Business  »  Negotiation


By: jai mani   
Date Added : November 20, 2010 Views : 394

The cost of relevancy with ICT in Schools

Andrew Baylis

Information Technology and the needs of the Digital Age are providing incredible stresses and opportunities for schools. Where once infrastructure was deployed for considerable periods of time (usually decades), the pace of technology change and development has meant that 3-5 years is the norm for core IT infrastructure and the more personal technologies are changing in a 12-18 month cycle. Schools can try to meet the challenge of providing up-to-date resources that suit and enhance the ways students interact with the digital world or become irrelevant in the information technology arena. The key issues facing schools in keeping current are:

Cost Providing centralised resources of significant capacity is expensive. Not only does the hardware have significant costs, but the support required, ongoing learning and improvement as well as physical data storage and backup all require sizeable investment.

Generational change the people in charge of schools and budgets are two or three IT generations away from the students who use digital technology. Each group uses the technology in very different ways. Bridging the understanding and values gap is difficult and there is a degree of cynicism and unease due in part to the overselling by early adopters. In the last 15 years, we have seen a significant mindset change from computer technology being seen as a tool to tinker with to a consumer product that is almost disposable. Recently, we have noticed a drop in student interest around Australia for studying IT courses.

Adaptability / Flexibility one of the ironies of the IT word is that the PC is such a flexible tool, yet the software developers keep pushing the boundaries of the hardware capabilities so that what was appropriate 2 years ago is now unable to run some of the modern programs. It can be an exciting time to be in as change and improvement is occurring all the time. It can equally be very risky due to the high costs involved in hardware and infrastructure. For a school to fully utilise the potential of modern ICT tools, the whole system (human as well as machine) needs to be adaptable, flexible, open to change and improvement. Digital learners think differently and process information in very different ways. Keeping abreast of this to such an extent that the staff in a school can be expert in using the tools (rather than just be in a continual stage of novice-competent) is an incredible challenge.

Leading or following With so many opportunities: hardware, software and human; it is very tempting for schools to wait and see what others are doing. The key cultural change and mind-shift in staff cannot happen until a school is itself engaged in the process. Learning and using ICT effectively seems to require a different form of learning and training (some call it an exploratory or adaptive learning style rather than the more old fashioned sequential approach). Students may cope with this more easily, but the adults in the organisation may have more issues and require time time that is under increasing pressure due to the rate of change in the technology environment. Leading has some risks, but one benefit is that being on the edge encourages the culture of the organisation to move towards exploratory and adaptive learning which then equips them for future changes in hardware capability.

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