• Making IT Support FIT: A Course delivered by XMA that every ICT Support Technician Should Attend.

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (all right it was Coventry in 2003) FITS (Framework For ICT Technical Support) was created by soon to be closed BECTA. FITS unlike its creator is far from closed and is growing stronger by the day. FITS is a framework for the education IT support sector based on a version of ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and every education ICT support technician should have this framework in their arsenal .

    About FITS

    In 2009 in a smart move as part of making FITS an independently run, international standard for IT Support in education, The FITS Foundation was created as a spin off from Becta, which was a smart move in hind-sight, with the recent announcement of the closure of Becta. This also allowed for FITS materials to be reviewed and relaunched as well, to fit in with FITS becoming an internationally accredited qualification.

    The framework is run by the FITS Foundation, they have created a mechanism in order that educational technical staff become certified with an NVQ Level qualification. There are a number of training providers one of which is XMA, Nottingham based supplier of IT hardware, supplies, services & solutions who provide two different levels of training; Practitioner level that is designed for ICT support technicians and Advanced level, aimed at Network Managers who have undertaken the first stage.

    FITS Training Course Provided By XMA

    I was lucky enough to be given the chance to sample the training offered by XMA at their training premises in Nottingham by undertaking the FITS Practitioner course. XMA are putting a large amount of energy into providing FITS throughout the Midlands and North of England, They have assembled a team to promote and provide FITS to schools and to provide a truly great experience from when you first book until you leave the course.

    As soon as I arrived, one of the XMA FITS team welcomed me and took me over to the training room. Throughout the course there was always someone from the XMA FITS team available to ask questions and to guide and help you.

    The first thing to strike me was that XMA do not view this as just another course to sell. Everyone I spoke to at XMA about the course did truly believe the course could really help professionalise the IT support industry within the education sector, even on my course there were eight XMA ICT support technicians from the company’s Birmingham School’s team.

    An important part of any course is the facilities especially if spending two whole days there. The room was a perfect size, refreshments were available throughout the day, the location is easily accessible and even the lunch was nice.

    The training is split into two days the first day going over each area of the FITS process and how they interlink with each other. The second day involves looking at a number of case studies, dissecting them, time for revision and then the all important exam.

    Day 1

    Day one started with the obligatory introductions including one from our trainer Steve. They say that a trainer makes a course and this was certainly true in this case. The problem when teaching any framework is that you can risk the training becoming dry. Steve from the outset made the course interesting, varied and most importantly relevant.

    In addition, the course materials provided are excellent. Copies of all slides are available and a reference manual for the FITS process carrying a wide range of information, are handed out to assist in implementing the framework within your school.

    The course is fast paced yet easy to follow and by the end of day we had covered all but one of the process areas.

    Day 2

    The first part of day two was a recap of day 1 and followed by covering the final process section.

    Then the course gets down to some real work making sure you can put into practice the knowledge you have gained. We then split into groups and given case studies to pick apart and feedback to the class in which we compared and discussed our findings. This was particularly useful as it put the processes into context.

    After lunch we were given 45 minutes of revision time while they set up the room for the exam. This was probably the most nerve-racking part of the two days trying to make sure you can remember acronyms used and really understand the information in your head.

    The Exam

    The exam is taken online and is multiple-choice. The interface was easy to use and understand (a full demonstration is given).

    The overall experience of the course provided by XMA was excellent; from all the staff, the facilities (it is on the edge of a nature area which is useful for 5 minutes of peace in your break) to the trainer.

    I highly recommend the XMA FITS course to anyone working within ICT Support in education (even if you have done ITIL - the course covers information not on the ITIL exam) as it provides you with invaluable information that can improve every ICT support technician and team.

    More Information:

    http://www.xma4education.co.uk/Schoo..._training.aspx
    http://www.thefitsfoundation.org/tra...rses-schedule/
    http://www.thefitsfoundation.org/acc...ation-support/

    Russell Dyas is an Educational Technologist & IT Professional from the UK and has written for a number of publications such as Computer World UK and the USA publication Tech & Learning Magazine.
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. dhicks's Avatar
      dhicks -
      Quote Originally Posted by russdev View Post
      A Course delivered by XMA that every ICT Support Technician Should Attend
      Any chance you could just quickly summarise what the course teaches you?

