Ennis Primary Sip Project Technical Support Issues

Situation in Schools in September 1999

Of the six primary schools with Networked Rooms two schools had co-ordinators who were resource teachers. Their resource position also included computers in their schools. In the other four schools the co-ordinator was a full time class teacher. This second group experienced exceptional difficulties as they tried to juggle their responsibilities towards their own class and also tried to ensure that the Network system was up and running for their colleagues.
Some of these schools are very large with upwards of six hundred pupils. Despite all the training that had been received and many hours of unpaid after-hours work the teachers were finding it impossible to attend to all the problems of maintaining a network and also attending to their responsibilities as primary teachers.

Seeking a Solution

Meetings were organised at Clare Education centre by the Director of the Centre, Dr. Kyran Kennedy, and attended by representatives of the Information Age Town, the N.C.T.E and all the school principals in Ennis both primary and secondary. All the parties worked to find the best solution for the schools.

The group decided to engage a company to service the needs of the schools. Each school was allocated 2 - 3 hours per week.

The working party drew up a job description and this was sent to tender. Several local companies put in submissions and the lowest company tendering was offered the contract.

How it Works

Each school keeps a logbook to record problems and solutions. During the technicians visit to the school, the co-ordinator observes and take notes of the various solutions. This helps the co-ordinator to learn from the experience and to become familiar with resolutions to typical problems.

Aside from issues concerning Internet and Email the technician is available to the school co-ordinators for other problems concerning computers. He may load software or check on programmes that are not functioning properly etc.

The schools felt it important to have the services of a company rather than one individual because in situations where a large school was in a crisis situation, diverting the technician to the problem school could cause a smaller school to loose their time slot. Where there is a crisis, in the Ennis case, the company operates a call out service that immediately sends a technician to rectify the situation.

The Ennis schools are satisfied with this solution. Teachers are still involved with the technical maintenance of the networked rooms but they have the back up of the company to support them when problems arise.

Looking to the Future
Ideally, schools require one staff member free from class duties to be responsible for the management of the networked room. This is essential,even with the assistance of a company.
Principals are optimistic that in the future a full time staff member will be released. This would be the ideal model for future development.
Ennis Information Age Town
SIP 058

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