Tag Archives: user groups

Tech Support – By Schools, For Schools

I know some of you might already recognise the phrase including in the title, as it is a central tenet of the ICT Register, but the same ethos is wide spread within the education community. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about school staff getting together at TeachMeets, having in-depth discussions via twitter though things like #ukedchat, online communities such as EduGeek.net or more local groups such as NorthantsBLT the growing role of schools taking ownership of their advice and guidance and how they share it with others is a very important part of how schools need to react to recent changes which have come out of DfE.

Many of the above are free … well, when I say free I really mean that they are paid for by people and schools using their own time for the benefit of others because they get the same sort of response back, or it is a bit of educational philanthropy on the part of others. This is brilliant in many ways, but can make it difficult to plan for sustainability. Also, there is nothing wrong with paying for advice, guidance, ideas, expertise, etc. There is often a saying used, “you get what you pay for!” and this is very true. People forget that the payment is not always cold, hard cash, but time and your own expertise … and when time, expertise, capacity and ideas are running short then people face the reality that paying for something is almost inevitable.

And this is one of the areas where I think some schools do it wrong. It shouldn’t be that paying for something in cash is the last option, it should be considered an option from the very beginning when you are planning what you need, what your goals are, how your school will develop / deliver things like CPD, technical support, parental engagement, etc.

Technical Support is a perfect example of where failing to plan can result in staff in the school, both techie and teacher, having to scrabble around to find information and guidance. I have been preparing a number of reports around the use of Framework for ICT Technical Support (FITS) within Northamptonshire schools and conversations with schools who have staff trained and accredited against FITS has shown what a difference planning makes. Except that it doesn’t just stop at the school gates. A number of schools are actively involved in supporting other schools. This will range from Lodge Park Technology College being actively engaged with the ICT Register and Microsoft’s Partners In Learning, Sir Christopher Hatton School providing support on Microsoft training courses and technical support to local schools, Wrenn School providing technical support to local schools and staff being active in online communities such as EduGeek.net, and both The Duston School and Southfield School for Girls providing staff time and expertise to chair local working groups such as the Schools Broadband Working Group and NetworkNorthants (the local IT Community for technical staff in schools and school support providers). Some of this is for free (i.e. no charge to others) but some of it does have a cost and is well worth it.

Having another school cover your tech support or provide advice around it has some major benefits. This can range from educational understanding and expertise, through to experience of deploying some education specific technologies. Couple this with easy access for teachers to talk with teachers, SLT to talk with SLT, you can having a winning combination.

So I was please to see, over the weekend, a tweet from a friend on the south coast. Tim Dalton is the IT Consultant at The Wildern School, the school which runs its own TV Studio (BBC Schools Report), has previously run YouTube style services for other schools, has developed advice and guidance on using media technologies in schools … and much more. Tim put a tweet out letting his PLN know that they are doing it again, taking their expertise and bundling it up for others. This time it is is punnet; a support, development and advisory service for other schools. Whether it is hands-on, regular tech support, development of software and applications for schools or advice and guidance around classroom use of technology and school strategy, Wildern hopes to be able to cater for your needs.

Yet another example of By Schools, For Schools …

Do you have more examples? Are you involved in similar to the folk at punnet or the other schools mentioned? Have you spoken with other schools to share ideas, expertise, tools and goals? Go on … now is your chance.

SharePoint Saturday UK

It is lovely to be around folk who see the benefit of spending a bit of their own time being part of something larger, and SharePoint Saturday is a perfect example of this.

For those who have never been to this sort of user event before it generally consists of a combination of noted speakers for the beginning and end of the event, with a number of sessions from respected peers sharing their knowledge and ideas with delegates. And Saturday was no exception … This is a short summary and I will try to give a longer post when slide decks are available.

Starting of with a session from the excellent Todd Klindt talking about why IT Pros and Developers need to learn from one another, and swap skills … but the important thing was to try stepping out of your comfort zone. As an IT Pro he has a a fantastic podcast (which actually covers a good amount of his keynote) so I would heartily recommend you have a listen.

There were many streams I could have gone to, but I opted some more familiar things (in spite of what Todd suggested). As a Business User (my predominant role around SharePoint now) I am always interested in ways to encourage adoption. Kanwal Khipple gave a grounded session on how to drive up adoption of your SharePoint platform, ranging from ensuring project sponsors do more than just sign off the money through to using Sharepoint Heroes to be your evangelists on the ground.

Next was a visit to Alex Pearce‘s session about how to introduce Power Users to SharePoint. A whislte-stop tour around making the most of a SharePoint site around a particular function (in this case around managing invoices) it showed using creating lists, views, the importance of data in content types, using lists to fill in documents … and the best bit was making use of QuickParts in Word for filling in information into a document template.

After a short break I was in with Matt Hughes (the instigator of SP365.co.uk) where he talked about SharePoint branding and some of the tips and tricks around modifying your own master pages, what you should and shouldn’t touch (especially since some of the master pages will get replaced on patching / applying service packs … but those SysAdmins who have had to compile drivers themselves know of that problem anyway!) and where to find some good, free SharePoint Master Pages … including those from Kanwal Khipple from the earlier session.

After lunch (where there was a better chance to chat with some of the exhibitors / sponsors … many of which were a bit bemused about why a Business User / Power User would be interested in talking to them … especially one without a budget!) I opted to sit out the sessions for a chance to chat with a few of the other delegates … and some of the conversations where enlightening … whether they were around controlled assessment, the missing EduGeek site through to a good, long catch up with some friends.

A good portion of the afternoon was spent talking with Richard Willis of SalamaderSoft (aka @rpwillis), Sam Dolan (aka @pinkpetrol) and Alex Pearce (aka @alex_pearce) about developments in education, sharing war stories, etc …

Ok … it was a chance to just relax and chat, but you still pick up a heck of a lot in these conversations, from barriers to adoption or integration with other services, how to manage relationships with users and clients, changing trends or simply good, old-fashioned ways of making things work.

I did miss out on having a proper catch up with Dave Coleman (@davecoleman146) and Alan Richards (@arichards_saruk) and missed their sessions (which clashed as well …) but their blogs will have their slide decks shortly (if not up already) and they both regularly speak on webinars as well. For those in schools I would heartily recommend listening to Alan talk about the cost savings made through the strategic choices and use of technology. Those who have already read Dr Don Passey’s report on the Evaluation of the Implementation of the Learning Platform LP+ Across Wolverhampton will see many similar points. They’ll both be at BETT in January 2012 if people want to talk with them about many of the items in their blogs, or simply drop them a line if there is something you want to ask them.

