Category Archives: Darryl’s Blog

Now for something completely different….!

BackStage is a raucously funny, compilation of stories, tales, and gems from the Golden Era of entertainment circa 1960 – 1980. The stories are told by the bass trombonist who played in the Tommy Dorsey band, with Frank Sinatra and later toured with Elvis’ Orchestra into the Rock & Roll era and to his end. Marty Harrell was also the best friend and roommate of Frank Sinatra Jr. through their Tommy Dorsey years. The book is filled with tales of the brightest stars of the greatest era of music entertainment during the nascent days of television and new media, and provides a personal perspective of this behind the scenes character – who unknowingly bears witness to the most beloved of the era. These great little gems that have never been told before, range from when Dean Martin called the police on his own party, and when Marty stuffed a potato into the exhaust pipe of Liberace’s mini-Rolls Royce on live television. Another favorite is the story of when Elvis kicked a girl out of his hotel room during a Winter storm. This band member also tells stories of the raw talent that could only be appreciated up close and personal, like when Frank Sinatra sight read and sang the song “My Kind of Town Chicago is” perfectly, without ever hearing the melody, or when Elvis, on his last tour, surprised the band by sitting at the piano, and belting out the most amazing performance of “Unchained Melody” without ever rehearsing it with the band. The narrative non-fiction highlights the innocence and nostalgia of the time, while providing a glimpse behind the curtains, and giving personal perspectives of these truly talented and beloved entertainers and how they interacted with the crowds and their talented backup.

 

Buy on Amazon

My newest book about Ed Tech Strategic Planning….

FAIL TO PLAN, PLAN TO FAIL is a book for Education Technology professionals who understand that Ed Tech projects are complex and costly, and therefore must be planned and managed just like any other large-scale project. Oftentimes Education Technology professionals move straight from naming an initiative, such as “1 to 1 computing, or BYOD” right into implementation, without taking into consideration the necessary infrastructure, bandwidth and capacity. These requirements may double or even quadruple the overall expenditure.
But in recent decades, with the massive call for classroom technology, the large-scale technology programs that have made the news have been huge failures, and have wasted millions of taxpayer dollars, taking some superintendents with them.
What is the key to avoiding these failures, and how can you insure that it doesn’t happen to your school? The key is planning and project management. Education Technology Strategic Planning is the subject of this book. It provides a detailed process, called MAPITTM that guides the planner through five phases for developing your school’s Ed Tech Strategic Plan: Needs Identification, Needs Analysis, Recommendations, Feasibility and Implementation.

Buy FAIL TO PLAN on Amazon

Our IT department is understaffed and overworked….

Really?  How do you know?  What metrics are being used to support this statement?

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Help Desk statistics Reporting is the critical information base of any IT department.  The key to which is, of course:

  1. having a comprehensive help desk call tracking system
  2. having processes and procedures to insure that all users and all support personnel know how to use the system.
  3. utilizing structured and periodic reporting to measure results – including the ability to compare performance of IT staff.

Any time I review an IT organization, the first question I ask is: “What is the average call resolution time?”  If the IT director cannot answer this question, then all the above help desk tracking and call statistics aren’t being utilized.  Worse yet, is the data being collected?

Another important matter is workload.  If an IT director tells me that his staff is “overworked” I ask, “What is the average call load per technician?”  If the IT director doesn’t know this, then any sense of being “overworked” is unsubstantiated.

This type of reporting is the key to unlocking the dysfunction within an IT department.

Average Calls per Month (or Day) is a key metric for the IT department as a whole, and then for each technical resource.  It may be normal for Tier 1 to resolve 10 calls per day or for the Network Engineer to resolve 1 call per day, but your department will never know the norm without collecting and comparing these statistics month by month.  

If your IT resources are assigned by site, this metric will become very important.  It can be used to best manage the time for each resource, but what you may find out, is that unless, they are remote distances away, IT resources are best operating at a central location, and dispatched to sites accordingly.  It would not be surprising that the main campus may need dedicated resources, whereas multiple remote sites might share a single resource.  But without comparing call loads and resolution times, this balance cannot be achieved and maintained.

Help Desk reporting and departmental metrics must also reflect the difference in workload and worktype between Help Desk, or Problem resources, and Projects and Change Management resources.

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It is not uncommon for engineering resources, especially at Tiers 2 and 3, to work on both, problem management and change management (or problems and projects).

If a network engineer spends half his time working on a new routing project (Change), he cannot be expected to have the same call load, or average call resolution times as his help desk peers.  

