Support your learning environment

by Ged McMahon 06 Jun 2016

Workplaces all over the world are filled with individual people that have specific skill sets that enable them to do their job, with the overall aim of improving the performance of the business as a whole. This specialisation allows each business to have various experts in different fields – e.g. finance, sales, supply chain, human resources, and cleaning. Schools are a classic example of how diverse a workplace can be, with a French teacher working in the same place as an accountant, a PE teacher working alongside a maintenance worker, and a piano teacher sharing a staff room with a maths teacher.

In a school, like in a business, specialisation is crucial in ensuring that each staff member contributes to creating a diverse and professional place for students to learn. If you selected 10 staff members at random, you’re likely to find quite a varied set of skills and qualifications. The key to making the most of this diverse talent is to trust these different specialists to take control of their areas of expertise. Rather than trying to solve all the world’s problems yourself, it is well worth talking to others in your school and asking for their help.

...the absence of an IT specialist dedicated to properly implementing the new technology ends up costing the school far more money than contracting the aforementioned specialist in the first place. 

When it comes to technology, obtaining the best support is vital to maximising the potential of the technology that is available to you. Rather than having new technology being used to only a fraction of its full potential or, at worst, sitting in the corner gathering dust, engaging the services of an IT specialist can greatly enhance the performance of the technology in your classrooms.

Whether your school is fortunate enough to have a well-staffed IT team providing all the necessary support, or just has one over-worked IT teacher combining their classroom work with helping fellow staff members, there is always value in engaging an external IT specialist. Regardless of the school’s budget, there can often be a reluctance to spend money on a service that can be provided by existing staff members. The problem with looking inside the staff room for additional tech support is that, in the vast majority of cases, most of your current staff members will already be busy performing their regular duties, let alone finding extra time to commit to a new project. Ignoring this fact, and lumping extra tasks on current staff, runs the very real risk of receiving substandard support – not to mention resentment amongst staff.

Introducing change in any environment can be a very bumpy path. Schools, in particular, can encounter stiff resistance from staff who are accustomed to doing things a certain way and are happy continuing along in their little bubble. Therefore, the introduction of new technology to improve certain school tasks can often be met with scepticism. I’ve heard of plenty of schools that introduce iPads for teachers, only to discover a few months later that they’ve essentially purchased expensive paper weights for teachers who are reluctant to change. In these cases, the absence of an IT specialist dedicated to properly implementing the new technology ends up costing the school far more money than contracting the aforementioned specialist in the first place. Having someone dedicated to implementing new technology can be the key to whether it becomes successful in the school. Things can get messy without a proper orientation with the product, regular workshops to highlight the benefits, and a quick response when questions arise

The introduction of iPads is just one example. Schools are increasingly embracing the countless enhancements that various types of technology can make to their day-to-day operations. In a previous blog, I have spoken about the many benefits that digitisation of documents can provide to your school. And even if you don’t have space in your budget to fund a mass upgrade of physical technology, you can engage a specialist to suggest better software that will enhance the performance of your existing technology. Then you can further lean on their expertise to help you introduce the new software, train your staff, and provide troubleshooting support in the early days of implementation.

So, just like you wouldn’t usually ask your science teacher to run an art class with your students, make sure that when it comes to introducing new technology in your school you consult the experts. Let them help you choose the best technology for your needs, introduce it to your staff, and then support you as you implement the new enhancement.

Ged McMahon
Sub-editor, Education Technology Solutions

Ged McMahon is a qualified writer and editor with broad experience in both print and digital media. He is the former Editor of Australian Business Solutions, a magazine for owners and managers of small- to medium-sized businesses. In this role, he worked with some of Australia’s brightest business minds to provide relevant and dynamic content to the vibrant SME sector.

Ged is the current Sub-editor of leading industry magazines Security Solutions and Education Technology Solutions. These long-running magazines continue to serve the professional development needs of the security and education industries respectively. In addition to his involvement with the print media, Ged is the current Web Editor at a leading private school in Melbourne.