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Haslemere, London, United Kingdom, 2008/04/22 - FITS is the educational equivalent of ITIL and having another set of IT rules in Education isn’t necessarily a bad thing, argues Richmond Systems.
FITS (Framework for ICT Technical Support) is the latest set of guidelines designed to help schools implement and use IT effectively. It is easy to groan at yet another set of rules imposed on our education system – but the fact is, IT support is often neglected in our schools. It is overlooked despite the growing importance of technology in delivering education and teaching pupils about the importance of IT in our work and personal lives. The ITIL best practice guidelines are becoming increasingly relied upon, not just in the UK, but all over the world. FITS is the equivalent of ITIL but has been adapted for use in Schools.
Schemes to increase the understanding of IT in schools already exist. Computers for Schools aims to help disadvantaged school children improve their IT and learning skills by putting a computer into their home. But what about the cost of IT support once these computers have been supplied?
Such initiatives will only succeed if the Government helps schools ensure that cost-effective IT support is available quickly and easily. The FITS guidelines point towards processes that can be reused to gain consistency, which ultimately saves the IT department money. It’s not a mandatory imposition, but as a guide to best practice, FITS makes good sense and allows ICT managers to support the school’s staff, pupils and infrastructure. It also allows IT specialists to make informed and strategic decisions about ICT – ones that ultimately benefit the school.
There are already tools available to help schools adhere more closely to the FITS guidelines. For example, Fullbrook School in Surrey has implemented measures to adopt FITS and ITIL® processes effectively.
These measures allow Fullbrook School to handle incoming support desk and other IT enquiries quickly and efficiently. Sebastian Rogers, network manager for Fullbrook School, commented: “Now that all technical issues are properly recorded, statistics are readily available to reduce recurring issues, raise service levels and make best use of finite support resources.”
Fullbrook School has chosen Richmond SupportDesk a solution from Richmond Systems that integrates easily with other processes and also has a proven track record in the education sector. “Richmond SupportDesk has enables us to anticipate what hardware needs replacing, track customer satisfaction and enabling the school to provide ITIL-like services, in a way suited to the education environment.” continued Rogers.
In the future, we can expect to see schools with students and teachers using more and more computers wirelessly – in their homes, in classrooms and the playground. Schools need to implement a system now to support these changes in the future.
For the time being, ICT managers should look for ways to implement the FITS guidelines. It may seem like a chore to research, purchase and install a completely new system, but the time and money saved in the long term needs to be considered. Once implemented, FITS will allow teachers to teach, instead of fixing computer problems, while IT staff can consider the whole IT network instead of individual machines. FITS gives staff a project management approach, helping them adhere to time and budget constraints.
How can we bemoan the lack of good IT graduates if we don’t set the standard in our own schools? Teaching by example, we can encourage young people to be interested in IT from an early age. Rules and guidelines are in place to facilitate this, rather than constrain it. Headteachers should be applauded for implementing new technology to prepare students for a competitive jobs market that demands IT skills. However, it’s vital the IT support exists to back this up – and FITS is there to make this happen.