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Q&A with Fraser Speirs

Head of Computing and IT

I'm Fraser Speirs. I'm the Head of Computing and IT at Cedars School of Excellence, a K-12 school in Greenock, Scotland. I teach computing to exam level and am responsible for all IT provision in the school.

How did you get started as a teacher and a technologist?

I was hired at Cedars in 2006. Prior to that, I worked on computer deployments for the Large Hadron Collider at Glasgow University. It's unexpected, but I have appled many of the lessons I learned in building grid computing systems to computer deployments at Cedars.

What tools and software do you use for your work?

Over the years, I've found myself focusing on increasingly simplifying my toolset. That has, in recent years, meant a move towards the cloud and away from local storage and local systems.

Today, I'm very focused on Google Drive and Google Docs. Those are my main work tools at school. I really appreciate that I don't have to "look after" my data any more and defend it from hardware loss or failure.

I also make heavy use of OmniFocus for personal task management and I've become quite dependent on the Gmail web interface for handling my email.

I produce a weekly podcast with my co-host Bradley Chambers. To create this, we use Skype to make the call and Adobe Audition CC to record and edit the podcast.

What are you working on now?

I've just started work on our 2016 iPad refresh at school. We have a one-to-one deployment - where each pupil has their own iPad - and the lease is up in Summer 2016. We're currently engaged in a conversation about whether we stick with iPad or switch to Chromebook.

What is your ideal work environment?

In a school there are open-door and closed-door teachers. I'm very much a closed-door teacher. I really appreciate a quiet work environment, which you basically never get in a school, so I have various tactics to find a little space. It helps that I get to write the timetable at our school!

Generally, though, I tend to get to school early, around 7.30am, and never leave before 5pm. These bookends to the day help me get some quiet space to gather my thoughts.

Where are your favorite places for sharing experiences?

I mainly use Twitter (@fraserspeirs) to road-test ideas and thoughts, which then graduate into blog posts. I haven't written much on my blog in a while, but that's definitely going to grow again soon.

Who are the creatives you admire most?

I like photography and am a fan of Vincent Laforet, Henri Cartier-Bresson and, to the extent that one can be "a fan" of the genre of war photography, I deeply appreciate the work of James Nachtwey.