Wisconsin Rapids is a school district with 6,000 students. The district has nine K-6 elementary schools, two junior high schools (grades 7-9), one senior high school (grades 10-12) and one charter school for at-risk Students (grades 9-12).
Lisa Nadile: How does a company identify what needs to be taught, in upgrading to a new operating system, particularly Windows 7?
Wayne Jaworski: When the need to move to a new OS is on the horizon, our end users must have the proper exposure to assist in the transition. When it is a two-generation OS jump, as we are experiencing here in our school district, staff development is a necessity to avoid typical startup pitfalls. Windows XP has been entrenched in our users’ minds for a number of years and Windows 7 has significant visual differences, enough to confuse many users.
LN: What are the questions most often asked with regard to learning Windows 7?
WJ: Will our old programs work? OS upgrades cost money. Application upgrades may not always be feasible. With proper research, we can hopefully accommodate the needs in our school environment. Many people are creatures of habit. Anything with a new look and feel may intrigue 10% of the crowd but spook 90%. Staff need exposure before production time.
We need users to feel comfortable with the OS interface. Operations they were able to perform in a previous OS must be explained in the new OS. If a feature has changed or a new method must be adopted, we need to expose them to that process.
LN: What sort of training culture should a company create?
WJ: In education, we would hope newly presented ideas would get staff excited. However, we do have old dogs that don’t want to learn new tricks. Technical training opportunities (known as staff development in the school system) are presented at critical points, particularly when new technologies are introduced. We would have many more offerings if it wasn’t for time and money.
We have two models. [In] one model we provide training at critical intervals, usually with the introduction of new technologies. The other model addresses training for coursework enhancement, primarily exposure to new methods in course delivery. When new initiatives arise, when it’s financially feasible, we will try to provide the intended audience with positive exposure.
LN: How can IT show a positive return on investment?
WJ: That’s a tough one in education as we don’t show profit. We trust our students are getting the best education we can provide by keeping staff well-informed, technically savvy, and enthusiastic about delivering course content. Students are exposed to many technical opportunities and we enjoy feedback from alumni who let us know their education in our system was highly valuable.