Technological ecosystems for schools

Technological ecosystems for educational institutions: how to strike the right balance

Technological ecosystems for schools

Educators have long struggled to find the right balance between the various technologies that support teaching and the administrative systems required to run an institution. While pandemic conditions exacerbated these issues, it also provided the motivation and circumstances needed to overhaul systems and embrace new technology at breakneck speed.

As organisations worldwide provided educators with the tools and technology to teach remotely, the strengths and weaknesses of their pedagogical and administrative approaches were highlighted. It became clear that the act of teaching is just one of the many components of a functional educational institution.

In order for the operation to run smoothly, teachers, students, parents, administrators, curriculum designers and all other stakeholders need to communicate and collaborate effectively. With these stakeholders suddenly scattered across countless locations, it became crucial for the various technologies and systems to work in conjunction with each other as part of a cohesive technological ecosystem.

Hybrid learning is here to stay, and the use of technology within the classroom will only increase. Embracing a technological ecosystem is key to thriving in this new hybrid environment, but how do you strike the right balance between experimenting with innovative technologies and making sustainable choices that leverage off the existing ecosystem?

Building around the LMS

For most institutions, the entire ecosystem should revolve around the LMS (learning management system). Whether it be student portals, assessment solutions, real-time collaborative learning tools or curriculum development programs, everything must be able to integrate with this central system.

The LMS has often been considered as extra admin for already busy educators. By building a technological infrastructure around the LMS’ capabilities, however, institutions can now bring disparate education solutions together to streamline operations, reduce admin, improve communication and provide better opportunities for collaboration and information sharing.

With the entire ecosystem hinging around one central framework, there is also scope for larger education networks to operate under a shared service. Multiple institutions using the same core technologies can collaborate and share information while also remaining free to utilise their own integrations that suit their individual needs.
Leveraging existing technology.

Technology, just like education, will continue to evolve and, as such, the practical needs of educational institutions will change. Choosing scalable solutions that can easily integrate with current and future software is therefore essential.

In the short term, educators must prioritise systems that can work in conjunction with popular technology that students, parents and teachers regularly use. Be it remote, in-person or hybrid learning, the ecosystem must enable students to learn in real-world contexts. Leveraging and integrating with existing technology cultivates an environment where students can learn in their own way and at their own pace. And, as an added bonus, it can significantly lower the overall cost of investment in software, devices and systems training.

Ultimately, the goal is to have one central platform that can easily integrate with other technology so that students, parents, educators and administrators can communicate and operate with ease.

Supporting pedagogy

Educators are now rethinking their entire approach to teaching. Bite-sized and student-led learning are now prioritised, and a balanced mix of digital and traditional media will be the norm. While there is an argument to be made about ensuring that any screen time is meaningful and purposeful, students will increasingly use solutions such as Google Docs, digital presentations platforms and online worksheets as part of their learning. Creating a technological ecosystem that supports these various methods — and allows seamless transition between them — is therefore essential.

State-of-the-art technology with high functionality and customisable solutions centred on the learning management system can significantly improve operational efficiency in an educational institution. However, none of the aforementioned attributes matter if the technological ecosystem doesn’t also support the institution’s pedagogical approach. Considering all three factors is therefore essential when designing and growing your ecosystem.

This article was based on research conducted by Zoom and Intelligent Business Research Services (“IBRS”). To read the report in full, click here.

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