Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Outlook Upgrade

A colleague recently reminded me about the MEEC (Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium). It is an organization that aims to pool the collective purchasing power of schools in Maryland to obtain better pricing. That would be a fantastic deal for us, but the membership costs alone are $500 per year! We are considering upgrading all our machines to run Outlook email and calendaring. I've been resistant to moving in this direction because it's a few squeaky wheels that want the change, and the rest of the faculty and staff are quite comfortable with our web-based email system. I'm reticent to "fix" a system that most people feel work well. Here are my thoughts:
1. It will be something new to learn. Judi Harris reminded me about Relative Advantage: Does this system allow me to do something that was not possible before, or to do something in a better way? There will be a large learning curve for our teachers, most of whom have not been in the corporate world, and many who have not been exposed to Outlook. It has to be plainly clear that this will improve their lives, and I'm not convinced that it will do so for them...just the administration.

2. Calendaring is a big plus. We can have a school calendar that will allow teachers to accept invitations to meetings, etc. The only issue I have with that is that it does not integrate with our online portals, which means it is yet another calendar to update. That's a relatively minor detraction.

3. It's a really expensive proposition. Although we do have the Exchange Server, it is currently set up for about 20 users. We'd need to purchase the CALs of course, but we'd also need to hire someone to configure the system, since neither myself or our network tech can do so. Consultants are expensive. We were quoted $750 for the initial install config of that server a couple years ago, and it came it at 3x the cost when all was said and done. I know that for some larger schools, that seems like chump change. It's not for us, when every dollar is important and accounted for. I'm getting a few quotes for the job, but half-heartedly.

Image credit: www.mobackup.com


teach2connect said...

I think I'm one of those squeaky wheels who is happy to help train the techno-phobs. :-)

teach2connect said...

I know I'm in that squeaky wheel camp and ever ready to train the techno phobs as you see fit. :-)