Categories
Digital Strategy

Five Top Tips: Building a Digital Audit for your school.

Hands up the people who have a colleague that has tried to get you to use a new educational platform by describing it as innovative.
Keep your hand up if your colleague misunderstood what innovative meant and the now paid for platform is yet another digital gimmick in your school.
It happens. I did not properly grasp what what innovation meant until I was introduced to this exceptionally clear definition from Jamie Notter. Your objective is to now look at all the platforms throughout the entire school, and come to a decision on which ones add value to the teaching and learning in your school.

Top Takeaways:

1) Every Primary phase and Secondary specialism will have different pedagogical needs.

It is important that your Audit questions respect this and provide a way to filter information accordingly.

2) Every teacher is busy. Create an easy to use form by using the Branching function to skip questions.

3) Collect objective quantitative and qualitative data.

4) Create a form that is easy to access across all platforms.

5) Make your audit personal to your school.

Hands up the people who have a colleague that has tried to get you to use a new educational platform by describing it as innovative.

Keep your hand up if your colleague misunderstood what innovative meant and the now paid for platform is yet another digital gimmick in your school.

It happens. I did not properly grasp what what innovation meant until I was introduced to this exceptionally clear definition from Jamie Notter (@jamienotter):

Innovation is change that brings new value quote

Your objective is to now look at all the platforms throughout the entire school, and come to a decision on which ones add value to the teaching and learning in your school.

However, this needs to be done objectively. Every teacher has their unique specialisms, so to expect the IT Management or the Digital Leader in the school to make the pedagogical choices for every single subject specialism for every single year group is completely unrealistic.

Therefore, the trap that a school may fall into is to either:

1) Give too much power to each individual teacher for the plethora of platforms available to them (EG: Unlocking modules in SIMS to the whole school). This leads to teachers becoming lost in the administration side of the platform, whilst gaining very value towards their teaching lives.

The teachers in this situation would probably be either begging for more training, or have already given up on the platform, claiming it to be “broken”.

2) Provide access to any platform each department calls for. This leads to an overlap of platforms that carry out the same role in different departments. This is not so bad for the teachers, but incredibly confusing for students and parents when it comes to consolidating their learning and seeing their progress at any point during the year.

It is also needlessly expensive for the school compared to the value added to teaching and learning.

In comes your objective Digital Audit, with the aim of reviewing and consolidating all the platforms in the school so that you can move forward and your school’s digital environment can truly add value to the daily teaching and learning from your marvellous teachers!

But how is this achieved?

The first stage is to recognise that the questions you are about to ask the staff, students and parents would largely remain consistent for the next 5 years so that a transparent yearly review is possible.

The Five Top Tips

Being a Microsoft School, I used Microsoft Forms to create our Audit. Google Forms and Survey Monkey are also excellent platforms and they work in a very similar way.

1) Every Primary phase and Secondary specialism will have different pedagogical needs.

It is important that your Audit questions respect this and provide a way to filter information accordingly.

Build a filtering system into your data collection that can easily assess information from different parts of your school if needed. This will give you invaluable information of the needs and possible gaps in training from each department, which is perfect for choosing platforms that you want to run as a “Common Thread” in the school (EG: Office 365 or Nearpod).

For Microsoft Forms, I made the first question a “Required” question. The question was to select the Year Group or specialism in order to quickly assess what each department needs.

2) Every teacher is busy. Create an easy to use form by using the Branching function to skip questions.

Sorry, but this means more work for you, for the long term goal of actually getting data out of your 100+ teaching staff.

Every teacher would have a selection of platforms that they use, and many that they do not use. For instance, it is likely that our science teachers would use Nearpod for PhetSims, but unlikely that they would use GarageBand.

In order to make our Audit teacher-friendly, the next question on the Audit was “Do you use *insert platform name here*”. If they selected “No”. The form bounced them to the next platform.

This also means your audit would not have skewed results by 80 teachers saying GarageBand brings no value to them, and the Performing Ats Department waxing lyrical about it!

I created this by using the “Branch” function on Microsoft Forms.

3) Collect objective quantitative and qualitative data.

Your questions for each platform need to be exactly the same in order to provide an objective comparison between platforms, year groups and specialisms.

Your stakeholders (Governors, Director, Head of School, Line Manager, parents, students, IT Management) would have preferred ways of looking at collected results. And of course everyone would have different preferences 🙂

Collecting numerical data which is backed up by quotes from your teachers is a good way of tailoring your results to everyone’s preferred way of digesting data. Just be careful to not cherry pick the quotes.

4) Create a form that is easy to access across all platforms.

You may be an Apple School, and you may live your life on Apple products, but that does not mean your 100 staff members do!

Our communities are leaning evermore towards using just phones to access major pieces of information, and information that is not cross OS-compatible is becoming a hassle to access. Make sure your form reads well on all types of device. Microsoft and Google forms have a “phone” preview.

Presenting access to your form as a hyperlink, QR code and shortened link would also help towards your staff members pulling out their device of choice and actively engaging in your audit.

5) Make your audit personal to your school.

Just because your questions remain the same for all the platforms does not mean the audit cannot have a community feel to it. Little things such as including the school logo or customising it into the school colours ensures that your teachers know that this a questionnaire that is important and directly linked to your school.

The questions I used for our Audit.

For the interested people, the link to our Microsoft Form is here. I have included it as a duplicate template so you should be able to download it onto your own O365 account.

All questions for our quantitative data analysis was created as a box tick to encourage quick and painless filling out for busy teachers.

All questions created for qualitative analysis were created as optional short answer boxes.

After the first “required” question: What is your role in the school, all questions were made optional, to provide a way for teachers to skip to the apps they use.

The questions were as follows:

Do you use _______? (Yes/No

Upon answering No to this question, The form branched to the next app.

How are you using this tool?

This was created as a tick box with phrases that linked to the marketed use of that particular app. “other” was an option at the end if I forgot any uses.

Ease of use (ranked 1 to 10, with 10 being “It saves me time”)

This question was supplemented by a blurb from the platform’s website that advertised the use of the platform.

Please give me more information on your above rating (short answer)

This was supplemented by a short answer box that captured quotes of use from the teachers.

Frequency of use: Tick box (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, never!)

This was especially useful for apps that were pushed as “whole school essential apps”. If teachers were not using them, then I knew that a change needed to be made in either training or policy.

How much does this tool reach your expectations? (Ranked 1 to 10, with 10 being “it helps”)

A major part of resistance to digital platforms is that it creates more work for teachers with little educational gain.

Please give me more information on your above answer. ((short answer box)

I found that teachers came up with suggestions on what we could do to improve their experience in this space.

Does this tool save you time? (Yes/No)

I included this question because we wanted an overall feel for the platform from each teacher.

What are they key pain points when using this tool? (short answer question)

I included this question because it gave teachers a final opportunity to give their opinion. It also reinforced the objective of the audit: which was to find solutions to move forward to create a better environment for all.

You are now about to receive a ton of useful information regarding the platforms that work, the platforms that do not work, and your own staff’s suggestions on how to make it better!

The next stage is to compare the data you have collected to the cost of each platform. You can also use this data to make a decision on what your teachers’ needs are for whole school platforms and the training they require to create learning environments that are truly innovative and clear for every student.

By Linda Parsons

Author of Digilin Learning.
Follower of Educational Technology enthusiasts, of all subjects. I am an MIE Fellow, Apple teacher and Google Educator. If it can be used as a learning tool, I will be keen for it. Currently a science teacher in the UAE.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s