Mal Lee and Roger Broadie
The successful digital evolution of the school necessitates it having an apt, continually evolving and largely invisible underpinning digital ecosystem.
It necessitates embarking on the digital evolutionary journey with the desire to create that digital ecosystem as soon as is feasible and to continually enhance its ability to assist deliver the desired education of each child.
Indeed one of the important lessons to be learned from the pathfinder experience is to openly share with one’s colleagues and school community the quest to create an increasingly powerful and productive digital ecosystem.
Without that infrastructure and an astutely shaped highly effective digital ecosystem all the school can do is dream.
Campus wide access to the Net within the school should be super simple. One click and all systems go.
Everything we have written thus far in this series of blogs is prefaced on the assumption that the school has
- the apt underpinning electrical and digital base
- created a mature highly effective and reliable digital ecosystem that continually supports the school’s efforts to realise its shaping educational vision.
- provided its total teaching and learning community ready 24/7/365 use of that digital ecosystem.
To evolve digitally every school needs have
- a highly reliable supply of electricity
- apt total school campus wide Wi-Fi access
- ample, but ever greater bandwidth
- limited and reasoned Web filtering – with the school observing the laws of the land
- current digital presentation technology in every teaching room
- all having in their hands and using their chosen suit of personal technologies
- personal technologies it can provide children in need
- all staff – teaching and professional support – with the digital tools needed for their work
- in its website the digital interface between the school’s digital ecosystem and the socially networked world
- digitised all school administration and communication – gradually shedding all paper based processes
- integrated all its digital operations, in and outside the school walls in its shaping of a highly productive ecosystem
The last point is critical.
One should be seeking to create from the outset an increasingly higher order and more efficient and productive ecosystem where all the digital technologies are geared to supporting the realisation of the school’s shaping vision, in manner consistent with the school’s culture.
The shaping and the daily governance of that apt tightly integrated digital ecosystem should, as indicated be the operational responsibility of the school’s ‘CDO’ or his/her equivalent.
It does, within a rapidly evolving environment where empowered members are actively encouraged and supported to take risks, require a ‘CDO’ with high-level people skills who can balance the quest to allow teachers to fly with the need to maintain efficiency. It most assuredly can’t be done by a part time ICT committee or by a network manager lacking the prerequisite high-level educational prowess and people skills.
Three of the early tasks before embarking on the digital evolutionary journey is to;
- do a brutally honest appraisal of the school’s digital infrastructure and its capacity to readily allow everyone to access the Net at speed any time, anywhere they wish.
- explain the imperative of creating the desired, ever evolving digital ecosystem.
- select a ‘CDO’ and his/her team. As indicated the finding of the ‘CDO’ can be hard, but from the outset you’ll need someone responsible for overseeing the shaping and daily workings of the digital ecosystem.
It is highly likely that many of the digital operations to be overseen by the ‘CDO’ will currently be undertaken within separate silos, with those in charge of each often reluctant to relinquish their power.
It is thus important from the outset to emphasise the quest to create the tightly integrated digital ecosystem and to underscore the importance of its daily governance.
In 2016 many if indeed not most schools don’t have the requisite total digital infrastructure and most assuredly have yet to appreciate the imperative of integrating all the parts to form an increasingly powerful and productive digital ecosystem.
It is appreciated the school’s location and its resources can frustrate that quest but all too often the major impediment is the school’s leadership, and its unwillingness to prioritise the creation of a powerful digital ecosystem.
In the mid 2000s Mal observed that all schools in the developed world could if the head considered it a priority find the funds to place IWBs in every teaching room and network the school.
A decade on with the drop in technology and network pricing, markedly enhanced equipment reliability, virtually all children having their suit of personal technologies and growing societal digital expectations there is no reason other than leadership why any school in the developed world should not have an adequate whole school digital ecosystem. While concerns are expressed about lower SES schools the reality is that globally, developed societies fund schools on a needs basis allowing all such schools to acquire the technology if the principal desires.
If your school wants to evolve digitally prioritise the resourcing and formation of the underpinning digital ecosystem.
Remember getting the technology in place is the easy step.
Getting the school’s community to use the ecosystem to best advantage is the challenging stage.