Written by Clive Gold, Director Healthcare and Education, Dell EMC
Walk into any classroom in Australia today and you’ll be surrounded by technology. From laptops and tablets to smart boards and software, things have certainly changed since my day when teaching aids consisted of a blackboard and chalk.
Technology is transforming most industries and this extends to the education sector. Technology in the classroom makes learning fun, helps teachers give more one-on-one feedback and time, and ensures students can learn at their own pace.
Dell recently attended EduTECH in Sydney, a two-day conference focused on improving the quality and learning of teaching throughout Australia and Asia-Pacific. From learning about new software to the infrastructure you need to run core business applications, here are my takeaways from the event.
Inclusive learning environment
Technology has changed the fundamental setup of the classroom. We’ve come a long way from the teacher standing at the front of a class of students, most likely staring outside the window daydreaming. Today’s schools are full of tools that actively encourage collaboration and interactive learning.
It’s not just more devices that the younger generation has access to, but more intelligent software and programs. There’s a lot of information to process during the school day and as you progress through education, more subjects to think about. How can we promote efficiency and organisational skills, while encouraging collaboration, for both educators and pupils? Microsoft’s OneNote software does just that.
Teachers can organise their lesson plans, develop content libraries for each subject and host collaborative spaces for everyone in the class to join. Not only does this make the lessons more engaging for the pupils, but it helps the environment as it reduces the need for paper handouts.
For pupils, the benefits of having all your books and handouts in one place is invaluable. It certainly eliminates most excuses for not having done your homework! The software also helps children learn in a way that suits them. We know that everyone’s brains work differently. Whether you like to handwrite your notes or draw diagrams, OneNote can adapt to the desired format.
Good technology underpins everything
It’s not just the devices and software that are changing the education sector. Schools and tertiary education institutes need to embark on the digital transformation journey, just like any other business.
Technology plays an important role in education from the teaching process through to the ability of the school to function as a business. As such, it’s essential to have the right infrastructure in place.
An education institution’s IT team are responsible for many different use cases, such as maintaining internal student portals, IT facilities in the library and supporting core business tasks like recruitment or management of student data. One of the most important factors for them is to maintain uptime. If the systems are down, the students cannot learn and employees cannot work.
One of our customers, the University of Canberra, realised its IT systems were becoming increasingly mission critical as IT underpinned such a huge part of its operations. The university recently decided to upgrade its systems to include 20 Dell EMC storage arrays and 25 Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, which together support the staff and student home drives as well as mission critical core applications such as finance, HR and student management.
These solutions are run on Dell Pro Support Plus, which assists with the management side. With such varied use cases, the university relies on us to troubleshoot any issues and make recommendations to improve the systems. It’s cases like this that help us visualise an educational institution as a business rather than focus just on its teaching outputs.
Data key to improvement
Collecting data on every aspect of the school is certainly not a new practice. From teachers keeping track of a pupil’s development to showcasing success using visualisations to managing the recruitment of pupils at the beginning of the school year. Data can teach us a lot about the everyday tasks we regularly perform. Learning is about improvement, after all, and data provides the pathway to this outcome. As technology improves, the way in which we collect, manage and analyse this data has been made much easier.
Big data is essential for a business to remain competitive. It doesn’t matter whether you have access to the most high-tech laptops or have the most innovative software solutions you in place, if you cannot analyse the data you are collecting every day, you will not succeed against your competitors.
The way in which an education institute manages this process is no different from that of a large enterprise business. You need a solution that will allow you to easily access and move the data around and an infrastructure that can scale up and down in response to surges in the data collection. For example, there will be times of the year, such as around exam time, where lots of data will be created but then over the summer holidays this will drop dramatically.
Conferences like EduTECH remind us of the importance technology plays in every aspect of the education sector. From providing teaching aids and improving practices to running student management systems and finance departments, now is the time for education institutes to transform.