By Tony Gilbert, National Education Specialist at New Era IT
Some of the most intriguing rhetoric that I have heard recently concerns the cost of ‘moving to the cloud’.
Those of you that know me know I have a very low tolerance for the gap between people’s theory and what the reality is.
Since the establishment of New Era 22 years ago, our drive has been to make meaningful change for teachers and students in New Zealand schools. It hasn’t always been easy, particularly in an ICT driven world that is rapidly changing and is prone to flashy lights and fads. Despite these challenges, we’ve continually prided ourselves on “running interference” so that the schools and communities can spend their valuable resources in a responsible, efficient way.
New Era’s Approach to the Cloud
When it comes to the Cloud, New Era’s approach is simple: To guide the journey, driven by the specific needs of each school community. We account for what you need, what you want, and most importantly when you want it. We leverage our infrastructure, our competency and our technology partners to ensure that solutions are tailored to meet school’s needs right now and in the future.
In our classrooms, we carefully monitor the experience our students have with tools and technologies to ensure an appropriate and exponential level of success. We know that making things too difficult, or not providing the right support, can lead to demotivation and disengagement. It is no different for staff. New Era strives to responsibly work with school’s to embrace change in a way that means they can not only become more efficient but can become innovative and engaging with their students.
Should the Cloud be Free?
Some technology providers state that the cloud should be free; we agree. Our Approach Remains the Same as it always has: Guiding schools on their technology journey.
However, teaching is more than the sum of its parts. The tools cannot replace the trade, and now the tools are free. Schools have the opportunity to rethink their journey by investing in quality support, devices and training or by taking their time to avoid “big bang” changes which disrupt students and teachers.
We all comprise on price at one point or another; more so when external pressures are applied, making us question what the value of something is. When you consider the impact of this decision, however, things change.
Buying decisions in schools impact the education and outcomes for all students, staff, and faculty. Investment decisions in education must be responsible, encompassing factors represent significant value; not the most significant discount. Managing this approach responsibly, especially with something as critical as ICT, will not only change the way students learn but pay off in spades in the future.
Investing in Meaningful Change
With the rapid pace of change, technology is no longer the limiting factor for schools. It’s exciting that we are now at the stage where we can implement a serverless solution congruent with the Schools’ Cloud Transformation Project. Frankly, that’s the easy bit. Lasting and sustainable changes that make a difference to our students is harder to achieve. Although the technological shift is an essential aspect of this, the time and effort come with doing it well.
This is not a new concept, of course. The assumption is always quite similar: That a shift in technology or access to new technologies change (read: improve) how we teach. Unfortunately, there a plenty of examples that prove this isn’t the full equation, such as underused Learning Management Systems, laptops and fancy whiteboards. Still, these examples pale in comparison to what is required to create impactful, meaningful change.
Change in itself is a spiral of enquiry, with each loop bringing further insight and improvement. To be responsible in our approach we must be evidence-based, flexible and put the long-term benefits for learners at the centre. Cloud tools and Software as a Service (SaaS) are both pieces of the puzzle, but they are not the end of the story.
If you’d like to continue the conversation, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share your thoughts with Tony.