With so much ed tech on the market, how do schools get the most out of their ICT investment? We sat down with Atturra’s Brett Auton, Practice Lead for K-12 Education, to find out.
Brett has worked as an IT leader and practitioner in the education and government sectors for over 30 years. An ex-teacher, he has extensive experience in the function of systems, applications and technologies. He works closely with education providers to ensure they derive maximum value and results from their ICT investments.
Q: How has ICT in education changed over the last five years?
COVID-19 fundamentally shifted the education industry. For the first time, we experienced education delivery in different ways. We saw how creative educational institutions became, finding new and innovative ways to educate and ensure no student was left behind.
We learned many lessons, one being that the education industry has too many systems, apps and places for people to go to do their jobs or get the information they need. We also learned that the process, the glue, if you will, holding systems together was built around people. And when that person was unavailable, the process quickly fell apart.
Following that, we learned that the content used in schools is located in different formats, styles and systems – making it hard for students to navigate.
We found that the user experience is a critical factor in engagement. I hope we never see another pandemic, but if we do, we know that good data, student wellbeing monitoring, user experience and accessible content are key.
Right now, we’re on the precipice of AI and ML becoming more mainstream. We are thinking about how to use those disruptive tools without dehumanising education. We’re trying to understand the possibilities and capabilities and the nature of how we want them to be used.
Q: It’s widely accepted that work intensification is a factor for K-12 teachers. With an abundance of ed tech on the market, how can schools choose the right technology so their workload is reduced and not increased?
The reality is, years on from when I was teaching in the classroom, the amount of time spent doing admin tasks hasn’t decreased despite all the innovative tools that were meant to automate and streamline processes.
There is a lot of value up for grabs if we can give teachers time back to engage with their students. Currently, teachers spend 20 hours a week with their kids and 18 hours doing administration and other activities1. I was speaking with a group last week that is focused on school systems. They told me the only thing that’s happened in 25 years has been the adding of more systems, making things more complicated, complex and challenging. Unfortunately, the industry hasn’t been smart with smart technology.
I see an opportunity for schools to reduce workload by shifting their view. When considering new tech, there’s a need to look at it with an end-to-end process lens instead of the traditional one process and data storage lens. Thinking carefully about the effect capturing data has on the upstream and downstream processes and work can significantly reduce negative impact.
What’s really exciting is that the tech market is moving so that we can reorient our systems to deliver data and information in the “flow of work”. Essentially, this means delivering the right content to the right user at the right time. It means that a person doesn’t have to search for it. It’s given to them when they need it. We have seen this work written about extensively in HR industry journals, and it has a lot of merit in all industries, including education.
Q: The right technology can increase staff engagement, collaboration and communication. What are some critical considerations for education providers to maximise outcomes for students and staff when implementing new ICT?
Using a framework such as the Microsoft K-12 Education Transformation Framework is one of the most effective ways a school can do this. It helps shape conversations, provide context for strategic planning, and form the foundation for ICT investment decisions.
Excellent outcomes for students and staff are the result of excellent planning that includes balanced considerations across leadership and policy, teaching and learning, infrastructure and services, and professional learning. The Microsoft K-12 Education Transformation Framework is helpful for schools at all levels of tech maturity.
Having worked in education as teachers, deputy principals or elearning coordinators, the Atturra K-12 Education team combines a deep understanding of schools with specialist tech knowledge and experience. They bring best practices and fresh ideas to every ICT project.
Contact us to discuss how we can help your school on its digital transformation journey.
 Source: Victorian Government policy and guidelines on the allocation of teacher work: Victorian Department of Education and Training (2020a).