Monthly Archives: November 2009

FITS will fit all your needs!

What a wonderful week it has been. After a chance to catch up with schools involved in a local Apple RTC project (lovely to see and hear of teachers and pupils excited and engaged by the chance to try something different) we had the first piece of training for our new Technical Champions.

The course is actually the “Level 4 Certificate in ICT Support in Education: Practitioner” and is delivered via accredited training partners using materials from The FITS Foundation. In Northamptonshire our training partner is NEOS IT and we had the pleasure of George coming to Lodge Park Technology College on Tuesday and Wednesday to deliver training to the Technical Champions plus a few others.

A key concept across the whole course was the use of the word management. I know that I joke (quite frequently) about that particular word … even to the point of never using it but substituting the word ‘manglement’ instead … but it is really important in a heck of a lot about FITS. Once you get past the first stage of a service desk pretty much everything else has an element of management in there and this builds into the idea of Change Management.  I’ve written about the importance of Change Management before but it is explicit in the training materials. Without it then any significant change or choice your school makes with technology and learning … well … it is likely to fall flat on its face and it will probably end up being the missing piece of management from the FITS materials … Blame Management!

Why will some technicians, IT Managers and SLT not like what this means? Well, it introduces a large amount of accountability via a group that is central to Change Management (often call Change Advisory Board or Change Advisory Committee) and is likely to contain people like the IT Manager, a member of SLT, whoever looks after finances and then we get onto representatives of the stakeholders at the school. The training was quite interesting when we discussed who should be a representative. Of course people remembered about teachers, some mentioned about admin / office staff, one person mentioned about governors but I was disappointed that I was the only one to raise the students. And this was with a forward thinking bunch too … it got me to thinking that we still don’t communicate 2-way with our students enough and that this is partly down to the ethos of the school more than anything else. At this point people really understood who deep FITS can be involved with school change and transformation … and people were excited by that, a little daunted perhaps but the excitement is important.

My question to those reading this is how would you set up a group to manage change at your school? Do you have one already? Does it also deal with IT changes? Who is involved in the group? If you have student representation how do they feel about being involved?

I know … a typical Tony-style blog … talks about stuff and then asks a heap more questions. Oh well, you should be used to it by now.

One of the things I will be prodding the Technical Champions to do over the next month s to set up their blogs and I will share their links here too.

Technical Champions

I have a reputation now for being a bit of an independently minded person … having worked in independently minded schools has helped this view. Some might call me bloody awkward, even troll-like at times, but I do think that it pays off to think slightly differently and to try something different too.

Take the above title. To many it means nothing to but a number of Northants schools it now means that their IT Managers have a chance to be part of that forward-thinking mindset. Since I have been out of a school now for a good 15 months, and before that I was more out than in for the previous 15 months, and not having done a heck of a lot of hands-on techie stuff recently (or at least not officially) I feel that the LA and schools need a group of technically knowledgeable people to develop good practice, become stakeholders in what we do at the LA with regards to technology and to ensure that technology and educational need match up.

So, we are accepting applicants for the role of Harnessing Technologies Technical Champions. These IT Managers (selected via a panel including LA staff, RBC and Becta representatives) will be trained with the new FITS v2 pilot program and supported in implementing FITS in their schools. They will be able to provide support and advice to other schools, to be critical friends to their peers and the LA, to develop and document good practice and then to share it with the world in general.

I hope to make sure they all blog their experience too as part of their development of communication methods so will publish links to these as and when they get created.

The deadline for applicants is the end of this week and we have had good interest so far.

Best of luck to all those who apply.