This essay is intended to serve as a guideline for HR managers in schools who are aiming to assist educational leaders as a strategic partner in the process of change to achieve a successful ICT especially Tablet implementation. Several researches have been published about the need for change management and knowledge management skills in this field, but without appropriate “IT awareness” HR managers and educational leaders will not be able to manage the implementation plans and change process needed for successful tablet integration. IT is the primary driver of change today and change impacts people. HR managers don’t need IT skills all they will need is “Behavioral IT” skills. The knowledge about “Behavioral IT” is used to cover human behavioral issues in IT driven transition, this can also help in managing change and knowledge to overcome the resistance and challenges people will face according to this IT driven change. A case study from a school in Egypt is therefore included to serve as a proof of concept to the need for “IT awareness” mentioned above.
Change today is mainly IT-Driven Change. The most powerful change agent today is technology particularly, Information Technology (IT). IT is not only the biggest driver of change, IT itself is changing at the fastest pace. Education is facing a big Technology revolution. The rapid and constant pace of change in technology is creating both opportunities and challenges for schools.
Opportunities are, greater access to rich, multimedia content, the increasing use of online course taking to offer classes not otherwise available, and the widespread availability of mobile computing devices that can access the Internet, the expanding role of social networking tools for learning and professional development. The growing interest in the power of digital games for more personalized learning is also a kind of opportunity.
But of course there are also challenges schools have to cope with, like trying to catch up with technology as digital innovations emerge. This requires the upgrade of schools’ technological infrastructure and a planning of new professional development programs.
A few schools were able to keep up with those changes, while many others were not able to keep up with it, creating a digital divide based largely on the quality of educational technology, rather than just simple access to the Internet.
The rapid evolution of educational technologies also makes it increasingly challenging to determine what works best. Five years ago there was a great deal of (new) excitement about low cost laptops for students in so-called ‘developing countries’. In 2012 the IPad or Tablet trend, for instance, became popular in schools as soon as it was released and before any research could be conducted about its educational effectiveness.
The challenge of going 1:1 isn’t the cost as money can be found and sourced and raised either through Public – Private Partnership (PPP) in current developing countries or Public funds in developed countries. It isn’t the technical challenges because we have overcome them before with computer labs and internal networking.
The real challenge is providing schools and those who work in them especially school leaders and HR Managers, as well as IT professionals with the template for how to successfully implement and manage this technology in schools in order to improve learning outcomes.
1. Tablet integration in developed and developing countries
Many countries are trialing the use of Tablets in schools. Tablets will be universally adopted as a learning device in schools in the future. A recent report found that most US schools are testing Tablet devices. Emerging economies in Asia and Eastern Europe have also announced the adoption of Tablets in schools, including South Korea, India, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Turkey and Egypt. Trials have already begun to explore the benefits for children’s learning through the use of Tablets in France, Japan, Singapore and Australia.
While in industrialized countries there are scores of IPad in education projects, in developing countries much of the discussions is around the use of lower cost Android tablets or simple e-book readers.(World bank blog on ICT use in education Submitted by Michael Trucano On Tue, 06/26/2012)
1.2 The digital divide
The term “digital divide” is used to describe unequal access to computers, the Internet, and online information, whether among individuals, communities, or countries. According to the OECD Report, 2013,the globalization of 1:1 initiatives could help reduce the digital divide between developed and developing countries. (OECD Report2013)
Researchers at the OECD have warned about a second digital divide that separates those with the competencies and skills to benefit from computer use from those without.”
Mark Warshauer, 2009 in his research about ICT integration has discussed whether people have the skills and knowledge required to make effective use of digital media and information.
This is the case if an ill-prepared teacher is working with students in a poor, remote, rural community. It is of course possible to introduce new technologies (laptops, tablets) into such learning environments in ways that are useful and indeed powerful but dysfunctional schools may be challenged to support the basic maintenance of ICT equipment and of course poor teaching plus technology is simply expensive poor teaching.
The phenomenon of locked computer labs and unopened in boxes of computers, is much more likely to be observed in schools in low income or challenging environments.
A lack of guidance for change, problems beyond the control of the school, quick-fix solutions, not understanding the human reaction to change, and lack of viable information regarding the change process as a whole, can be the reasons for failure or unsuccessful implementation plans which puts burden on schools.
Many governments in developed and developing countries are having big plans and several pilot projects to achieve an education reform through ICT integration. They are all aware that they have no choice but to join the digital revolution if they want to compete in a global economy. However, educational management structures and governance in developing countries have been majorly bureaucratic particularly in their mode of operation which was based on centralized and top-down control.
Centralization is another challenge developing countries have to cope with. There is no doubt that the lack of School autonomy limits the ability for decision making. School autonomy is essential for empowering school staff to improve education practice: improvement programs, organizational change, efforts to stimulate innovation, participatory decision making and effective practices in many areas, from teacher selection to staff development.
The World Bank therefore kicked off an initiative in 2011 to build a global database of policy documents related to ICT use in education, to aid policymakers assess and benchmark their own policies against those of comparator countries around the world.
1. Vision & planning
2. ICT infrastructure
4. Skills and competencies
5. Learning resources
6. Education management information systems
7. Monitoring & evaluation, research & ‘innovation’
8. Equity, inclusion and safety
Still considerable disparities between developed and developing countries regarding technology integration exist. Developed countries have more resources, knowledge, skills and experience than developing countries. However, developed nations suffer from many of the same challenges and concerns as developing nations, though to different extents.
