Winston Poyton, Senior Product Director for Education at IRIS Software Group
The question on everyone’s lips is what will the next 12 months hold for the education sector? Lots of uncertainty remains around how lockdown restrictions will ease post-pandemic. Even with the (so far) successful vaccine rollout, we can expect that blended learning will remain part of ‘normal’ schooling for the foreseeable future. As such, the role of education technology (EdTech) has never been more important, and 2021 will be a true turning point for its adoption across the sector.
Today’s EdTech is failing teachers
With the return to schools imminent and high pressure on teachers, existing EdTech needs to support today’s educators more. Teachers and senior leaders in Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) are losing time and bandwidth they don’t have, making it difficult to successfully deliver blended learning.
Traditionally on-premise, existing Management Information Systems (MIS) trap intelligence in the school office. Forcing teachers and senior leadership teams (SLTs) to waste a significant amount of time and energy looking for and extracting key information such as academic results, attendance, behaviour and safeguarding notes. This inability to easily access intelligence makes it much more difficult to successfully deliver blended learning. Or to implement change as successfully, accurately or quickly as needed in today’s rapidly evolving learning environment.
Delivering blended learning comes with high stress and high pressure, on a good day. Educators need instant access to all data points across the school and MAT. But this relies on integrated technology systems (MIS) that can produce a holistic view of each student’s education progress, and so enables teachers and SLTs to step in at the point of need and overall improve the life chances of children.
What teachers really need from technology in 2021
With exams cancelled for yet another year in England, students will have to rely on teacher assessment grades instead of sitting GCSE and A-Level exams. To avoid a repeat of last year’s exam grade discrepancies, teachers need access to all the intelligence required to fairly and accurately benchmark and grade students. EdTech is not a “nice to have” anymore, it is a necessity.
Creating a full picture of a student’s education journey is essential for informing teachers’ decision making. However, by the time valuable academic information has been extracted from existing MIS, little time is left for SLTs and teachers to evaluate this data. This makes it difficult for them to step in at the point of need to support students.
An intelligent cloud-based MIS, driven by automation, is needed. One that can record outcomes in a live environment that gives educators the intelligence needed to make critical decisions on grading and ultimately improve the life chances of children. Real-time data is the key to getting intelligence into the hands of teachers when they need it the most.
Teachers are calling out for the better EdTech. Solutions that are fit for purpose in today’s classrooms – both physical and online. Aside from just teaching the curriculum, teachers have a duty of care to their students. This can range from improving certain subject grades, offering additional learning aid, or supporting any bullying or stress issues. All of these contribute to improving students’ education, but none of which can be done without a significant upgrade in EdTech. Right now, there is a real opportunity for change. And, by providing data-driven insight teachers can leverage to make an impact, educators will ultimately be able to improve the life chances of students.
COVID-19 has shown technology is essential for delivering education today and tomorrow. With teachers predicting life-changing exam grades for another year, they need technology that provides a single source of truth across the whole school or MAT. Moving EdTech MIS from out of the school office into the hands of teachers and SLTs will ensure the life chances of every student can be improved, despite the disruptions of the last year.