Reimagining Edtech: transitioning to cloud MIS

Winston Poyton, senior product director at IRIS Software Group, discusses how Edtech can be reimagined by transitioning to cloud management information systems (MIS)

COVID-19 caused ten years of digital transformation in schools to take place in a matter of months, accelerating the global use of education technologies (Edtech). Yet the benefits have not reached everyone. The Education Policy Institute has suggested a minimum of £78 billion in lifetime earnings will be lost by children who missed out on in-person education in England.

The pandemic also further exacerbated the admin burden on teachers and senior leadership teams (SLTs) who had to make critical decisions at break-neck speed with little notice. The reality of rapid decision-making at scale highlighted just how poor existing systems were, with 70% of school IT systems still running on desktop management information systems (MIS) locked away in the school office.

Teachers have been battling clunky legacy IT systems for too long. It’s time to put real-time intelligence into the hands of educators, and thankfully, technology already exists to bring real-time MIS data together into a connected cloud system.

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Improve tech tools to retain talented staff

It’s important to remember why teachers become teachers. They are drawn to the profession to inspire and teach students, not to fulfil admin requirements. However, 44% of school leaders still do not have apps to capture work and assessments, and only 39% have the capacity for parents to view their child’s student data.

In today’s digital-first world, new teachers expect consumer-like technology in schools which is simple to use, provides real-time data, is agile and personalised. Providing modern technology will retain staff for years to come as it will make their jobs easier and create more efficient working conditions.

We need a razor-sharp focus on implementing effective, user-friendly Edtech to help navigate changes today and tomorrow. Harnessing a single, secure cloud-based platform streamlines teachers’ admin tasks, saving time and removing the pain of keeping on top of internal messages and term-end reporting; empowering them to step in at any point of need and focus their precious time on the job at hand – teaching.

The power of real-time data and cloud

Schools and MATs are constantly challenged to provide high quality learning, safeguarding and experiences across all schools. However, a staggering 90% of school leaders report data and analysis as a significant issue impacting their workload. Teachers and MAT leaders are still spending 95% of their time on gathering the data, and only 5% on extracting insights and making important decisions. They should not be manipulating data in spreadsheets anymore; there is a much more powerful alternative.

By adopting a cloud MIS solution, teachers create more intuitive reporting, presentation and representation of data. This can drive conversations with colleagues to understand the real life (human) stories behind the numbers. Teachers can then join the dots on changes in behaviour, wellbeing and safeguarding, providing a holistic, central view of each pupil.

The industry is only scratching the surface when it comes to using real-time data to inform decision making to drive educational or operational impact on scale; something that will advance with a cloud MIS solution. With less effort expended in bringing data from individual, unconnected systems together, more time will be spent on delivering the best outcomes for students.

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Champion a change management mindset

It’s hard to change MIS if there is no strategic plan behind it. The successes of those who have already made the move to the cloud prove that it is possible to take more pragmatic and cost-effective steps to managing change. However, it’s easy to get caught up in complex change management models and feeling the need to hire expensive consultants when switching.

There are some effective solutions that can be taken to ease fears and concerns, for example, by creating champion groups to evangelise about the change. These should include those from across the entire school or MAT and include a diverse range of people. These individuals will be ambassadors, so they should be involved in decisions and given appropriate bandwidth to perform their champion role.

Internal communications also play a critical role as the softer side of change is also important to get a handle on. Through clear communications with regular outreach over a variety of platforms or tutorial-style videos to raise awareness, teachers will be able to understand the benefits at an individual level.

Internal communications tools can also be used to celebrate successes and achievements during the transition. This is a great way to motivate stakeholders to try new methods of working and reinforce the necessity to change. If there are fears around change, this should be dealt with head-on through two-way communication and engaging everyone in decision-making. This provides opportunities for concerns to be discussed honestly.

Adopt technology and support

Schools generate a great deal of information, and school leaders need to able to easily access and consume it all in real-time. Choosing the right technology partner is key to dealing with the scale of this task, and schools should fully explore with them how the new solution will work in practice. It should support ease of use, streamline workflows and provide access for all stakeholders. As well as connect data silos, providing a rich flow of information throughout the school and a real insight into what is going on.

In MATs, infrastructure around change is going to require diverting critical people’s time. In extreme cases, it could divert educators away from the essential job at hand, so getting the planning and support right is essential.

No matter the size of the classroom, school or MAT, a cloud MIS solution can help institutions make critical decisions more quickly. It provides systematic, simple, and efficient workflows by bringing complete automation and real-time data access across every aspect of the school or Trust. Done right, Edtech can set educators up with the next generation technology they need over the coming years.

Written by Winston Poyton, senior product director at IRIS Software Group

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