As education and technology merge it may seem like the next logical step would be to merge the district’s “education plan” and “technology plan”. Proponents of this would argue that merging both of these plans would create efficiency due to how much technology is part of education. In a typical school year technology is part of education in various forms, including and not limited to lesson delivery, research and assessment. Yet, there is an argument to be had about what the purpose of a technology plan that does not include education or not directly at least.
When discussing a technology plan in education it is important to realize that some business services that help in education of children do not necessarily impact what happens in the classroom directly. For example, business services such human resources might need to be part of the technology plan for the district but not necessarily the “education plan”. It is not to say that the department of human resources doesn’t impact education but some elements of it are not directly related to it.
However, there is a valid point in combining many elements of a district’s education plan and technology plan. More so when each of them impact the other, for this reason most of the information found in technology plans created by districts should merge with the previously mentioned education plans. There should still be two separate plans, but the technology plan should cover areas that do not affect the education of students directly and the education plan should become more robust with the addition of technology.
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.
After reviewing the California Law Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA) I have become aware of the importance of student data safety for the purposes of advertising. In order to comply with the law and maintain student information safe under SOPIPA I would advise the district leaders with the following steps several steps.
Based on my analysis of the district my advice would be for the leadership team to become experts in the many laws that govern student data and privacy protection in order to become compliant with SOPIPA.
After this weeks lesson I realized how much experience plays a part in making decision at an administrator level. I say this because when I make decisions at my school my focus is too narrow because I haven't had to deal with the larger picture yet. Better said, I haven't had the opportunity to work in a bigger district where the flow of information is much larger and from many different DATA points.
As I read about the different standards I realize how complex integrating systems can be and how having the right standard for your systems is crucial for those systems to operate the way you want to. Beyond this, I also realized how security is an issue that can't be ignored and that there needs to be an effort by leaders, both tech knowledgeable and no tech knowledgeable to understand the need for security over functionality.
This is where current state and future state planning is important because if we as educational leaders want to make the most of this surge in technology and education. We need to make sure that we plan with security and interoperability in mind. Without security, parents and the community will not want the use of technology in the classroom and without interoperability the systems that will be put in place will not be as efficient as possible.
After developing and creating module 4 I realized that when discussing technology their needs to be a clear structure as to not become boggled down in the details. As a person who loves technology one of my biggest issues is that I become so involved on small details that I have forgotten to focus on the big picture. While creating the current state architecture I began to realize how many of the systems at our school work together for a common goal, my narrow view of looking at technology through the lens of a teacher started to go away and I began to see our district as a full functioning organization with many working parts. I knew this before but my mentality was so focus toward the classroom that I dismiss to a certain extent any other business system.
Once the current state architecture was developed I began to develop the future state architecture and this is where I began to see a big need for our district. Our need at this time and this is something we have begun to have discussions, as of this week on, is the need to integrate our many systems into less platforms and have greater access to information and data because of it. This type of discussion from my part would not of happened if I hadn’t taken a look at the future state of the district from many different business systems. Narrowing your view to the classroom is important because that is where the vision and mission of the school should show results but expanding the view to all other business systems allows us to see how everything has an influence toward that goal.
After reading about Business Architecture through the various readings in the course I discovered that the district, which is compose of two small schools, is in need to develop a more concise Business Architecture. As I reviewed the processes and systems in our district there was a lack of an explicit alignment between the different systems and processes and the mission and vision of the school. This is not to say that the systems do not function, but they are not from my discovery, as effective as they need to be. For example, one thing that I discovered was that many of the decisions that are made are not thoroughly vetted which leads to confusion at every level of the organization. The district is able to make quicker decisions than bigger districts, but this comes at a cost that leads to under utilization of the human capital and many other resources present at our district. Having said this, this year there has been a shift to creating processes that allow various inputs into the decision making process of the different business units.
One system that is currently use at our school is The Open Group Architecture Forum which involves the decision making process on how certain business decisions will be made. If we can redefine this process and have all stakeholders learn the process I believe this will allow our district to reach the levels we all want for our students. As mentioned before, we are beginning to utilize this system for many decisions but we are still at the beginning of this process. Ultimately our goal as a school is to increase student achievement and we do strive for that when decisions are made but the process is still lacking structure and specific processes for decision making.
As for myself, as I learn more about Enterprise Architecture and Business Architecture I have begun to realize how important is to have a structure for making decisions when working with technology and that having input from various stakeholders is critical in order to not duplicate or create redundancy when not needed and to create redundancy when it is needed.