Total number of years in service: 14 Years
Do you call yourself a digital organization? If yes, why?
Not necessarily. At Abu Dhabi Grammar School (Canada) we strive to maintain relationships, and human connection wherever possible. At the end of the day we are a school that prides positive relationships, learning, and critical thinking over everything else. We often use a plethora of digital tools to achieve each of those goals, but we would never say we are digital organization just for the sake of being a digital organization.
What are your top projects for the next 6 months?
Shifting to a new IP Telephony system (3CX phone system) which should automated certain repetitive tasks/actions. Restructuring our network infrastructure. Implementing a new security and ID card system for identification and library use. Advancing our long running efforts with G- Suite and Chromebooks. We are currently in the second year of a three-year process of moving to a 1 to 1 model for every junior high and high school student. Additionally, we are also introducing new Chrome tablets to the school for the younger grades.
What are the key technologies challenges faced by your sector?
Downtime is very difficult in a school. Because we have over a thousand users every single day we depend on all our services to run smoothly without interruption. Maintenance schedules are difficult, and troubleshooting has to be done extremely quickly. Teacher and student adoption of new technologies is also an issue. Many people want to try lots of exciting and novel technologies but as a cohesive organization we need to ensure stability across departments. So, discovery of new technologies is one aspect, but successful adoption is another. Training users to truly achieve what they want with new equipment is always a hurdle but when done successfully pays dividends for years.
What kind of vendor/solution provider engagement do you look forward to in 2018?
Consistent support. Price is of course always a factor but in terms of engagement with vendors we look for support. Not just in the sense of “is this product working as intended” but also in the sense of how can one vendor’s solution fit into our complicated ecosystem of solutions that already exist. Many vendors simply want you to shift to their entire line of products but for a school that is never reasonable. We already have many functioning systems and some vendors offer better solutions in one category but are lacking in another. It would be great to see them engage with us more flexibly and maintain a relationship over time. The best vendors are the ones that check in with us and offer us new information on how to use what we already have in place (which adds value). Rather than simply adding us to an email list with promotions.
To do list for 2018
Further our Chromebook 1-1 initiative, upgrade our network, shift to an IP telephony system, improve digital guidelines and manuals/policies for staff, introduce ID card system.