Reflection: Schools are often working against themselves as there are distinct applications for various needs:
In the district that I am evaluating for this class, I see the draw of various departments to have their own systems and processes for their tasks. Teachers have instructional sheets on the various processes to follow based on the department they need to contact. This causes confusion and wasted time for the teachers, who have more important things to do, lesson plan, grade, tutor, etc…
Identifying the problem is the easy part. Solving it is more difficult. Districts don’t purchase a wide array of counterintuitive systems just for the fun of it. Most departments have compelling reasons why they need a particular program. HR, for example, has confidentially (social security numbers, background checks, bank account information, emergency contact information) needs that other departments don’t. Teaching and learning have specific needs that are integral to the mission of the school district, educating students. Back office systems and supplemental systems are also specific to their functions.
So again, how do we rectify the problem and make the systems more streamline? As with any big decision, we need to gather data, and evaluate it. The systems themselves need to be studied for functionality, purpose, ease of use, security, among others. Once this evaluation is complete the district should employ an Enterprise Architecture like approach to determine if any uses cross departments. If they do, then it should be possible to purchase, or create, a system that is multifaceted enough for all stakeholders to use.
Many products currently on the market claim to be a one stop shop for district needs. As much as I would like to believe that products like this truly do exist, I have to be hesitant until I see them in action. Pearson makes Power School, which according to them, “technical ecosystem for district and school ... operations.” This is one system that could be evaluated by the Enterprise Architecture group mentioned above. If it does provide a complete ecosystem, then this can alleviate many difficulties that districts encounter.