Steve Fox’s session at the end looked at Windows Azure, integration with Sharepoint 2010 and some Windows Phone stuff … a fair bit around Business Intelligence really and showing how SharePoint Online is quite a powerful option … if you read some blogs about the session (or some of the tweets) you can see a number of folk questioning why people would use Google with this amount of options to hand.

Having started to come down with the lurgy, I decided to miss out on the SharePint and head home …

A fantastic day, well worth the early start and looking forward to watching some of the webinars which are coming up soon.

Well done to all involved with the organisation, the exhibitors / sponsors and to all those who presented.

Do *You* Know A Technical Champion?

Last year, in Northamptonshire, we tried something slightly different. With all the work that goes on nationally through TeachMeets, Unconferences, and other alternative CPD events it was clear that there is so much educational expertise that doesn’t seem to stick its head above water too much. Now, we all know about the success which is EdGeek.net. It is fantastic to see them at BETT each year and I am the proud to be the only member who has been to every conference (it helps that I used to organise them, I suppose), but when I moved to the county council team it was hard to pinpoint exactly what benefit it gave the county.

There were a number of regular members who were absolutely fantastic and who went out of their way to help others … but the same was true of folk in the county who weren’t members. Since I was running the half-termly meetings for IT Managers and IT Support Providers I was able to see that the unconference style would not be the best thing in the world to bring everyone together … but what would? What really drives the technical community together? Other than ranting about users, the chance for free food and a some of use doing the stereotypical thing of speaking geek about the latest gadgets … what would help?

Well, continuing the group meetings was a start. In spite of it sometimes being the Tony Sheppard show there were frequent speakers from the schools, talking about implementing disaster recovery options, deploying windows 2008, tailoring the EMBC filtering for local control based on user-groups, layer 3 networks, purchasing and procurement, data protection, BCS, security …

But were there people out there who could make more of a difference? I definitely thought so … and still do … and so I looked at what funds I had available for projects and I put together a plan … a cunning plan … a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and … hmm … we are going into stereotypes again, aren’t we.

Let’s see what we can do to find the Über Network Managers … the people who are technically inspiring; who have a fantastic grasp of managing the impossible (remember folks, miracles we can do today, the impossible requires at least 24 hours notice!); who can communicate with children, staff, middle and senior leaders; who can check over a budget spreadsheet and find the erroneous double entry for an ink cartridge; who can provide a healthy discourse on Bloom’s Taxonomy and why it had to be converted for the digital world …

Where can we find this wondrous being?

Well, you can’t … or rather you can, if they are given a chance … and sometimes there is not a chance because the top people can still have to spend their time fire-fighting, bailing people out of stupid ideas and trying to do the impossible in *less* than 24 hours.

So what could I do to help them? Give them the knowledge and tools to help themselves, or even give them the time and recognition needed to fine-tune their existing skills. And so the idea of the Technical Champion was born. Someone who has been fast-tracked into a management scheme aimed at middle leaders, but from a technical angle. And where do I find a course for this? Can there be something out there that takes a healthy dose of service management, project management, change management and shoves it all together with some processes to get the ball rolling?

Yes … FITS does this and since I had been banging on about how it would be the bedrock for good practice across the county it was about time we had some folk with real experience of the training. So, we funded four Network Managers, joined by a member of staff from ULT and myself and a fellow NCC Harnessing Technologies Manager … we did both the practitioners’ and managers’ courses.

I now had a core of 5 people representing schools, who could either share their experience and expertise directly with other schools, or who would feed it to schools through me.There are case studies to be written up over the coming 3 months and still more work to do with them.

And so, a year later … I am now expanding the group. I am now funding 8 more Network Managers, IT Technicians and ICT Coordinators through the FITS Practitioner course, being mentored by some of the existing Technical Champions too. The themes this year will be Communication and Change Management. They will have their own Moodle-based community to discuss and plan things together.

And the really exciting thing? For me … there is very little work. Gone are the days when the LA adviser was the High Priest … we are not the fountain of all knowledge. Instead the expertise in each school is key. As much as I have a fairly big ego, I happily hold my hands up and say that my hands on knowledge on technology is not as up to date as those working on it each and every day.  Then again, there is no Network Manager who is an expert on every bit of technology out there … or an expert in how it can be used most effectively either.

It also helps if you remember that each school is slightly different and will respond to the same problems or requirements in different ways. Helping the group to understand how to be flexible is important too. The best way of doing that is to get them to share … but accept that there is no single ‘best way’ of doing something …

So, the deadline for applications for the next group is Friday 29th October. We already have more applicants than places and so each applicant (who already has the support from their school) will have to write a short pen portrait of themselves and say what they will bring to the group. The existing Technical Champions will make the final decision and the FITS Training will be in December.

What does this have to do with areas outside of Northamptonshire though? Well, I am pretty sure that we all know someone who could be a Technical Champion. They might be a regular on EduGeek, they might be someone who is a key figure in your local LA IT forum / meetings, they might be someone who always gets calls and emails from others for advice and pointers, it could be they are a regular blogger, it could be that they are a community figure who develops things for free …

I know that I can’t fund people to go on FITS training, but I would still like to hear from you if you think you are, or could be, a technical champion. This is not replace any other forum, group, website, etc … this is just to try and link together a core group of like minded people who would be interested in generating some case studies, sharing some experiences and helping each other with a little constructive criticism.

The Perils and Pitfalls of being ‘The Block’ to learning & teaching

Once again I fall into the role of the fervent defender of the blighted IT Support teams in schools. As much as I enjoyed a good argument (oh no you don’t!) there are times when I feel that the word compromise is missing from the vocabulary of some people.

In a short break from the course I am on at the moment I picked up a tweet to a blog post from our friend Spannerman2.
It makes for good reading and raises an important points about IT and ICT & Computing as subjects, about the lack of subject specialism in teachers of these subjects and about the amount of effort which goes into running (& locking down) a school network.

It does, however, throw stones. I don’t think stone throwing is any good at the moment in education. It just generates a lot of people pointing their fingers and saying, “you are doing it wrong!” without any ideas or support for getting it right.
In conversations on EduGeek.net there have been ideas shared about how you can make things more manageable and flexible on a school network, about how you can give freedom to staff and students, about how to manage situations better and stop the ‘them & us’ perception which can be the stimulus to things getting out of hand when there is the slightest problem.

So here are a few ideas. First we will have the objectives … the school needs computers systems. It needs three types of systems really.

