The technology exists for educational MIS tools to make the essential transition between desktop and cloud. However, 70% of school IT systems (consisting of GIS software and data hosting) still run on desktop solutions that are essentially locked in a room. While these tools may be deemed adequate by some, their desktop nature means educators cannot benefit from connected, real-time data.
Being tied to desktop MIS software has many limitations, including the need to use valuable resources to host, manage, and secure the systems. Old school management methods kept data out of reach of the people who needed it and created a significant administrative burden for today’s teaching staff, who must duplicate data entry across different systems.
Educators lack the capacity to respond quickly to the information needs of stakeholders (i.e. governors, parents, students, teachers) and waste considerable time trying to organize data into something meaningful.
The technology exists to bring MIS data together in real time in a connected cloud system. Absence data can be collected during registration and processed in real time. Each teacher has a central, holistic view of each child and can connect the dots on behavior change, well-being and protection. Success and progress can be contextualized and even examined in light of other factors. Education officials are able to observe and look for trends in numbers.
Preconceptions around technological change are that it is scary and difficult. However, schools that have already made the switch are successfully demonstrating the many practical actions that can be taken to make the process as painless as possible. Here are four principles to consider.
Adopt a simple change management mindset
It’s easy to get caught up in complex change management models and feel the need to hire expensive consultants when changing. However, the successes of those who have already moved to the cloud prove that it is possible to take more pragmatic and cost-effective steps to manage change.
Create materials to support internal communications, creating a group of champions to evangelize change, and providing learning opportunities for team members. These are powerful and simple actions that can be taken to allay cultural fears and put the process on the right track.
Champion groups should be formed from an entire school or MAT and include a wide range of people rather than just early adopters and power users. These people will be ambassadors, so they should be involved in decisions and given the appropriate bandwidth to play their role as champions.
It is the softer side of change that is important to master, which is why internal communication plays a central role. Have a clear communications plan with a steady rhythm of outreach using a variety of different mediums. Cloud MIS vendors are beginning to support schools in these vital internal communication efforts. Some provide posters, tutorial type videos and raise awareness. These focus on benefits at the individual level.
Internal communication vehicles can also be used to celebrate successes and accomplishments during the transition. It’s a great way to motivate stakeholders to try new ways and reinforce the need for change. If there are fears about change, this should be addressed head-on through two-way communication and involving everyone in decision-making. This provides an opportunity to honestly discuss concerns.
Promote your use of technology as a differentiator to staff
Teachers are drawn to the profession to inspire and teach students, not to meet administrative demands. The UK is facing the biggest skills shortage for generations. According to the latest labor market statistics from the ONS, recruitment difficulties persist as vacancies reach record highs. Employers have to fight harder for each applicant, and no one wants to lose quality teaching staff. If a teacher has ever been empowered by modern technology, they will be horrified to have to return to a world of computer work.
Sticking to desktop technology can therefore make it harder to retain key staff and attract younger teachers, who may be digital natives themselves and are likely to be more aware of what cloud technologies can do. to bring.
Cloud-based systems offer internal messengers, schedulers, and registrations, while tools like voice-to-text dictation take the pain out of quarter-end reports. Live notifications mean no more unnecessary notes, errands or calls and providers work hard to deliver a superior, consumer-grade user experience; the standard younger generations are now waiting in all aspects of their daily lives.
Vendor choice – research technology and support
Choosing the right technology partner is essential to face the magnitude of the task. Fully explore with them how the new solution will work in practice. For example, it should support ease of use, streamline workflows, and provide access to all stakeholders. It should also connect data silos, providing a rich flow of information across the school and real insight into what’s going on. Schools generate a lot of information and school leaders need to have this information at their fingertips, in an easy-to-use format.
In the case of MAT, where the infrastructure around the change will likely require diverting the time of critical people and, in the worst case, educators from what they are supposed to be doing, good planning is essential. Choose a technology partner capable of supporting you in this process. One who has the resources to take on the role of change management lead.
Vendors also need to have the experience and scale to bring in resources to support implementations, especially if requirements change or something doesn’t go quite as planned.
Let your IT support provider do the heavy lifting
You don’t have to go through the process of switching suppliers alone. IT support providers play a key role in helping schools evaluate their options. They have deep expertise and provide high quality advice and support.
Working with these vendors allows schools and MATs to benefit from the knowledge of the entire community. They have great skills and a wealth of user stories to draw on.
MIS support units like SBS and iCT4, for example, seek to transform the classroom through technology. Computeam is another organization that schools and MATs trust to provide scalable cloud solutions that positively impact school life, whether in the classroom or outside.
It can be riskier to stay the way you are
The demands on teaching staff and governors are increasing, so there is an opportunity cost of not moving to cloud-based MIS software. Indeed, our recent data shows that 90% of schools should be doing more with less funding.
There is no doubt that the pandemic has further increased the administrative burden on teaching professionals who must report increased absences, deliver classes remotely, and take a more active role in student ministry; while meeting Ofsted and School Workforce Census requirements.
Cloud MIS tools free up teachers’ time so it can be spent on the things that matter most; students. For me, this offers schools the opportunity to change their whole environment; by removing these repetitive tasks without added value and giving teachers time back. The wider societal impact this could have is enormous.
The requirement for MATs and schools to analyze data to provide insights into student performance and operational effectiveness is also a particular challenge. 43% of teaching staff cite this as the most important issue they currently face and 90% of school leaders now say data and reporting analysis is a top issue impacting their workload.
Staying on desktop solutions makes data analysis more difficult, with educators having to spend valuable time manually moving sensitive data around. We don’t want to see schools manipulating data in spreadsheets when there is such a powerful alternative.
The wealth of data that cloud software brings extends throughout the school day, from collating points on student protection concerns in real time to maximizing school assets. The ability to host this data in the cloud and then query it quickly and easily means that schools without this capability will find themselves at a huge disadvantage.