A lifestyle choice led Paul John Stanners to leave Western Australia and settle in Hobart, Tasmania.
The St Mary’s College ICT manager spoke to Computerworld Australia about tablets, school funding and his electric mountain bike.
What does your role as ICT manager involve?
It involves strategic long term planning of up to five years which takes into account funding changes as governments change. We have 750 desktops, laptops and netbooks, plus a virtualized server environment which needs to be managed.
What are some of the technology projects you have been working on?
We made a key strategic decision to replace our 30-year-old PABX system a year and a half ago. I found out that we were only 900 metres from the nearest Australia Academic Research Network [AARNet] hub so we were able to set up a 1 Gigabit Internet connection. MyNetFone’s session initiation protocol [SIP] Trunking system also got us up and running.
We are now in the middle of a tablet rollout, we’ve gone with the Lenovo Helix for Grade 11 and 12 students. The tablets are running Windows 8 and Office 2013.
The students can log in remotely to the college’s Office 365 suite using a secure portal and all of their homework is there. Students submit work using the OneNote software in Office 2013, and the teacher marks the work using a stylus and send it back to the student.
We are getting to the point where the teachers have tablets as well because we’re trying to move to a paperless environment.
What are some of the challenges you face in the role?
Budgets and managing expectations. We are a Catholic college and don’t charge that much in school fees. Like other schools, we are now looking at a technology levy so the parents contribute because this is the only way we can provide every student with a computer. The parents now expect that students will have the latest computers and fast Internet.
What are the issues facing IT managers today?
1. Whether to go to the cloud or not. You can put a certain amount of your infrastructure in-house and we have engaged in server virtualization. If you go cloud-based with your information, [ask yourself] where is it hosted and what are the legal ramifications?
2. User training. People use about 5 to 10 per cent of the technology when they could be working a lot more productively. We now have an assistance training program that we are teaching.
What is your favourite gadget?
My electric mountain bike. I live about 30 kilometres outside of Hobart over a mountain so the only way I'm going to get to school on a bike is with a bit of electric assistance.
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick