USE OF TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE SCHOOL EFFICIENCY
(Dr. Prabhat Kaushik)
Technology plays a transformative role in all walks of life. The technology has transformed sectors like banking, insurance, medical, diagnosis, manufacturing, music, arts, cinema, travel, and retail etc. All these sectors have been changed fundamentally by the effective and innovative use of technology. These sectors have brought in “convenience”, transparency, and efficiency through early adoption of technology their day to day operations..
Currently the students, their parents and teachers are increasingly using technology to find information, carry out transactions and connect to other people and services as and when or where it is needed. In the same way, the lives of students have also taken a leap towards easiness with abundant information available at any time on the internet.
TECHNOLOGY @ SCHOOLS – What does this mean in India?
Technology should be a tool to help educators meet the educational needs of all children. As such, technologies cannot function as solutions in isolation but must be thought of as key ingredients in making it possible for schools to address core educational challenges.
But while schools may have abundant computers, schools may not use technology in the best ways to enhance learning or improving the school efficiency. With multitude of independent operating solutions, schools often spend large portion of their time in “authentication” of data. Dependence on “outdated application and lack of effective support / training” leads to lower quality of information output and also becomes the source of dispute / delay in support services.
In terms of utilization, technology has expanded from use primarily as an Instructional delivery medium to an Integral part of the School Environment. Increasingly Technology is serving at least four distinct purposes in the schools:
To teach, drill, and practice using increasingly sophisticated digital content.
To provide simulations and real world experiences to develop cognitive thinking and to extend learning.
To provide access to a wealth of information and enhanced communications through the SMS, Internet and other .
As a productivity tool employing application software such as Education Plus to manage information and operation in the complex environment.
This article covers the extensive support lent by Technology in the 3rd and the 4th area mentioned above, sharing examples on how technology has come to the rescue of improving School Efficiency in today’s complex and ever changing routine.
The article aims at sharing how we can transform the current role of a Principal from being a “Passive Information Generator” to an “Active Decision Maker” using modern tools of Technology.
FACTORS AFFECTING TECHNOLOGY USES IN SCHOOLS
Why isn’t technology used effectively in schools in sustainable manner?
Why can’t innovations that seem to hold great promise be adopted by schools in spite of great efforts? Or simply speaking, why are schools still shying away from using technology to improve their efficiencies ?
In my mind, there are 4 factors that inhibit successful implementation of technology in schools.
a. Organization factor
b. Teacher factor
c. Technology factor
d. Fear of failure, fear of transition, transparency, accountability (may be included), old mindset which restrains from experimentation.
At the same time, there is “no reward to successful implementation” as well!
UCSKM WAY OF TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION
To start with, we looked at Technology with a different perspective. Just by having a “computer science” course does not lend itself as advancement when every work in the school was being done on paper.
If in class we were teaching about Internet, our own staff was using paper and pen to communicate with each other. This in itself was a gap for us to bridge as it was making students wonder the “impact of the technology” in their lives.
We are often criticized by parents of being very impractical – teaching subjects / topics which may not have an impact on childs future. But here was a classic example where we had a subject which will 100% influence every student even before he passes out – COMPUTERS. We had to look at our learning slightly differently we had to “walk the talk”
Obviously, we had to break this first. Unless we make our own teachers adopt the modern technology, the learning for students will remain “theoretical”
Keeping this in mind, we focused on identifying a common solution which can aid …
Use technology for personal productivity of every eco-system of school viz. Staff, Students, Parents, etc..
Use technology to support learning in a subject area through effective communication.
Design or adapt technology-supported learning activities ( lesson planning automation )
Manage student-centered, technology-supported activities (communication beyond classrooms between teachers and their students)
Assess Staff skills within the context of technology-supported activities.
Analysis , optimization and utilization of HR skills of school staff with the help of technology.
EDUCATION PLUS @ UCSKM
We have recently introduced EDUCATION PLUS (www.innovaeplus.com) in UCSKM Bhiwadi after lot of deliberation internally.
EDUCATION PLUS is a fully integrated ERP solution, specifically designed for CBSE schools. Unlike several other products, this application stood out on various parameters as under :
It is a single window system, right from Pre-Admission Process to TC
Being Web Based, enables Two Way communication channel between the entire School Ecosystem i.e. teachers could communicate directly with their students & parents and vice versa. Parents could directly communicate with Principal and teachers
Finance module is integrated with Operations. Most schools do the mistake of keeping finance separate leading to major reconciliation issues and often throwing up incorrect / non comparable results. This application takes care of such concerns.
Integrated Academic Operations as well – teachers can directly manage their respective operating tasks like Lesson Planning, Question Paper generation, Daily Activity Report, Student Evaluation, Class Attendance and all other areas which effect any teacher or class teacher
It has Multiple School Management option i.e. viewing multiple schools performance at the same time
Besides above points, it had several features related to every area of Academic, Administrative and Management functions that gave this application a perfect fit for our school.
IMPACT OF EDUCATION PLUS ON OUR SCHOOL
While it is too early to quantify the benefit accrued by this move, we have seen a positive impact on all areas of our operation :
Higher visibility to the school. There has been an wholesome appreciation from the parents who are now forced to be more engaged with their ward’s progress
There is lesser disconnect between teachers and students. There is a grudging and yet a positive appreciation for the change.
By virtue of teachers becoming more “computer savvy”, the students are looking at them with a better understanding than ever.
Of course, there has been savings in various areas, thanks to the transparency in accounting.
This is just the start of our journey. We want to take this ahead and showcase the “adoption of technology” by taking this to the classroom wherein teachers can use the learning on real time basis. This might finally give schools a cost-effective way to place useful technology on teachers, students, parents and principals table.
Our next step would be to take this application forward to the classes through these PDAs and provide the schools with next-generation experience on learning.
Some of the “promising” learning tools through the PDA include
Assessment tools to help educators evaluate student performance
Collaborative tools — for example, in online role-playing simulations,
As “edutainment” applications, such as logic games
Data collection and analysis, to support student research in science classes
Over the next few years, count on increased Internet penetration in the home and faster Internet connections, as cable modems and Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connections become commonplace. Think now about how to use these to strengthen the bonds between school and home. For example, schools might transform their Web sites into community “education portals,” much as Internet search engines have evolved to present a wide range of information and links for Web users worldwide.
The next-generation elementary school Web “portal” would provide detailed, timely information on the school’s academic program. It also might give families up-to-date information personalized to their children’s needs, performance, the subjects currently being studied in the classroom, and how parents might support or supplement the curriculum at home.
The School Webportal could also be used to recruit volunteers and support fund-raising. As a School Web portal becomes recognized by its community, it can be used to enhance virtually every task the school performs: providing online parental permission slips, delivering assignments to homebound children, informing parents of the school’s goals, and much more.
The first revolution, bringing computers and the Internet into schools, has been won. The more important revolution — using technology to help children learn more effectively — has just begun.