Thursday, 2 August 2007

Telecom Trembling??

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Is Telecom shaking in it's boots today to hear that 83% of schools surveyed by the NZPF are planning to look for another Internet provider in dismayed reaction to Telecom axing the Schools Connection Points scheme?
Somehow i think Telecom may just be laughing up their sleeves that they have managed to capture so many of our schools in the SchoolZone net before taking away their much needed support for ICT in schools. Is it a knee jerk reaction for Principals to say we will just go to another provider?
Think it through - it is not just a connection to the Internet that Telecom SZ provides - its a whole managed Internet package. Think about the transition you went through when you changed to SZ - a new way of doing email, learning to use the MyDesktop, uploading users (rolling over the year groups every year), checking up on user internet use, filtering & blocking sites (unfiltering & unblocking sites), many have added on MyClasses - with whole courses being uploaded & accessed through Telecom SchoolZone. The list goes on: internal proxy servers taken out to be served offsite, school websites hosted on SZ servers, personal files of 1000s of NZ students & teachers stored in SZ Personal files boxes. (Hours and hours of staff training nationally - Phew!!) So just switch providers? What A Mission! For my TaraNet schools there is no other providers - Telecom is the only provider locally we can use for Videoconferencing into the VPN. (If you think TaraNet can do this differently please let me know)
When SZ first appeared around 2002/2003 for many of our schools it was like pennies from heaven - a whole integrated, easy to use tool for managing the wild beast the internet had become in our schools (secondary schools in particular). Of course it was great to have Broadband too - SZ & broadband at that time went hand in hand. I have long been a SZ champion but in the last year have been feeling a bit unsettled about having all our eggs in the Telecom basket. Other providers have stepped up with lower prices & better speeds, SZ has had hiccups with its new filtering system & some recent issues with email.
So where to next for schools - what are the options beyond SZ? What support will be needed to change - a truckload for sure. Your thoughts?
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