Let us cover the easy one first. We want a system that allows for the running of a school, the day-to-day stuff of administration, the ordering of toilet roll for the toilets, the paying of staff, keeping records on students … you know the sort I mean. It used to be that this network was kept as separate as possible from everything else. It had to be … it holds sensitive data, it needs to have careful controls over who can do what with it … both legally (DPA) and for audit reasons. However, more and more senior leaders have realised that this network holds some really valuable and vital information. Stuff that can make a difference in the way teachers operate in the classroom … and teachers also need to add to this information too. So that means it has to overlap with the other systems in the school. Problem number 1 arises, but we will come back to this one.

System number two is the one used by teaching staff to deliver what they do, day in, day out. Teaching. I don’t want to turn this into a ‘them & us’ post … I never do … and sometimes people have to remember that those most likely to read my blog from the teaching community are those most likely to understand and want to push what tech they have … in fact, the people who are the cream, those who have risen to the top … but try to remember that there are those who can do *some* of the things that you do and are learning fast … but there are also those who struggle … not just with tech, but with classroom management, with change in general … and I am thinking about *all* staff in schools. A single solution is not always the best thing … having one setup for all staff … only giving limited access to doing stuff … but the problem is that at the moment it takes time and investment to give a more flexible system for staff. There are little things which can be done, like giving rights to install software on their laptops, giving more relaxed filtering … perhaps not even ‘filtering’ as such, but just logging what is used on the internet (remember folks … audit trails!) But what happens when a laptop is brought back in to the IT team to be fixed because something they downloaded at home seems to have broken stuff (after they have turned off the anti-virus or stopped it from downloading updates or running scans) … and that is if you are lucky and they don’t just plug it into the network and infect other computers where teachers have also turned off the antivirus too … and so you have to fix their machine. You might need a spare laptop or two so that they still have a machine to use in the classroom (back to investment again) and then there is the time and staff to fix it. Problem 2 appears … planning for the inevitable workload that comes with either building systems to deal with having to fix problems like this or having to do it on a case by case basis.

And so we go on to system 3 … the most problematic because you are having to cover three conflicting needs. The student workstations / laptops. Here you have to think about what software is needed, who gets to choose that software, pay for it, develop resources for teaching using it or even for teaching the software itself (either the skills / concepts or the specific software … that argument is for another day) … and then let us think about that touchy area of classroom management. I don’t like people blaming technology when it is being used as substitute for classroom management … I’ve spoken about how filtering gets abused this way before and the same applies to locking down the desktop, turning off the ability to right-click, where things can be saved … it all boils down to how much disruption in the classroom the teachers can handle, the amount of effort which is needed to fix problems that arise and so on … So we get to Problem 3 … and this *is* aimed at the teachers who might read this blog. COMPROMISE. Oh, that was also aimed at the Techs too.

So what happens when we need these 3 systems to overlap … or even be the same system?

I would love to say that this is a perfect solution out there … but there isn’t. It will *have* to vary from school to school purely due to the nature of each school, the emphasis each school might choose to put on classroom control, on how much investment the school puts into different aspects of IT, what technology gets used, the strength of things like Web 2.0 tools, of VLEs, of email, of using data straight from the MIS … so many factors that *no-one* can give a single system that will suit everyone.

Instead … how about thinking a little more about how you are going to get to where you want to go. I can guarantee that the end system you want cannot be delivered overnight and be usable by everyone without considerable pain … so you are likely to have to do things in steps. These steps have to be done with compromise and I’m going to say my usual mantra … Change Management!

So … let us think about something that gets raised a lot at the moment. The introduction of student owned devices (yes … I know I have avoided mentioning the learners themselves … more below) can be considered in a few stages, some technical, some pedagogical. If you are going to introduce this sort of system then yes, you will have to segregate it from system 1 … the stuff you have to legally protect. A typical way of doing this would be by having a ‘dirty’ wireless network … a separate WLAN that is only used by students, *may* have some restrictions on it … but will give them access to the internet at the bare minimum (even if you choose not to filter then at least log it). You then have to consider how it will be used in the classroom. Will it be used in conjunction with a VLE? Online stuff such as Live@Edu or Google Apps? How will you ensure that the iPad is being used for work and not just to watch stuff on iPlayer? GameCentre? The netbook is not being used to just hog the school internet connection to pull down pirated video or software? Or the laptop used for chatting on IRC, tweeting about what they got up to last night or on facebook poking their mate in the class next door? The same way that it used to be notes on pieces of paper, or ‘interesting’ magazines shared by some of the boys (actually, both of those still happen too) now there is a new range of things to distract the learner …

One way of dealing with this is by using the student wireless network to force the student to log into the school terminal server system (various solutions are available to do this via a website) and so that they can use their own device in the school but with some element of control by the teacher / techie / school.

There is still another way … the idea of privilege, of use versus abuse. And this is where we talk to the learner. They can make some of the best and worst suggestions and decisions you can come across. It might be that they want the system to allow them to do nearly everything, but on the understanding that if it is abused that they get locked down. Hmm … that might even work in conjunction with other polices the school has? Wow … revolutionary concept?

It might be that the desktops are set to be rebuilt each night … so that if the students do mess things up then it is not a problem. It might be that you have systems that go back to a baseline after each log-off. you can do almost anything … but there has to be a reason to do it, it has to be a balance between what is possible, what is practical and what delivers some sort of benefit.

So … there we go … a start … I’ve already prodded a few of the detractors to techies locking things down or wanting to drop working systems to go to Open Source based purely on ethical principle rather than education need or practicality … if they want to change then I want to see a range of options and some sort of roadmap about how to adopt it, both technically and pedagogically. “Just because…” is not a suitable answer. I might want to put studded tyres on my little Smart car just because … you never know, we might get heavy snow tonight … it might become fashionable … it might mean I can drive over an ice rink to drop off James Bond to do a bit of bomb disposal and save the world … or it might tear up a recently resurfaced road … cost me a fortune to buy and get fitted the new tyres.

So … a start … let us see how it goes from here.

Why do people want to start fights?

A recent tweet (or rather a retweet) had the following URL (in which we see ten commandments from a technically savvy teacher to technicians) – http://bit.ly/dpdjFO – and whilst I can understand the intention I just find it opens up the can of worms that is techie/teacher bashing. On places like the TES forums you get techie bashing (interspersed with some common sense) and on EduGeek.net you get the occasionaly rant about clueless teachers (followed by lots of agreement and the odd balanced example of clueful teachers). It frustrates me. It annoys me the two groups of people who could do much when they work together suddenly express a lack of understanding about the other is doing … And then you get some wonderful examples of it all working together.

