Short: Exercise is like Tech Strategy

I thought I would try out a new short blog format, writing slightly shorter blog posts (around 500 words) which get quickly to a point, issue or idea I would like to share.   Hopefully, this will make these posts quick and easy to read, and also quick and easy to produce.

Over the last few years, I have been working hard to try and getting a little bit fitter and healthier.   Initially I experimented with different things such as walking, jogging, and also considered maybe an exercise bike or rowing machine.   Eventually I plumped for running as my choice of activity and found out that the best time for me to do this was first thing in the morning before work.    Next, I tried out the couch to 5k app, and found it worked for me, so I started the programme.    According to the programme it should have taken 9 weeks but for me it took quite a bit longer as I struggled with particular weeks or struggled with motivation or had to step back due to ill health.   When I finally completed couch to 5k, it had been far from the straight-line programme that was originally presented to me by the app and had taken far more than the 9 weeks proposed.

And this is where I draw comparisons with school tech strategy and planning.    It may look like a straight line, a nice project plan, etc, but it is seldom that simple.   There are things we won’t have predicted which will go wrong and therefore require the plan to change.    There are things which will go well, or even opportunities which will present themselves, which weren’t available at the outset.    Basically, like my efforts in running, things are seldom as simple as they seem, plus there is always a need to review and revise plans as you progress.    As such there is a need for flexibility plus a need for acceptance of where things go wrong or fail, accepting them as “just not yet” rather than a finite conclusion.

Fast forward to now, I have completed couch to 5k repeatedly but after a period of a month of not running, am only now back out on the road again.   The issue is I am struggling around the halfway point of couch to 5k, a programme I have repeatedly completed.   My absence away from running for a short period has been enough to see my ability to run reduced back from what it was when I last completed couch to 5k.

And here again is a parallel with tech is schools;   My fitness was only as good as my continued focus and habit.    Equally with tech strategy in schools, it needs to be continually reviewed and given some focus and some effort to keep moving it along, improving and building.   If we don’t do this, whether it is training, procurement, planning, etc, then things will likely start to regress.   And as we come out of a period of pandemic, and a period which has seem such a massive surge forward in terms of tech use in schools, this potential regression worries me.

Personal exercising is like tech strategy.  It requires habitual effort.    It seldom is a straight-line process and will likely involve setbacks as well as successes.   But in the end, the eventual gain is worth the effort.

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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 UK and Middle East.

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