Imperative of Investing in Technology to Improve Student Outcomes

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Stephen Ovadje

In today’s interconnected, dynamic world, technology is disrupting and revolutionising all aspects of our daily lives. Facebook and other social media platforms have fundamentally changed the way we interact with each other, Amazon and Jumia have changed the way we purchase items, Netflix has completely revamped the entertainment industry, and the list goes on.

Education has not been left out of this disruption; new technologies such as virtual reality, robotics, and artificial intelligence are changing how students access, and how teachers deliver lessons.

In the Nigerian context, although we are a long way from having such technologies being applied ubiquitously throughout the sector, there are basic technologies that we can begin to embrace today to improve productivity of teachers and administrative staff, strengthen controls, and improve the quality of the education that is being delivered to students in order to improve their outcomes.

School performance management platforms are designed to help schools automate manual processes, digitalise school records, modernise their data management processes, and leverage data that has been digitised to drive smarter decision making by administrators and teachers.

This concept of converting data into actionable insights (analytics) drives competitive advantage for companies in key industries across the globe and can be groundbreaking for our education sector if its power is properly harnessed. Data has the potential to transform education into a personalised experience that meets the needs of individuals and ensures that no student is lost along the way.

In a school where data is digitalised, analytics can provide positive benefits that cut across key stakeholders in the education ecosystem. Analytics can inform teachers of student performance at a level of detail that is unavailable to them in an analogue environment. They can use that data to establish tailored learning strategies to help students grow. Today, it is easy for a teacher to have a sense of which students are at the top or the bottom of the class; however, it is just as easy for them to miss those students that may either be on the verge of excelling in or failing a subject. Well-designed school performance management systems provide warning systems and insights to help teachers not only to identify those students that are “lost in the middle” but also highlight specific areas where students may need attention. A teacher can go from having a broader conversation about a student failing math, to a more productive, focused, conversation on a student’s need to improve in algebra.

Parents can get insights into areas where their children need support at home and can be active participants in helping their children on the path to success. With the right technology, parents no longer have to wait till designated reporting periods to find out how their children are performing, that information can be available on demand, as easily as they may check their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Students can also take ownership of their own education journey, as they have clear insights into their strengths and areas of improvement.

School leaders can get better insights into best practices within their schools, benchmark performance across teachers, make timely, data-driven decisions, and ensure that resources are prioritised to support great teaching and improvement of student learning.

At the policy-making level, local, state, and federal education agencies would benefit greatly from an ability to access aggregate school and student data in a standardised format to aid more efficient allocation of resources, identifying high performing “model” schools, and keying in on schools where the most support is needed in driving better outcomes for students.

Every child deserves an education that affords them the best opportunity to achieve the highest potential in life, and to become positive, productive citizens that will make a positive impact on our society. Each student has a unique background, unique strengths, weaknesses, and paths to success. All stakeholders in the education ecosystem, especially parents and educators, need the right data, at the right time to help students along their individual journeys.

Ovadje, is the Co-Founder of Acadaplus,