Education toolbox: The journey to a student-centric approach
The education toolbox for the future
Even today whilst we are experiencing an evolution in education, it is still a commonplace for many classrooms to feature a ‘traditional’ layout, with tables in multiple rows and students taught via whiteboards and books. But is this now outdated? In my opinion, this is beyond doubt. There are more forward thinking approaches to schooling students than in this impractical and illogical way, which dates right back to the 19th century.
Future IT developments
If we are to truly educate the younger generation and prepare them for future IT developments, particularly during this digital revolution, new teaching methods and tools must be implemented - times are changing and schools and colleges need to adapt if they are to survive and meet the evolving wants and needs of the modern day student.
Furthermore, the rapid evolution in technology - in particular the consumerization of IT and influx of smartphone devices over recent years - has resulted in students behaving more like consumers when it comes to their educational experience, further fuelling the argument. Students now demand the same IT experiences in the classroom, with access to equivalent technology as they have at home.
They want to be able to access resources and applications anywhere, collaborating with fellow students and teachers quickly and easily, and using their own smartphone devices to do so. And I don’t blame them – they know the technology is available; they use it every day in their social lives, so they should be given access to the same level of technology in school.
In fact - and it is positive to see - many schools and colleges are now waking up to these new technological possibilities and realising what is available to them. This has resulted in a rise in competition between institutions to be the leading institution and by offering their students the highest quality education; technology is now becoming a key differentiator.
Educational IT services
I think a key consequence of this is an increasing need for schools to produce more customised educational IT services, something which institutions fear can be extremely challenging, particularly with tight budgets and strict security measures high on the agenda.
But while migration could be perceived as costly and time consuming by some educational institutions, it should be viewed as an investment. Moving to this new style of teaching through the use of new technology can bring new benefits in terms of flexibility and cost efficiency for the schools entire network.
Acting as an ‘enabler’, technology will become a strategic tool in the future of the school-based learning and with other benefits like being able to cut out upfront infrastructure costs, improving quality and reducing the investment burden, it’s a good way to go for educational institutions. By implementing an IT strategy that is scalable, sustainable and cost-effective, schools, colleges and universities will all feel the benefit.
I believe that if educational institutions are to evolve in a style and pace that is manageable for them, they must ensure that an IT strategy is properly implemented. In my opinion, there are two key areas that should be considered at the outset of any such strategy; hosted solutions and security.
Given the massive scale of technology-based educational services now available in the market, it is indeed possible to make use of pay-per-use cloud schemes - it has never been easier to put the services and not the servers first. Based on a ‘hop-on and hop-off’ style scheme, the school has much wider choice and flexibility to purchase the necessary programmes. However, in this context it must be noted that integration should still be high on the CIO’s agenda.
New security challenges
In addition, new technology and greater openness with the use of social media, brings new security challenges such as identity theft, hacking, stealing ideas, IP and property. As such, it is becoming even more important for schools/colleges/universities to ensure that they have a security management system in place, which covers all new developments. This way, the institution can not only protect themselves from risk, but more importantly, its students and staff.
There was a time when it was deemed safer to store all data on your own private server, but through cloud services, institutions can work with highly qualified security professionals to ensure the best result.
So, whilst I’m not implying that technology will solve all problems in our educational system, the strategic use of technology is part of the answer to the daily challenges that students, staff and teachers face. Although there is a lot for education institutions to consider when developing IT offerings, the use of technology can, and should, be the key driver for positive change in education.