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who should be taking care of us?

November 22, 2007

Saving, keeping, and storing your digital stuff (files, music, photos etc…) with so much generated on a day to day basis on our respective computers, often one gives off this false sense of stability. I would guess to say most people save their files, photos, music and videos on their computer and to them that is it, once saved there all is well. It must be something inherited from the non digital era when you had a file and you put it into a cupboard and their was a sense of permanency unless the place burned down. The unfortunate reality in my view is that pretty everything we generate on our computers unless printed is digital= a bunch of one and zeros…. ironically the importance of these files etc.. have only increased with our day to day lives.

So switch to an international school environment, where you then need to set up an infrastructure and systems to support users with a rich variety of needs for backing up and saving. This takes server space, time, set up and training. An important service and then again providing a layer of security for each user.

This is where the heresy might begin for some. When I came into my job as Director of IT one of the big issues was the whole backing up of faculty and student files. We had a somewhat unstable system, lots of problems with connections, and bad files, to large folders trying to be put up on the server etc….. their was a growing frustration by all parties involved. Instead of investing more money and/or time I decided with the team that we would move the responsibility of backing up to the user. To support them we provided them with 250MB of virtual hard drive space on our Moodle environment, and then through training and regular notices as shared above had them become responsible for backing up their own files and folders. Flash sticks and CD’s were made available and also we encourage people to buy their own. Our IT Specialist would also spend time training and supporting faculty through the process.

I think this move and philosophy of moving more responsibility onto the user is something I feel is important to facilitate in the context of a international school. I have replicated this same philosophy with the students and they seem quite comfortable.

The role I feel IT departments in international schools should be to provide the learning portal (internet, pedagogy, support, mentoring and facilitation) to the users, and at the same time through a system where each user is responsible for their own files, folder, photos and music back ups. The way technology is today, and the inexpensive access to a variety of different backing up systems both online and offline, schools need not get bogged down with this.

The process in itself provides a talking point and modeling for each user in my opinion……..

John @ISETS

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