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Fiddlehead cures technologist’s headaches

Program streamlines management of computer operating systems

Phil Sheridan was tired of interfacing with computers instead of humans.

As the former technology coordinator for the Morris Central School District in Morris, NY, he spent many hours addressing computer malfunctions and user confusion at the expense of spreading his knowledge.

Because his district used a traditional one-computer-to-one-monitor system at the time, he was in charge of keeping hundreds of physical computer systems running. That meant he spent more time maintaining computers than showing teachers and students how to use them.

“It wasn’t how I wanted to be using my time at that position,” he said. “I was looking for a better way to manage desktop deployments.”

Sheridan, who is now the director of technology for the Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego Board of Cooperative Educational Services, found the solution to his dilemma at a professional conference he attended about six years ago. There he met Fiddlehead creator Dave Peterson and discovered his then-new product. Sheridan gave the software a shot and has been a fan ever since.

“It has everything for the teacher and the technology manager all in one package.”

One of Fiddlehead’s core capabilities is that it can create up to four virtual computers from one CPU. Up to four users can work independently on a single computer, each with their own monitor, keyboard and mouse. Fiddlehead also streamlines the management of networked computers by allowing a tech coordinator to install, update, lock/unlock, replace or repair the entire operating system and software collection on any computer from a central location with browser-based, drag-and-drop functionality.

In addition to making his technologist post easier, the software helped Sheridan in the classroom. As a math and science teacher in Morris, he took advantage of Fiddlehead’s many control functions. He used it to manage all the workstations at once, watching what was on students’ screens and turning the monitors off if he needed their attention. While other products offered similar tools, Sheridan appreciated having all the features bundled by Fiddlehead and not having to worry about additional software.

“It has everything for the teacher and the technology manager all in one package,” he said.

And, he noted, it’s cost effective because when the school system refreshes its cache of computers—a step taken in Morris after four years of use—there are fewer computers to replace.

Fiddlehead might also help reduce energy costs. Before adopting Fiddlehead, one of Sheridan’s classrooms would get particularly hot on late spring afternoons. He knew that the 24 computers in the room caused much of the heat, but he didn’t realize how significantly they raised the room’s temperature until the new software allowed him to cut the number of computers down to six. This resulted in a much more comfortable work environment for teachers and students. “The energy consumption was also much lower,” he pointed out.

Although Sheridan doesn’t use Fiddlehead daily anymore in his current role, he said he would strongly recommend it to one of the technology managers he oversees in the 16 school districts within his BOCES.

“If someone was strapped for time and asked how they could get their job done a little more efficiently, I would recommend they check it out,” he said. “It takes a lot of headaches out of the job.”