They suffer from the same concerns of teacher apprehension and motivation, and lack of appropriate educational software and technical support, and the same challenges of providing adequate teacher training, of taking care of infrastructural inadequacies, and implementing learner centered instruction and proper assessment procedures in schools. (Guidelines to policy makers,2005 )
2. School system of the future
The integration of tablets will certainly have advantages and disadvantages and it will take time to overcome the digital divide that it is causing, but on the other hand it will lead to a radical change in the school systems of the future. This change will not only affect the teaching methodologies it will also affect the administrative processes in schools in order to manage tablets and transform learning.
The development of a school platform that facilitates administrative processes and ensures a good communication flow between administration, parents, community and teachers inside the school is a part of the HRM responsibility. This is why they have to collaborate with IT professionals in order to communicate the daily administrative processes and tailor it to their school needs.
As mentioned before radical change will happen in administrative processes especially book administration and school assessment including grading procedures.
Michael Rice in his blog wrote an article about “Tablets in education“. In his article he has written about the foreseeable change in the future administration of tablets. Michael imagined the following scenario:
“Every child receives a dedicated tablet with exclusive registration and pin numbers, equipped with a firewall limiting it to downloading education related texts only, via a technical desk administered by the education department which, in collaboration with existing educational publishers, prepares texts for the entire school curriculum in electronic form. At the beginning of each year the departmental bureau – at the press of a button – distributes the learning materials to each student’s tablet. This is as easy as the mass-distribution of e-mails to thousands of recipients”
He explains the administrative and logistical advantages of this:
“The logistics of ordering, storing, handing out books at the beginning of the academic year and collecting them at the end of the year, will be a thing of the past. In fact, the ‘book room’ as we know it, will most probably disappear as a physical space. The endemic corruption that is part and parcel of the textbook procurement and distribution process should be eliminated, as no funds need to change hands.”
Even if there is no electricity in a rural area, he suggests that a solar panel would be more than enough to charge the batteries of these tablets and connectivity can be solved through the cell phone reception area.
3. The role of HRM in the Tablet integration
Human Resources Management in Education seeks to contribute helpful advice and assistance to educational managers to address numerous management problems and challenges. They should also be able to design the organization by focusing on the capabilities the institution has that are embedded in structure, processes and policies that shape how an organization works. Operational execution is therefore of essence in order to add value.
Change comes from inspirational leadership, but without change ambassadors it is a lonely job at the top. HR professional in a change management team is crucial for the realization of the objective. It is very important that Educational leaders understands the importance of an HRM and his function as a strategic partner in the planning and implementation phase and through the whole process.
HR has never been fully engaged in strategic decision-making, and only partly engaged in the tactical issues of operations. The right people will understand that an HR transformation must be tied to an important business initiative/goal, and it must be systemically managed.
Change management Is a core HR professional skill, It is their Job to plan, execute and coordinate change– They should be able to direct human capital control at pre-change, active change and post change phases.
But the knowledge of change management is not enough for technology integration in schools. HR can play the role of catalyst, particularly in IT-Driven change. Since IT is the primary driver of change today, and change impacts people, HR can team up with IT departments to facilitate a smooth change of attitudes in human resource management, but of course it cannot expand its role in schools without the requisite expertise.
The successful implementation of new technologies is dependent on many factors including the efficient management of human resources. One of these factors is having a proper IT awareness that is needed for such an implementation phase. HR Managers should have both “IT awareness” and enough knowledge about change management to be an effective strategic partner for Educational Managers.
3. “IT awareness” as a new aspect of change in HR
Kamble , 2009 mentioned a third digital divide in his own blog about change and Info Tech management. This divide is between “IT aware“ manager who understand this change management aspect or people aspect of technology and those who just do not understand it. He has written about his experience with those who look at every IT problem as a technical problem and others who know that there is much more to IT implementations than technology.
“IT awareness” is needed for HR managers to take the right decision and hire the right people. It will make it easier for them to help in planning the right infrastructure and in choosing the right devices. Dealing with different suppliers and services, creating the suitable platform for a school management system to facilitate administrative processes and flow of communication between different stakeholders (parents, teachers, administrators, students and community) will need a certain amount of “IT awareness” in order to be able to team up with IT professionals, especially in the first phase of the planning process.
This is a new role for HR in the IT age which strangely HR has not recognized. Continuous technological change implies the need for continuous learning, as they have to be able to assess individual teacher training needs and provide the necessary investments in change and upgrading skills (Ulrich,1998).
The HR Department will have to collaborate with educational leaders and IT professionals in the Tablet integration of schools as they will be responsible for:
- Choosing the right device to meet learning needs
- Choosing the right digital content
- Delivering teacher training and support
- Building the foundation
- Making sure the district is ready
3.1 Professional Development:
Professional Development will not only be provided for teachers, but it will also be needed for Parents, students and Staff in order to avoid future problems and create awareness about managing these devices. It is important to help parents understand the challenges they will face with their children in working with new technologies and how to benefit from this new technology devices for educational purposes. This will reduce the complaints and worries Parents have about their children working with it and will prepare the community for the new change in education.
