I am currently working on changing the current departmental title where I work from IT Support to IT Services as I believe IT Services more accurately fits what I and the staff within the department do.
The main reason behind this change is that I see the staff within the department and the work that we do as integral to what happens within the school. We provide data services to ensure teachers, school leaders and parents have timely access to information. We provide the audio visual services used within the classroom everyday in checking, maintaining and replacing classroom data projectors, audio systems and associated computer hardware. We provide the printing facilities across the school. We provide and support the WIFI across the school as used by the staff and students which given all students and staff have a mobile device is quite a significant undertaking.
My belief is that the term “service” is more in line with what we do as opposed to “support”. Now I recently read a post by Anthony DePrato which you can see here. His post presents a slightly different standpoint in that he expresses a key preference for “support” over the term “service”. The reasoning for this is explained to be the fact that teaching and learning are critically important and therefore the focus. The IT facilities and staff are therefore there to help and to support this critical focus as opposed to being a service. Mr. DePrato raises the concern of the potential reliance that may develop on IT as a service.
My viewpoint differs to that of Mr. DePrato on one key point. For me teaching and learning is always the critical and key focus of all staff within a school independent of whether they directly teach students or not. I recently commented when a colleague mentioned HR and Payroll, that they too need to focus on teaching and learning. If teachers don’t feel supported as employees and adequately paid then their teaching and the learning experiences they provide will most likely be adversely affected. So for the IT staff working within the school the key thing is to provide services which assist and enhance teaching and learning.
I use “services” as I feel this better describes how “we” as a whole are all “in it together”. If the school management system doesn’t work then this will adversely impact on Teaching and Learning. If the display equipment doesn’t work or a teacher cant access online educational resources they wish to use then this will adversely impact on Teaching and Learning. Teaching and Learning depends both on the teaching in the class and on the IT service available although I will happily concede that the teaching side of things is more important as learning can occur with the technology. That said I believe the best learning happens where we have the best IT services and the best teaching operating together. As such teaching staff and IT staff must work together. It is not about reliance but more about a coexistence and collaboration. For me the easiest way for this to happen is to see IT as a service in much the same way as water, electricity and heat. Teachers should expect the service to be there and to meet their needs. IT staff should seek to ensure that the service is in place and that it continues to meet the evolving needs of teachers plus to resolve any faults or problems promptly where they arise. IT services involve an ongoing discussion with the users of the service to ensure the service remains current and appropriate to the needs of teachers and their students.
As Mr. DePrato said, this is not Amazon, as Amazon are external and represent a bought in service. This is more akin to the internal relationship with have with school leaders who we expect to work with teachers and to lead the school. This is an internal relationship with clear expectations. Given this I think “service” is more appropriate as a term as opposed to “support”.
In concluding I would suggest that the words don’t matter as much as the culture and climate they seek to promote. Maybe both myself and Mr. DePrato seek to establish the same culture and climate within IT however due to differing styles approach the same issue with slightly different perceptions and slightly differing styles.
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