Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 | Sustainability
It is a real challenge for schools to find technical support for their ICT facilities.
The best way to support ICT, if a school can afford it, is by means of a full-time technical support person. Such a technician will ensure that the hardware remains operable, that the software is installed properly and that all the network connections work as they should. Regrettably, at present no provision is made for technology related posts in South African schools and if a school wants to appoint a technician, this has to be funded from the school’s own resources. Many schools simply can’t afford to employ such a person.
Most schools with technology facilities have to depend on whatever “corporate services” are offered by their education authorities. These corporate units are often under-staffed and when the number of schools requiring their services increases, the service rendered to schools becomes unsatisfactory.
Some schools succeed in arranging pro bono technical support with a parent, a member of the community, or a company that makes its technical staff available to the school. Sometimes this arrangement works well, but since the school has to depend on the good will and availability of volunteer workers, support is often not accessible when it is most needed.
For schools that are serious about the use of technology for teaching and learning, another option exists: service level agreements. These are often referred to as SLAs.
In a school context an SLA is an agreement reached between the school and a commercial technical service provider, where the service provider agrees to render a certain level of technical support to the school. The company may, for instance, agree to pay a specified number of scheduled visits per month to the school, to perform routine maintenance tasks, and to provide a number of hours of additional support when things go wrong. The cost of such a service is determined by the number of agreed visits and the additional support that can be expected.
The advantage of an SLA to a school is that it is more affordable than a full-time technician, yet support is available when required. The level of service can be negotiated according to the requirements of the school and available funds.
Many technology companies are able to render this service, but some of them specialize in assisting schools. These companies often provide a better and cheaper service, since they understand school systems and are geared towards assisting schools.
If your school battles with technology support, the solution to your problem may lie in entering into an SLA with a service provider with a proven track record in schools.
Technology service providers who can offer SLAs to schools are welcome to leave a comment, giving a description of the service they can offer, contact details, as well as their geographical area of operation.
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