Technology in the Classroom: A view from behind the scenes

24 January 2022 | By viviedu

When the subject of education technology is mentioned, the first thoughts usually go to the classroom. Teachers and decision-makers want to know how it will impact learning. They want to make sure it’s aligned with the school or district’s strategy. After all, implementing the right tool in the classroom could improve learning outcomes for a whole generation of students.

But it’s easy to forget about the potential impact any new technology could have on IT Administrators. They have a critical role to play in ensuring it’s reliable and used regularly, both of which impact the return on investment (ROI). Not only do they have to keep an eye on the sometimes hundreds of systems that make up the EdTech stack, but they also have to respond to teachers whose plans have been scuppered by a failed login, a program that won’t load, or a malfunctioning device.

They are looking for solutions that are reliable, scalable, and can adapt to changing needs. As the person who is typically responsible for training, they’re also looking for applications with interfaces that are simple to understand and assimilate. No matter how good a piece of software or hardware looks, if teachers don’t know how to use it in the classroom or don’t feel comfortable enough to do so, it will be a poor investment.

An experienced IT administrator will also be looking at issues like data entry, management, and extraction. It’s one thing having students or teachers respond to requests for information—be that changes of address or recording grades—but that data has to go somewhere. Any solution that leaves an administrator to key information manually into a database is likely to lead to errors and lots of wasted time. Once all that data has been added, it also needs to be accessed. Reporting needs to be straightforward—check whether it’s a case of just pushing a button or whether someone has to go in and massage the data in Excel.

It’s more than likely that an IT administrator will be pressed for time. What they’ll crave in any system is self-service. In the business world, there’s a saying that the best service is no service: in other words, customers don’t wake up in the morning with a desire to call their utility provider—they are forced to make contact because of an issue. An effective self-service solution suits everyone. From a customer perspective, they have the ability to go in and make changes to their product, service, or account at a time of their own choosing. And from the business’ perspective, there’s no need to have hundreds of staff available to take what are unnecessary phone calls.

It’s the same in the education world. Giving teachers, students, and parents an interface that empowers them to perform the tasks they need simply—and without the need for training—it saves time. It also means that conversations or messages passed between all parties are about the important things, not frustrating and unnecessary administrative issues.