Schools that have been involved in some of these pilot projects reported that involving parents effectively in the planning stage, and providing training and information, are essential to ensure parental engagement and acceptance. While parents initially had misgivings about Tablets, it helped a great deal if they were given training and support, and reassurances about safety and security. An unexpected but welcome advantage of this process reported by schools was that parents not normally engaged in school activities were keen to attend meetings about the Tablet. The Tablet appeared to offer a connection between school and parents that had not previously existed. (Tablets for schools, Final Report, 2011-12)
3.2 Digital content:
The lack of appropriate educational content can be a challenge to teachers at schools, which will request a larger investment by educational publishers and content providers in innovative and compelling interactive educational content. Teachers will need PD to create their own content, such as interactive iBooks. It is also important to address and discuss Teachers’ concern about connection issues, breakages, classroom distractions, and parental concerns.
Parents’ experience of Tablet devices in school show that, with the right support, many of the initial fears that parents had experienced could be managed. Examples include the way in which the internet was shown to be useful for learning, and teachers remaining aware of the potential for distraction. The use of covers for their tablets to prevent damage, and the reliance on Tablets in lessons, helped pupils to have a vested interest in keeping them safe.(Tablets for schools,2011-12)
On the other hand Security can be a big concern. Firewalls must be in place to prevent viruses and hacking. Each School will have to develop a code of conduct or acceptable user policy (AUP) to ensure responsible and educationally and appropriate use of computer resources in order not to be abused. This AUP should be negotiated by parents, teachers, students and administrators. They have to agree on it for using school technology and personal devices on school property. It should also include regulation on privacy, plagiarizing, and illegal material or behavior on the internet. The right to discipline the students for cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, and cyber-harassment should be part of this user policy. These policies can help head off areas of conflict before they arise. The same should be adapted for the use of modern cell phones or smart phones, as there will be no more logic in banning them in school. On the contrary they should be used for educational purposes.
3.5 Student Leadership
It is also very important to enlist student help in this process. A Student support group activity under the supervision of an It specialist can be established and created in these schools in order to take care of technical problems (for example network maintenance and repair of these devices ) arising suddenly in lessons. Students in each class can join this activity to learn to solve and understand the technical problems related to these Tablets. This will assist teachers in technical problems students may have while they are teaching and it can also help in empowering student’s leadership and teamwork. The more they feel they are making a contribution the more they are likely to be committed in class. The supervision of an It specialist to this group can be extended with a kind of Job shadowing or internship in big companies related to IT and electronic devices.
3.6 HR readiness
But are HRM prepared for this change and challenges? Are they aware that their role is changing and that they need more “IT awareness” than before. Are HRM ready to team up with IT professionals?
Leaders for human resource development in schools are generally found indulged in routine clerical work or in facilities administration rather than developing human resource and creating an environment of motivation. It is argued by Torrington and Hall (1998) that both personnel management and HRM can be present in one organization, sometimes in one person. This is a common case in many schools in developing countries. But this duality can cause tension and ambiguity. Independent of the similarities or differences between
HRM and personnel management, the core business of the HR function is to develop the employees in accordance to the business strategy, select and hire people, train and develop the staff, evaluate their performance, reward them, and create a culture of learning.
Helping stakeholders understand and embrace change is also critical to project success, yet it is hindered by a number of factors: a lack of understanding among leaders of the value of a strategic HR department; a culture that is unaccustomed to thinking of its work in terms of serving customers and solving problems as opposed to completing tasks; a desire to protect special knowledge to preserve one’s position in the organization; profound skepticism toward change programs; environmental impediments to effective communication; and a tendency to underestimate the importance of change management.
Ulrich elaborates on four broad tasks for HR that would allow it to help deliver organizational excellence. First, HR should become a partner in strategy execution. Second, it should become an expert in the way work is organized and executed. Third, it should become a champion for employees. And fourth, it should become an agent of continual change. The primary responsibility for transforming the role of HR, belongs to the CEO, (Ulrich,1998). In this case the Superintendent of the school and to every manager who works with the HR staff.
3.7 Vision & planning
Planning has to start with a clear vision of how the implementation of a particular plan will improve learning outcomes. The school management together with the HR Manager have to ask themselves important questions to create a vision that can be shared. The question should be:
• Where we are at now;
• Where we want to go;
• Why we want to go there;
• The options available to assist us in reaching our destination;
• The resources that we have available to utilize these options.
The most important question is “Why do we purchase tablets? Also “What we want and what we do not want.” These questions will help them share a clear vision that can be accepted by all stakeholders and discussed later on in the school environment context.
However, planning procedures in some schools – in particular ICT planning – seem to be structured around a debate centered on hardware platforms, budget allocations, and the knowledge and personal preferences of support staff with no pedagogical experience.
School ICT planning should start by considering student learning outcomes, then it should work towards the development of Teacher Professional Learning programs and ICT infrastructure that support these outcomes.
Too often schools start their ICT ‘planning’ with the mapping and installation of ICT infrastructure, then try to fit in their curriculum needs into this infrastructure and then some PD at the end. http://www.wazmac.com
4. School transformation and challenges
Many researches are published about the challenges schools face in transforming education. But are all schools managers, administrators, especially HR Managers and It professionals aware of their responsibilities in this transformation process? Transformation is challenging and change is seldom smooth and without troubles
The key to technology supporting and improving educational outcomes is on how well administration, teachers, and the whole school community are supported in both understanding and managing the changes new technology offers.
