Digital transformation: the answer to the challenges the education sector is facing?

Posted on 26th February 2020


Written by Robert Pickles, Head of Corporate & Government Affairs, Canon UK

Across many different industries, digital transformation is revolutionising the workplace of today. Cloud computing, data analytics, smart devices, automation and other innovations are helping professionals get their work done more efficiently, alleviating the burden of repetitive administrative tasks and enabling them to focus on more valuable activities. Yet the education sector remains far behind the curve.

While some UK schools are taking steps to embrace new technology, from virtual classrooms to digital assignments, such changes only scratch the surface of what’s possible. To ensure the UK’s education system remains competitive, and to ease teachers’ growing workload, there’s a pressing need for schools to embrace a deeper digital transformation. For example, rebuilding processes and working practices for a more efficient, engaging environment – for both students and for staff.

Below, I will explore some key steps that schools and other organisations in the education sector could take to embrace a comprehensive digital transformation:

Modernising the underlying technology

First, it’s important to ensure the existing technical infrastructure of schools can support new and increasingly sophisticated digital processes. Cloud computing can provide cost-efficient compute resources, as well as superior flexibility and agility to incorporate new services and capabilities.

Furthermore, cloud-based services such as ‘Moodle Cloud’ enable remote access to educational resources, so students can benefit from the technology they use in the classroom when studying on their own devices at home.

Making use of the data

Schools have handled student data for years. With the recent introduction of GDPR, the education sector needs comprehensive oversight of how sensitive data is stored and processed.

Data is also a valuable resource. Schools can apply more advanced tools to their data in order to streamline planning and decision-making processes. For example, it could be possible to create alerts that flag when a student’s grades dramatically drop, informing staff that they may need additional pastoral support or attention.

Consolidating the underlying data infrastructure, eliminating information siloes and using cloud-based data management will be essential to address compliance concerns, and to provide the foundation for useful analytics-based tools.

Embracing automation

A comprehensive data-management infrastructure also paves the way for automation frameworks that can take away the burden of repetitive tasks such as information distribution, student communications and evaluation.

Automating such tasks will help teachers gain a greater oversight into student performance at scale, while also saving them time and allowing them to work on more important tasks, such as creating new, interactive learning experiences.

Utilising smartphones

The education IT architecture of the future should be built around new technologies, and ensure their potential is explored in schools and educational institutions.

Allowing smartphone use in class (and adapting infrastructure and resources to support it) will enable students to access a broad range of educational resources while at school. Students could also use smartphones to record their own videos and capture specific moments during school and university lectures.

Digital direction

Digital transformation is essential to ensure the education sector is ready for the future, and classrooms should be as digitally mature as the workplaces students will soon enter.

The technology for digital educational experiences is already there: the ed-tech industry is predicted to be worth £129bn by the end of 2020.

To prepare for the classrooms of the future, schools could make sure their underlying infrastructure and processes, from data and compute resources to rules around device use, are ready to adapt to a digitally driven world.

Originally posted here

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