As a result I am reposting the 10 Commandments, followed by the techie equivalent. I will then stick in my own version … and I make no apology for any trolling that appears to be taking place. As I was poked to respond, I am poking others to rise too!

The ten commandments of school tech support

  • [Original]Thou shalt test the fix.
    [Techie]Thou shalt accept that we can only fix things we get told about. Reading minds might get us burnt at the stake.
    [Me]Communication and the processes by which tech support work should be effectively communicated, but all should accept that it is a two way thing.
  • [Original]Thou shalt talk to actual students and teachers and make time to watch how technology works during actual class time, not just when it’s quiet.
    [Techie]Thou shalt listen to technicians when they ask questions, give truthful answers about what you expect technology to do and accept that there are limitations.
    [Me]No technology is perfect and some compromise is needed. It means a bit of give and take on both sides. When people want to use technology then try to take the time to discuss how it will be used, how you can measure it is doing what is needed and how you can work out how you deal with changes.
  • [Original]Thou shalt not make fun of the tech skills of teachers or students, nor allow anyone else in the tech department to make disparaging remarks about them.
    [Techie]Thou shalt not presume to be all knowing gods yet still argue when a technician tells you it is illegal to copy commercial DVDs.
    [Me]Ok, let us all accept that there are stereotypes on both sides. Users will make stupid mistakes and it will be laughed at, usually when it is the same repeated mistake. Then again, you get teachers poking fun at the higher percentage of technical staff with elements of dyslexia / autism / other stereotypical conditions. Accept that there willing always be this one upmanship whilst each side treats the other as inferior. Also remember that the technically adept teacher and the educationally adaept techie are both at the top of the tree. You are the exception still so when the other makes a scathing comment it might not be aimed at you but a generalisation, try to find out what caused it and help people overcome the problem.
  • [Original]Closing trouble tickets shalt not be thine highest calling; thou shalt strive to continually make the learning environment better.
    [Techie]You report a fault then we will follow it up. You are measured by exam results, we are measured by completion of tickets.
    [Me]Now we get onto the weighing the pig arguement. Both sides need to be measured but it is the big changes that need to be understood. Technology and how it helps deliver the Learning Environment cannot be done in isolation. It is a partnership. Every side has something to add. It will fall apart if anyone decides that others aren’t important.
  • [Original]Thou shalt not elevate the system above the users.
    [Techie]Thou shalt accept that the system is our priority; it is set up to delivery as much as possible to as many different requirements as you gives us, but accept that your request may disrupt things for others. We sometimes have to work to a lower common denominator. It is part of the greater good.
    [Me]It is all very well thinking that the there is some big battle between users and system but it is a hard balancing act. We are back to the word compromise again. Both sides have very good reasons for standing their ground for somethings … it could be down to legal requirements such as Data Protection, it could be down to the flexibility required for personalised learning. Sit down and explain them and try to have an arbritrator to deal with the hard choices.
  • [Original]The network will be never be perfect. Learning is messy. Get thyself over it.
    [Techie]Unplanned growth in computer systems leads to it falling over. We will keep things organised. Get thyself over it.
    [Me]There is a big difference between things just happening and planning flexibility into systems. No system is permanently fixed but you do have to be careful what you change. Again, it is compromise and planning that make the difference.
  • [Original]When teaching someone a new skill, keep thy hands off the mouse.
    [Techie]We like to show you how to do things but repeated ‘but can’t you just do it for me’ will result in us just doing it for you. Don’t cry foul. Read our cribsheets, watch our training videos, listen to our advice and instructions. You are just one user of many.
    [Me]The two worst groups of people in the world to train are teachers and techies. Seriously. Teachers expect respect due to their position and techies based on their experience / knowledge. Introducing something new to either is beset with issues. Teacher are appraising you ability to train as well as what you are training them in, Techies are appraising your background before you even get into the in-depth stuff to see if you are a blagger. Teachers forget that the techie might not be an experienced trainer, after all, teachers did a degree and then more training (either as post-grad or on the job) to learn about it. The ability to train people can take time to develop. Give helpful feedback to support staff if you think that there are areas for improvement. You would do that for another teacher … give the techies the same courtesy. Techies do sometimes need to step back and work out what the user needs though … do they need a problem fixed or do they need to learn about the problem, what to do if it arises again and how to avoid it in the first place? This is a judgement call and by asking the teacher involved it can save a lot of problems later on. Also make sure you talk to whoever controls the CPD in the school as you might be in a position to identify training needs for staff.
  • [Original] Thou shalt listen to requests with an open mind and respond in plain English.
    [Techie] Thou shalt ask for things in plain english and not buzzwords. Thou shalt understand that whilst with sufficient thrust pigs may indeed fly, it is not a good idea to be under them as they go overhead, be near them when they land and the RSPCA might get a tad annoyed. We will listen but be prepared for the answer to be no. If you ask for more information you will get it, and if you think I am talking down to you by using analogies about roads or cars it is because you won’t understand the short version, or have rolled your eyes when I mention something vaguely technical like CPU.
    [Me]We all have our own language. Lawyers have one, doctors have one, even priests have one. They are used to convey information and context in the most accurate and concise way possible. Translating it can take time, might need to be gone over a few times and is open to misinterpretation. When it comes to asking questions then yes, an open mind is needed, but often more context is needed too. Trying to convey the reasons why a request is made. Simply presuming that because you are a teacher you expect it to be done does not work, likewise just because you are a technical expert it does not mean that you, the techie, can say ‘no’ with no other comment or explanation. Try to come up with a common language to use … it will not be plain English. It will have some technical language in there as well as educational language. It will take time but once you have a good understanding it will help communication further down the line. Try having a glossary of terms for people to use, with examples.
  • [Original]Blocking shall be controlled by educators, not filtering companies. Thy job is to enable learning, not enforce behavior.
    [Techie] Blocking shall be generally automated because there is not enough time in the world to check every single site. Just because we are sat at a computer all day it does not mean we are just surfing teh web, checking on dodgy sites. Perhaps if you kept the kids under control they would not want to get to the dodgy sites. And try talking to other teachers before asking for things to get blocked. I’ll happily block that games site that is dmaging your lesson, but you can explain to Maths why they can no longer access a site they pay a subscription to.
    [Me] This is all buck-passing. Get over it. Internet access is too large an area to make it black and white. I have already ranted about blaming technology when it is really about choosing the right tools to aid classroom management. Blocking should actually be controlled by the Head and Chair of Governors as *they* are the people that will get into trouble if things go wrong. It is also a case that the job of internet access is to enable learning but the job of the filters is to prevent inappropriate use. Unless all sides are prepared to sit down, discuss the appropriate use and how it is to be managed then we are just mudslinging.
  • [Original]Thou shalt include students and teachers in decision-making about technology purchases and policy. Their interest is not an affront to your professionalism.
    [Techie] Thou shalt include the technical staff in the development of your curriculum. Their interest is not an affront to your professionalism.
    [Me]Again we are talking about planning here. It goes a bit like this. Someone comes up with requirements for what a system should do. This is based on how the learners are going to learn, how the teachers will teach, how things will be communicated inside and outside of the school and what are teh likely future changes too. A solution is put together to fit those requirements, sometimes out of an options papers or feasibility study to make sure all angles possible are covered adn then a group of key people make some decisions based on cost, capacity to deliver the requirements being completely met (or with some compromises). This all takes time, meetings and the experience to know how to do this efficiently, and this is before we get into things like procurement, etc. Companies will pay a lot of money to Project Managers to do all this, but many schools will take shortcuts for very justifiable reasons.

