It’s been said that technology is not a strategy. Technology is all around us, but that doesn’t mean that by implementing it, problems are miraculously solved. Like anything, having a strategy helps. A lot. And yet, a lot of schools, independent and otherwise, find themselves working backward and trying to develop strategies for using new applications after contracts with vendors have been signed or software has been installed.
Sure, it’s hard to foresee how new technology will affect the big picture. Facebook and Napster before it notwithstanding, but when schools decide to willingly use technology without fully understanding how it will impact administrative processes, it’s a whole other beast.
Upon discussing this phenomenon with colleagues, I was overwhelmed with stories of executive directors coming back from conferences, having bought thousands of dollars of new publishing and marketing software, and web managers having to figure out how to integrate new software into their CMS, etc.
By implementing technological applications, it is assumed that it will streamline work flow, not complicate it. However, many schools struggle with an infrastructure littered with solutions originally aimed at making life simpler. Most times, a lack of administrative strategy, understanding and oversight are to blame.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few guidelines for developing strategies for effectively implementing and managing technology:
Discuss your vision with others first: Whether you’re top brass or an assistant, discovering new technology and their applications is exciting! However, it’s best to share your news with others to get a feel for how it would work in other departments, with teachers, parents and other constituents. While it might streamline work for you and your team, it may create headaches or strategic challenges for others.
Bottom up, not top down: Chances are your web and tech staff know more about the functionality of a certain product, application or software. If you are an administrative team member, discuss desired outcomes with those in the know. Explain what you’re looking for, how you’d like it to work and what you’d like it to cost (time and energy). If you’re web or tech staff and think you have an idea for the school, speak up. Share your thoughts, how you think it would work and how much time, energy and money is involved.
Talk about outcomes: Developing administration processes will be easier once you know the desired outcome, whether it be behavioral or custodial. As well, helping to change the behaviors or staff, faculty, parents and/or alumnae will be more effective if they know what the ultimate goal is (e.g, to streamline communications, to allow/restrict access).
Communicate the Process: Most frustration about implementing new technology can be alleviated by good communication. Keep the right people clued in before, during and after the process. Training sessions and information sessions are a good way to keep constituents from panicking. By giving them enough time to prepare themselves for change, as well as understand their role will help win their support for what may be a big shift.
Having a strategy in place before new technology applications are even discussed, selected, and implemented is ideal. However, the reality is that it doesn’t always happen. In that case, it’s better to ask the necessary questions so that the process can run a bit smoother.
— Marisa Peacock
Follow Marisa on Twitter @marisacp51