We are delighted to officially announce that we have managed to recruit 4 new ICT support officers to provide technical support to schools. Three of the officers have just started and one more will join them by mid February. The new officers who will join Stephen McNeill and Katie Walls are Chris Brown, Derek Wilson, Terry Brown and Catriona McKay. This will bring the number of ICT officers to 6.
We are now looking for accommodation for the new officers in schools and have already emailed schools to ask whether there are suitable rooms for this purpose. We are happy with the response so far, but if you would like another chance to make a suggestion, here are the requirements:
The room doesn’t have to be big but needs to be better than a cupboard as this will be the officer’s base. The room should preferably have a window and be covered by the alarm system. There should be space for a desk and for some storage. The room needs to be equipped with power and preferably have network points. Finally, as the officers will be carrying a fair amount of computer kit, it would be ideal if the room could be easily accessed i.e. lots of stairs could make things more difficult.
If you have a room in your school that may be suitable, please get in touch and we can arrange a visit.
Around 200 teachers took part in a survey just before Christmas to provide feedback to the IT department and Education about the level of technical support currently provided to schools. The Survey was conducted nationally by SOCITM (Society of IT Managers) and this time round involved 8 Local Authorities from Scotland and England.
A full report will be published in February and will compare our service with that of other Authorities. The results of the survey will be circulated for information and feedback. I would like to thank those members of staff who took part in the survey, the feedback has already been invaluable to us. I hope we can use this opportunity to consolidate the aspects of the service we do well and develop areas identified for improvement. I hope we can repeat the survey in two years to enable us to continuously improve the service.
On 12th and 13th January, I spent a couple of days at the BETT conference in Olympia, London. The conference is the largest Education technology conference in the UK and is big! I remember walking into the main hall several years ago – the first time I visited and thought – how do I manage to get round this? The answer is .. you don’t. I now have a clear idea each time I visit of things I need to see and do, people I need to visit and then if I have time … I explore a bit!
A few impressions:The iPhone or ‘Aye phone’ as Don Ledingham says (the Scottish version). I was beating a path to the Apple stand to have a quick glimpse of what promises to be a very exciting piece of technology – a sleek, funky looking phone/internet/iPod device. What a disappointment to find that it is only available in the States and will be for some time. There was not even one behind ‘bullet proof’ proof glass for us to drool over. I just had to make do with gazing at the photographs online with everyone else. One thing is for sure though, I know what will be on my Santa list next year.
This was a request from Ewan to go to the Softease stand and have a look at Podium simple podcasting software. The software is PC only but then we have Garageband on our Macs so it was definitely worth a look. After a demo, I was quite impressed. It had a really simple interface and had some nice features to edit sound easily and to work collaboratively. It also had a script box to write scripts to read as you speak. It was very similar to audacity (which is free) but the interface was even simpler for younger children. The key would be to have a tool like this as part of Glow – with an easy upload to your personal Glow webspace.
At the Softease stand looking at Podium, I had a look at the Textease suite of productivity/creativity software. I hadn’t really considered it for our computer builds until now as it was PC only but they are now developing for the Mac – music to our ears being a cross-platform authority. I was impressed, it had all the functionality but was very simple to use. I brought it back for a play – maybe something to think about for the future.
Stiljes were promoting a classroom in a box with a difference – the PDA for classroom use. The ‘box’ comes with a class set of 32 handsets with a base station, installation and support. From previous posts you may know that we are involved in the Learning Hubs project with a number of other Local Authorities in Scotland. This resource may be something to consider as part of that project.
I had a tour of some of the new resources in BBC jam, many of which are not fully available yet but will be soon. It is a much more comprehensive set of resources and high quality as you would expect. I managed to get the minimum spec in terms of technical requirements to access the resources as this had been a problem for our schools in the past. The BBC jam team have worked hard to resolve these. Visit https://jam.bbc.co.uk/ to explore and have some fun!