    • 1 – if the support team already have an off-the-shelf answer then they are likely to put that forward as a given option. It is likely to be cost effective because they are using already and will have the benefit of being setup quickly.
    • 2 – They are the technical experts and will often shorten the selection process because they have spoken with other schools about things that work or don’t work. If teachers and students in your school are not involved it doesn’t mean input from other students / teachers has not gone into the decision.
    • 3 – Last minute planning is the bane of the life of teachers and techies alike. Having to make quick decisions will mean not everyone can get involved. Accept that and make sure you plan better in future.
    • 4 – Technology is a tool. Everyone should get involved but someone has to make a decision about it. Battling about who has that power is pointless but it will vary from school to school who does it. Final decision on solutions should be made by senior management, not the network manager or head of ICT (or other head of department actually), but it should be part of the same process of looking at building developments around curriculum use, the curriculum itself, etc.

So there we have it.

Point, counter-point and hopefully some common sense. It has take over a week to knock this out and I know that there are areas for improvement, but I still find the techie / teacher bashing annoying. If it seems that I come down in favour of the techie side of things more than teachers that is because I still believe there is not a fair balance on respect between them. It will be ground down over the years and it is a lot better than were it was 5 years ago … but it is not changing enough for me to be happy.

Why did I leave an internet start-up?

It has been a slow month for blogging and I am quite a bit behind in setting down various notes on from paper to the digital page. I presently have 3 articles partly written around Sharepoint and other tools on the LA Learning Platform (Sharepoint & Web 2.0, hosted vs local Sharepoint and SafeMail vs alternative email solutions), 2 additions to the Standard Network Configuration / Build for our schools, and so on. However, this time I want to speak about TeachMeets, having spoken at one again about a week and a half ago.

Most times I have spoken at TeachMeets it has been a fair chunk of rhetoric (not being a classroom practitioner) and every time it has been a last minute thing, to fill up space and mainly because I have been inspired by something I have at that particular TeachMeet or the event associated with it. This time was meant to be different. I knew I had what I wanted to speak about, had stuff ready to show … but it never works out like that does it!  I do have a good excuse though.

Last January I retired from EduGeek.net, and if you don’t know what it is then think of it as an online community, herded carefully to share ideas and answer each other’s ideas. Nothing new there really … except that it is now one of the top hits in google, has the backing of thousands of members and is now a company. It earns money which is ploughed back into the site, running an annual conference for members (free to attend) and helps fund the running of the Technical Help Point at BETT each year …

So why would I retire from being on the staff (a volountary role) just as it takes off? Why would I step down from a group I had been part of since a fortnight or so after it started up? Why would I move on from a group where I had a position of authority and control? Well … I didn’t. Leave that is. I discovered that I had to get a balance between work and life. I also discovered that my use of EduGeek really needed to go back to about the collaboration and sharing. I was missing that bit and it was a really important decision.

My need for collaboration has always been great … not because I don’t have ideas, I do … but I need to share and compare them. Since getting online properly 11 years ago I have been lucky to be involved with a number of sterling communities … starting with Alt.Fan.Pratchett and other newsgroups (I remember with fondish memories the circular arguments between the windows, linux and RISC fanbois on uk.education.schools-it!), then moving onto JISC Mailing lists, Becta forums and then I found EduGeek … a sense of coming home occurred and after a bit of cajoling into doing more behind the scenes work I discovered that I was one of the admins … a respected member of the community and running things with the support and direction of the EduGeek EduGod, Chris Byers. But I continued with my other networks too … I was on twitter mainly due to Russ Dyas (fellow EduGeek Admin), facebook due to a plethora of old friends, blogging due to Peter Ford and I have a presence on most social network / web 2.0 sites … partly to protect my online presence (ooohhh … that is another post that I need to finish actually). I have had a few prods recently about it being strange about stepping down from an EduGeek role  too … in spite of repeatedly explaining about needing a life, work commitments and having to do other stuff.

So … what does this have to do with TeachMeets? Well, at TeachMeet Bett 2010 I was originally going to talk about collaboration and the benefits of it and EduGeek.net was going to be my principle example, but I ditched that … not because Edugeek.net was the wrong example … but because I got inspired. Although collaboration could be about one site or one group, it plainly isn’t with me.

One of the previous presenters that night demonstrated a fantastic site, http://linkbun.ch, as a URL shortener and once you have put a list of URLs on the page it will give you a single shortened URL. Click on it and the page gives you the option the entire bunch … each link in a new tab. http://linkbun.ch/kc2y was the list I put together and this is pretty much my list of sites where I have learnt how to collaborate. Translating this to teachers, they could get the various resources they need for a lesson and just send a single link out to kids, translating it too techies then this could be the various FAQs and how-to guides for soemone else to complete a piece of work. It has lots of uses for me and it was just perfect to show people where I use to collaborate.

So .. to answer the original question, I didn’t leave an internet start-up … I am just looking for the next stage in my journey (but glad to have various places to stop back at on my way around).

I’m also wondering at which point I will turn up to a TeachMeet and actually talk about what I planned to instead of having a cracking idea on the night!

