4 min read
It is nothing new to those in the education system – administration is a burden. In 2018 Understanding work in schools: the foundation of teaching and learning report found “The administrative demands currently placed on schools are debilitating, curtailing teachers’ scope to focus on teaching and learning and having serious implications for the sustainability of the teaching profession.”
Following this there was a new found enthusiasm around reducing the administrative burden, highlighted again by the recent Gallop Inquiry and report addressing administrative burdens on the profession and recommending they “be urgently reinvigorated”. But unfortunately across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional challenges and significant stressors in relation to the education system. The pandemic required a very sudden shift to remote learning, and teachers were called upon to support students’ academic development and well-being throughout this shift, while also navigating new technologies, adversity and stress in their own day to day operations.
Now Industry Executives say there is no turning back. This shift to remote learning has accelerated the spread of laptops and learning apps in schools, normalising digital education tools for millions of teachers, students and their families. They are often introduced as “easier”, “cheaper” and more innovative but unfortunately it takes more time and resources to train teachers in new technology and most of these systems are not designed for the specific learning needs of the majority of students. It is also important to consider geographical location and access to technology. Given the reliance on internet connection online learning can be a disadvantage for rural and remote schools with patchy internet access and a lack of accessibility to hardware. Whilst in some locations almost all students have access to a device, other areas how found themselves with only 60%* of the student population being able to learn online. This is problematic for several reasons, firstly it increases the equity gap between students from low and high socio-economic backgrounds. This issue is particularly challenging for teachers based in schools that straddle several demographics, leading to various differentiation strategies having to be implemented at any one time. Secondly it increases the administration burden on teachers who are designing both online content whilst developing resources and curricula for delivery via hard copy. Teachers are able to provide real time feedback to students online, whilst students working offline often have to wait hours or days for comments on their work.
On top of these demands teachers are being asked to access multiple systems including multiple learning platforms, enrolment and attendance databases, performance tracking software and wellbeing programs. The use of multiple systems is not only confusing but can also result in lost information between platforms. Factor into this to the current push for data collection on teaching performance to ensure ‘quality of teaching’ is consistent within education settings and you have a ‘perfect storm’ that leads to dissociation with the profession and high staff turnover**.
Therefore we need to consider what technology and practices will support educators in doing their job without adding to the administrative burden. Whilst there have been some recent commitments by governments to implement systems and technology that do this, the pandemic has shone a light on how ineffective these really are. Most individuals pushing government directives do not have teaching experience and therefore do not understand users’ needs. This is evident from the multiple systems teachers are still using, the inflexible approach to supporting students’ individual needs and the focus on collecting predominantly numerical data through summative assessment, rather than regular formative check-ins that track progress regularly over time.
The main reason for the increase in the administrative burden to teachers has been identified through the analysis of multiple learning and enrollment platforms. Minimal to no UX or UI research conducted by Department’s of Education and other educational settings as it is not a priority. Products are designed to fit strategic directions and take into account little user need, thereby taking teachers away from teaching to complete menial tasks.
This is where Eds. can help. We provide educators with high impact professional learning in key areas such as data collection, visualisation and analytics centered around educational outputs. We can design and develop simple, user-friendly systems that interface with your current processes. We develop APIs to ensure no data is lost and educators only have to complete data one entry per student. We develop data strategy, establishing what your key goals are, what you are trying to achieve and what level of data will help you achieve this. We also create systems all can access whilst ensuring the correct level of security to keep sensitive information private.
At Eds. we are driven by an in-depth understanding of the demands that face educators everyday and we look forward to supporting you in reducing the administrative burden in your system.
Get in touch for a chat today.
** Sokal, L., Eblie, L. and Jeff Babb, T. Canadian teachers’ attitudes toward change, efficacy, and burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic, International Journal of Educational Research Open, Volume 1, 2020.
*The student experience of online learning in Australian higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic. TEQSA. Accessed 06/09/2021 https://www.teqsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/student-experience-of-online-learning-in-australian-he-during-covid-19.pdf?v=1606953179