Why we need a shake up in education technology

Schools need technology more than ever before, not only to continue teaching regardless of students’ location, but to give them the intelligence needed to make informed decisions

For years, education has been reactive when it comes to edtech implementation. The pandemic brought this into sharp focus. So many schools were nowhere near ready for the remote working and teaching that has been required during national lockdowns.

Considering the disruption caused by the continuing COVID crisis, the need for an edtech shake up is undeniable; not only to ensure students can continue learning wherever they’re based, but also to give teachers and senior leadership teams the intelligence needed to make informed decisions on how to improve education – and the life chances of children.

MIS traps intelligence inside the office

Getting intelligence into the hands of teachers and senior leadership teams relies on real-time data. But traditional MIS (Management Information Systems) are simply not up to the task. This is making it incredibly difficult for educators to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on students’ learning – as highlighted in Ofsted’s latest report.

For years, traditional MIS have been kept firmly in administration offices. The reality of being chained to on-premise software during COVID-19 is that teachers and senior leadership have been unable to access the critical data they need while working remotely. This has handicapped their ability to make strategic decisions about the direction they want to take their institution, in a time when strategy is everything.

“The reality of being chained to on-premise software during COVID-19 is that teachers and senior leadership have been unable to access the critical data they need while working remotely”

While teachers and senior leadership have been able to access the odd excel spreadsheet that highlights static figures, this data doesn’t provide tangible intelligence on improvements being made in the school; nor does it provide the evidence to show they are improving the life chances of children when it comes to Ofsted inspections.

Traditional MIS makes life harder, not easier

Existing MIS are also preventing data managers from comparing data across the whole school estate. Too many are wasting valuable time and energy extracting information to highlight at-risk students who may not achieve their full potential, which could affect end of year results.

Traditional systems simply don’t allow data managers to do their job easily. Wasting whole days extracting information is a highly inefficient, not to mention expensive, use of their time, when they should be making a positive impact on students. Yet, without this valuable intelligence, teachers and senior leadership teams are unable to enact change as successfully or quickly as they could do across the institution.

The time it takes to extract valuable information from existing MIS leaves senior leadership teams with little to no time to evaluate the data once they’ve got it. This keeps them constantly on the back foot, unable to make or act upon strategic decisions about which direction they should take. What’s needed is a MIS embedded across the whole school or trust – one that makes it easier, not harder, to draw out crucial intelligence.

No single source of trusted data

Unfortunately, traditional MIS provide rigid reporting – in some cases requiring overnight running to generate reports. Exacerbating this, existing MIS often require lots of third-party ‘bolt-ons’ to make them even remotely successful. In short, this means there’s no single view of trusted data across the trust. For the new generation of teachers stepping into senior roles, this simply isn’t good enough.

As digital natives, savvy to the benefits technology can bring to both the classroom and the way they teach, these instructors expect to receive a ‘consumer’ experience. They are looking for one trusted partner, and a solution that can provide real-time intelligence and a single source of the truth across the trust.

Teachers and senior leadership teams don’t have time to waste precious capacity on basic processes – inputting evidence into sub-par MIS systems and getting nothing back for their efforts. They need a MIS that can record outcomes in a live environment that puts real-time information into their hands so they can make decisions.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. While the pandemic has caused significant upheaval across the education sector, there’s a real opportunity to enact tangible change; to bring a radical new approach to MIS that will help teachers and senior leadership teams make a genuine, positive impact on the life chances of children.

Bringing MIS out of the school office and into the hands of educators will give them the headspace and tools they need to focus on teaching – not on processes. There’s always a silver lining to be found. And COVID-19 may prove to be the catalyst edtech needed to bring about these positive changes for the future of education.

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