Flipped classroom, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), blended learning, and online school management system among others are the ‘buzz’ words in education these days. What do school leaders, teachers, students and parents have to say about digital transformation in schools?
Education has been constantly evolving. The inflow of new processes, tools and trends continuously reinvent teaching and learning. The advent of technology in education brought in a digital transformation in schools. Traditional teaching supplemented by an interactive whiteboard, long queues for admissions replaced by online registration, learning enhanced by educational videos, games and apps. Is digital transformation really as good as it sounds?
What digital transformation solves
Education technology products and services aim to solve or deliver particular issues or needs of schools. The right technology used for the right purpose will deliver well. Schools benefit from education technology as it:
- Supports accurate real-time communication with parents
- Promotes interactive learning
- Optimizes efficiency
- Streamlines processes
What goes against digital transformation
Technology is not without its grey areas. Both internal and external factors determine the effectiveness of a digital transformation. Below are few factors that inhibit effective digital transformation:
- Unequal technology resources/infrastructure – low internet, broadband, quality devices
- Low awareness of technology usage
- Frequent upgrades in technology resulting in short-term sustainability
- Possibility of privacy and sensitive data leakage
How digital transformation in school is viewed
The real question on digital transformation lies with school leaders, teachers, students and parents. What do they think about digital transformation?
What teachers think about digital transformation in school
A retired teacher has said that in one of the schools he taught, a large investment was made in computers. While the computers were on the whole utilized well, several occurrences of overkill and under-use too were noted. He opined that thorough planning prior to investment would have insured better implementation.
Not all teachers are averse to implementing technology in the classroom. Adequate training and regular updates about technology is all they need to boost quality learning. Education technology tools like an online school ERP automates and speeds up a majority of their tasks while blended learning and flipped classroom keeps teachers free to focus on teaching.
What students think of digital transformation in school
Students are open to the use of technology in school. There’s a caveat though. Teachers who are tech-savvy and implement technology accurately are necessary for maintaining interest in learning. Today’s students are at ease with technology as it is a major part of their lives. All they require is discipline and guidance in operating and learning through digital mediums.
There are exceptions though. Learning BASIC (the computer language) in the past has been ineffective for a student as it is rarely used these days. He instead stresses on the idea of focussing on practical usage of technology in real-life scenarios and developing critical thinking skills as an integral element to true digital learning.
What parents think of digital transformation in school
Parents, like students, for the most part support digital transformation. To one parent, digital literacy is an essential investment and important for a student’s future. Like the student above, he believes that a digital environment is crucial to develop critical thinking skills. Another parent felt that the success of technology in education depends on the teacher’s willingness, compatibility and implementation of digital mediums.
What school leaders think of digital transformation in school
We come to the people who lead the digital transformation – the school leaders. School leaders are a balanced group of cautious and technology-friendly people. There are some who require justification for incorporating technology in the school while there are others who opt for a digital transformation to meet their school’s goals and objectives. An online school management system is a favoured education technology tool amongst school leaders to maintain efficiency in process and operations.
A small case study of schools in California’s Pajaro Valley:
Schools here focus more on the implementation of technology and this has been working successfully for them. Recently eighth-grade class students in one of the schools here marked a significant increase in their math proficiency levels after using an algebra app on their iPads. Technology adoption in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District is managed through dedicated time and resources, merging of curriculum, adequate teacher training and robust technical support. School leaders here have recognized a fundamental fact that “the hard work happens before and after you open the box or download the software.”
Is digital transformation in schools in or out?
Education adapts according to time. From radios, to television, to projectors, to computers, some form of technology has been used in education before. This is the time of the digital era. It is only natural that schools use technology to their advantage.
However, schools must follow these necessary elements in digital transformation:
- Analyze the school’s needs, goals and process of implementing technology
- Ensure that a technology conversant staff and teachers are on board
- Keep the focus on education by teachers
- Relegate digital mediums to act as a support to teaching and learning
- The focus should be on digital learning through digital transformation
A fallacy among many is that technology is replacing teachers but that is not so. The reality is quite the opposite. The incorporation of digital mediums in school needs teachers more than ever. An education technology tool only facilitates learning, a good teacher uses the education technology tool optimally to motivate learning in students.
There are some who staunchly oppose digital transformation in schools. There are others who feel that rigid mindset toward technology in education needs to change. There still is low awareness about the impact technology has on education. Schools can orchestrate a smooth digital transformation with the right approach toward technology implementation.