Are you ready for more home learning?
It’s January 2021 and we are about to enter into further hybrid learning, but has anything actually changed since the first lockdown for schools?
Well, the DfE have given out some more devices. They have also had to cut back massively on original allocations, and the devices they are sending out are certainly not long term devices – but every device helps.
Importantly, lots of schools have gone down the route of getting their own devices – we have helped schools procure over 1000 devices since the last lockdown – but this was still incredibly difficult – with huge delays on orders due to the pandemic, and also Brexit. Neither of which I am a fan of.
The cost of devices has soared. The availability of devices that meet the spec and price point schools need has never recovered, and certainly won’t anytime soon I fear.
But, where devices have been sourced it’s been between Chromebooks and what some people are calling Winbooks (affordable Windows Devices). It’s been interesting to see the uptake of both, but for the schools I support the ease of use of something they are already used to – compared to switching OS has been of considerable benefit in aiding use of the devices. Fully cloud managed by Intune and Endpoint manager I have been really impressed in the ease of moving to cloud management – and will be continuing to convert schools.
This area has 2 very clear camps, Google or Microsoft. I am not going to get into which is the best for Edu (it’s Microsoft) as they are both good platforms (but Microsoft is better for a more comprehensive cloud solution), but I am going to talk about how some schools still have not adopted either.
When I say not adopted, it is likely they already use one of the platforms – but what we haven’t seen enough of is a focus on how to use the platforms. This has lead to schools having the tools, then going out and paying for third party solutions – which either Google or Microsoft platforms can already do.
The benefit of both platforms is the ability to streamline processes and switch to a new way of using technology. The shift to cloud is not just a change in platform from local – the tools allow teachers to change the way they teach, and students the way they learn. Both of these will not happen overnight, and so with the minimal notice schools have been getting and the fact they need to do the work of Track and trace, and now testing students, we can’t have expected them to pick up.
This lack of knowledge of what is possible has lead to some buying other off the shelf solutions they simply do not need. I am not saying they are bad, but they simply are not needed. You can achieve everything you need to with home learning based on either the Microsoft or Google Platform. There are also huge communities and learning resources for both.
We MUST encourage leadership to look outside of what they know when it comes to technology and cloud platforms. Trying to reproduce the old methods on new tech is not the solution. Bolder and more exciting changes are needed. This is just the start of the transformation to cloud based schools – but you cannot just switch and carry on as before.
Platforms bring up new opportunities in how we do things, what we use to do them and where we do them.
Where we have seen the brilliant work of our SBM colleagues in moving to support families more and more – we need to see a focus to supporting outside the schools we are in for IT. This means having proper solutions for the management and safeguarding of systems, it means having effective remote support software, centralised help desks people can call, expanded opening hours and a lot more.
We now need to support onsite, offsite, staff, students and parents for longer then ever before.
Are you ready?
With the constant devaluation of Edu-IT support in schools, with whole teams replaced with inexperience and cheap support, apprentices running schools that Becta used to require 2+ people to do and outsourcing to experts who come once, do a project and run off – it’s not a great time to be asking the Edu IT Profession to deliver all this. Don’t get me wrong – there are some, many, amazing people doing brilliant things. But there are still a lot who cannot, will not deliver what is needed.
Working together we can and must do more to support our schools with these new challenges. Schools and trusts need to identify the best way to support Edu-IT staff to achieve this, but Edu-IT staff need to be firm on how they achieve this. Do not be afraid to collaborate, do not be afraid to embrace MSPs like Lourdes IT – because I know for one thing, I wouldn’t want to be doing this on my own.