Last month, a group of IT Managers from a range of Victorian independent schools met at Scotch College for the annual Victorian ICT Network for Education (VINE) meeting. Four IT Managers shared their personal experiences of navigating the changes in school IT support over the past ten years and get set for some exciting trends on the horizon.
The panel kicked off with Brett Graham who’s the Head of Technology and Innovation at Flinders Christian Community College. He highlighted that good customer service, 24/7 availability, control and support of school leadership are key parts of a solid technology strategy. He also called on IT Managers to encourage teachers and students to take an active role in becoming more informed and responsible users of technology.
Joshua Lyon, Head of Business Systems and ICT at Donvale Christian College, echoed the thoughts of several other speakers who emphasised the need for every IT Manager to take a leading role in key business decisions. His parting message was to remember to act with a high level of emotional intelligence and understanding of the ways members of the school community utilise technology.
Following on from Lyon was James Poulos, Hillcrest Christian College’s IT Manager. Poulos touched on IT service delivery from a different angle, the physical presence of IT departments in schools. He accentuated the importance of IT teams, if logistically possible, operating in an open and inviting IT Hub, as this sends a clear message they’re there to support teachers, students and parents.
The final panel member was Director of Communication and Learning Technologies at Whitefriars College, Warren Moseley, who underlined that ultimately, for IT Managers to truly support teachers in supporting great student outcomes, they need to assist with the collection and visual representation of data, so teachers can extract qualitative meaning and apply it to their teaching.
This thought provoking panel was followed by informative presentations from the event’s two sponsors, Lior Rauchberger, CEO of Vivi and Richard Heaton, Technology Strategist at Microsoft. Rauchberger highlighted Vivi’s analytics dashboard which can be used to flag students requiring extra support in class and teachers that require extra IT training. Plus, in today’s analytics driven world, it illustrates to schools their ROI.
Heaton, outlined the potential of cloud technology, Big Data and AI, as they mean that self-help information pages can be transformed into responsive chat bots. This would enable IT Managers to truly provide 24/7 service support and could be used as a model for curriculum related self-help tools.
Overall, the VINE forum was a great opportunity for IT Managers to share and discuss issues affecting their departments, schools and users. It’s clear that the amount and depth of big data, as well as IT team’s emotional intelligence, must be channelled to deliver optimum support to school communities.