Over the last few years, technology has been transforming how schools educate students. Less than twenty years ago, an IT strategy meant owning a handful of desktops. Schools had computer rooms.
Now, technology is everywhere.
The challenge is creating a strategy around it to ensure the right resources improve learner outcomes at every key stage. Schools are trying to do this, with varying success, whilst the government is making them manage with fewer and fewer resources.
Schools are responsible for implementing digital IT strategies within their current limitations to ensure they achieve the maximum possible impact on students and teachers. Although new generations of teachers are more digitally savvy than ever before, creating a coherent IT strategy for a school is somewhat more challenging than downloading Candy Crush on an iPad.
IT Digital Strategy Myth Busting
With the right tools and strategy, schools can increase student performance, improve teacher efficiency and reduce admin and operational costs. Unfortunately, technology in education has an image problem: It has been sold as a silver bullet solution. As Jose Picardo, Assistant Principal at Surbiton High School said in a blog: “Too often, teachers are presented with tools that portray technology as a spell-binding elixir or a magic solution to all their problems. It is none of these things.”
We should, therefore, approach the creation of a digital IT strategy with this in mind. It is not a silver bullet. But it can cause many positive changes, from reducing the time teachers need to mark work to increasing the format of lessons and available content.
Picardo, who is responsible for his schools’ IT strategy, says that the most effective approach is to “ensure that learning in school is extended and supported by the use of new technologies that enable students to continue learning beyond the school walls, and would act as a link between formal and informal learning.”
What To Consider When Creating A Digital IT Strategy
- Assess what has already been attempted: What’s worked, what hasn’t and how you can make improvements? What ROI has been achieved so far?
- Safeguarding must be at the core of a digital IT strategy: Within this assessment, don’t ignore the impact of your student’s digital life on social media, both in and out of school. Bullying is a serious problem online. Schools need to do all they can to safeguard pupils from problems that start on their premises and follow them home.
- Don’t buy into every shiny new product. Some products, such as tablets and cloud software - e-Learning platforms - have made teaching easier. Others, however, only make it easier for a salesperson to hit bonus that month. Not everything is suitable, or useful, in the classroom, especially when it doesn’t fit within a coherent strategy. When in doubt, ask teachers at other schools about the outcomes of new technology. Do your homework.
- Invest in training. Ensure teachers and pupils are comfortable with new technology, apps and platforms. Before introducing new tools, have a clear understanding the role they will play in the classroom and lesson plans.
- A robust and secure infrastructure. Security is more important than ever. Cyber-attacks against schools and small organisations are increasing across the world. An IT infrastructure must be secure enough to protect students, staff and sensitive information. Not only that but since many traditional, paper and book-based resources are migrating to the cloud, the strategy must evolve with the schools growing technology needs.
Right now is a great time to sit down and think about your schools IT strategy. Start with an assessment of what works and what doesn’t. Think about how your pupils are more digitally connected than ever and how learning in and out of the classroom can support educational attainment.
Cloud computing, the option for pupils to bring their own devices (BYOT) and monthly IT service contracts mean that a digital strategy does not need to break the bank. With smart resource deployment, training and pupil/parent engagement at the strategy stage, you can meet the needs of all users as they evolve.
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