Innovation Management

After my last blog post I have a few emails and messages pointing out that Change Management was often the blocker in teachers and techies trying new things out, that BSF used Change Management and contracts to stifle innovation, that red tape is the bane of education as it is and that we have to think of ways around it all to keep the ideas flowing.

I have tweeted about and pointed people towards Lewisham for examples of how BSF can still maintain bubbles of innovation but what about smaller examples? What about when a school is finally sorting out their change management? Will innovation still be remembered?

Well, I prepared the following video for the EdTechRoundUp TeachMeet as a possible answer of translating change management into innovation management, shamelessly using up other ideas I have come across over the years … most of which I honestly can’t remember where they came from. Some have directly come from previous schools, Brooke Weston Academy and mainly from Lodge Park Technology College … but others from schools visited with the SSAT Futures Vision tours, ICT Register or generally chatting with folk online. If you see something you recognise then let me know … no slight is intended for forgetting things.

How do you share the joy and share the pain?

A thread has popped up over on EduGeek.net about setting up user groups in schools … quite a step forward to have more input into how IT is set up at your school, but it is more than just about sharing a few ideas.

This isn’t too disimilar to one of the learning conversations at TeachMeet Midlands really. I put forward a few suggestions and requirements for this and will expand this a bit more.

  1. It has to have the backing and support of your SLT. It may have been your idea, a department idea or their idea … whatever way there needs to be backing and support from SLT.
  2. It has to have some defined goals, preferably some that tie into your schools’ development plan, is part of student voice and you have SLT backing that decisions / recommendations made by the group will be seriously considered. 
  3. It needs to be tied into staff CPD to ensure that it is not just an elite few who benefit from it. The idea is that IT/ICT is a tool, so you need to work out how to get as many people using the tools and resources as possible. This means sharing by a variety of methods. It could be formal training sessions, it could be just-in-time training via video tutorial, it could be cascaded good practice within departments … the wider the range the more likely you will get uptake.
  4. There needs to be a good cross-section taking part in these types of groups … not just the ICT elite … get more mid-range users involved too. Enthusiasm will often be more important than ability, but it is also handy to work with ‘realists’ (not pessimists) who can be critical friends.
  5. Do not get disheartened if for every 10 ideas the group has only 1 gets used … it will grow over time. Eventually, you might be lucky enough to have a 50% development rate. Having good examples of who the ideas were used elsewhere can help.
  6. Make sure that although only a few people will attend as representatives of the large school community, the conversations / discussions / presentations / videos / software is available to as many people as possible. It is an important factor that all feel included and helps with continuity planning for the group, people will move on, members will run out of ideas or take on other groups and tasks, new or existing staff also need a chance to have their input too.

There are a number of other things that could be put into this list and feel free to suggest more links and examples, this is not a definitive list of things to do, just a starting point.

There is more work to be done on suggesting *how* student voice can have an input in to user groups … I would be interested in hearing of examples.

The Promised Post – how to annoy teachers, techies, LAs and RBCs in one go!

I’ll be honest and say that there will be something in this post for everyone … something positive and something that will knock you down so that it makes you re-examine a few of your preconceptions and practices! I make no apologies for this and have done it purely to get people to think all that more carefully about how they approach each other’s views and make the common mistake that others are incompetent, inflexible or just doing things ‘wrong’. They may be thinking the same of you.

Why am I making this post? It all stems from a number of conversations about eSafety, the roles of different staff in educational institutes and the ongoing battle of reliance of technology to solve problems.

Let us fade back a few years to when I was a lowly mouse-cleaner support technician who decided to write an Acceptable Use Policy. I actually wrote 3 sections and it was done with the help and support of a few friends who worked in the ISP sector. It was based around a very precise T&Cs document, with an accompanying more readable description of the services the school ran with the boundaries about how users could use those services and finally an agreement statement that was a basic summary. Since I was a lowly techie it was passed through the chain, adapted and the T&Cs were dropped (not surprised to be honest … even *I* was a bit wary of the legalese in it). The students sign the agreement and the AUP Terms were posted in each IT room. Hmm … not really a rigorous plan for eSafety and still centred around the teacher telling the student off for doing general naughty things and the IT team telling them off for messing about on the computers (searching for stupid stuff on the web, trying to play games, etc). As much as I enjoyed the feeling of control and even felt that by making the students ‘fear’ me it would allow the teachers to get on with the job. However, as I started to become more interested in the application of IT in schools I rethought a number of my ideas around this.

Introducing a 3 strikes policy went some way to trying to push some sense of responsibility onto the students but it still separated the school discipline and the IT discipline. A new Vice-Principal meant that some of this was taken out of our control and I was not happy about some of that … the lack of understanding how filtering worked and how the IT could be abused by senior staff at the school left me feeling powerless as others took more control and made (in my opinion) wrong decisions. Oh how we learn and grow though.

Moving on to another school as a Network Manager I knew that this had to change and the move was made to trying to ensure the responsibility was with the teacher and form tutor for the discipline, but the IT Team would gather evidence … but is that just a case of passing the buck? So, we had filtering in place to make life as easy as possible for the teachers to understand why things worked the way they did. Teachers and students, generally, had the same access and this caused problems. Sites that disrupted lessons where blocked, but then the students used email to ‘chat’ during lessons. We couldn’t block them from that because it was then needed by other subjects … Getting promoted to the Senior Leadership of the school helped to work with staff so they understood the boundaries and having an ICT working group helped feedback into defining those boundaries. They were adapted so that staff could access things like youtube and facebook, and students could use blogger where needed. There is so much more needed but the staff were not ready for it. Things are still moving at the school and it looks as if they are now ready to take more ownership too.

My side line has been with a support community for IT Professionals in education. The IT Managers, Network Managers, System Admins, IT Technicians … a variety of titles and a variety of job roles but generally with the remit of setting up and looking after the IT in a school or schools. This takes me back to my power hungry days of control and there is the idea that because we understand the technology best that we should make the choices about it. Whilst still at the above school I also started working with the LA on a number of projects including working with the local RBC so I had an inside view to their view of the technology as well.

It ended up with me coming to the LA for 12 months to work on a variety of projects, working with some brilliant colleagues and over the last 10 years from starting in the education sector to now I have come across a wide range of technologies and approaches to eSafety and education. The conversations, discussions and heated debates will go on and on, and recently there was one about the use of tinyurl that made me re evaluate a few things and stick things down on paper. Eventually I have come to the following conclusions. Look away now if you are easily offended but stick with it if you want to see my reasoning.

1 – People sometimes are too blinkered to try and understand why technology can be bad, and feel that their small bit (that is affected by larger choices) is being targeted.