Flangan and Jackboson (2003), state that merely installing computers and networks in schools is insufficient for educational reform. For this reason it is very important that school leaders should have an awareness of obstacles that limit ICT integration and translate the knowledge into effective approaches of leadership.
As change managers HRM have to analyze the situation, motivate the parties involved in change implementations towards acceptance of this change, and set up public relations with the people (Students, teachers, communities, and administrators) who are affected by the change (Easterby-Smith et al, 2003, pp.63).
It should be noted that changes are mostly rejected by people if they are not made to understand the benefits of this change (Dessler, 2001, pp.26).
The biggest challenge facing teachers today is how to adapt traditional classroom methodologies and teaching styles to make the best use of technology and digital content, which means that teachers will have to become facilitators of understanding rather than purveyors of information.
Training must be tailored for specific needs. Teachers need to know what is available. That is, the content, software and the devices. Different devices have different functions which can be combined in a variety of ways with different methodologies. For example, interactive whiteboards can be linked to tablets or readers in the classroom so that the teacher can see at a glance how individual students are coping and which ones need supplementary or stimulus material. Teachers need help to evaluate, develop and use digital content; to use search engines efficiently and to find open source content.
It is therefore necessary to explain to teachers the benefits of technology integration in terms that make it absolutely clear for them, that they are not about to be given extra work. If they don’t understand, adoption will fail. It has also to be clear to them that if they don’t adopt they will risk being outdated in their profession.
When teachers or other employees in educational organizations are required to do things differently, their habitual ways are disrupted (Pugh, 1974, pp.56). As they try to eliminate the old responses and learn the new change, they tend to feel awkward or uncomfortable. People focus mainly on what they will have to give up when they accept the change (Moe, T. and Chubb, 2009, pp.34). It is therefore of great importance for the leaders to acknowledge the loss of the old ways and should not be frustrated with irrational or tentative responses to change. Administrators and teachers need to change
- their practices and behavior
- their beliefs and understanding
4.1 Practices and behavior
To understand the behavioral aspect of teachers, I will use Prem Kamble’s theory to explain why this resistance of technology happens and why this problem of acceptance appears. In his point of view it is a historical, psychological and cultural problem.
Kamble, 2012 in his blog explains that resistance happens due to software which is not physical, not visible, and very difficult to comprehend. Attitudes, mindset, beliefs, misconceptions, fears and behavior of people at all levels play a significant role in the success and failure of an implementation phase of IT projects. This he called “Behavioral IT”
4.2 Behavioral IT
Behavioral IT has been defined by Prem Kamble for the first time in November, 2012, as the field of IT that proposes people-based theories to study the causes of success and failure of Software implementation projects. It is a term that describes the behavioral aspects of IT driven transition, particularly the stage of implementation, when there is maximum people involvement and also maximum impact due to behavior, traits and fears of people.
Behavioral IT skills are the skills required by all managers to manage people in this rapidly changing environment – where most of the change is IT driven change.
Kamble states that behavioral aspects are very important in the implementation phase not simply because more people are involved, but because people are expected to do what they resist most, i.e. change their way of working. People naturally resist change and complex behavioral patterns come to surface, which the Implementer has to overcome to succeed. It involves people’s attitudes, fears, dogmas, mental paradigms, misconceptions, resistance to change and various human character traits.
New hardware the school will try to integrate has software that teachers, students, parents and even administrators have to cope with. Kamble, explains that Resistance happens due to software which is not physical, not visible, and very difficult to comprehend. Attitudes, mindset, beliefs, misconceptions, fears and behavior of people at all levels play a significant role in the success and failure of an implementation phase of IT projects.
He calls his theory “Living in the Past Syndrome”. By this he means that some people are still mentally in the industrial age while physically they live in the information age. Users in this case, teachers of course should know the process of software development and the limitations thereof. When the computer was invented people thought it is a machine that can be approached with the same mindset and approach of the industrial age.
Many people look at the computer as another machine; we expect the same results and look at it as a superior machine. For him the computer is not the machine it is the software in the computer that can be seen as a machine compared to the machine age. Whereas the machines of industrial age automate our physical capabilities and are far superior to the humans in what they do, the computers automate the mental capabilities of humans and are far inferior to the human brain. Although the physical activities of humans are similar, the mental process from man to man is different.
Computer is only the fuel that runs the software machine. We are used to machines performing one task, while computers can perform many tasks. This gives rise to unrealistic expectation. While the reality is that the computer (or the ‘software machine’) is far inferior when compared to the machines of industrial age.
But what does this mean? Kamble discusses the pains we have taken to use technology of the industrial age. We built roads to use cars, airstrip and airports for aircrafts, long rail lines for railways, etc. We built tall transmission towers and insulated wiring to use electricity. Electricity can be very useful, but at the same time it can also kill.
But for software implementation we do nothing. We do not want to do anything nor do we want to change our ways of using the technology of the information age. We do not know our responsibility. We only blame the technology if it does not yield results. As there is no standard ‘software machine’, there is no standard man machine interface. Man has not got familiar or has not adapted to this machine.
Just as Industrial era required a new culture, new thinking and new approach, Information era also demands that we give up old ideas and methods and adopt new ones to deal with computers and computerization.
For computers we need to change the way we work, change some of our procedures, some of our habits, etc. We need to think up-front (in the case of teachers they need to plan their lessons ahead) before they start working with it. We need to give the teachers some time when we expect changes in the system and not expect procedures to change the way a clerk used to change procedures immediately when instructed, in the manual system.
