I don’t appear to have had Covid-19, this post is more about working with it in the world, not working whilst ill!
Bit of a rambling post, I’m adding to it between jobs so forgive any abrupt topic shifts.
Schools are closed, but students still need to learn. As tech support for a school, enabling this has been… Well, easy to be honest. We’re a Google school so the shift for our students (and those teachers that bothered to learn it…) has been relatively simple. But there’s more to a school than enabling teachers to provide material and help to students. The challenges arose (and continue to become apparent) with all the other departments that enable teachers to do their jobs; wellbeing, admin, safeguarding, leadership, the list goes on.
For us in tech support, the whole team has been busy providing support for the schools in the local area. We’re avoiding going on-site wherever possible, though this is not always avoidable. Remote support is not something we had prepared for, either. We’ve been using Chrome Remote Desktop to get on to other user devices who are also at home, but as nobody has local admin and Chrome Remote Desktop won’t pass through UAC prompts we’ve been unable to fix a small subset of issues. Something to correct moving forward for sure – a remote assistance like product (something along the lines of GoToAssist or LogMeIn) would be swell, but it’s a bit late to deploy it now.
We had to roll out laptops to our non-teaching staff, but unfortunately with limited devices available many staff simply don’t have the ability to do much work that can’t be done on a phone. Many people who said they have devices at home didn’t account for the fact that their two-point-four kids and partner would also be needing it. We didn’t take this in to account either and are paying for it now.
Some students also don’t have devices, however the DfE is offering devices to those most vulnerable. We’ll see how that goes, I can’t imagine there’s a stock of millions of laptops stored in a warehouse somewhere, but something is better than nothing!
I’ve wanted to work from home for a long time and have biased towards tools that can be used from anywhere. Rolling these out to a wider user base has certainly highlighted issues in our processes and changes we can make in the future, however for now we’re… doing pretty well, actually.
The impact on education won’t be felt for a long time, but there are already some interesting developments.
Some staff are arguing for the use of what are effectively spying tools to check up on both staff and students. Thankfully, this is being outright rejected by senior staff in our school. Others are demanding a lot of their teams, forgetting that some of them have kids and/or elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours to look after. This is having a direct impact on the teaching and learning – some staff are just exhausted. I’m getting emails from staff late at night and very early in the morning. Students are also submitting work at unhealthy hours.
I love working from home. Much more productive, fewer interruptions lead to better quality of work faster. It’s great. But for some it’s clear their home-life does not facilitate it well.
I’m hoping once the pandemic is over, we keep what we’ve learned and don’t just rush right back in to how life was before. I’m not sure I can survive a full-time office job anymore….