      --
      David Hicks
    1. AngryTechnician's Avatar
      AngryTechnician -
      Two questions:

      1. From the description it sounds like you can leave at the end with a FITS certification (assuming you pass the exam). What sort of experience/prior knowledge of FITS do you need going into the course for this to be feasible?
      2. Where can we get more information on course dates/pricing?
    1. russdev's Avatar
      russdev -
      @angryTech @ dhicks

      Yes as said come away with SNVQ (same as NVQ level 4).

      I have added some links with more information.

      In terms of prior knowledge a basic understanding of IT support but after that nothing major is needed. While aimed at technicians do not think that this course is only useful for people starting out. I have been working 10+ years in education I found it useful.

      In terms of content (didn't go into great detail as didn't want to make article even longer than it is) you cover following.

      Service Desk
      Incident Management
      Proactive Processes
      Problem Management
      Security Management
      Change Processes
      Change Management
      Configuration Management

      If you look at the outcomes at bottom of one of the FITS foundation pages it gives in detail the course areas that it covers.

      Regards

      Russell
    1. GrumbleDook's Avatar
      GrumbleDook -
      From http://www.thefitsfoundation.org
      Unit purpose:
      This Unit develops the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the concept of ICT technical support in an educational establishment. The strategy adopted is a process driven approach aimed at ICT operations in all sizes of educational institutions. The approach modularises the functionality of technical support under the broad categories of Reactive, Proactive, Change and Strategic. This Unit will benefit individuals involved in ICT technical support in educational establishments and may include teaching assistants, technicians, management and supporting consultants.
      On completion of the Unit the candidate should be able to:
      1 Describe the role of the service desk and demonstrate an understanding of security management within an ICT educational infrastructure.
      2 Demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of incident and problem handling within an ICT educational infrastructure.
      3 Demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of change, release and patch management.
      4 Demonstrate an understanding of the function of configuration management.
    1. Chuckster's Avatar
      Chuckster -
      Just skimmed read the entire article and what's taken my interest is this

      The use of paper trails to track and log all procedures is a little outdated now that people have woken up to the idea of taking that procedure and making it readily available on their networks to end users. I know in a school environment it can be extremely difficult to implement a helpdesk because people live in a bubble whereby requesting the littlest of things to be done are dealt with immediately. In the business world this isn't so - and so it shouldn't be. Things need to be done properly and adhered to by the whatever SLA is in place.

      I have seen SharePoint, Moodle and Spiceworks to name a few that are being used as a single point of contact for end users to log any requests that they may have. Shouldn't the course reflect upon these sorts of technologies so that technicians and the like know what's out there rather than using outdated practices..? Plus, it would save on the trees and the carbon footprint(!)

      Overall, for what it's worth, I think the course would be worthwhile for many, including me. However, I feel some of it is geared more towards the industry, no?
    1. GrumbleDook's Avatar
      GrumbleDook -
      One thing a lot of members forget (since there is a strong secondary support presence here) is that it is a framework, and for a number of schools the use of some simple paperwork can make a massive difference. Sometimes going for a full blown CRM / Supportdesk is not needed and over kill.

      Most of the resources on the FITS Foundation site are those taken from, adapted from or tested as stuff which works within schools, but which fits into the framework.

      The course is more about process and changing the mindset. Why do a course about using FITS via Spiceworks, as that could turn out as a course about spiceworks .... sounds a bit like teh arguements that go on about teaching MS Office instead of teacher word processing, spreadsheets, etc ... it is about skills and concepts.

      The thing about the training courses for me is the brilliant discussions you have with the other delegates where you share how you might already be doing things.

      The case studies will build up over time and give more real world examples too ... it is in there that you will see the use of sharepoint, moodle, SmartDesk, spiceworks, etc.
    1. russdev's Avatar
      russdev -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chuckster View Post
      ...
      Overall, for what it's worth, I think the course would be worthwhile for many, including me. However, I feel some of it is geared more towards the industry, no?
      No the very opposite that is what ITIL is for this is very geared towards education.