Correcting these misconceptions and looking at the computer in the right perspective will go a long way towards a smoother and less stressful transition and towards a successful acceptance of this technology into our businesses and lives.
Moreover the teaching profession is a very conservative profession, which has a very slow response to change. It is also a profession that is dominated by an age cohort that is intimidated by technology and regards it with suspicion.
Many of those teachers cannot accept that the kids they are teaching probably know more about computers than they do and are better at using the whole variety of devices offered by the IT industry. They prefer to be in charge, in control; not dependent on unpredictable issues in the classroom for example electricity that can fail without warning.
What does this mean for an HR manager?
Change agents in this case HR Managers and IT professionals need to understand the people aspect and the psychological aspect of IT, an aspect most ignored by them. They need to focus more time and effort to make people more aware of this psychology of change from the machine age to information age. This will help them to psychologically evolve from the industrial age mindset to the information age mindset.
“IT awareness and the knowledge of” Behavioral IT”, is the key to success for all managers. Even HR Managers in schools who are involved in IT implementation Projects.
According to Prem Kamble, Behavioral IT aware Mangers should have the following skills:
- Team up well with IT folks
- Understand the capabilities and limitation of IT and IT folks to get the best out of both
- Successful manage people in their department reeling under IT-Driven change during implementation.
- Understand the turmoil and turbulence are imminent during the implementation phase and are well prepared to handle the transition with maturity
- Ensure successful implementation and thus reap the benefits of IT to improve processes in their own department
- Are less stressed as they have the right information and control
- Are most likely to grow in the organization
It is important to start educating HR Managers in schools on Behavioral IT and its importance in the success of IT Projects. In order to help them in leading the needed change management they need for ICT integration.
4.3 Beliefs and understanding
HR managers also need to understand the factors that influence a successful technology integration of teachers. A study about barriers and enablers for technology use has been published by ISTE, 2006-2007. The Study was used to explore the perception of exemplary –technology using teachers regarding the factors that influenced their technology integration success.
Exemplary technology using teachers are defined as those who employ technology in learner-centered, constructivist environment (Ertmer,Gopalakrishnan,&Ross2001;Jonassan,Howland, Moore&Marra,2003). The study mentions intrinsic or extrinsic factors viewed as barriers and enablers. For example, access to hardware, quality software, the Internet, technical support, as well as administrative and peer support might be viewed as being extrinsic whereas personal beliefs, previous success with technology, and self-efficacy might be viewed as being intrinsic enablers.
Confidence in using technology, appear to be moderated by years of teaching experience. While teachers who recently entered the profession reported having more confidence in using technology than teachers who had been in the profession for more years, they lack appreciation for the value of technology as an instructional tool. Alternatively, due to their small teaching experience they might lack the organizational and management skills needed to use technology effectively in the classroom, skills that develop through years of experience.
According to this study this means, that the perception that exemplary technology use is rooted in teacher’s internal beliefs and commitments to student learning, but is also supported by extrinsic factors (professional development, technology support) that enable teachers to translate visions into practice. It is very important that PD programs address these beliefs and increase teachers’ commitment. Administrators and HR managers can support their teachers’ technology efforts through the provision of relevant Training opportunities and ongoing support to enable both new and experienced teachers to overcome barriers to meaningful technology use.
5. Leading and managing educational change
HRM and educational leaders have to understand, that change is not an event but a process that occurs over time. People need to know “ what “ the change is and “ why “ it is being implemented, before you can talk about “ how “ to implement the change.
Fullan (1992,1993) has written a range of significant books and articles on educational change and educational change management. He pointed to the need for positive support to bring about change. His messages have often been concerned with identifying reasonableness in terms of change, and indicating the need for all those within an educational system to take on board the meaning of uncertainty and features of change if change itself is to be accepted and implemented. It is essential for an effective technology leadership to develop and articulate a vision for innovation and change, Chang, et al.2008, Hew & Brush 2007;Wagner ,2003)
The success of this implementation Phase is measured based on the extent to which it is clear how the innovation can be implemented within the context of the school environment and culture and the extent to which complexity is manageable and the implementation is practical, all within the demands and limitation of the environment.(Fullan,2001b)
Teachers, students, and administrators are being involved in these changes in order to make sure that barriers of change are reduced drastically (Reeves, 2009, pp.19).
There is a requirement that well informed and experienced personnel should be selected to manage and lead change. Management on the other hand involves planning, budgeting, organizing, and staffing in order to get prepared for that change.
It is important to get as many people on board as possible. Involving staff, learners, parents and the unions in the planning phase from the beginning, can help avoid failure. It is therefore recommended to provide Professional development for: Staff, parents and Students. The Staff includes all those who will be involved in using and administrating these devices.
But how can a school become a place where all members of the staff are learning, growing, and working to increase student achievement?
SMART Village School is one of these schools in Egypt that has early been aware of these mentioned criteria about “IT awareness” in this study and it was part of the successful start in their implementation plan, yet they still face many challenges in reality which they hope to overcome in the future. Those challenges will be discussed later on in this study.
6. SMART Village School (SVS) in Cairo
Smart Village Schools work under the auspices of the Child and Society Development Institution.
The Child and Society Development Institution (C.S.D.I.) were established in the year 2000 as a non-profitable organization that seeks the welfare and benefit of our society, children and mothers.
