Revealed: Early Findings from the State of IT in Education Survey 2018

Written by: Paul Sweeney | January 22, 2018

So far, two statistics in particular have stood out. Here we look at what these statistics say, how you might be affected, and why they could be happening.

Since November last year, IT professionals from schools, colleges, and universities across the UK have been putting their hands up to the challenges they are experiencing in the industry today.

Already, members of IT staff from over 80 education organisations have shared their responses. While it’s still early days, this strong initial response has enabled us to take a look at some of the findings that have started to emerge.

IT in uk education

Two statistics in particular have stood out for us, suggesting that the uptake and integration of IT across school networks is raising problems as quickly as it’s solving them. Here we look at what these statistics say, how you might be affected, and why they could be happening.

1. Almost 45% of respondents said staffing, demand vs the ability to deliver, and faulty or outdated equipment were their biggest headaches

Together, these currently sit above budgetary challenges (30%), suggesting IT heads and other network professionals are less concerned about tightening budgets and more concerned about the potential impacts of this out in the school.

  • Could the uptake of BYOD policies be putting greater pressure on IT teams to maintain seamless network availability?
  • Could increasing integration across schools be stretching IT resources beyond realistic capabilities?
  • Could outdated equipment be leading IT specialists to ‘firefight’ on a case-by-case basis, instead of allowing them to operate more efficiently?

Nor does this appear to be an issue relating solely to manpower. Of the responses we have heard from so far, over half have highlighted that the level of knowledge across teams is actually insufficient compared to the ever-expanding list of systems in use.

“59% agree that an ever-expanding list of IT systems leaves knowledge stretched and diluted.”

There are many potential reasons why IT managers are reporting resources being stretched, which are difficult to determine for certain without a one-on-one conversation. What we can say for certain is that a lack of resources is inevitably followed by a plethora of other operational issues—with impacts as far reaching as the classroom and students’ learning.

To have a one-to-one conversation about how limited resourcing is affecting your school network, get in touch.

2. 46% of respondents put staff training first when asked what they would change to solve IT challenges

With the pressing need for departments to contend with a growing list of systems and technologies, it’s perhaps unsurprising that training appeared as a lead priority when IT managers were asked what they would do differently to better overcome their workplace challenges.

A working knowledge of the technologies in use is essential to ensure they are reliable, fast, and secure, but this seems to be creating a great deal of stress on overstretched departments. It’s also worth considering that as technology has developed, the remit of IT departments has grown significantly over the past few years, bringing it into contact with almost every corner of the school.

Training should extend into the classroom

When we asked what the biggest challenge is for the effective use of client devices, a lack of teacher training came top with 36% of the vote.

Overall it seems that IT departments are facing pressures to invest in client devices when in fact better education is needed to both understand the wider scope of IT infrastructure (and thus the importance it needs to hold) and integrate technology effectively into the classroom.

In fact, 80% agreed that the importance of an IT infrastructure upgrade is often undervalued by senior staff members who would prefer to see more tangible results of expense such as new devices or online resources.

With an already overstretched department, a lack of understanding around the importance of the wider IT infrastructure could be degrading the overall performance of the devices they are investing in.

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