Sep 14 2022

5 Ways K-12 IT Teams Can Help Teachers Save Time and Focus on Instruction

Here’s how IT can automate operational processes and help reduce teacher stress.

Having to work long hours is a significant contributing factor to teacher burnout and the resulting teacher shortages dominating news headlines.

The spring 2022 Merrimack College Teacher Survey found that a typical teacher works 54 hours per week, with only 25 hours spent teaching students.

Not surprisingly, most teachers say they’d like to spend more time on activities directly related to teaching. Here are five technology strategies IT leaders can implement to automate operational processes, save time and help reduce teacher stress.

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1. Reduce Teacher Frustration by Implementing Single Sign-On

According to the Consortium for School Networking’s 2022 “EdTech Leadership Survey Report,” only 33 percent of districts have fully implemented single sign-on (SSO), while 47 percent of districts have partially implemented it.

Managing multiple login credentials is challenging for both students and teachers, making it more likely they will be stored in insecure locations, increasing privacy and security risks. Even if teachers can reset student passwords on the fly, the login process can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Implementing SSO is a high-impact strategy for reducing teacher frustration. The growing trend of cyber liability insurance providers requiring employees and even students to use multifactor authentication makes implementing SSO even more critical.

REVIEW: Learn how Okta grants access to necessary apps anywhere.

2. Automated Rostering Services Save Time for Teachers and IT Staff

Rostering services automate the creation, updating and archiving of student ed tech accounts based on student information system data. They can provide teachers and students access to the digital platforms, tools and apps they need based on class assignments in the SIS, eliminating the need for manual data entry.

These services can save time for teachers and IT staff and minimize delays and frustration for students changing classes or arriving mid-semester.

Some vendors, such as ClassLink, Clever, Global Grid For Learning and Identity Automation, provide both SSO and rostering services. Implementing an automated rostering solution helps ensure that students have access to the right tools and curricular resources when they need them and helps minimize lost instructional time.

3. Advocate for Secure, Controlled Data Exchange Between Apps

Another significant challenge educators face is that ed tech tools often don’t communicate with each other or share data. Educators may use multiple ed tech tools during the semester, but the valuable education data they contain is siloed and not shared with other applications.

80%

The percentage of K–12 IT leaders who say they are taking steps toward interoperability improvement

Source: cosn.org, “EdTech Leadership Survey Report,” April 2022

Ed tech interoperability would allow for the seamless, secure and controlled exchange of data between applications. Interoperability could result in the integration of curriculum tools with learning management systems. It also could lead to automated importing of attendance and assessment data into operational data stores supporting data analytics and visualization tools.

School technology procurement teams can work with their vendors to advocate for interoperability. Learn how to get started by checking out Project Unicorn, a nonprofit coalition of organizations working to support and promote the use of data interoperability in K–12 education.

DIVE DEEPER: Learn why Project Unicorn is promoting data interoperability in the K–12 space.

4. Deploy Analytics and Visualization Tools to Improve Instruction

Though school systems are swimming in student data, teachers are often unable to use it to improve instruction. Digital analytics and visualization tools, which present student data in an accessible and easily understandable way, can help teachers make better instructional decisions to improve student learning. Interactive data visualizations, which allow teachers to drill down and look at data in greater detail, can help educators and administrators answer important questions at the student, classroom, school and district levels.

There are many data analytics and visualization tools available. Some tools, such as Tableau and PowerBI, provide users with multiple customization options and flexibility.

Before purchasing or deploying these tools, first get input from users to understand what data they need access to and what kinds of analytics tools and visualizations will be most helpful.

5. Take a Proactive Approach to Organizationwide Efficiencies

Implementing technology tools that support administrative efficiencies can be a powerful organizationwide timesaving strategy. For example, implementing help desk systems for technology and facility support tickets can help staff triage requests and assist with user communication.

Other potential examples include:

  • Transitioning from paper to online forms
  • Implementing software that automates purchase order requests and common HR processes such as expense reimbursement
  • Defining data validation options in digital forms to help minimize errors

Minimizing the effort that teachers spend on administrative tasks like these frees up time and energy for educators to devote to instruction. Talk to users to identify common pain points and determine how technology can best address them.

MORE ON EDTECH: Upgrade legacy technology to support K–12 educators.

Training teachers to better leverage tools they already use can save time and energy. Educating them about common keyboard shortcuts and tips for using everyday tools, such as Google Workspace for Education or Microsoft Office, can empower teachers to work more efficiently. You can also ask teachers to share their favorite technology timesaving tips and disseminate them across your organization.

A proactive mindset can help ensure that technology supports classroom teachers instead of hindering them.

Studio Firma/Stocksy; fonikum/Getty Images

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