That doesn’t mean that his statistics shouldn’t be measured, only that the metrics will differ.  In fact, don’t let these resources off the hook.  If someone knows they aren’t being measured while others are, then you will encourage an elite class within your organization.

What’s your ETSA Score? Take this test now…

The Education Technology Strategic Assessment is now available to all Ed Tech Professionals.

etsa

What is ETSA? An Education Technology Strategic Assessment is a quick-turnaround assessment of your school’s Ed Tech preparedness for your students’ 21st Century needs.

The ESTA will provide a score to rate your school’s preparedness for 21st Century Education Technology needs.

Simply click the link below to take the ETSA quiz and see if your school is ready for your students.

Take the ETSA test

Thanks,

Darryl Vidal

Vice President

Networld Solutions, Inc.

The NEED to Plan…take this test…

Working in my most recent IT projects with Southern California school districts it is still very clear that many IT and Ed Tech departments are foregoing formal IT strategic planning, even more so now that ERATE and EETT plans are going by the wayside.  Here’s a quick top ten reasons why your district’s IT Department needs a formal Strategic Technology Plan:

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10. So that everyone knows what the role of technology is for the district

9.  So that everyone knows why the infrastructure is required

8.  So that everyone knows what technologies will be coming and why

7.  So that everyone knows when (or if) they will be getting new technology

6.  So that everyone knows how much technology systems will cost

5.  So that everyone knows their responsibilities regarding learning and using technology systems

4.  So that everyone understands how the district’s technology is supporting curriculum objectives and board goals

3.  So that everyone understands how the district’s technology is supporting professional development

2.  So that everyone understands how the district’s technology is supporting Common Core State Standards

AND THE #1 REASON YOUR DISTRICT NEEDS A FORMAL STRATEGIC TECHNOLOGY PLAN.

  1.  So everyone understands how the district’s technology is supporting Student Learning!

If everyone in your district (especially the Superintendent) doesn’t know all the above details about their own technology initiatives, then someone better get busy and write a plan that addresses each one of these items.  Use it as a test for yourself and your IT and Ed Tech Departments.

Free Book Offer! Take a simple survey…

Get a copy of the new release by Darryl Vidal:

CONFUCIUS IN THE TECHNOLOGY REALM – A Philosophical Approach to Your School’s Ed Tech Goals.

confucius_cover

What’s the catch?  Take this simple survey.

Copy and paste the following questions into an email.

1 – Name, District/Company, Job Title and mailing address

2 – What are your biggest challenges as an educator?

3 – What are the biggest challenges for students?

4 – What role does technology play in your day-to-day activity?

5 – What technologies offer the greatest benefit to students?

6 – What do you see as the next breakthrough technology to impact education?

7 – Have you heard of TECHNOLOGY INDEPENDENT MODEL FOR EDUCATION(tm)?  Google it and tell me your thoughts.

Send your responses to dvidal@networldsolutions.com and you’ll receive a complimentary copy of Confucius in the Technology Realm.

 

Let’s meet at ASBOi meeting this weekend!

Seeking to transform the way technology is perceived, deployed and used in K-12 classrooms, Networld Solutions, Inc., a leading provider of value-added information technology solutions, today announced the release of “Confucius in the Technology Realm,” a new book authored by VP and Principal Education Technology Consultant Darryl Vidal.

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Now available on Amazon, the book offers a new and controversial way of thinking about the dynamic world of education technology (ed tech). It comes on the heels of Vidal’s previous two books, co-authored with school technology expert Michael Casey, which have earned critical acclaim in ed-tech circles.

confucius_cover  Vision_frontcoverj cover

To commemorate the release, Vidal will be on hand for a book signing at the annual meeting and expo for the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International in Grapevine, Texas. The book signing will take place in the ASBO book store Saturday, October 24 from 2:30 -5:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 25 from 11:30 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Two devices per baby….!

I was just speaking to a construction manager (CM) for one of the new elementary schools we’re building.  We were having a discussion about the pre-school classroom technology requirements.

The conversation went something like this:

Consultant: “The pre-school classrooms are just like the others, Interactive White Board, Student Laptops, Doc Camera, etc.”

CM: “and an AP in each classroom right?”

Consultant: “Yes, just like the others.  We want to make sure we can support multiple devices per student.”

CM: “You mean multiple devices per baby?”baby

 

Funny thing is there’s sound reasoning behind this topical discussion.

