Tuesday 12 March 2019

Schools: Why tech projects fail

Appy Hour @Rustenburg Girls' High

1. Insufficient/ineffective teacher training

When asked what the most important factor is when considering a technology project in a school, my answer would have to be to employ someone like me! As arrogant as that may sound, I argued recently that teachers are the most important people in a school. Equipping them with the skills they need to be successful when embracing new ways of teaching (because let’s be honest - for it to work properly there would have to be some changes to the way in which lessons are taught) is essential if you want your tech project to be a success. Yes, you can make use of 3rd party providers like education resellers (who generally have amazing trainers!) but how often are you actually going to get them into your school? When are you going to slot it into the timetable?

Having someone on staff who is on-hand to deliver regular training (timetabled if possible!) is the best way to give your teachers access to the support they need. Working with technology is a lot like learning a new language - you need to do a little bit, often.

2. Not enough money spent on infrastructure

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

It is absolutely useless having all the right hardware without the backbone of infrastructure to support it; having reliable Wi-fi that both students and teachers can connect to consistently is what makes using technology a pleasure. When the tech gets in the way of learning, it becomes a problem. That is when teachers fall back to the old way of doing things, and you can hardly blame them! You also can not expect your teachers to be the experts when it comes to solving tech related (connectivity) issues - they are the content experts and should focus on delivering amazing lessons.

Along with having solid Wi-fi, I would also recommend having access to a very reliable Mobile Device Management system. I have worked with good ones and bad, and can honestly say that spending the time and money to choose a decent system will be so worth it in the long run. Being able to deploy apps and restrictions to all the devices in your organisation from any internet connected device has truly changed the way in which I work. We use Zuludesk and I would recommend them in a heartbeat.

3. Vision/direction doesn't come from the top

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Having worked with schools where the programme to integrate technology into their teaching and learning has failed, the common denominator is often that the vision to implement change does not come from the top, ie the principal. 
It is fantastic when you have excited young teachers looking to be innovative and create learning experiences that are authentic and stimulating, but without the support of and drive from the management team, it is usually an uphill battle. It is the principal who leads his team to see the big picture and when the management and the governing body buy into the idea, it is easier to relay this to staff and also allocate the necessary funds!

These are by no means the only reasons why projects fail, although I would argue that these would be up there on most people's list. Every situation is unique and needs to be handled as such, but making sure these 3 things are in place will put you on the front foot from the word go.

Let me know if you disagree!

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