The TIM Tools suite makes it easy for educational service agencies (ESAs), consultants, foundations, and others to manage multiple clients within a single TIM Tools instance. The Tools allow for complete customization of administrative rights when one agency is managing a single TIM Tools instance on behalf of client schools or school systems. The controlling agency can create a zone for each client and then define administrative roles with the level of privileges desired.
There are many advantages to having a service agency administer a single TIM Tools instance on behalf of a group of districts and/or schools. The chiefest advantage is the significant cost savings that can be achieved when managing one large TIM Tools instance on behalf of many clients as compared to each client purchasing a separate license and managing it themselves. This makes the arrangement especially attractive to regional agencies or associations that exist to provide group purchasing power to their members. It also enhances the value of consulting services that can bundle many clients together into one TIM Tools instance. TIM Tools licenses are priced per teacher with deep discounts as the number of teachers rises in a single instance. While a single school could be paying $10/teacher, a regional agency could be paying as little as $1/teacher for the same suite of tools.
For ESAs that provide professional development, the TIM Tools deliver extremely valuable data. The Technology Uses and Perceptions Survey (TUPS) will identify those areas of greatest need and distinguish between teachers who value a certain technology, but have low skills and teachers who have high skills, but need PD on how to integrate the technology they already know well. When data from the TIM-O Observation Tool and the TIM-R Reflection Tool are added, the three perspectives can be used to achieve a very clear picture of what is actually happening in a particular classroom.
The Tools will also give an ESA or other association insight into technology use and needs that can be essential for technology planning and purchasing decisions. If you collaborate with your client districts on grant writing, the Tools provide excellent pre- and post-project evaluation opportunities.
We originally created TIM Tools for Florida districts, which are some of the largest districts in the country. Often large districts are administratively divided into geographic zones. An education service agency can use that feature to manage many different districts within a single instance using the following directions.
1. Create a Zone for Each Client
When administering a single TIM Tools instance on behalf of others, the first thing to do is create a “zone” in the system for each client. You can give any name desired to each zone. A zone can include a single school or hundreds of schools. There is no limit to the number of zones you can create and there is no limit to the number of schools you can add to any zone. Additional zones can be added at any time as a consultant acquires additional clients or an association adds additional member schools or districts.
The controlling agency selects one of the included graphical banners for the overall site or can create one of its own. Most often the controlling agency wants to use an image with its own logo or branding.
2. Define the Roles You Want for Your Clients
Each new instance of TIM Tools includes eight predefined roles: Super Administrator, District (system-wide) Leader, Zone Leader, School Leader, District Observer, Zone Observer, School Observer, and Teacher. These default roles were created to support a single school system. However, if you have created a zone for each of your clients, then you can create and adapt new roles so that your clients have the permissions you wish for them over their own zone. Roles created at the zone level will have administrative rights over their own zone only. A client in one zone will not be able to access the data from any other zone.
Typically, the controlling agency would retain the roles of Super Administrator, District Leader, and District Observer for themselves. If the controlling agency includes classroom observations as a part of its services, then it would assign its staff the role of District Observer so that those persons would be able to observe classrooms across the entire TIM Tools instance. A Zone Observer, on the other hand, would only be able to observe in one particular client zone. The permissions for any of the roles can be tweaked as desired.
The data collected can be made available to each client, or it can be reserved to the controlling agency to be used as the basis for consulting and evaluation. In many cases the controlling agency also offers professional development support to the client schools and districts. The TIM Tools data provides a great basis for determining the specific needs of each client school or district.
If you would like to know more about how a single TIM Tools instance can be used with multiple school or district clients, please do not hesitate to contact us at TIM@fcit.us. We would be happy to discuss how TIM Tools can enhance the services you provide to your clients or members.
Roy Winkelman is a 40+ year veteran teacher of students from every level kindergarten through graduate school. As the former Director of FCIT, he began the Center's focus on providing students with rich content collections from which to build their understanding. When not glued to his keyboard, Dr. Winkelman can usually be found puttering around his tomato garden in Pittsburgh.