Is there a place for automation in education?

Neil Kinson, Chief of Staff, Redwood Software, thinks there should be

In a bid to improve the efficiency and quality of the education industry, technology has quickly become a staple both inside and outside of the classroom. In fact, technology now plays such an influential role in education that specialists have predicted that there is an outside chance that intelligent machines could replace teachers within ten years.

However, while this new era of automated teaching brings with it concerns around the halt of traditional academics, people are continuing to overlook the potential technology – and more specifically automation – can have in easing significant pressures educational institutions are facing.

Like any other business

While they may not sell products or services to large corporations or consumers in the same way as other organisations, education establishments – such as schools and universities – are still substantial businesses. This means that as well as executing the front-facing element of what they do, they also have a number of departments working behind the scenes, including finance, accounting and HR. What this also means, however, is that schools and universities still encounter many of the same challenges as enterprises when it comes to the so-called ‘back office’.

Last year, one in three 18 year-olds gained a place at university, while the amount of spending per pupil in schools across England has fallen by 8 percent since 2010. With increasing numbers and a distinct lack of funding on the cards, the sector has a challenge on its hands to successfully educate the next generation of workers, despite lacking money and resources.

A modern skillset

Although there are hundreds of tasks that can be automated across schools and universities, one of the key benefits of automation in education is it helps institutions put more of their investments within the business – into the front-facing aspect of what they are doing.

With increasing numbers and a distinct lack of funding on the cards, the sector has a challenge on its hands to successfully educate the next generation of workers

Typically,tasks such as providing student access to resources or carrying out the procedures for when a new student joins were carried out manually. However,the development of technology has meant these mundane and repetitive tasks can now be automated, which in turn removes the most undesirable aspects of some of the most important jobs.  

With automation efficiently managing resources and streamlining operations, automation technologies can also be used to provide very different opportunities than traditional education builds and supports for students. Not only does this mean that skillsets will become more varied – helping to better equip people for the future, but it adds an element of diversity to jobs which wouldn’t traditionally enjoy it. 

Protect, regulate and obligate

Across the education industry, there are significant compliance and data protection requirements and obligations that automation can assist with. Take background checks, for example. In many industries, completing background checks can often be seen as just another part of the ‘tick-the-box’ on-boarding process, whereas in education, they’re much more important than that. With exposure to potentially sensitive information and access to hundreds of students, background checks are crucial.

Automation technologies can also be used to provide very different opportunities than traditional education builds and supports for students

As well as the growing burden of regulation and compliance, educational establishments are also being increasingly measured by metrics – both of which influence the way institutions are operating. Now, schools and universities need to be able to drive compliance without sacrificing the value of teaching time or other back-office processes such as paperwork. Automation can help with this as well. 

A match made in heaven

If the benefits of automation are to be truly unlocked, then a transformation needs to take place in schools and universities. Not just in the implementation of automation and robotics but also in the skills taught to ensure these technologies can be put to their best use. As we have seen, industries have already been transformed by automation and this is only set to continue. It is essential that the next generation are equipped with the skills they need to harness the power of this technology.

For further information, visit: https://www.redwood.com.