Silos of Data

Day 11 in the #29daysofwriting house and the housemates are getting a little restless………

Sorry couldn’t resist!  This posting every day is starting to feel a little like the diary room on an episode of Big Brother.   It is also getting steadily more difficult to decide on the topic of the day.

Today I would like to just spend 29mins writing on systems.   In schools we have a large number of different systems.   We have a school (or management) information system, an HR and payroll system, an email and file storage system, a library system, a bus/transport system and a multitude of other systems.

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Each system is designed for a specific purpose.   The SIS (or MIS) system has all the personal details of students along with their academic performance data.   The library system has details of students, books and loans.   The HR system has details about all of the staff.

Each system reports its data in a specific way.  The SIS system can produce class registers and parental reports, while the HR system can produce staff lists and the Library system information about student lending habits.

The issue is that even where the systems are supposedly “integrated” in actual fact they are not.    The data exists in Silos, independently in each different system albeit linked by a common identifier such as a student ID number or other ID number.

Having recently read about the impact of Silos and how overcoming them can have a significant effect it makes me wonder about the Silos in school systems.    If we could extract all the data into a single common location where we could apply various business intelligence tools to analyse it we would likely be able to draw new conclusions and through doing so be better informed.   We might be able to identify linkages which previously weren’t apparent.   Maybe students in particular classes or with particular teachers borrow more books and maybe, of these students, a majority perform better.   Obviously I speculate here for illustrative purposes.    The key point being is that we might be able to identify patterns which currently cannot be identified due to the Silo’d nature of data.

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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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