Digital transformation in education

by Paul Chodziesner 22 January 2018

The Benefits of Digital Transformation in Today's Australian Schools

Australia’s education sector is undergoing a period of sustained and unprecedented change. Schools are realising the benefits of digital transformation in their classrooms and in their approach to engaging with the wider school community. Just this month, the New South Wales Government announced an investment of $23 million in new classroom technologies to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow. Indeed, digital technology and high-speed communications have transformed everything from the way students learn and interact with content to their entertainment and social activities.

At the same time, like the students, staff members are looking for systems that are responsive, intuitive to use and can be quickly evolved to match changing requirements. Often those that have been in place for many years are simply not up to the task.

Yet, despite the big changes that have occurred during the past decade, there are many ways in which technologies can be put to work inside a school. Just as digital transformation strategies are helping big businesses, so too can they help schools further improve the experience they deliver.

School administrative processes can be streamlined, curriculum materials better managed and communication with students and parents enhanced. Workflows that might have remained unchanged for many years can be transformed so they better match the demands of the 21st century. Through the adoption of new digital tools, your school can boost performance while also reducing costs.

The transformation process

 The five steps in a successful school digital transformation project are:

  1. Understand your requirements: No two schools are identical and so time should be taken to examine all existing processes and activities. Think about how the administrative team is supporting the teaching staff, and how tasks such as rostering, payroll and supply purchases are handled.
  2. Make recommendations: Once a thorough review has been completed, identify where improvements can be made. Perhaps there are paper-based workflows that could be digitised to improve performance. There might be an opportunity to replace filing cabinets with a digital archive or use electronic channels to communicate with external parties.
  3. Transform and deploy: Once objectives have been agreed, select and deploy the most appropriate technologies for the job. This could include scanners to convert paper files into digital documents and software applications to enable efficient access for staff. Perhaps an internet portal could be created that allows easy communication with parents and gives students the ability to access learning materials from home.
  4. Measure results: A successful digital transformation strategy is not a set-and-forget activity. Once new tools are in place, check carefully to ensure they are providing the value and benefits that were anticipated. Modifications might need to be made or extra staff training provided. Ongoing monitoring is key to long-term success.
  5. Optimise, optimise, optimise: Regularly ensure that staff, students and parents have access to the information they need at the right time, and in the right format. There is little point in digitising materials if they can't be readily accessed whenever they are required. Constantly optimise all workflows and seek out new opportunities for improvement.

The digital school of the future

By following a digital transformation process, your school can ensure it is well placed to provide quality education outcomes for students in the years ahead.

The reams of paper-based documents that sit within most school offices can be replaced with digital storehouses, freeing up valuable floor space and making access much simpler.

Processes carried out regularly, such as maintenance plans, asset management and capital purchases, can be handled digitally, thus reducing workloads on administrative staff and the operational costs of the school.

Some argue that transformation is a process that is never finished. Schools are beginning to realise they can’t simply evolve current systems and processes once and be done with it. While the challenges facing education institutions are unlikely to diminish in the foreseeable future, the strategies and tools that can help are available today. As the pace of change continues to increase, successful schools will be those that never stand still. Embracing a digital transformation strategy can help your school be best positioned to meet the challenges of the years ahead.