Overview and Targets
"Students support teachers of Frankfurt schools in solving IT-problems": This motto sums up the basic idea of fraLine, a pilot project unique throughout Hesse that was launched in 2001.
fraLine is a joint project between the city of Frankfurt represented by the school maintaining body (German "Stadtschulamt") and the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt.
The project employs students to run a telephone hotline, to support schools on-site and to contribute to improve support concepts for school IT.
Through its work fraLine relieves school teachers from having to cope with technical problems, thereby creating an essential precondition for the use of digital media in educational settings.
From Demand to Idea
Today´s society is almost unthinkable without computers and the Internet. As a consequence, schools are responsible, not only for providing their students with the necessary media literacy, but also for communicating abilities of how to use the new information technologies reasonably and deliberately.
Thanks to the commitment of teachers, school authorities, various initiatives and parents, 19.000 workstation computers for the educational use of digital media could be established in all 152 schools in Frankfurt during the last years. In the past, teachers, or in some occasions even students, had been in charge of computer maintenance, updating software or solving IT-problems. This, of course, could have only been an interim-solution, the more so as the range of modern teaching and learning media continues to increase. By now our project team services all 152 schools in Frankfurt.
Range of Services and Tasks
In order to coordinate school-support as well as possible, fraLine cooperates with so-called IT representatives at every school. School principals who would like to enlist fraLine services, appoint 1 to 3 IT representatives for their school and then sign a service agreement allowing fraLine to become the single-point-of contact for IT incidents in their school. Those IT representatives are responsible for collecting IT-problems and requests in their schools and communicating them to fraLine. In order to avoid confusion, fraLine registers and processes requests only when reported by one of the appointed IT representatives.
Basic Support and the fraLine Team
fraLine acts as first point of contact for IT representatives. It receives and collects incident and problem reports. Thereupon, our hotline and on-site-service provide efficient trouble shooting and technical support. If a case does not fall into our scope of responsibility, we coordinate trouble-shooting with our service partners (e.g. the local school maintaining body ("Stadtschulamt"), the Department of Information and Communicational Technology ("Amt 16"), the PC-garage of the Caritas Association or the PC-garage of the vocational Werner-von- Siemens-School etc.).
In addition, fraLine publishes relevant information on subjects such as school, local IT-standards, the use of digital media in class as well as technical tutorials. These can be accessed on our website under the menu items News, FAQ and Glossary (only in German). These are also important sources of self-help for the schools´ IT representatives.
Working for fraLine, student employees are given the opportunity to apply and enhance the theoretical knowledge they have obtained during their studies. This interaction of theory and practice is further enhanced by additional training of technical and communicational skills. Our particular team composition of 19 employees allows for a broad range of expertise.
Complementary Service Segments
During the last seven years fraLine has been developing and extending its range. Along with its rather problem-oriented on-the-spot-aid and technical support fraLine offers additional assistance and service segments that by now have become a permanent part of the fraLine service.
With its tutorials and introductory courses fraLine imparts helpful theoretical and practical knowledge to school teachers and IT representatives.
Furthermore, all schools in Frankfurt can request the additional Plus-Service [PlusS], a support offer exceeding the rather problem-oriented approach of the free basic support. The PlusS is offered on a regular basis and carried out by a dedicated fraLine contact person for every school that has requested PlusS.
Educational-technical classroom assistance is offered to ALL school teachers in Frankfurt and aims at reducing insecurities with the use of new media in class. fraLine offers practical help with class projects involving media use with fraLine colleagues being present in class or helping with class preparation.
The fraMediale15´ is a media fair and conference held every year at the University of Applied Sciences. It is intended for teachers, school principals and others interested in the "use of digital media in educational contexts".
The Internet-based ticket or helpdesk system fraDesk has been developed by fraLine and provides a convenient device for coordinating and administrating incoming requests and incident reports. Since it is not restricted to the field of school-support the fraDesk is available for external use as well.
Consulting, Development and Cooperation
Working in close cooperation with responsible departments, partners and teachers in Frankfurt, fraLine also contributes to the strategical IT-development in Frankfurt schools.
Based on national research results in the field of school-support, fraLine has developed a sustainable and comprehensive support concept for the schools in Frankfurt. On behalf of the local school authority fraLine offers consulting services in certain projects. fraLine also advises schools in internal projects or procurement. Altogether, its advisory services and development of IT-concepts contribute to the gradual standardization of IT-infrastructure at Frankfurt schools.
fraLine is interested in further developing its support services for schools. This goal is reflected in the introduction of a new improved helpdesk system and the implementation of a remote service concept. Both, the fraDesk and remote service do not only help improve internal processes but also the general IT support structure for Frankfurt schools. Interested persons are welcome to request more information or a demonstration of the fraDesk.
fraLine continues to extend its cooperative partnerships taking advantage of the evolving synergy effects. Thus, fraLine maintains partnership with its sister projects in Bremen and Hamburg. In the field of media education and training fraLine cooperates with several other institutions in Frankfurt in order to gather and coordinate the local range of training programs (www.medienbildung-frankfurt.de).
For many years fraLine has been accompanied by an advisory board which has developed from a mere teacher´s platform to a cross-organizational advisory board.
This fact also reflects the general development of the project: fraLine now contributes to various multi-organisational and interdisciplinary initiatives in Frankfurt am Main and Hesse responding to the growing demand for a sensible use of media in education.