From an infrastructure standpoint, we don’t know that these particular classrooms will always be for pre-schoolers (even though they have sinks and bathrooms).  Why wouldn’t a pre-school classroom not have the same technology as any other.

Although the babies may not have multiple devices, wireless saturation is just that, so why not?

Finally, with futuristic new technologies like RFID, smart-clothing, and wearable computers, every baby may need multiple devices.  It’s only logical!

Get that Network Assessment…now!

Here’s a tired old story, and I hate having to tell it again.

We’ve been working with this small client for a few months.  Their network was set up by the “last IT guy” and it wasn’t done very well.  The server was a dedicated PC but nothing more than a tower.  Their whole system was set up sort of “on the fly” and and wasn’t being backed up.

The key though, is that their main connection to their back-end manufacturer’s data system is accessed via the server and their vendor database on the Internet.

Meaning their whole business is dependent on two components:

  1. the server (and vendor’s application running on it)
  2. their connection to the internet via their firewall.

Unfortunately, they relied only on their vendor to get things up and running in the most rudimentary way.

So, when they called us to “load some drivers and get the printers working,” we noticed many shortfalls and possible single-points-of-failure.

So we dutifully recommended we provide them with a “Network Assessment” that would allow us to spend the time and identify these critical points, which we would then, make recommendations and propose resolutions, such as software updates, system monitoring and regular backup procedures.  Of course, the cost was too much and they’d rather just call us when they needed us and they pay time & materials.  This was fine for about six months….

Then it happened, they called us Thursday late afternoon with a “problem.”  Since we don’t have a contract, we weren’t able to prioritize them, and get an engineer out until Friday.

servercrash

Their IT person did “something” that took down the server and their entire operation and they were desperate.  They wanted someone to come on Saturday, so our engineer came in, but could not resolve the issues because the vendor’s support wasn’t available on Saturday.  We couldn’t send someone on Sunday (yes they are usually open on Sunday).

By Monday they were down for 4 days.  They dumped us and brought in someone else, whom I’m sure would be starting from scratch.

What a grim and oft repeated tale of woe.  Had they paid for the assessment and followed the recommendations, they would have spent less then half of what they ended spending on overtime emergency calls, and likely experienced zero down-time – no telling how much revenue and customer good will was lost.

What’s the point?   When was the last time your business had a network assessment?

  • Did you follow through on the recommendations?
  • Have you eliminated all single-points-of-failure?
  • Is your server software up-to-date?
  • Back up processes running regularly and tested?
  • Could your business keep running if your network was down?

If you answered NO to any of these questions….Get that Network Assessment…now!

New Ed Tech books stirs controversy…

“It’s an unrealistic view of today’s Education Technology landscape.”

“Most people are un-prepared for these concepts, their heads would blow up!”

“This book made me ask, has the author ever even worked with Teachers and Administrators?”

These are some of the comments author Darryl Vidal is getting as feed back from early reviews of his latest Educational Technology block-buster, “Confucius in the Technology Realm – a philosophical approach to your schools Ed Tech Goals” now available on Amazon (click here).

His response, “It’s exactly the response I was expecting – just a little less cynical…some of the concepts are out there!”

confucius-quotes

Confucius in the Technology Realm is a ground-breaking new approach to the dynamic world of Education Technology.  Vidal’s previous two books (co-authored with Michael Casey), “N3XT Practices,” and “VISION,” which have received high acclaim in Ed Tech circles, and are recommended reading by the Google Education Task Force, have focused on the process and methods for developing Ed Tech Vision and Strategic Plans.

In this work, the author has decided to soften on structure and focus on art – to take a philosophical approach to the planning and management of the chaotic and ever-changing realm of Educational Technology – what would Confucius think about Ed Tech?

But while providing a method of inquiry for philosophical guidance, the book is also meant to reinforce the ethereal concepts with real-world, Ed Tech examples.

“This is where I may lose some readers” Vidal explains.  Even with real-world examples, it can be difficult to relate transcendence and the “Ultimate Embodiment” while configuring network protocols and enabling classroom BYOD devices.

Confucius in the Technology Realm explains how the ultimate objectives of impacting student learning and achievement and mastery of philosophical self-discipline becomes one and the same – thus, this latest work can be seen as Confucius’ viewpoint, helping identify the path to transcending the organization’s people, policies, and processes to attain a state where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – where the education technology infrastructure and operational support structure are ingrained and embodied within the organization as a whole.

Don’t worry, your head won’t blow up!