Train the trainer courses – a success!


We have now completed two ‘train-the-trainer’ courses and they have been a resounding success.

The course now runs for two days and attendees found this much more beneficial. The first day covers all of the processes of the practitioner accreditation and includes advice on the points that our trainers need to cover.  On the second day the delegates work through a case study of a typical school going through a FITS implementation. In the afternoon of the second day trainers now sit the examination for either the practitioner or advanced course being trained.

This will now be the format that we will use for all future courses. Continue reading

FITS for LAs / Coordinators

FITS provides Local Authorities and Coordinators with a standard set of processes that all of the technicians in their schools can work to.

It helps them provide a consistent level of service across all of their educational establishments whether they be Primary School, Secondary school or even Higher Education.

Local Authorities and Coordinators can also become FITS accredited. To become accredited, a Local Authority or Coordinator would be required to attend a FITS Practitioner – Support training course at one of our training centres and demonstrate that they are implementing FITS in their schools by having assisted at least one of their schools to implement FITS.

To learn more about what’s involved in accreditation and a list of training centres follow this link to accreditation.

FITS benefits for technicians

FITS provides technicians at all levels with an internationally recognised qualification that is specifically geared to ICT support in educational establishments.

To gain accreditation, technicians are required to sit an external examination at one of several centres around the UK. Preparation for the examination can be undertaken in two ways. We have created a full set of study material covering all of the FITS processes which is supplied as part of the accreditation pack.

We also run regular training courses allied to the accreditation that are delivered by accredited FITS trainers in various locations around the UK. It is our aim in due course to be able to provide a training course at a location near to where you are so that attendees don’t have to travel long distances. However, until we have a full complement of trainers on board training will be available at more central locations.

To learn more about what’s involved in accreditation and a list of training centres follow this link to accreditation.

US School IT Support …

…Overworked and underpaid.

A recent survey conducted by eSchool News has identified that shortages of ICT staff, diminishing budgets and a general feeling among technical staff of being overworked and underpaid is not confined to the UK.

In this report the author outlines the challenges that IT departments in schools are facing, how they are meeting their IT goals despite tight budgets and coping with difficult times.

Read the full report at http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/special-reports/special-reports-articles/index.cfm?i=57513.

What benefits can be gained from FITS?

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Here are just a few of the benefits that can be gained from introducing FITS:

  • It gives you the benefit of hindsight over many years of development of IT support techniques.
  • It contains tried and tested processes that have been adapted specifically with the school environment in mind.
  • It provides simplified and ready to use processes that can be used immediately.
  • It contains templates, checklists and downloads that can be used as they are or personalised.
  • It has a quick-start approach to help you make the best use of time and resources available and see quick results.
  • It separates administrative tasks and technical tasks to help you assign the most appropriate resources.
  • It helps you keep costs to a minimum.
  • It helps you protect teachers from getting involved in technical support issues.
  • It helps you measure technical support as shown in our example Service Report.

What is a service desk?


The service desk acts as a single point of contact between ICT and users, where they can submit enquiries, log incidents, obtain help and request change. The service desk not only handles incidents, problems and questions, but also provides an interface to users. Dealing with requests for equipment moves, software installations and help on how to use a system are typical service desk functions.

The single point of contact at the service desk can perform some aspects of financial management and configuration management while also helping with the production of reports and administrative functions in other areas of FITS.

Why a service desk?

Computer systems can grow very large from small beginnings. This often appears to happen overnight without being planned and takes users and technicians by surprise. Eventually the management and support of such an environment becomes very expensive, time consuming and frequently an exercise in futility.

There is nothing more frustrating than calling for technical support and getting passed around until you find the right person to speak to – provided, of course, they are not at lunch, on holiday or have just gone home.

Benefits of a service desk in a school

• A common way of logging incidents and requests means that users know who to contact when they need help, incidents only require reporting once and the right information is always collected.

• Using a common shared call log helps with incident resolution, tracking logged calls to resolution and monitoring service levels.

• Familiarity with hardware, software and infrastructure aids quick resolution of incidents, and ensures that users receive appropriate training and that software and hardware standardisation can be maintained.

Roles and responsibilities

Any school that needs to understand its technical support requirements will start with implementing a service desk.This will help to put all technical requirements through a single point of contact, enabling needs, and how they are currently being addressed, to be understood.