It provides educational, scientific, cultural, and religious services to both children and mothers in order to become one step of success led to another, and it was only logical that C.S.D.I. start the SMART VILLAGE SCHOOL, which was founded in September, 2007.active and better members of the society. The late Mrs. Mona Nazif acted as CSDI President until 2009 and was succeeded by Dr. Ali El Hefnawy – Chairman of the Board of Directors ,Smart Village Company – and then by Mr. Sherif Nazif as the President of the Board of Trustees.
SVS is divided into a British school “Kippling School“, which is accredited from Cambridge and the French school “Ecole Voltaire”, which is accredited from the French MoE. Both schools are international schools that respect Egyptian culture
Smart Village Schools, “Kipling School” follows the Cambridge Examination Board’s curriculum which is an education program for young learners.
This means that they can use the Cambridge Checkpoint whilst following their own countries national curriculum or the British curriculum where suitable. Methods of continual assessments under the supervision of the British Council are in place from the start of the Primary education.
6.1 HR and IT Department:
The IT specialist Mrs. Ghada El Bagoury is at the same time the HR Manager and the Department is often called “HRIT“. This was decided from the beginning to develop an integrated technology culture in the school. The school Manager is Dr. Sherif Nazif an Engineer who has a good Technology background and therefore is encouraging any development related to IT in the school.
6.2 Internal System and Website:
Before 2010 the website was hosted on the Ministry of Information and communication and it was very difficult to make any modification without going through the ministry server which was very complicated. In August 2010 they were able to get their own hosting and servers in order to start the development and IT services needed.
6.3 Infrastructure and design:
The Technology infrastructure is the same as in the MCIT building with fiber optic cables and the schools has five servers. They started with a connectivity of 2 GB, raising it to 4 GB and ending with 8 GB LAN. To ensure the connectivity speed, social networks like YouTube, Facebook, twitter and chat programs were closed through the security system as they were slowing down the internet speed and are preventing teachers focus on their work.
Each server is assigned to a different educational stage in order to create a virtual platform, where teachers can store and find educational resources related to their subjects. Each department has an online shared folder where teachers share their resources in each stage and exchange it with each other. This was created by the programmer on the system after they asked for it.
SMART Village School is equipped with SMART Boards and classmate PC’s in every classroom. It also has full equipped Computer rooms.
6.5 Challenges and resistance:
According to Mrs. Ghada El Bagoury teachers were not chosen according to their computer competencies and they were faced with many challenges at the beginning as many teachers did not understand that technology is there to help them in their teaching profession. For many teachers it was just more work, that they don’t get paid for and just a waste of time. “French teachers were even more resistive that British teacher”. This might be because of the French culture that is not using very much technology in their schools. “Arabic and Social Studies Teachers are facing a hard time to finish their curriculum on time as instructed in the national curriculum “says Mr. Ghada. They are overloaded with 20-24 lessons a week. There is no time to learn something new “. The “HR&IT” Department therefore is recommending that teachers should have qualifications in using Computers. Mrs. Ghada El Bagoury says:” it is very hard to find teachers, who have both, a good academic and teaching background and good IT skills.”
6.6 Hiring process:
Each new teacher has to present a demo of a lesson before being accepted and hired. “This is not enough”- she recommends a computer skill evaluation to be added to the qualification acceptance. She continues ‘Written applications don’t give you the right information. Some teachers write that they have 15 years of teaching experience and in fact they have only 1 year experience that they repeated in 15 years.” This is shown when they have to teach with computers in a one to one computer classroom.
The Director is the one who interviews the teacher but the HR department is responsible for filtering these applicants. This is not always the case sometimes applicants are recommended through other channels like from a social circle of the director, but rules and qualifications for acceptance are given from the HR department.
6.7 School Culture and PD:
Teacher with weak computer skills are the responsibility of the IT specialist they are treated case by case according to their needs. They ask to learn what is essential for them. It is a “Culture“of the school that IT specialist should not do the work the teacher can’t do, teachers have to learn to do what is needed. It specialists are only helping them in learning to do it by themselves.
Although there is an allocated budget for professional development each year, the only real Training they got is in using SMART Boards and Classmate Pc’s (Student Laptops) as time is very short.
6.9 Internal System and software:
The System developer” Mr. Mohamed Ramadan’ started as a part timer and was asked by the HR manager to work full time in order to accomplish what is needed on the server. A programmer was hired afterwards to design the LMS for the school and to customize it according to their needs. They were convinced that purchasing readymade software will be hard to modify whenever they need to change anything. This is why they constructed it from scratch. A full administrative system was created to serve Parents, Students, Management, finance department, Buses, HR and teachers…etc.
6. 10 Teacher – Parent Communication:
Homework and remarks are sent to students from the Teachers via a created channel book online that are accessed by Students and Parents through a password on the LMS, other online communications between Parents and teachers are done through the Management System by the administration, in order to avoid any direct conflict between teachers and parents.
6.11 Knowledge management and sharing Culture:
Mrs. Karima Ramdani is the IT specialist in the French school “Voltaire“She has a different story to tell. According to Mrs. Karima the KG Curriculum instructor Mrs. Corinne is making periodic meetings for her staff each week. They discuss new teaching methodologies through technology .In their first meetings she explained to them how to use programs that can transform their books into eBooks. Now all teachers use these programs and create their own eBooks and work with it on the SMART boards in their classrooms. Each teacher has his own profile and place on the system to store his resources even Grade books and student information.
