An IT Balancing act.

ID-10011750Within the classroom, and especially within those BYOD classrooms or 1 to 1 classrooms where every student has a device, there are an ever growing number of software solutions and apps to help teachers redefine how they teach and how students learn.     The rate of growth and range of options available is huge with resources, tools and ideas available to suit all age ranges, all subject matters and all curricula.

This increase in teaching and learning options puts a demand on IT support and on a schools’ IT services to be flexible and dynamic enough to support these new options.   My belief has always been that the focus is on teaching and learning and therefore it is up to a schools’ IT services to find or develop solutions which provide for the needs of the students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders.   As such IT services should act as an enabler to allow stakeholders to use the resources which they need.

The issue here is that IT services have a number of constraints acting upon them that may run contrary to the needs of the users.   One such constraint is that of budget and especially total cost of ownership.   Users may want specific equipment to meet their specific needs however this usually costs significantly more than having standardised equipment across a school.   Standardised equipment is also easier and therefore cheaper to support.   Interoperability of systems is also an issue as end users may want specific software however this software may not work in conjunction with other software being used within the school.    Another constraint is that of legal requirements.   A school’s IT services has to be conscious of the Freedom of Information Act and Data Protection act among others.   If teachers are making use of a variety of different cloud based services such as Edmodo, ClassDojo or Google Classroom how can a schools IT services ensure that the information held on these sites is kept up to date plus how can the school ensure that they have up to date records as to what data is held on which sites plus who is responsible for this data and ensuring it remains up to date.

The key as far as I see it is balance as it is important for IT services to support the needs of those engaged in the critical job of teaching students.   That said, IT services has a responsibility to bring their skills and expertise to the table to ensure that solutions are in line with legal requirements plus are scaleable and sustainable for the longer period.

 

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the Middle East. In addition Gary is a Google and Microsoft Certified Educator.

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