You know, one of those two day events where Microsoft comes in and shows the school techies everything they ever need to know about what Microsoft can do for a school and how all of it works. OK, so the camp should be more like 2 weeks but I do not think any techie can commit to something that long or expensive. Right now I am getting buried by all that is happening in the school tech world. Things like Office 365 vs Google Apps, EES licensing, Group Policy, Windows 10 deployment, hosted Exchange vs Google mail, OneNote, OneDrive, Azure Active Directory, and about a dozen other things I do not even know exist and would really help my school survive better if I knew about them.
With budgets as tight as they are Google has started to be the go-to option for schools. The trouble with that is that Google Apps are just not professional grade nor are they the dominate apps in the outside-of-school world. Google also is not the backbone of a school’s infrastructure. Servers, login management and computers that use high level software are all going to be Microsoft. No matter how much school techies complain about Microsoft or try to eliminate Microsoft it is still the King of the Hill. But Microsoft school techie training is non-existent. I can get the names of five local Google certified trainers in about sixty minutes. Trainers who can train the staff on apps and train the techie on deployment and management. These trainers specialize in schools. I have no idea where to find a Microsoft trainer who is local or who specializes in schools. Next month one of the local schools is hosting a two day Google Fest for education. A third day is the tech thread. I have never ever heard of a Microsoft Fest for education. Maybe Montana is too far out for word of something like that to be heard.
There are lots of places to get Microsoft certifications. School techies do not need Microsoft certifications. They need to know what is cheap, is going to work and how to keep it working with a $3.85 budget. Oh, and considering the average training level of the average school techie (I started as a math teacher that could spell Microsoft) they need to know what is idiot proof and stupidly simple to manage. Example: most school techies can spell SCCM but no school techie has time to fiddle with it for a month to try to make it work.
The school techie job is like nothing I have ever seen in the techie world. In business the techie is usually a specialist and if it is something outside their realm they call in another specialist. The school techie, especially a small school, has to be a jack of all trades. The techie has to have a smattering of servers, wireless, anti-virus, firewalls, content filters, desktop systems, Window, Mac, Chrome, repairs, cable pulling (in dark crawl spaces with large hairy spiders), software of all kinds and a dozen other things they do not know they have to know. The training for all this is usually minimal.
It would behoove (I do not think I have ever used “behoove” in a written document before) Microsoft to get in the parade before we all get used to suffering with Google Apps. I have been to a Microsoft show-and-tell. There is some really nice Microsoft stuff out there but 2 hours is not enough time to do anything but take a quick note to look it up on the internet when back in the office. When I get time. Microsoft does have events for teachers. I have attended a two day event on TouchDevelop and a one day event on Microsoft Innovative Educator (basically Office 365, OneNote and some odds and ends). The first really does not need any techie input. The second really needs a techie thread with multiple days. Guess who is going to get the call when the teacher decides to use these tools and can’t quite figure out what to do? That MIE event should have been two days just for the teachers and a third day for the techies.
There is just so much happening out there in school tech-land that learning it on-the-job and on-the-fly is not cutting it any more. If Microsoft wants to keep their stuff in the education market they have to give the training to the people that actually talk to the school administration as to what to purchase. Yes, events like MIE are important for the teachers, but they do no good if the school tech cannot support it.