Future-proofing your school IT post-Covid

Our friends at Novatech spoke to a Hampshire college regarding future-proofing their IT; we have taken the key bits of information as an informative learning resource.

 

Due to the pandemic last year, schools across the UK were desperately trying to organise a remote learning infrastructure in a matter of weeks rather than strategically over months or years.

Schools are now back to or close to normality, but with the realisation that there needs to be a plan with school already years ahead than expected in their IT strategy.

Novatech spoke to a technology-enhances learning and resource manager at a Hampshire College. Their role was to ensure teachers had the right digital skills and capabilities. He now finds that teachers have been forced to upskill and know what digital solutions best fit their needs.

This has had a significant impact on the College’s digital strategy and its plans to future-proof the College.

College digital strategy

The College had a strong digital strategy before COVID but are now five years ahead of original plans.

“Before COVID, people didn’t know what Teams or OneDrive were versus the local drive for the college,” they explained. “But people have been forced to adapt to a cloud-first way of working.”

In response, the College adapted its digital strategy – a strategy that is accessible to everyone, regardless of skill level.

Be led by your teachers

Working efficiently to provide teachers with what they needed during COVID revealed the fundamental importance of a bottom-up approach. Through trial and error, everyone quickly learned what was working for them and what wasn’t.

“From a strategic and operational point of view, it’s all about making sure that people have got what they need to be able to do their jobs,” they said. “In education, being led by your teachers is proven to increase student experience and student achievement.”

This means leadership asking the teachers what they need from a hardware and software perspective and confident that they know what they’re talking about.

Focus on student needs

“There are some aspects of some courses that work well in an online capacity but that’s not the case for every course,” they said. “There is such thing as authority in the flesh.”

“The argument here is to not digitise everything for the sake of it,” they explained. “You need to ask yourself how student needs can be best met in each case. If a student has taken a course to learn to cut hair, they can’t do that remotely and it becomes really difficult to bridge that gap.”

“We could use VR and augmented reality but being there in person with a group of other people doing the same thing or working through a problem together is very difficult to replicate online.”

Make sure your strategy is accessible to everyone.

To them, future-proofing means that everything has to be accessible to everyone. The pandemic showcased the divide between students who had everything they needed and those that didn’t

“For me, there is a big emphasis on personalising learning and making learning more accessible through digital means. We know what’s worked and what hasn’t worked and we know what our students engage with. So let’s do more of that. Let’s invest in those things.”

For example, the College uses a product called “Century,” which uses AI to analyse a student’s Maths and English skills and automatically assigns them appropriate work. This won’t ever replace the teacher in the classroom – it’s simply a supplemental tool that takes a little of the legwork out of the equation and ensures maximum accessibility for the students.

Invest in a project rollout plan

Over the next few months, the team at the College will be adapting their curriculums to suit a post-COVID world.

“It’s not just how we work in a college that’s changed, it’s the world that has changed and it’s our responsibility to match the needs of the world.”

So, what will the college focuses be on for the future?

“My number one piece of advice to future-proofing would be: if you’re going to invest in something, think about how it’s going to look in five years. You can’t just buy 100 iPads and say that you’re future-proofed anymore.”

“It’s all about the strategy of how you actually use the technology in the classroom and what you think you might need in a year or five. So, how can we strategise a rollout of a product that’s going to support us rather than just throwing money at it?”

Coconnect is a School Broadband, Online Safeguarding and Educational Cloud-based solution provider. 

Please find out how we can help future-proof your school IT by getting in touch; alternatively, book a call on the link here.

 

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