In order to complete the assignment of the “Brick work” I had to research how the system I was looking into affected the other systems. In this case the system I was looking at was the student informational system (SIS). While looking at this system I had to also pay attention to how this system interacted with our assessment system both in input and output of data. I also needed to plan for what might happen in the future, did we want one system to do everything. At first that might sound as a positive but what if that system went down for maintenance or other issues. If the system is integrated into everything we do it would affect everything we do, which could bring our day to a standstill.
Do to this I found this “brick work” enlightening because it allowed me to plan not only for now, but for the future and to go a step further and plan for what might be. At this time, our district might be looking to replace just the SIS, but with the help of the “brick” we may star looking at replacing everything we do electronically through a integrated SIS, LMS and assessment tool. We might not replace anything if the current SIS evolves into a more robust system. Thus the "brick tool" allowed for the development of plan for replacement if there is a need to do that.
As I researched the information regarding the testing requirements for the SBAC I realized how important it is to understand what the purpose of technology will be before purchasing the technology. I mentioned this because when our school first purchased the Chromebooks we did not know the requirements for SBAC at the time but the people who were guiding us through the process did which allowed us to make a purchase that fulfilled two purposes for our school. Without this guiding hand we might had purchased 100k worth of equipment without been able to use it for testing.
Additionally, another thing that I discovered was that it is important to have back up systems to your systems or a plan B. Recently we discovered that our Chromebooks are not capable of implementing text to speech, which is an accommodation that 15 of our students required. Because of this we realized that our computer lab that is used for other purposes that can be used for testing because our Macs are able to provided this accommodation.
While I work at a small district that is comprise of only two schools decisions are still difficult to make. From curriculum decisions, to vendors for our meal programs, decisions are made with the final goal of increased student achievement. Technology is no different, every decision that is made needs to be made with that in mind, while also understanding that decision need to be made based on data, system and application integration and student privacy in mind. This is the reason why it is important educational programs need to have a systematic process when making these decisions. It is too easy to make decisions based on a gut feeling or a need at that moment but those types of decisions usually lead to redundancy, waste or even issues such as data breaches or privacy issues.
Based on this last module I have begun to look at my district decision-making progress in a different way. While in the past I saw decisions as systematic I was never fully aware of how time and priority aspect of it. By this I mean that in the past, I would see every decision as immediate (within the academic year) and did not look two or three years into the future, which as a leader I believe it is important to do. Additionally, when making decisions I would also want to cover everything within that window of a year. Now as I look at the different business units, systems, application and personnel we have I have begun to priorities decisions based on which ones will be the most important to implement but also which will take the longest in order to begin the planning process of implementation.
Education does not operate in a bubble and the work done in module 7 and 8 allows for stakeholders to have data available to them that will provide information to them to become part of the discussion as well as the solutions to the decisions needed to increase student achievement.
As with everything in life there are many ways to accomplish a task. When we discuss teaching, many teachers understand that when you are teaching writing this task is not an isolated exercise but one that involves, structure, critical thinking an grammar, for example. The same can be said about systems that are in place for the business of educating children.
At the district I currently work there are several applications that all perform distinct functions but to a large extent do not share information with one another, which leads to redundancy and loss time because of the need to verify that information is being uploaded and fed into each application. In order to clarify and unify these systems I would create a systematic approach at reviewing which applications are essential and which are creating redundancy. The review of applications would allow the stakeholders to discover what functions are necessary for the continuation of the business service as well as which applications can create synergy across the various systems. Based on this information we can begin to look for ways to either replace those applications with new applications that could do more than one task across more than one service or harness the full potential of the current application. It is important to recognize that many applications are used in systems because the full utilization of an application has not been discovered or implemented.
Finally, another way to unify the systems would be to conduct a review of the applications in place for each business service and analyze which process can be automated across applications in order to feed and gather data with the minimization of human input.