The history of

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EduGeek: Why and how

In the beginning, EduGeek's creator wrote:

My EduGeek name is Dos_Box, my real name must now remain a quiet secret for professional reasons. I use the name Dos_Box for no other reason other than that I needed to create an account to reply to when I first built the site and the messaging and mail settings needed to be sorted out. People then started to post and I carried on using the same account.

My job is that of systems manager for a large northern LEA (which has asked to remain nameless) where I have been working for the past 3 years. Prior to this I was the network manager in a secondary school in Preston for 3 years. My current role is similar to that of a network manger with the unofficial role of being the senior schools technician in my LEA, and as such I provide a link for schools technical staff to allow them to communicate ideas and suggestions to a higher level. To facilitate this I sit in on meetings at RBC level and put forward the schools' views and ideas to any projects being run and keep schools informed of the outcomes. To enable me to do this I introduced an online forum on the LEA's intranet. It was an instant success. Finally schools had a place where they could voice their opinions and get people to listen, from all levels of our RBC, from our network backbone staff to the web team who design our internet portal and manage the school web sites. This made people very happy.

During this time I had been looking for an online community or forum in which school techies, with our rather unique problems, resided. I was rather disappointed to find none. There were school sites covering ICT where they had a forum where questions like ‘How do I plug in my USB mouse?’ were frequently posted. I needed something a bit more in depth. After 2 years of casually looking I had found none, and it was beginning to annoy me, so in April this year I installed Apache2Triad on my laptop and begin to experiment with various flavours of PHP based portals. I had tried PhPNuke, XOOPS, MAMBA and several others before finally settling on Dragonfly CMS, a more secure offshoot of PhPNuke, due to the fact that the Army Rumour Service (ARRSE) uses it, and with 11,000+ members it seemed to be highly stable, fast and very configurable. After a couple of weeks of light tweaking I purchased a hosting package, registered the name and uploaded the tweaked files. And we went live on the evening of the 8th of June 2005. As I did this I informed my partner in crime Ric Charlton, a school network manager himself, and invited him to help out in getting it ready.

I had no idea that it would be found so quickly. Within two days we had people posting, and from there they came in their hundreds! It was all quite a shock. Shortly after we went online a letter was posted, by me, to PC Pro magazine letting the wider IT world know about the plight of educational IT staff, resources and financing, this too brought in a large number of new users and also brought us to the attention of Becta and a large number of schools IT suppliers and software companies.

The Success of

Since our staggering success in the beginning, things have gone from strength to strength. We now hold regular conferences and manned the technical information stand at BETT 2007.

Our help at BETT 2007 was so well received by the attendees and organisers that we have been invited to play an even bigger role in 2008.