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The technological 'tipping point' impacting classrooms

This insight first appeared in The Educator Australia in February 2020.

 

Technology is enabling the kinds of classroom experiences that we may once only have considered in our wildest dreams. From immersive, mixed-reality that lets students ‘step into’ history, to the ability to digitally analyse a child’s everyday learning experience and offer a personalised and adaptive curriculum, the opportunity to enrich student learning opportunities with technology has never been greater.

Access to these game-changing technologies is only forecast to accelerate in classrooms in 2020. But while it may be classroom technology that garners the most column inches and feeds the imagination, there’s another less colourful technology story that will play a key role in the outcomes teachers are empowered to deliver in 2020 and beyond.

Today a large number of schools across Australia are operating with legacy administration and finance systems averaging around 20 years in age. We’ve reached a tipping point where a large proportion of these vital systems are approaching the end of their lifespan.

If unaddressed, these legacy systems could have a significant impact on teachers’ efficacy and retention. Having administration and finance systems in place that enable back office staff to efficiently carry out tasks with as little complexity as possible is key.

Effective administration and finance systems free up resources to be invested in more exciting classroom-based technologies that engage both teachers and students and differentiate schools in a competitive market.

Some education departments have already made the shift to more modern systems including Department for Education South Australia, who recently shifted their legacy system by selecting Civica’s next-gen digital schools management solution, Civica Education Suite.

However, many schools do not have a roadmap for replacement of these vital admin and finance technologies. In the meantime, the age of the systems and the effort and cost required to keep them running grows almost exponentially every year. At a challenging time when funding is a critical issue for schools, this is a major problem.

While the situation is urgent, it’s critical that schools approach the task of choosing a new admin and finance solution within the context of a larger IT strategy and roadmap. Rushing into a new solution because IT support has ended, or because a data security issue has emerged, could lead to a poor decision that limits staffs’ ability to efficiently tap into other technology to transform a school going forward.

It’s important that schools prioritise admin and finance systems that will play well a wide variety of classroom solutions they want to implement. Too many backend software solutions are prescriptive about the other software that can be built into the ecosystem.

Getting the technological foundations of a school right clearly impacts ongoing opportunities to support strategic classroom priorities that matter to teachers and their students. Ensuring schools make the right choices at this crucial tipping point is in every teachers’ best interest.