When we hear the term connected school we often think this refers to the connections that teachers have with their students, or the connection between the school and parents, or the school and teachers.
However, at the back of these connections are a complex network of systems that are all interacting to facilitate the flow of information and resources to support student learning. These connected schools are using their systems to provide transparency to their structures and processes, so they function effectively, but at the heart of these connected schools is the visibility of all their data and seamless flow of communication.
Let us consider a school community, brimming with people playing different roles in the education journey.
They include the teachers who are facilitating the teaching and learning process and providing meaningful learning experiences for students, and the School Leadership and administrators who are focused on managing the business of the school in a way that effectively provides a flow of information and communication to parents. In schools without a connected network of systems, these key roles function in isolation as they are using a range of different systems to get the information they require. They have no internal blood stream connecting them and so must function totally separately, resulting in significant frustration and a feeling that they are always playing catch-up as they don’t have the data they require at their fingertips.
Many schools are using a SEQTA, Synergetic combination to support all their users’ needs as they want only one technology partner that unifies their systems, improves efficiencies and connects their whole school community.
The teachers use SEQTA for their teaching and learning requirements and the administrators use Synergetic for their key business processes. For example, Finance, HR, Enrolments, and Alumni Managers, Human Resources, Enrolments.
The two systems seamlessly connect, providing visibility to the data that teachers require. For example, a teacher wants to contact a parent, the data is displayed in SEQTA under the Student Information Panel, however this information is being consumed straight from Synergetic. This means that teachers stay in the SEQTA ecosystem and access all the key parent and student data stored in Synergetic without having to access that system. Data is regularly synchronised ensuring that the most up to data information is always on display. Many schools also want the attendance data teachers have entered in SEQTA to write back to Synergetic and this can also be done.
Finally, the SEQTA Engage parent portal can be used by schools to surface much of the key Synergetic data that parents require. For example, Payments, Finance, My Details, Events etc to name a few options. Schools can also elect to surface some of the key student data stored in Synergetic straight into SEQTA Learn, the student portal. For example, Excursions, Events, Electives. The beauty of this connection is that parents only have to access one system, SEQTA Engage and they can do this on any device, phone, iPad or computer.
What these examples illustrate is that for a school to be truly connected they need to ensure that data flows freely from one system to the next to provide all users with value-adding information that’s immediately relevant to them. It must provide all users with data visibility and transparency of communication. Your systems must work seamlessly, be instant and most importantly – automatic.
When you are next look at changing your systems make sure you go back to your core purpose, supporting student learning and then consider how your systems and processes will also support your parents, teachers and leaders. Ask the hard questions, ‘to what extent do our current systems and processes facilitate the flow and visibility of data? How are these systems helping to connect us as a school community? If they are not keeping you connected, then it is time to change.
Senior Education Consultant
Education Horizons Group