With Bett 2013 just behind us, I thought it a good time to reflect on what the future has in store for technology in education and what I see to be the next three big trends that will affect leaders in schools over the next few years.
Bye bye paper
One of the most obvious changes that I think will happen in the next few years, is the move to more electronic forms of communications with parents. The trend has already started, with texting to parents a few years ago, but there are still many schools that have not taken the plunge in this area, and a greater number still that are not making full use of emailing. But with increasing time and financial pressures on schools, this will soon change.
When you think of the time, effort and cost of printing and collating school reports alone, any school head can quickly see the advantages of switching to email. When you add newsletters and other regular communications to this, you have a pretty convincing argument for switching to email.
Fast forward 10 years and it is likely schools will only communicate with parents via electronic means as paper communications will be seen as too wasteful, both environmentally and financially, to even be considered.
Bring your smartphone to class
The Bring Your Own Device concept (BYOD) is one that is gaining interest rapidly, with a few schools already having taken the leap. BYOD allows students and teachers to bring in their personally owned laptop, tablet or smartphone and literally just ‘plug it in’ to the school network.
If implemented correctly, staff and pupils in classrooms could fire up their own device brought in from home, with instant and secure access to the school network resources, exactly as if they used a PC that is under school ownership and control.
The sweetener for school leaders and bursars alike is that in tougher financial times, BYOD is one way for schools to improve computer-to-student ratios and drive towards one-to-one computing, and this is what will entice and accelerate the take up in schools.
The data gets intelligent
Data will also continue to grow in importance. When Ofsted now walks into a school, they want to see the progress of specific student groups, for example how female pupils with English as an additional language (EAL) are progressing against non EAL pupils. There is an expectation on the leadership team to know this information instantly.
Management information systems (MIS) in schools are responding to this by making the right data easily accessible to anyone that needs it. In the case of SIMS Discover, we have also developed alerts to let school leaders know when children fall below certain benchmarks.So if you are concerned about attendance, for example, you can be alerted whenever a child’s attendance falls below 94%. You can do the same when behaviour or achievement points reach a certain threshold too.
It is these ‘early warning’ signs that will become the next step of development for the MIS. Where the role of the MIS will be to guide the school leader to the information that is relevant to them without having to spend time searching for the information they need.