6.12 Licenses and AUP:
In both schools Programs related to their curriculum is purchased from time to time. The school has to sign a license agreement and teachers who use it on their individual laptops have to sign an independent one too. This way they create awareness about intellectual property and teachers learn to respect it.
6. 13 System administration:
If teachers want to print a document it is sent to the System manager online through the teacher administration channel who prints it for them. This way they can control what is printed and be sure what teachers print are not personal documents.
Now they are planning to use the new Microsoft share point to move to cloud computing. Pros and cons of this system are still being discussed.
Are limited only when teacher take any certificate related to Cambridge requirements
6. 15 Maintenance and technical problems:
The developed school system is designed to help teachers in case any technical problem happens in the classroom. As soon as any teacher faces a technical problem he announces it on the system where he provides the System manager with his Location (Room No.) and the problem he is facing. A red light appears in front of the System Manager and the IT team that is located in the different stages and the IT Specialist near to the room presses a button that he is taking care of it and after he finishes he reports the problem through the system again with the information of how long it had taken him to solve the problem.
6. 16 Creating student leadership:
The Integration of Student laptops “Classmate Pc’s “was done in order to give students an opportunity to stop carrying heavy schoolbags every day. All the books were stored as PDF files or provided as eBooks. Still some parents insist on sending the schoolbag full of books with their children in case the student laptop stops working for any technical reason.
The “ HR&IT “ Department therefore decided to teach 5 Students in each class as technology leaders and trained them on some troubleshooting steps in case any technical problem happens. These leaders are responsible to help their classmates and teachers to solve any problem concerning student laptops in class during the lessons.
6.17 Raising community and Parent awareness:
According to Mrs. Ghada many parents came to school claiming that they cannot access the results and grades through the system. Either because they are not aware of the steps they need to do or because of computer illiteracy. When this happens Parents are guided to the computer room where an It specialist shows the parent how to find their way step by step.
They are aware that there should be more opportunities and time given to capacity building and hiring a Technology coordinator with a pedagogical Background
7. Building the foundation
As we have seen from the case of SMART Village School, it is not an easy task to effectively integrate technology in school, although they might have the best infrastructure a school can have due to their location in SMART Village in Cairo. There are still steps needed to transform the school and build a motivating environment.
Throughout the book (Transforming Schools: Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement,2004) the author presents a thoughtful analysis of the fictional dialogue and gives readers an understanding of the dynamic nature of change, systems thinking, and continuous improvement.
These are explained in six steps of continuous improvement:
1. Identify core beliefs.
2. Create a shared vision.
3. Use data to determine gaps between the current reality and the shared vision.
4. Identify the innovations that will most likely close the gaps.
5. Develop and implement an action plan.
6. Endorse collective accountability.
8. Creating a shared vision and building a sharing school culture
To create a sharing culture in school teacher must be convinced and caring use these tools according to the motto “When we care, we share,” It is important to agree on the following questions with all stakeholders:
- What are our syllabus requirements?
- What do we need to do to meet these requirements?
- What learning outcomes are we trying to achieve?
- Why do we want to achieve these outcomes?
- How are our students (and their families) using technology outside school?
The Integration of Technology in schools is an “Innovation“, which needs diffusion. According to Roger diffusion is a process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system.
Despite a school adaptation of new programs, the reality behind classroom door might not be innovative. Teachers can always find ways to twist the innovation right back into what they had always done and teach with technology in a very traditional way.
Mostly, people affected by a change usually feel alone even though everyone else is undergoing through the same change process. This is because each and every individual wants to feel that their situations are special and unique (Brickell, 1962, pp.83). This results in the aspect of isolation for the people who are undergoing the change.
Elmore’s (2000) research affirms: “Privacy of practice produces isolation; isolation is the enemy of improvement” (p.20).This means that staff development becomes synonymous with self-improvement, making it nearly impossible for the system as a whole ever to become competent. We can speak here about two modes of operations that exist in a school culture.
Individual autonomy: is a mode of operation in which people generally work alone in pursuit self defined goals and interest, because they see no need to serve the system and its purposes.
Collective autonomy: is a mode of operation in which people generally collaborate in pursuit of shared goals and interests that serve the individual and the system.
In order to effectively manage and lead change in educational organizations, there must be change agents and representative in the management of change, Professionals should be used in determining what type of change that should be implemented ( Hickman,2009,pp.66)
It is therefore advised to put together a focus group or a team to move all participants from (individual autonomy) to a common role of shared responsibility (collective autonomy)
This team or focus group can be created in a way that can assist the needed change in school to achieve successful integration.
9. Identifying and hiring the Change agents
In his book “The tipping point “ Malcolm Gladwell defines a tipping point as “that magic moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wild fire.” From extensive research, the author poses three factors he suggests significantly contribute to social epidemics reaching their tipping points.
The Law of the Few: Social epidemics are “controlled by a handful of people “with strong social connections.
The Stickiness Factor: The idea, trend, or social behavior must be memorable in order to spread quickly and effectively
The Power of Context: Subtle changes in environment can make a big difference in how people act in particular context
All three factors are collectively crucial to reaching a tipping point, especially for those who are trying to create a change with limited resources. It is the condition and personalities that makes a difference.
