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An Augmented Education System

Robert Dickson, CIO, Wichita Public School

Starting the journey

After my tenure in the air force concluded, I started in the education sector as a network engineer. The implementation of information technology within the education space has helped in reducing the mess around our workplaces and has shifted focus to the core problems while taking care of more prominent issues autonomously. The advantages of an Enterprise Resource Planning system implementation in the education sector start from its cost-effectiveness, to maintain an efficient system. Now, maintaining a pile of paperwork has become entirely hassle-free, which provided me an excellent opportunity to educate our future leaders; individuals that are associated in a similar area have already achieved something that goes far beyond what their salary is.

Rise of the internet and its impact on the educational sector

Over time, I've witnessed the growth of the internet and realized the need for digital literacy in our district. The digital world offers tremendous benefits to us all. Employers expect their workforce to acquire the skills needed to live, work, and thrive in a digital environment. I think our workforce is vast because people aren’t retiring anymore like they used to. Additionally, others entering the workforce have relevantly newer skill sets, which immediately create a huge disparity in digital literacy skills within the educational spectrum. For an educational institution, a comprehensive suite of web-applications can automate every activity within a school, right from conducting the student admission, managing their attendance, fees and examination, employee payroll, and much more.

  I think it's essential to understand that every person has a need and desire to be a lifelong learner today as technology continues to change our society​  

Key trends that have taken over the education sector

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is gaining prominence. Integration of IaaS and SaaS, with a simple-to-use and learning-based approach, stands as one such unique cloud-based avenues that encourage both teachers and students to access teaching and training modules through their smartphones and laptops. Implementation of IaaS has drastically reduced the time, expenditure and infrastructure, which educational institutions require to reach new markets. Schools and colleges will achieve operational efficiency with centralized control while the students become more engaged with the options available to them. I've been a part of complex ERP reimplementation, and traditionally, the first 20 to 25 percent of those ERP related tasks would be implementing the hardware and software requisites. Looking at adopting cloud strategies, one starts with end-users in mind. Generally, a cloud app always has external access whenever you start provisioning IaaS in the education sector. All of those things still need to co-exist with each other, whether they reside within your network and infrastructure or not.

There’s also a particular interest in deploying machine learning to make decision-making processes easier. The education sector utilizes large data warehouses to streamline the learning process.

And, I think, we're just coming to the cusp of utilizing some of those modern technologies to make some well-informed visions.

Selecting the right technology

I prefer design-thinking technology. Responses from end-users provide us with a lot of crucial information, making sure that we stand tall as great service providers. So it's essential to gather feedback before deploying design-thinking strategies and coming up with solutions. It is also imperative to allow the end-users to have an insight as to how that solution should work. Previously, we have collaborated with Microsoft in a project called Compass. Their design-thinking strategies were implemented to gain insights on the user’s needs by gathering feedback. And, then those were adjusted and tailored along with the development of the product. Looking back, the reimplementation of an ERP system is a daunting task.

The driving factors behind the success

As you take up the mantle of a leader, it's important to understand the emotional intelligence factor that you possess as a figurehead and how to utilize relationships to maneuver the organization the way it needs to shift. We have moved from a traditional data center to a cloud-based infrastructure and so the roles and responsibilities of such people that oversee those types of initiatives have evolved along the way. The cloud has continued revolutionizing the educational route and has made it available to even the remote and the less-privileged strata of the society, and it is crucial to understand the necessity for education that needs to develop to help people that are maturing. I'm going to produce, release and distribute a weekly podcast about the natural shift that we're making as a district via multiple media platforms and modalities to make sure that the audiences get the message in a retentive way.

Advice to Peers

One has to continually learn and understand methodologies rather than specific technologies because the methods would allow you to almost adopt upcoming technology. For an educational institution, an ERP platform comes as a comprehensive suite of applications that can automate every activity of a school, right from conducting the student admission, managing their attendance, fees and examination, employee payroll to their recruitment and much more. In short, an ERP provides schools with an ample number of choices to streamline their educational institute and related activities. As of now, ERP solutions are beginning to make some of those administrative decisions easier. But, the basic methodological approaches with which we proceed are going to allow us to evolve as a person.

See Also:

Top Education Technology Solution Companies

Top Education Technology Consulting/Services Companies

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