Whingefree (1st May 2012)
Definitely consider an onsite technician you need someone there for those last minute issues which effect the instant teaching and learning of students, you could always create a dual role for this with the individual carrying out teaching assistant or similar duties on the side, this is what a friend of mine does at a primary school it seems to work well for both parties. We use a support company consisting of ex LEA engineers from Beds and Bucks. It acts as a kind of insurance for us, we have a flexi contract consisting of 5 days support which we can use throughout the year.
Picking up on TechMonkey's point about the projectors I would recommend taking a look at interactive projectors which support the use of a pen but there is no need for a board we demoed one a few months ago but I don't think we gave it a very thorough testing but in principle they look good. ** it can be rather scratchy on the wall but you could throw up some MDF and paint it matt white **
Good luck with the school it sounds like an exciting project for whoever gets involved on the IT side.
This is my best advice. Start by finding someone can trust that as you want as a ict technician weather this is a school employed one, a contract with a secondry school or a tech employed by a local group of primary schools.
Now get the tech to help you design a network that they can support and you can afford, plus what is designed so it can be expanded as the school gets going.
This about a server and a domain. This will allow documents to be centrally stored and backed up by backing up one machine.
Make sure you have plenty of backup space and make sure its done on a daily basis.
The server can they be set up as a windows update server which will keep the windows updates up to date on the machines.
The server can be set up to centrally deploy an antivirus like sophos and keep it up to date.
Talk with the tech what company you want to supply machines and what make they are. Its not just the price of buying its the aftersales and dont forget to get says 3 or 5 years on site warranty next day business warranty is what I go for.
I like stone and buy direct from the manufacturer as I have always found the after sales to be good.
Laptops and good but expensive to maintain and life span is shorter than a fixed pc. People sit on them bash them/etc and they are not as robust. I would put a fixed pc into all classrooms and a full ict suite. I would have the suite done properly first time with air con, benches and trunking,etc. Make sure you have more points and power sockets than you need you will expand and get more equipment. This may be expensive in the first instance but will save you money long term.
Printing costs a lot of money. Think how this is going to be done and please try and avoid bubblejet printer as they are expensive. A lot of primary schools go with a laser printer in the ict suite and a central photcopier in the middle of the school under contract where you pay for per click(print).
I like smartboards as they just work and try and pick projectors that you can clean the filters without taking them down. I like epsons. Try are get universal brackets to mount them on so if you change make then you will be able to reuse the mount.
I'd suggest that rather than looking at what technology you want, you probably would be better served looking at your curriculum and how that will be delivered and see what kit you need to support that now and in the future, rather than the temptation to buy shiny things now because you need them.
Thanks everyone. Much food for thought.
Hadn't considered employing ICT techie because we'll be so tiny to start with - need to look at that as we grow though.
I work in two primary schools, one im employed for 25 hours and the other is only 5 hours with over time arranged as needed,
you may find a techie wanting extra hours if he/she hasnt got enough in current school(s)
Sounds like an exciting project for you, best of luck
There's always more work for a technician to make people more efficient. Even as simple as walking around pointing out to people things like ctrl-c/x/v shortcuts. Making your forms electronic, automatically gather in data.
Not sure why everyone is against laptops for teachers, no real problems here with 150 of them over 4 sites and just me. Teachers, TAs, site managers, admin who work at more than 1 site. Even easier with windows 7, more likely to install home printers without needing admin password, and easier to deploy.
I unpack the new laptops, scan the barcode into the inventory, put asset tag on. Put them on some shelves in my walk in safe, which has network and power in. Import script from inventory to WDS to match WLAN MAC from barcode with asset number for computer name. Leave them imaging overnight, get all the updates, software etc. Then move them to the OU for that location, where the logon script picks up the printers. Files are on shared home drive, configured as offline file sync.
If a laptop breaks, swap it out, reimage.
Everyone brings their laptop to training/inset days, most use it at home and on the IWBs.
Was in a similar position 5 or so years ago and just embarking on another new (primary) school now - I'm a teacher but with a high level of technical knowledge - for a teacher! . No problems with laptops for teachers if setup correctly in the first place - restricted user accounts, redirected files, offline files, server re-imaging with WDS if/when something goes wrong to avoid a techie spending hours troubleshooting, server deployed apps, updates, anti-virus, etc. Just works.
We went for (and will be going for in the new build) three/four desktop PCs in each classroom (best spec we can get for £500 inc 3yr warranty - I've found this is the most cost effective length so far). Kitted out half the school in first year and then the rest in the 2nd-3rd year to start to build in some kind of rolling hardware replacement down the line to avoid everything becoming obsolete at the same time.
Good quality, site wide managed wireless and sets of 15 curriculum laptops (best spec for £600) housed in LapSafe trolleys (capable of holding 20) - these are expensive but definitely more robust and worth it. Again, buy these in stages (when your NOR is up a bit!). Sorry, just read again that you've already got the WiFi sorted and will have a suite.
Rack mount server (you'll need to ensure a tall and deep (42u 600x1000mm?) data cabinet is specified as part of the build/cabling) that in the first few years won't need to store huge amounts of data (read: photos!). In five years, you can replace this with another (newer, shinier) server and use the original one as a backup, etc. Some sort of NAS to enable archiving and backup would be a good idea.
Go for EES licensing from Microsoft and buy software as and when you've evaluated what you really want/need to fit in with your curriculum.
Full fat clients rather than thin. I'm not yet convinced that thin client or Multipoint Server is the way to go in terms of cost savings, etc.
As far as technical support goes. Approach the local secondary as others have mentioned, perhaps the LA have a decent service? We began very small in terms of support hours and gradually increased as we introduced more hardware.
My overall advice would be to take things slowly and once open, begin to expand gradually. As you appoint more staff, you can actively look for someone (possibly a TA as suggested earlier) with a higher level of technical knowledge or even a part time tech.
I hope this helps,
PM me as i may be able to help with this.
I would look at the money that you may invest in Staff Laptops and use it to fund better remote access/ a small scale VDI infrastructure to allow teaching staff to connect from their own PC's at home.
You remove all of the issues with data protection/encryption on Staff Laptops as well as making everything easier to manage.
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