2 – Technology is not the answer. Relying on it and relying on the people that control it is not only bad but it is short-sighted.

3 – Disregarding the people who understand the technology is just as short-sighted, nay, even stupid.

4 – Do people really understand the technology involved? Heck, I don’t know everything and if you think you actually do then you are being short-sighted and fooling no-one but yourself.

5 – Top-down decisions are often stupid, and so are bottom-up decisions. Let’s face it … you can’t trust those people in the middle either! Don’t trust the techies, the teachers the LA or the RBC to get it right!

hmmm … there … I think that pretty much covers how people feel about it all. Doesn’t it sound stupid when you see it all together.

Ok, let’s look at the Tinyurl incident first. That will cover the RBC side of things. Tinyurl.com is a fantastic way of shortening really long URLs so that it doesn’t break apart the format or flow of documents, can be customised to make it easy to remember and for things like twitter or IM it keeps messages short. So, what is so wrong with it then? Well, the way the site works is that it wraps the header of the target website as it passes through filters. What that means is that I can create a link for the playboy site and for some filters it will not get automatically get blocked. This works for a variety of sites and I will actually be spending some time of the coming weeks to look at it in more depth, examining the actually technical process of how the website passes through the filter and seeing how things can or can’t be tweak. The main product I will be looking at for this is NetSweeper as this is what my local RBC use. How do you get around this problem? Simple … you block tinyurl.com. There, problem solved. But what about those people who use it and have it in their presentations or on websites? Heck, I have seen it in white papers, research studies and used by those working in government agencies or projects? Oops.

Well, in a number of places schools can actually take control of the filters supplied by the RBC and change the settings to allow tinyurl.com through. Erm … but doesn’t this then allow people to use it to bypass filters? Why yes … it does. Ah …

Ok, then this brings onto the idea of who controls filters. The number of teachers I hear moan (and I do really mean moan) about that fact that they cannot just change something when they need or want it, or that it shouldn’t be locked down in the first place … if I have a penny for each time I could definitely have a decent curry at least, with starter, poppadoms and peshwari nan. The number of techies who moan that teachers constantly demand unfiltered access with no concept of the nastiness that is out there or, when given extra access on their school ‘teacher-only’ laptop, let students go on it (on the teacher’s account) to search the internet … well, that would pay for the train ticket to London for me to go to the nice Indian restaurant not far from Olympia that I usually visit when at BETT. Add the number of techies and teachers who moan about the restrictions put in place by the LA / RBC … I could fly out to Mumbai to have the flamin’ meal! Who’s right and who’s wrong? They all are!

Again, based around the RBC and schools in my LA I will put forward how the technology works. Most large filters / proxies do so by checking the URL / IP of the website against a known database of dodgy sites. There is an official list put out by the Internet Watch Foundation that contains the sites you do not want to visit … ever! On top of this there are various categories such as porn, profanity, weapons, web email, web chat, drug use, gambling, match making, etc …. most filters are pretty extensive and some websites fit into more than one category. If a site is not in the list then the servers do a bit of intelligence gathering and look at the content. This will then plonk the site into a holding place whilst it gets reviewed. You still see the site but it will shortly be sorted.

Some filters operated at school level will look at the content of the page each and every time you view a site. This is costly and requires some hefty computers and interesting software. It can seriously slow internet access down if there is a lot of content checking to be done.

To get around the issue some schools will use a white list, a list of sites it knows are ok. The only problem is that access to adding sites is restricted otherwise all sorts of things can be added. And we come onto the first battle between school and LA / RBC, or the first battle between techie and teacher. Present policies in schools operate around the idea of block first and release later, and this applies to everyone. A lot of teachers don’t understand about the change control needed so that should something get through that shouldn’t, then we know who made the change. Since eSafety is ultimately in the hands of the Head and Chair of Governors then *they* are often the people that don’t want it to be too easy for anything to get through! I can’t blame them for that.

So, we then get some schools that leave things too loose so that it removes potential conflict between teachers and techies, or it is seriously loose (at the RBC / LA filter level) because the school is running software / filters in house to make it more flexible. Again, the battle between teacher and techie happens. See my comments about power and control earlier and note that this is often done for the best intentions.

So, we are left with filters that are too harsh because they block things like tinyurl.com or too loose because you can access all but the nastier things that the IWF want blocked. Oh … I haven’t really mentioned students yet either! You know … those funny things that can sometimes smell and tend to create a lot of noise? If we are talking about secondary (my main experience) then we are talking about 1/2 to 2/3 of them are actively trying to bypass whatever security s on the computers and get round the filters to listen to the radio, look at animé or play games, usually instead of getting on with the work they are meant to be doing.

We get to the stage where teacher A asks you to block the internet for student z because they are always on email or playing online flash games instead of doing their work … and teacher B says they can’t be blocked because student z needs access tot he internet for research and to complete work. Hmm … a chance to annoy those teachers reading perhaps? Classroom management! DO NOT RELY ON TECHNOLOGY!!!!!!

Ok, a bit harsh perhaps but try not to segregate abuse of resources and classroom management and discipline. It is a mistake I have made in the past and have tried to point out the flaws about it to people ever since. Technology takes you so far, but you need to do some work too.

However, technology can help and obnoxious techies (their turn now) who are not helpful and look down at you because you don’t have access to the technology (you may understand it, you might never get the chance to find out though) and will take control! Well, that needs to be more relaxed and there are ways of doing this.

The RBC and LA will always go for the highest common restrictions but they can have some darned good advice actually, but be wary that you will have to translate and adapt things for your school!

Ok … John Sutton made a post about AUPs the other day and I posted a response to it based around how I felt that they needed to grow within a school. http://bit.ly/11A1qu for the original post but here is my comment.

I consider AUPs to be a four step process.

1 – get the staff to understand the use and abuse of technology (AUP is not just about ‘Net access!) and why technology is a tool, kids are entitled to use whatever tools are available and why the first thing they should consider is the school discipline model and their own classroom management. Often greeted with disbelief that technology will not fix all their problems (and then onto heated discussions about filters, why staff are better than students and should be completely unfiltered and who are these IWF folk anyway!)

2 – Foster an environment of understanding and boundaries with the students and their parents. There are limits, the same way that life is full of limits. Learning about the responsibilty that students have in the worl is important and within the school access to resources is one of these areas, whether it is to PE equipment (wow … that discus really hurts when flung at someone’s head, and no … you shouldn’t intentionally hit the cricket ball at the windows!) or technology. If we don’t show trust to start with, it is nothing personal but it is about expanding your limits at a safe rate.

