Q&A: Brighton Grammar director of ICT, David Humphreys

The school has kicked off a tablet implementation

Victoria-based Brighton Grammar School is no stranger to a significant ICT project, with the school currently in the process of replacing textbooks with tablets to provide a more interactive and collaborative way of learning and teaching.

Computerworld Australia sat down with the school’s director of ICT, David Humphreys, to discuss what issues are currently putting IT professionals to the test.

What does an average work day involve for you?

My role is less hands-on and more a facilitator of IT projects and I have a really strong team around me. My job is really to liaise between the IT department and the school and vice versa to look at what the school is doing and look at how ICT can facilitate those outcomes.

When I first came here, I made that very clear that it’s very important to have that dialogue to find out where teaching and learning is going we spend a lot of time working out how we can get ICT initiatives to assist in teaching and learning.

It’s also a lot of change management so one of the things schools are not traditionally great at is change management. So what we’re trying to do is implement more of that communication culture into the school so more people understand what’s going on and have the opportunity to contribute to that.

What are some of the challenges you face in the role of ICT Director?

Change management. An awful lot of stakeholders, students and teachers get affected by any change that you make so communication is paramount. Also making sure everybody understands what you’re doing and have the opportunity to hold their hands up and say that’s not going to work because of 'X'.

What are some of the recent projects you have been working on?

We’re working on the Android tablet rollout for students mainly, planning Gmail for students, an upgrade of the wireless network and the internet connection. Also, one of our big challenges for the year ahead is a network I would describe as overcomplicated, so one of our big challenges over the next 12 months is to try and rationalise or simplify that network in all areas to make it easier for students, teachers and IT staff to be able to utilise and maintain.

We will consolidate services and we may actually decommission some services where appropriate but my mantra is 'keep it simple'. We did a three-year strategy and one of the main things about it is to make technology simple, easy to use, reliable and available so it’s really important we have those key drivers otherwise why would you actually deploy it.

What are the three biggest issues facing IT managers today?

I think managing the pace of technology as things change quite often, as I mentioned change management is absolutely mandatory. There’s a rapid change at the moment. Who would have thought three or four years ago that tablet devices would have such an impact in business? They were a personal device, a toy and perhaps a bit of a gimmick but they’ve infiltrated business and are coming into school and that’s a big change of pace for people, teaching and IT staff included. Trying to ensure that what we provision keeps pace but also keeps information secure, is that balance between making it easy to use and not making it overcomplicated.

What’s your favourite gadget?

My iPhone, it’s fantastic.

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