There’s a push in the last four or five years to move more and more to the cloud, which has some fantastic benefits but it’s not a one size fits all, so the couple of things you need to look at - the first one is use a partner which has got a track record, so someone like Microsoft or Google, Apple, these all have large educational track records. The next important thing you need to do is make sure you know where your data’s being stored. With the advent of GDPR, all your student data has to be stored and used in the European Union, so just double-check and make sure that what you’re using, the data is stored there.
And also, being at a school is also important as well. For example, if you’re using third-party websites, like Edpuzzle for doing videos, things like that, they have policies where you can’t sign up if you’re under 13 and so that’s something you need to think of, but also you need to think of parental authority. At schools, it may be that you need parental authority to be able to use certain websites so you have to have a policy about how you’re going to deal with that. If you’re having new laptops or new tablets, where are you going to store them? Are they going to be under lock and key? How safe are you going to keep them?
And then also look at what happens if you’ve got processes for if they get lost or stolen. Make sure you’ve got some way to be able to remotely wipe your machines so that no student data gets lost.
Again, most of the big, sort of, players like Microsoft, Google, Apple all have classroom management software, where a person designated either in systems or a curriculum teacher can actually manage all the devices. A good example of this is Apple classroom, where you can attach loads of different students to an iPad and then when the student just clicks on it, click on their name and all their iPad set up for them. Google has the same with the Google Chrome management if you’re using Chrome you can push out applications to your students and you can almost manage the classroom from one central area.
When you’re thinking about bringing new technology in, take stock on what you’ve got and you may have laptops which are perfectly fine. Again, if you’re moving to cloud, you don’t really need anything that powerful to use the Google suite or other education technology applications. If your computers are really old, look at like flattening them and bringing something like Neverwhere or cloud ready, which is a different operating system which can put on older computers to give them a new lease life and get three or four more years out of it.
My advice would be to start small. Work with a class or a department and try these new things. Put on, sort of, morning or evening sessions where you can bring all the people who are working in there, all the technicians, all the support staff, all the teachers, even the department heads in and just give them training and show them how it all works, so that no one’s getting left behind or thinking it’s only for the teachers or it’s only for the head of department. And kind of let them see and let them play in a controlled environment. Many teachers are… some rightly, some wrongly nervous of technology.
What I’ve found working with teachers is generally teachers don’t know actually how good they are at using technology. They see a load of kids coming into school with all the smart phones and they just immediately think that the students know more than they do. Although the teacher thinks they don’t know anything, they’ll go home, they’ll check their email, they’ll do their buying on Amazon, they’ll set the calendars up for tomorrow, generally they do know what they’re doing it’s just the confidence in the building up and that’s where the technicians can really help the teachers by just supporting them and saying you can do this - this is how you do it.
So I think it’s important that the IT department and the technicians in particular don’t sit away from the curriculum, they actually get involved, going sit into the lessons, see what they’re doing. It’s okay for a technician to say we’ve installed a whiteboard, it’s working, go for it, but actually when you go in and see what a teacher is doing with the whiteboard, the technicians got a kind of perspective on being able to say well did you know it did this or you’ve not using this feature to its fullest, try doing it this way and actually getting a proactive technician working with the proactive teacher can do wonders for very little money really.