3 – Ok … if you really want to have a finite set of rules then here you go. A technical and legal-ish defined set outline the services available, how they can be used, their limits and the processes centred around their development, growth and how changes are made.

4 – Agreement. The AUP is implicit as it is part of the school ethos. The same way you agree to wear a particular uniform, to take part in certain activities, to be a constructive member of the school community then you also know there are limits (expandable depending on your growth) that you have to operate in. This applies to staff and students. Some schools opt to have the same set of limits for both … it’s a school by school thing and is based on whether you are happy that use of technology is embedded in the school. The agreement is a conscious move by the school, the staff, the students and the parents to affirm that the understand this. If they refuse to sign then the school must question whether the family truly understands what the school does with regards to technology as part of the curriculum and ethos of the school. If, after discussion with the family (or teacher) there is still a refusal to sign then the school repeats that they are the limits that the school applies. Lack of affirmation to follow them does not mean opt out. It means that you are still in but if you complain when your son / daughter (or you as a teacher) gets hauled up about breaches of the AUP then you cannot use refusal to sign as an excuse!

A number of groups (including rehab groups, church groups, sporting societies, etc) will affirm their stance in agreement with their group on a regular basis. refusal to do so does not mean they are not part of that group, but it is a positive thing that should be embraced. If someone does not take part in it then it is a chance for other members to take the person to one side and find out what the issue is. It can be something minor … a few tiny bits of phrasing that is difficult to publicly say … or disillusionment with the group or a felling that they need additional support.

So .. it is not just about AUPs and technology. It is about affirmation and being positive about your role and the limits you operate in, help define and help grow.

So, there you have it. In spite of doing my best to annoy pretty much everyone, most of the above is based around compromise and a common understanding.

Ok, group hug is over and done with, and normal service now being resumed.

If you want to take more control and ownership as a school, as a teacher or as a techie then I will highlight a number of things for you to look at and investigate. I am not saying that these are right or wrong, but most have sufficient background behind them to show good practice. Also remember that I am basing some of my comments about how filter systems operate on my local RBC. Your Mileage May Vary and access to this level of control may be different from LA to LA, even within the same RBC.

1 – RBC filters are granular. It is common to set a site default level. This means that should people just go onto any old machine and try to access the ‘Net then they get a predetermined level of filtering. Set this as high as possible so people will not just go straight in and browse when bored. For us we can also set it so that when users log into the RBC portal they get a filter level as defined by the school. This means that should the site level be 4 (the most restrictive) and a student logs in then he/she could pick up level 3 or 2. This not only gives you the option to be more flexible, but to also allow you to audit when and what students are doing. You might want to set staff at level 1, the most relaxed, and give them access to tinyurl and youtube. Remember that if you do this then when they are logged in and have their computer hooked up to the projector, should then click on a wrong link then it could take them somewhere very embarrasing, and there is also the temptation for staff to allow students to use their computers / accounts! Data Protection stuff is for another day!

2 – If you want more control then yeah, run your own filtering, but be careful! There are a number of products out there that will do what you want, can sit inside your school and can give you even more granularity. They can tie into your school network so you don’t have to log in to anything, it automagically picks up who you are and what you are entitled to. Access to this sort of control can be delegated to staff (ie temporary blocking of ‘Net access for a specific student) but remember that this is admin work … something that Unions get a tad unhappy with if they find out that teachers are doing it. Also, one teacher may block, another unblock the student and it becomes political. You need to have some sort of change management in there … and this is more paperwork (electronic or paper-based). And this doesn’t get around the fact that you are still not allowing teachers to unblock specific websites. This level of control gets a little scary, but what it does mean is that you can have more control about what each specific group can and cannot use! This harks back to allowing the boundaries / limits that we put on our students to grow.

3 – This is still bypassing a chunk of the classroom management that I made a fuss of earlier. There are a number of tools that can help with this, some automated and some they truly do put power in the hands of the teacher again. If we take the automated tools first, there are the keyloggers and screen grabbers. If they see something going on (eg typing a bullying email) then key words will be recognised and a screenshot taken, a nominated person emailed with the screen shot (sometimes a techie, sometimes a head of year) and it is dealt with under the school’s discipline code. This works in two ways, it creates the environment of controlled watching (ie big brother) whilst forcing students to take responsibility for their actions. The down side is that it is too police like and open to abuse by pupils using other pupils’ accounts. The other option is to use active monitoring tools such as AB Tutor Control or SynchronEyes. Tools that allow a teacher to view each workstation in real time, lock out browser access if required, share a desktop with a student to support them and other tools that each piece of software gives you (eg SynchronEyes gives a virtual interactive whiteboard for the class to use). Again, this fits into the growth of boundaries as you will spend less and less time monitoring as students show responsibility.

So, we have a range of tools, with a range of people having ownership. There should be enough there for everyone really.

Your discipline policy will vary from school to school, but I would recommend that there should not be a difference in the status of teachers and support staff in it, unless it is a defined role (eg behaviour management tutor, dedicated pastoral specialists, etc). This helps to break down the barrier of them and us (from both sides).

Work with your LA to understand the limits of the technological solutions available and rather than have a go for it not being flexible enough have a look at whether you need to employ alternatives to fill gaps or give you room for expansion and growth.

Remember that as a teacher or techie, the responsibility does not ultimately fall with you, but your head. If he/she needs educating as to the possibilities available for using sites that are typically blocked then you need to show you still have some safeguards … an audit trail … and ensure that this is based on a whole school process, not just something for you as a techie or an ICT evangelist!

Finally, you may have realised that I haven’t actually been that offensive to anyone, just making use of stereotyped view points to show how little communication there may be within a school, between schools and LAs / RBCs and between society in general.

This is not a perfect blog entry, far from it. It has a number of holes that need patching over the next year and is based on a considerable amount of common sense. It has been aided and abetted by the AUP produced by an LA colleague, but conversations with frustrated ICT evangelists, conversations with Techies, with LA staff, with RBC staff and with providers of tools for schools.

It has also been aided by chatting with students, who are the first to admit that they want to push the boundaries they have been given, but they want something to push against otherwise how do they know they are growing? But the second thing they usually admit is that given a choice between work and play … it takes a good teacher to make them want to work and it take a good IT system to allow them to do it!

*Edit – decided to remove the password protection from this as I am pretty sure that I have covered everything I need to and no-one I have showed it to yet has threatened me with castration!*