Who should staff the service desk

• A person with good interpersonal skills

• A person who is not providing technical support

• A person who is not necessarily technical but does need to be organised

• A person who could be performing another role (in a small school)

Remember the goal of the service desk is to enable the person providing technical support to concentrate on that work and not the details of how to log a call.

How to operate the service desk

Non-technical

If a non-technical person is staffing the service desk, they can solely log, track and update technical support calls. However, there is an opportunity to develop the role to encompass non-technical aspects of roles in other FITS processes including:

  • configuration management
  • database administrator
  • financial administrator
  • service continuity recovery team member
    • Technical

      If a person with technical understanding is staffing the service desk, they may be able to carry out incident management. In many cases, this would speed up incident resolution and reduce technician workload.

      What you should achieve through the service desk

      • A standard way of recording and logging incidents and requests

      • A method of communication between the user and technician via the service desk

      • Historical information about calls and failure rates of individual equipment

      • Reports and feedback on the calls logged and resolved

      • Knowledge about the time taken to resolve incidents and requests

      • Information about calls currently outstanding and how long they have been logged

Security Management


Are you confident that all the resources in your ICT environment are protected from misuse?
Are your IT users protected from external parties trying to interrupt their daily use of the systems?
Are you confident that your ICT users can only see information they should and that access to all your systems are all properly classified, logged and auditable?
If not, it’s time to develop your security management process and start managing the security of your environment.

Your ICT environment must operate safely, in order to protect your ICT users, the ICT environment and the data stored on it, you need to be able to secure it. Security Management is concerned with developing the techniques and managing the tasks that will allow you to do this.

Aim
The aim of this section is to introduce the topics of eSafety and Security Management and to help you implement the process within your environment in an easy and effective way.
Objectives
The objectives of this section are to enable you to:-
• understand the concept of eSafety and addressing your security policies and procedures to maintain a safe environment for your ICT users
• understand the various aspects involved in securing your environment
• understand the importance of developing a security strategy and developing your own security policies
• understand the need to manage both your physical and data assets
• understand your responsibilities for data security and protection
• understand the issues around user administration and maintaining a secure user environment
• develop methods for managing your users’ secure access to resources and protecting them within that environment
• develop standards for installing and managing systems within your secure environment
• understand the need and benefits of auditing and monitoring system access
• develop your network security both its perimeter and its internal infrastructure

What is Security Management?
Security is the management of risk. Within your ICT environment, you are managing the risks of loss or damage to your assets and data. It is important that the form this loss can take is identified. Losses can include:-
• Confidentiality of information
• Integrity of data
• Assets
• Reputation
• Efficiency and performance
• System or equipment availability
Security is concerned with the implementation of procedures that minimise the chance and impact of these losses.

Why use Security Management?
Any organisation that is storing data has a legal responsibility to protect that data from inappropriate or illegal use. Security Management allows the risk associated with storing and providing access to the various types of data in use, within an organisation, to be properly assessed and managed.
Security management is responsible for the whole environment in which the data is secured. Only by managing the total environment can all risks be properly measured.
In this way, preventative measures can be put into place to minimise the risks and a safe and secure computing environment maintained.

All IT users and staff will be responsible for the day to day operation of a secure environment.

Successful Security Management requires the cooperation and support of everyone involved in a schools day to day operation.

Who uses Security Management?
Security Management should be managed by someone with a senior role in the school.
Remember that your ICT services are often affected by third parties such as telecoms providers, support and maintenance suppliers and so on.
You will need to include them in your plans because their own services will be affected by any security procedures you put into place and your requirements may need them to change their procedures.

How Security Management works
Security Management begins by developing the Security Strategy and setting up the Security Policies. This provides the terms of reference for an internal Security Control function.
Security Management Process
Security Management Process Flowchart
This initiates a cycle of activity:
• Plan
• Implement
• Evaluate
• Maintain

The overall cycle is managed and controlled by the security management resources available to the school.

Security Management Process
Security Management begins with an understanding of the schools security requirements.
These are translated into a direction (Security Strategy).
This direction is implemented by developing security policies: directions to staff and ICT users of how to use and what is expected of a secure environment.
These policies are then used by staff implementing new systems or by users of those systems.
By reviewing the performance of these policies against real security incidents, the establishment (both Technical Staff and Senior Leadership Teams) learns of actual threats and vulnerabilities, and can then propose improvements to the overall security.
These proposed improvements, if accepted will be fed into a new cycle of planning maintaining the overall security strategy