      Also they do not teach any method of doing something so they do not teach you to record using paper for example. They teach for example what helpdesk is and what the process are and what a helpdesk system should have no matter what method you use.

      Russ
    1. Shuck's Avatar
      Shuck -
      The FITS courses have been developed specifically for ICT support in schools and seek to provide simple,step by step processes for continuous improvement. In the Service Desk module delegates complete an exercise designed to consider the pros and cons of various systems and are left to decide which suits them best in their current environment.
      The FITS Foundation website provides plenty of information and also access to course manuals.
      The FITS Foundation - Professional qualifications and support for ICT staff within education
    1. Chuckster's Avatar
      Chuckster -
      I think GrumbleDook has hit the nail on the head with his post, that you should have discussions with other delegates on what strategies they have tried and tested and known to work for them. With so many platforms out there doing unequivocally the same thing, it's pretty hard to distinguish what stands out from the crowd, so to speak.

      I have one query: what difference is there between having a service help desk in a school and one in the industry? They all have the same common goal, don't they, so why is one tailor-made for education and one for the other, if there is one?
    1. GrumbleDook's Avatar
      GrumbleDook -
      @Chuckster
      Often you will find the 'industry' support desks (generally not known as helpdesks now ... says it all really) are to allow for the delivery of the company / internal processes ... not always to be customer focused. Within education a really important goal is for it to be customer focused ... to be honest I would like to see that a bit more in 'industry' too.

      A good support desk has the knowledgebase for the operators / support staff, but also has FAQs for users and other self-help tools.
    1. Shuck's Avatar
      Shuck -
      Its ysea to ees why grimbleduk is a dog in CTI
    1. GrumbleDook's Avatar
      GrumbleDook -
      Thanks Dave ... but as I keep saying to others ... when you are an NM do not work hard at putting the fear of god into your users ... put the fear of *YOU* into them
    1. Hacksawbob's Avatar
      Hacksawbob -
      XMA provided one of the worst laptop warranty schemes I have ever had the misfortune to try and claim on/ get help through. Bargepoles with alarm bells on was my instant reaction.
    1. russdev's Avatar
      russdev -
      Can't comment on any other part of there business but certainly can say that had nothing but a good experience from the FITS course.

      Russell
    1. Andie's Avatar
      Andie -
      Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
      One thing a lot of members forget (since there is a strong secondary support presence here) is that it is a framework, and for a number of schools the use of some simple paperwork can make a massive difference. Sometimes going for a full blown CRM / Supportdesk is not needed and over kill.

      Most of the resources on the FITS Foundation site are those taken from, adapted from or tested as stuff which works within schools, but which fits into the framework.
      As a techie in a small junior school, I adapted the FITS forms to use, as a full blown service desk would have been overkill for us. I even have to fill in the forms myself as staff generally just come and find me when there is an issue. I know all the arguments about how the industry IT bods do things, and why should we be expected to fix things instantly, but I am fortunately appreciated in my job as someone who will try and fix things quickly. As the school does more and more online/at computer, I think a service desk may becoame an option. That's part of adapting to the change in your environment, and it sounds like the course gives you a chance to explore lots of different approaches to recording your job.

      Thanks for the info on the course. As someone who fell into this line of work without any formal IT quals, it would be good to get a certificate in something after all these years!
    1. GrumbleDook's Avatar
      GrumbleDook -
      For those who have done the course and would like to chat about things I have put together a social group. It might also help to chat through different approaches of implementation based on what was covered on the course.
      FITS Accredited EduGeeks - EduGeek.net
      It is a closed group at the moment as I expect a number of items relating to the course and the exam to be discussed.
    1. kingswood's Avatar
      kingswood -
      Good overview of the course- thanks!
    1. fafster's Avatar
      fafster -
      It's a shame there are no courses in Wales.
    1. GrumbleDook's Avatar
      GrumbleDook -
      Quote Originally Posted by fafster View Post
      It's a shame there are no courses in Wales.
      If there is enough interest I am sure that they can be run. Speak with your LA.
    1. Doggz's Avatar
      Doggz -
      I'm going to look into this. Thanks for the info.
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