Closing the Distance Between Technology Investment and Success

Gerland Shoot-023-Edit_largeYou’ve just inked a deal for a new technology solution. After months of rigorous evaluation your team is confident it’s found the answer that promises to transform community and stakeholder engagement across your school district. There’s energy building behind the idea. You can feel it.

Two months later, the solution remains largely untouched, its integration tabled by the sudden reveal of more pressing priorities — a new district website, a cyber-bullying campaign, a one-to-one laptop initiative.

You still believe in the solution’s ability to transform communication across your school district. If only you could find the time — and the resources — to get it up and running.

Not alone
As a former school superintendent, I know how hard it is to maintain momentum for a project when you’re forced to juggle half a dozen new initiatives and put out daily fires. I’ve spent the last year and change visiting with school leaders and working with districts to integrate communications solutions.

Every school technology integration presents its share of potential challenges. The longer you wait to start that process, the harder it is to keep pace with the competition.

Take our Let’s Talk! solution, for example. When I ask school district leaders to explain why they still haven’t integrated the technology two and three months after purchase, I receive one of three responses: We’ve been busy; we are waiting for the right time to launch the technology; we’re moving ahead, albeit slower than anticipated.

All valid reasons. But I have seen how technology is transforming the private sector and, while not denying that schools are fundamentally different in this regard, there is much that we can learn from these innovations. Solutions that make us more efficient must be prioritized. We spend so much time bemoaning the scarcity of resources in our schools. It’s difficult to believe that some of that time would not be better spent finding new ways to work with what we’ve got.

Looking to get Let’s Talk!, or some other technology solution, up and running in your school district? Here are four key points to make to your team.

1. Technology is indispensable. The world has changed with respect to the way the people interact with new and social media. There is an expectation that schools, no matter where they are, keep pace. The appearance of charter schools and alternative education options further accelerates the need for innovation. Find a better way to effectively communicate with your constituents; that’s what your competition is doing.

2. It will make you more efficient. One of the biggest knocks on any new school technology integration is that the district can’t afford to add another item to its to-do list. But what if the technology could help you more easily complete existing tasks? Better communication leads to smarter decisions. Smarter decisions create fewer redundancies, which frees educators up to focus on what really matters: student learning.

3. It is absolutely without risk. More than 100 school districts across the country have implemented Let’s Talk! Our team has closely monitored each of these integrations. While it might be tempting for staff and others to think of these resources as creating new or additional work, that’s not the reality. Let’s Talk! simplifies school district communications. It allows staff to share the burden of reaching out and responding to stakeholders. I know what you’re thinking, “But Gerald, what if my school system is inundated with comments?” Not to worry. Experience has taught us that managing stakeholder dialogues is not overwhelming. If anything, it saves you time.

4. It accentuates the positive. “OK, but what about the naysayers? Do we really want to create a platform for people to complain?” Let’s Talk! isn’t just for complaints. You’ll receive a mix of feedback, good and bad, from a wider range of people. It’s all about perspective.

Want to foster support for Let’s Talk! in your school community? Drop me a line at the email below. I’m happy to hook you up with a team of experienced educators who will ensure you get the most out of your investment.

Dr. Gerald Dawkins
Senior Vice President for Superintendent and District Relations, K12 Insight
 (gdawkins@K12Insight.com)

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