We’re exhibited out and it’s good to be back!

Picture of By Ellen Richards
By Ellen Richards
We’re exhibited out and it’s good to be back!

Exhibiting at the ICT Management and Leadership Conference 2012 organised by the Association of Independent Schools of NSW (AIS) was a huge success.

Aside from enjoying fantastic weather in the Hunter Valley, we were provided an opportunity to catch up with many of our existing clients and engage with key representatives from various independent schools.

The future of digital learning and the impact of mobile technology was a key focus for the delegates. Mobility is certainly changing the landscape and this provided an ideal environment to showcase our recent enhancements to Schoolbox and our future vision.

There is definitely a rethinking of the traditional classroom toward online and student engagement through the use of technology.  Engagement of the whole of school community — i.e. teachers, students and parents through a single, easy to use interface is also a key focus.

Technology currents worthy of mention include:

  • Bring your own device (BYOD) is the latest thing in schools. “One to one” is old school now with everyone moving to support a wide range of devices and equipment.Schoolbox is perfectly positioned for this as we have maintained browser and device independence.  All the tough questions like “Do you use flash?” and “Can I use this on android tablets?” are solved with Schoolbox.
  • There was discussion about the Systems Interoperability Framework (SIF) that has been introduced into Australia by the National Schools Interoperability Program (NSIP).It represents a joint effort and commitment by all Australian school Education systems to develop an Australian implementation and deliver a practical solution to allow vendor products to work together at the school and school system level and make it easier for schools, teachers and education authorities to access the data that they need.SIF is a set of industry developed and supported technical blueprints that enable k-12 software applications to work seamlessly together as a single, efficient system.  These open source free to use blueprints/SIF specifications make it possible for diverse applications to interact and share data, now and in the future.Australian schools are taking a significant step forward in achieving the goals of the national Digital Education Revolution by being able to exchange information seamlessly and securely utilising SIF.
  • We engaged with a company providing identity services to enable SSO across cloud services using open protocol SAMLv2.Implementing this would give Alaress an open standard SSO method across services
  • Finally the topic of cloud is obviously all the rage but a commonly misunderstood topic.  To date Alaress has been hesitant to host cloud solutions for Schoolbox because it requires tight integration with AD and Synergetic to operate and neither of these services are available in the cloud.However we recognize the need to be selling into the cloud to lower costs and support smaller schools.  The solution seems to be that companies are now offering managed VPNs.  They provide gigabit uplinks over aarnet (free traffic) back to their data centers, where they maintain rack space with VMs running selected services in a private network.The servers (Synergetic, AD, and Schoolbox) appear to be on your network, but they are actually offsite and managed by a professional data center.  Basically, this provides a solution to outsource management of your server with none of the downsides of cloud security.

So lots to think about in terms of future development of Schoolbox including cloud based solutions.  It was also evident that Schoolbox has the edge with a clean easy to use interface, integration expertise, locally based service and support, plus a great product.

Our hard work and preparations paid off with a high level of interest in Schoolbox and a large number of independent schools wanting to further discuss how we can assist them to embrace web technology to improve learning and teaching across their school community.

James Leckie with a key representative from the ICT Management and Leadership Conference 2012

With a late departure on Saturday we caught some sun, had a swim and flew back to Melbourne, tired but rewarded by a job well done… We’re already looking forward to next year.