Monthly Archives: April 2009

Didn’t we have a lovely time…

Yesterday down at InfoSec / IT Support Show. After getting down there via a later (and cheaper) train I met up with Tom Newton from Smoothwall. A quick dash into infosec was completed and a lovely, chilled Innocent Smoothie was quaffed!

Why did I go down to is clearly not an education event? Actually, it is an education event. And banking. And for lots of other sectors too. In fact, if you have IT then it is relevant.

InfoSec was very good but I found the IT Support show a tad naff. The first thing to notice is that it all seems so much smaller this year. The layout is a bit more squashed than Olympia but of definitely did not feel empty, which some previous shows did.

The IT Support show was upstairs and slightly disappointing. I went with the goal of looking for more resources and advice for service management for our schools, but most people there had no interest in education, limited (or no) knowledge of the needs of schools and didn’t even pay attention to some key comments I made such as “I am not looking to bulk buy but give advice to schools!” A few notable exceptions were very helpful.

Hornbill fully accepted that whilst they have some fantastic strategies for service management and support, they could not get them to a price suitable for schools individually, but could cater for clusters or at LA procurement level.

Tools4ever still have two brilliant products which have been developed schools in mind, one for self-service password reset and the other for user administration where it gathers information from SIMS or CMIS to populate the AD and other systems.

There are a number of slimlime helpdesk solutions available from folks like sitehelpdesk.com and I can’t forget to mention NetSupportDNA too (if you can afford the whole lot!)

Back down at InfoSec I spent my time looking at two areas, information security and anti-virus options. Since most Northants schools are connected via EMBC then I wasn’t going to spend lots of time looking at alternative (ie additional) filtering solutions. I can talk about that another time or you can have a look edugeek.net.

The usual suppliers were present: Symantec
McAfee
Norman
Trend micro
Kaspersky
Sophos
and others with systems that plugged into particular solutions.

I was quite pleased with the chat with Trend, McAfee and Sophos. They understood the issue of having aging devices getting laden down with bloated signatures making machines grind to a halt. Trend’s solution is to remove a chunk of the client and make it look more online as needed.

Sophos spoke about using their free rootkit killing tool to help deal with staff or student machines when they have been off network for a period of time.

They all have decent management consoles and that is an important factor when checking that you are on top of things rather than having to do rushed fixed when a problem arises.

Information security I’ll talk about next week as Becta recently refreshed their data handling guidance.

ETRU VLE Special

Sunday saw an EdTech RoundUp special on VLEs, looking at what is out there, how they are used, particular solutions and how they are adopted, and a bit more of a look at EdModo.

It was a good session and I have just listened to the podcast to review certain aspects of it.

One of the things that has surprised me somewhat is that it was only when we started talking about MIS and how they fitted in that the point of Parental Engagement was raised.

For me, if you are planning or using a platform and you want to ensure students are using it, particularly for independent learning, you have to get parents on board too.

It has made me wonder a bit more about how we view the importance of parents when getting students switched on to learning through technology.

I am going to put it forward as a future point on ETRU as well as on the Becta forums, EduGeek and as a question ok the ICT Register.

I would be interested to hear what people have already done to engage with parents.

“I’ve got lots of computers at my school!”

Interesting conversation today whilst looking at the development of ICT for an Academy. Like many, it is being taken over whilst in the existing schools (all through) but the obvious ICT audit is required to see what they already have in place. This will make sure that the vision for the school and how technology will move it forward is actually possible withthe existing and planned resources.

Common sense? I thought so too but it seems that a major failing that occurs is that although school may have the flashiest desktops and lots of laptops there are still a number of examples where the infrastructure and backend (cables, swithces, servers, power requirements, storage, backup systems) is underfunded … usually because senior manglement only invest at the desk.

Wouldn’t it be nice if when you planned your desktop expenditure you also put on a ‘backend’ overhead so that it is included in the costing or at least put to one side to allow for backend / infrastructure investment every other year or so.

I know it will vary from set up to set up and the technology used (eg thin client, MS based, Mac based, etc) but what figure would you stick on there? 2%, 5%, 10%, 15%? How did you get that figure?