Friday, February 13, 2015

I.T. support is not e-learning

I have spent the last week feeling rather frustrated at the set up of our school iPads. Last year I put in a budget and got the money to spend. I got an amazing storage system to put them in, the iPads arrived and since then they have been locked away ready to be set up.

Over the last few years I have seen the trials and tribulations of ipad set up and deployment via Twitter and the VLN. Teachers have been creative in setting up storage solutions and how they manage apps. I admire their resourcefulness. I made the executive decision that with the money set aside for this technology it was best to get everything set up by a company.

One of these reasons is because my e-learning role needed to be clarified with staff. I was not the person who "fixed" computer problems. Within the first month of my role being announced I received numerous requests for all sorts of major and minor technical faults. Some I could fix with pure common sense but I was angry that I got pinned into that role. I had to make it clear to people that the I.T. person that comes in every few weeks is still the expert in this area. The concept of e-learning is quite new to a lot of staff who are really unsure what that might look like. I already had a big job on my hands.

My dream was for a seamless roll out of iPads so that teachers did not need to worry about any technical aspect and could easily turn the iPad on and it would work. I thought this was a simple, straightforward idea. But it seems I was wrong.

I knew what apps I wanted and how I wanted each pod of iPads to be configured. I got us set up on the VPP (volume purchasing program) so that apps could be pushed out and synced remotely. However I have spent the last week entering passwords, making folders, adding restrictions and fiddling about. Today it took the whole lunchtime for myself and my D.P to get 5 iPads ready for some teachers to take to a course on Monday. It was good having her help as she got to see my frustration at how long it takes.

So I've come to the conclusion that it's a waste of time me doing all that stuff. My time is precious as it is. I wonder how many other teachers out there are having to cross over into being technical experts? Should I time leading in this area of learning be spent doing the hard work or should we be spending time with other staff empowering them to use the technology in our practice? Is this becoming common practice?

Perhaps we need (as there are in some high schools already) I.T people on site or visiting on a more regular basis. Or maybe they need to develop their services to meet the needs of the changing technological landscape of the primary school?