Thinking more about the “Few” and the influence they have over the “many.” Gladwell says that strategies grounded in “spreading the word” offer a better chance of tipping than the “one approach fits all,”
When any type of change in introduced, there are its supporters and those people who have difficulties in adapting. This indicates that people are at diverse levels of readiness for change. Those people who resist changes initially they come to accept them afterwards (Pugh, 1974, pp.67). In this case, those people who are more ready for changes are in a better position of others.
If you want to bring about a fundamental change in people behavior, a change that would persist and serve as an example to others, you need to create a community around them, where their beliefs can be practiced expressed and nurtured.
It is also very important for HRM to categorize different types of adopter in order to plan a strategy for the implementation process. Roger categorizes the different types as follows:
- Innovators (risk takers)
- Early adopters (hedgers)
- Early majority (waiters)
- Late majority (skeptics)
- Late adopters (slowpokes)
Attitudes of Early Adaptors and Early Majority are fundamentally incompatible. Innovations don’t slide effortlessly from one group to the next. There is a chasm between them. Many ideas fail, never making it beyond the Early Adopters, because those who create them can’t find a way to transform it, into making perfect sense to Early Majority.
In making his case for “The Law of The Few,” Gladwell reveals the surprisingly large role a small cadre of influencers he calls Connectors, Mavens, and Sales people play in reaching tipping points. This is comparable to the 80/20 rule, that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.
This will make it easier for HR managers to identify and recruit the right people to help them in the first steps of ICT implementation. These People must not only be teachers but can also be Technology Coordinators, administrators, IT specialist and Exemplary Technology using teachers. Gladwell defines those influencers as following:
Connectors are the people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions.
Mavens start “word-of-mouth epidemics” due to their knowledge, social skills, and ability to communicate.
Salesmen are “persuaders”, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, which makes others want to agree with them.
In short: Connectors build bridges, Mavens dig deep and research, and Salesmen influence and sell the idea, which you need to convince people with.
Applying this to our case with convincing teacher to use technology in their classroom effectively, the first step for HR managers would be hiring and identifying connectors. Connectors will assist the HR managers in finding mavens and Salesmen in their Network. Teachers, Coaches or technology coordinators with an academic background, who can fit in these categories in different subjects, can make a faster diffusion for the idea in school. For it will be teacher driven, teacher led and teacher powered. As teachers they will understand the challenges and problems teacher face each day better than IT specialists, with no pedagogical background.
The successful implementation is not an easy task for HR Managers. They will have to think about how they are going to make sure that resources are available when required? How they assess and integrate new “emerging” technologies.
The Assessment of this implementation plan to ensure continuity should not be forgotten of course it is recommended to consider the following:
- Is ICT being used in a relevant and meaningful way in our classrooms?
- What is happening in other places? Other schools? Our students’ ICT culture?
- Does our school’s ICT infrastructure support our classroom activities, and learning outcomes?
- Does our school’s ICT infrastructure support our administrative and student welfare needs?
- Do we as teachers understand the latest technologies? Are we good role-models?
- Do we as teachers have the skills to integrate ICT in our classroom activities?
Part of the evaluation process needs to consider how we respond to new or unforeseen issues. Particularly in school ICT planning, where new technologies can emerge relatively quickly, making learning environments that incorporate “current” technologies (around which our planning is likely to be focused) irrelevant, even before a formal plan is implemented.
The following questions can help HR managers in evaluating the process to ensure sustainability:
- Have we achieved our aims?
- Are we further down the path than we started? How do we know?
- Have our learning outcomes improved?
- Have our administrative processes improved?
- Do we need to provide some more time to achieve our aims?
- What key resources do we need to provide support for ongoing achievement?
Through this study we have seen that HR Managers need to consider new aspects of change especially “IT awareness and IT driven change management. All these discussed aspects of change management have to be taken into account in order not to waste time and money and effort in these implementation plans. Knowing what to do and how to do it is crucial.
The successful implementation of new technologies in schools is dependent on many factors including the efficient management of human resources. The knowledge about change management and knowledge management is not enough for these implementation projects. Change management needs to change with IT taking the driver seat. It is therefore very important that HR Managers team up with IT Specialists in schools. But as most of these implementation projects fail, due to the way people react to IT driven change and how they understand or misunderstand computers or technology, HR Managers have to have a certain “IT awareness” and enough knowledge about “Behavioral IT” to help educational leaders in the planning and managing of ICT integration. The knowledge about the human psychology of IT related change is very essential in this matter. It is important to understand the frustration and fears teachers, administrators and parents have with respect to technology. Together with all Stakeholders HR Managers have to develop a code of conduct or an acceptable user policy to ensure responsible and educationally appropriate use of computer resources in school. Security and maintenance is a very critical issue to many developing countries. However, generally HR Managers are either found indulged in routine clerical work or in facilities administration rather than developing human resource and creating an environment of motivation in organizational culture. In order to be a strategic partner to educational managers, HR managers should be able to produce a realistic, achievable and effective implementation plan. This should not be put for a sole purpose of putting technology in the classroom but to reflect the real needs of schools in order to make effective technology deployment and to produce enhanced learning environments. The catalyst in this integration process is the involvement of all Stakeholders in the preparation and the execution of the plan. A special course to make HR Managers and educational managers aware of these aspects of change that can help in these ICT implementation plans is therefore recommended by the author.
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