6 wifi solutions for schools

Getting your school Wifi infratructure right is really important. A good solution will work quietly in the background and extend your school network. A bad solution will frustrate your staff and students and bring users knocking on your door. (more…)

How to make the transition from being an IT Technician to an IT Network Manager?

So how do you make the transition from being an IT Technician to an IT Network Manager? How do you go from being the person with the Spiderman t-shirt with an office in the storeroom to the manager who gets to go to meetings with coffee and jam scones?

I worked in education for thirteen years and enjoyed my time as an IT Technician and Network Manager. In my experience there were a number of keys which helped me transition between the two roles. Two of these keys were education and training.

School’s take qualifications seriously. The first key for me was realising I needed to jump through the qualification hoop to get ahead in education. I did a degree with the Open University while working as an IT Technician and never looked back. You may be able to build a server with your eyes closed but that won’t get you seat at the interview table. Qualifications tend to do that.

It is pretty obvious a manager is someone who manages people. If you are an IT Technician it is unlikely you will be managing other people. Ironically most Network Managers don’t have anyone to manage either. I found that delivering training is a good step in the direction of management. I taught IT classes to support staff and teaching staff. I delivered training sessions during in-service days. I think training is as close as you can get to management experience when you have nobody to manage.

Education will open doors for you and delivering training will raise your profile. In my next post I will talk about the importance of strategic thinking in being a Network Manager and the need to look beyond IT1.

One way school governors can help their school share IT resources

Schools have invested a lot of money in IT hardware. Here is one way a school governor can support the use of IT in their school.

As a school governor you may be surprised to find that school’s find it hard to share IT rooms and resources. Although schools have timetables they often don’t have a means of sharing resources which are not timetabled. Historically timetable systems have been teacher and student focused. The world has changed however and we now have classrooms with teachers, students and thousands of pounds worth of IT equipment.

You can help by making sure your school has an online room booking system like Freeperiod. I created Freeperiod to address this very problem in the school I worked. I also went on to become a governor of the same school. I’m confident Freeperiod will make life easier for the staff and students in your school.

Equipment booking

When I started working in a school we had two computers sharing one modem. When I  left the same school we had hundreds of computers, laptops, data projectors and iPads. So how do you manage all this equipment?

The new version of Freeperiod allows you to easily share resources. You can book quantities of items such as laptops from laptop trolleys and iPads. Signing up to Freeperiod still gives you version one. Schools are so happy with version one we have found it hard to get them to move. If version two better meets your requirements please let us know and we can give you a demo?

School minibus booking

A number of schools use Freeperiod to book their school minibuses to ensure students get to where they need to get to safely.

I worked in a school which used sheets of paper to manage booking their minibuses. Trips were often cancelled as the PE Department had once again gone off with one of the school minibuses. I’m not blaming PE Departments. I imagine they are just the biggest users of school minibuses.

The Good and Bad School IT Technician

The Good School IT Technician;

  • Understands their primary role as an IT Technician is to help students and staff.
  • Thinks of a broken computer as a child who can’t do their work.

The Bad School IT Technician;

  • Wonders why students and staff keep disrupting him while he is doing important IT work.
  • Thinks of a broken computer as one less to worry about.

One simple way to improve your school’s ICT Strategy

When I worked in education my school were kind enough to send me to the Bett Show.  My attendance at Bett had a massive impact on my school’s IT Strategy.

While at the Bett Show I attended a seminar about the BECTA ICT Award. I came back to school and told the ICT Strategy Group about this new award and we decided to apply. The application process helped us to understand our current good practices and identify some of our shortcomings.

We went on to become one of the first schools in Northern Ireland to receive the award. The real win for the school was the process we had gone through and the positive changes we had implemented as a result.

I have attended Bett as both a visitor and an exhibitor of Freeperiod. I would wholeheartedly recommend that you send one of your teachers or technicians to this annual event. It may just breathe a little life into your school’s IT Strategy.

Why we don’t integrate with Capita SIMS

A few people have called me and asked if our Freeperiod room booking system integrates with Capita SIMS.

Freeperiod schools using SIMS export their timetables from SIMS to a spreadsheet at the beginning of the year and then email us the spreadsheet. We then import the timetables into Freeperiod within one working day. It will be another year before we hear from the school again. The whole process is quick and easy.

So no, we don’t fully integrate with SIMS but then again we don’t need to. We have avoided this integration to keep Freeperiod simple and cost effective. It’s worked for our first million bookings and I’m confident it will work for our next million.