Making a silk purse out of an outdated, inefficient…

In conversation with the marketing manager for one of the leading suppliers of Educational software the other day, he confirmed what I had suspected but didn’t really appreciate the enormity of, that a large percentage of their learning provider customers still hadn’t rolled their system out across their organisations. Despite one or two departments proving the benefits and would never go back to the ‘old system’, the ‘old’ system was alive and well and staggering along like the sows ear that we know and I loathe. Somewhat bemused that a learning provider, having researched, planned and purchased a system, presumably tested and proven to be the right direction, continues to use an outdated, inefficient process to manage learners for the significant ‘rest of’ their organisation. So he quoted me the figures and neither of us could make sense of it at all. He referred to them as those still ‘sitting on the fence’. Well it must be one hell of a fence.

Bad enough that so many Leaning Providers today, with all the pressures to raise standards, reduce costs, improve efficiency, still don’t use the everyday technology that is available to them. But inexplicable that so many of those that have taken the initiative, introduced new systems, trained the staff etc. have not then convinced senior management to have it rolled it out across other departments. I can only assume that SMT wasn’t involved in the original strategy (was there a strategy?).

done-it-this-way2-295x300When conducting a Technology Review recently, in this instance with curriculum team leaders being asked what software or hardware is used, or not used. The question of ePortfolios was raised with much discussion and confusion, inasmuch as some would like to use it but haven’t a budget, another was using a home grown one- badly. Whilst another said ‘we use it in Beauty Therapy and it’s brilliant’, which appeared to come as a surprise to the other managers that it was being used in the organisation at all, clearly news to some. But the one that made me smile was the declaration that ‘we tried it in Construction once but the staff didn’t like it.’ Fair enough no point bothering then!

Putting that and so many similar experiences together with the statistics of the LMS supplier, its’ little wonder that so many Learning Providers are sitting on the technological fence, it appears to be largely to do with individual departments going it alone, possibly in the absence of an organisation wide IT strategy, linked to an organisation wide mission or goal. Something we have also much experience of.

after youThe benefits of using appropriate technology especially in the FE & Skills sector has been proven repeatedly over a decade or more, we and others have written pages on the subject as shown within this site. Including articles that make nonsense out of most barriers inherent in any organisation, but particularly vocational departments in FE Colleges where ‘I don’t like it’ appears to be enough to stop an IT initiative in its tracks. With that in mind I really can’t see any reason why the millions spent over that period to ‘Raise Awareness’ should be repeated. Who cannot be aware of the technology that is now used by all of us, especially the learners but including the aforementioned individual or department head, who presumably doesn’t use social media, digital photography, on-line absolutely everything, has a Smartphone borrows his grandmothers iPad occasionally, is not aware! Oh that technology. Yes, that technology.

So what does it take to get some organisations off of the fence, even those that have built-in staff and departments with knowledge to build upon? I have no idea, but I do believe that fence is likely to get very uncomfortable in the coming months.

See: Incentive-8 technology review video
What is an ePortfolio?

Colin Gallacher
Learning Technology Consultant

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