IT in Education needs IT
July 15th, 2015 by Anshuman Aggarwal

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If you’re wondering what that means, we agree! That does need a clarification.. this interplay of words (besides plain attention grabbing) refers to IT (Information Technology) in Education needing an IT (Implementation Topology). If you’ve been involved with the state of Education Technology, you may be able to guess where we are going. Even if you don’t or you don’t really deal with the technology but are an educationist, you have almost certainly experienced it (probably wishing but not realising that things can be better).

It is a familiar story. Schools purchase ‘Hardware/Servers/Computer Labs/Workstations/Tablets/Smart-boards’, install ‘Software/SMS (School Management System)/School ERP/Web Portal’ and then start the waiting game for the educational communities (students, parents, teachers and management) to see any real benefit from it.

Sure, the Fee and Accounts department may not have to manually calculate the outstanding fee amounts and Librarians may be able to track and issue books but is that enough? This is also assuming that the Operating System isn’t virus ridden or the PC doesn’t have a problem due to frequent power failures on a local UPS. Finally with ubiquitous cloud computing solutions, we can add the most  of all problems…internet down!

In the remainder of this post, we will outline the multiple points of failure that plague typical IT implementation in Schools:

  • IT is a cost and not a revenue function for schools: Simply put, however well implemented, IT typically does NOT lead to additional revenue i.e. more students for the school. How often do you see a parent or a school review site actually gauge the state, quality and implementation of IT in a school as a means of ranking/selection. Its benefits are intangible and are difficult if not impossible to quantify for education. Although if done well, it can lead to a significant qualitative improvement in the experience for teaching but rarely one that you can see in a quantitative graph. which leads to…
  • Cost economy driving school management to take near sighted, short term decisions while failing to avoid the pitfalls that entails and losing out on the benefit of an integrated cohesive and planned IT topology.
  • Lack of economies of scale available to corporates and enterprises: Unlike most companies of the size of an average school, having a fully qualified CIO (Chief Information Officer) to oversee implementation is a very expensive proposition for limited benefit in an apparently anciliarry  area. Instead the task is often relegated to the computer teacher/head of department (if you have enough teachers), data entry operator or worse still forced on the school administrator/principal who is often not even (understandably, since its not their day job) aware of the nuances or the latest in IT.
  • Usability by an audience with a wide age range: IT products aimed at education are expected to be used by a 3 year old joining pre-nursery to the principal who is retiring after a successful career from a time when computers didn’t exist!

Although IT faces many challenges in all SMEs, the ones outlined above are especially applicable to schools.

What do you think? Did we miss something? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and also help us develop our next post with proposed solutions.

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