Saturday, 8 October 2016

Does your school have a legacy spaghetti network? - Digital Governance Part One

Does your school have a
legacy spaghetti network?
Most school IT systems have evolved with well-meaning enthusiasts in the vanguard of the IT revolution: a school management system here, a time-tabling package there; a laptop programme in Physics, an iPad programme in French; a great app for English teaching here, a graphing package for Maths there.
Most school networks are testimony to at least a decade of anarchy. 
It is common for schools to hold data in multiple databases and to use a range of local, network and web-based packages which aren't integrated. Each new teacher and administrator joining the school brings great new ideas and 'innovation' and, with it, even more complexity to an already overloaded system. The result is what Information Systems experts term legacy spaghetti.
Ultimately this situation is a failure of a past school leadership which did even know they needed to understand how IT systems work before setting them up. Such an oversight is both understandable and forgivable for it was a time when IT expertise was not part of the school leader's toolkit, but it does pose a significant challenge for today’s school leader.
Why is legacy spaghetti a problem? 
‘Legacy spaghetti schools’ are tying themselves up in more and more layers of complexity that mean that pupils, teachers and school administrators are wasting precious time and resources. At some point the school reaches a point (and perhaps yours is already there) when the whole system begins to run so slowly that upgrades and simply adding more RAM and Terabytes just won't solve the problem. In the long run legacy spaghetti means that the school network will no longer be fit for purpose will prevent schools from keeping up with innovation. Resolution of these historic issues is possible but it does require strong Digital Leadership today and good Digital Governance going forward.

In Part Two Digital Governance - What it is and why you need it in your school I will explore what is Digital Governance and how schools can put it in place.

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