. If they have any one of those 3 in place I will leave it, if it is a dansguardian or anything else, I will change it purely based on prior knowledge that a better product is out there.
3) I have seen places (not just where I have worked but where other edugeekers have worked and even in government establishments) where no firewall is in place due to it not being a concern or they are happy that windows firewall will do the job. Yes most places should have a firewall, but a fair chunk dont.
4) Agreed - I wont change a helpdesk system that works well unless it is woefully wasteful and uses paper or too much time.
5) Cabling for the sake of cabling is not something I do. I do cabling for the sake of connectivity in every room. Nothing worse than when the wireless decides to stop working and having no point to connect to the network nearby.
6) Many backbones are now based on 10/100 systems and yes work fine, however if you are going to have an up to date system or a system with some resilliance you need the newer equipment. I have seen a 10/100 switch last many years (infact one lasted 8 years before it burned out) and got replaced. All I do is push the replacement a bit faster if it needs it.
7) Have you seen the state of some cabinets? Its like someone threw spaghetti in there and left it to set against the equipment. In some cases yes I have spent days doing an entire data cabinet (not a small 6u/8u one but a full 42u cab) and got it looking neater and tidier and therefore better airflow for the equipment, and easier to change something if needs be!
8) Some staff use wireless PDA's on the field or wireless registers as such the connectivity is require.
As for the comment regarding it being self-promotion, no it is not, it is asking what others do and comparing it to my own methodology. I may learn something from them and vice versa, after all is that not something we all share? A common goal to gain knowledge.
Oh and the last comment, once again I will reitterate - I have been the budget holder in many cases and have been able to stretch measly sums of money - £4'000 for a school with over 500 items of equipment (not including keyboards, mice or monitors) and making it last an academic year is nothing short of a miracle. If you include cost of broadband and licencing, the budget was nearer to £10'000 but as that is gone before I see it, I don't count it.
I liked item 5 on your list
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