Information Technology

The ICT Goals of Kyalami Schools

In and of itself, the technologies surrounding Information Technology are in flux. Embracing Information Technology is therefore not about implementing any specific programme or undergoing any specific capitalisation project. Instead it is about managing the process of change that is occurring within the sector, and leveraging its immense potential for the benefit of our product and our processes.

Information Technology enables us to:

  • explore varied types of education processes that have not been possible before;
  • have better academic management to ensure that, within the parameters of our education system, we are meeting the needs of the students in our schools
  • employ better management processes within and across our schools

Underpinning these functions is a stable and reliable infrastructure that is well maintained and well managed, accessible to teachers to encourage collaboration and communication, and secure enough to be trusted with management requirements.

1. Education

Central to our function as schools is the education of children. Thus all technology decisions must be made with the improvement of our education practices at heart. Kyalami Schools must aim to be synonymous with cutting edge educational practices and Information Technology integration into the classroom in order to remain a relevant education force in the 21st century.

The purpose of ICT in the classroom is two-fold: firstly, to aid and assist the pedagogy directly (e.g. through simulations or applications) or indirectly (e.g. through research and knowledge discovery), and secondly to provide pupils “real” access to relevant tools and technologies that will be relevant in their careers.

The IT Departments in each school feel strongly that ICT not be limited to a computer lesson once a week – although these remain important to teach fundamental skills – but instead be incorporated in relevant ways in all subjects. Again, this is not necessarily to directly enhance the pupil’s ICT skills, but to allow for alternative methods of learning.

The IT Departments in each school should stand to support the education processes that happen in each classroom and in every subject. The goal of an ICT lesson is therefore not simply to teach computer literacy nor even proficiency of an application. Instead, at a functional level, principles such as “transference” should be emphasised to ensure that skills are not seen in isolation but instead contribute to a greater whole.

2. Academic Management

One of the great benefits that ICT allows is the fast analysis of data. Schools collect a vast amount of academic-related data, but traditionally use very little of it (averages and aggregates, typically, are all that are looked at). It is important that school are able to make informed decisions about the education processes that happen every day.

To this end, it is a crucial point that the schools are able to implement an academic management system that meets these requirements.

I consider it an advantage that I am directly involved with the development of ADAM – a product that is now used by some prominent schools including Hilton College and St Alban’s. Regardless of whether the KS group continues to use ADAM or moves to an alternative administration system, having had someone with my level of experience in these systems means that any replacement system will have both the necessary education and management features that we require.

3. Corporate Management

Information Technology is central to the functioning of any modern corporations, but for many reasons, schools have been slow to make that transition. These reasons are largely governed by the cost implication of having systems set up and the necessary training done. The cash flow of a school does not allow for sudden expenditure.

Given that our management structure is now spread across three campuses, it will become increasingly important that electronic systems are used across the campuses to streamline and improve productivity of the schools’ internal management structures.

Systems for more efficient information sharing (both internally and externally to the schools and the group) and urgently needed.

In order to realise this goal, however, will require a management commitment to such systems and their committed mandate to the staff to make use of such systems.

From a professional development perspective, management at the schools must insist on ICT-related professional development and appraisal for every member of staff involved in academic and administrative functions at the school.

Such professional development can occur in-house (we do have a pool of expertise which can be tapped) and externally. The focus of such professional development must be related to job function. Thus teachers generally attend more education and pedagogical development whereas administrators and management require more administrative skills.

Communication with the school stakeholders is important and easily facilitated by competent management systems. These include e-mail, SMS, websites, social media and other customised notification systems (such as the “D6 School Communicator”). A consolidative process needs to be carried out to ensure that schools are using the best possible systems to reach their audiences.

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