COVID 19 and the Pandemic of 2020 has certainly caused many of us to react differently to how we respond as consumers or even within our public education arena. Some truths have become evident and known in recent months:
- Business travel was limited with many business activities taking place via virtual meeting arenas
- Dining out – a luxury or in some cases a daily occurrence for some, either became non-existent or moved to curbside pickup, Grubhub, Uber Eats or DoorDash
- Public education was forced quickly last spring to a remote learning environment. Some of the same corporate tools were deployed in the classroom to continue the learning process. That process continued into the fall with countless remote learning tools and applications.
- Worship rhythms changed dramatically and moved to Facebook Live or a live streaming environment
- Grocery shopping changed as well, to an online curbside pickup or home delivery environment
- Movies and other entertainment options have relied heavily on live streaming tools like Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus, Hulu and Sling and this list goes on and on
- Banking and financial services transitioned to online banking or mobile applications when most bank and other business lobbies closed
Technology was not created because of the pandemic. In fact, technology allowed us to continue some level of normalcy within the pandemic. We must assume that technology and the many tools (many more not listed above) were created for “our convenience”, and just deployed more readily and quickly in response to the pandemic.
As I near the big 50 in years, I look back on my education. How and when was technology used in the classroom? Filmstrips come to mind almost immediately, which dates me for sure. All three of our kids are products of public education, and my wife is a twenty-year classroom educator inside public education. The foundation of education is the same but the tools and the way our kids were taught is different. I invite you to compare the dissection of frogs and the unique smell of formaldehyde – to today and an interactive autopsy table inside a classroom. Or compare the collaboration with students today in different countries and consider simple real time support from the web and the many tools it provides. The pandemic did not create these technology solutions for the classroom. It quickly advanced the reality that technology is a tool for success and efficiency inside the classroom and in everyday life. If there is a silver lining within this horrific global event, it was the catalyst for using the tools that already existed in many facets of our lives.
My entire career has been in support of public education. While most of my work has been focused on the administrative side, I feel very passionate that my work has a direct impact on student success across Kansas. The technology tools schools deploy are vast, all to create efficiencies and better student success outcomes. In my 25 years I have seen many advancements including:
- Great advancements
- Laptops and desktops replacing typewriters
- Online vendor and accounts payable tools
- E-meeting solutions for board meetings
- Payroll and many other software advancements
- Online enrollment and payment options for patrons and students
In school “business” outside of personnel, the second (or certainly in the top five) expenditure is employee benefits and the cost of providing insurance. Schools have made many advancements in technology, but still rely heavily on a system of support in this area, built in the 1970’s. In many cases, this system is designed and supported by insurance companies that have internal systems built to perpetuate the fear and confusion around insurance. For the most part, this fear and confusion supports the insurance companies’ business model and distribution channel. In other words, it is not the lack of commitment to technology from education and not even the fear of not understanding insurance by the employees that has slowed its technological progress in employee benefits.
KASB relies heavily on being the “truth machine” and truth teller within all things education. I greatly value our mission and it aligns closely with my work in support of public education for decades. In my opinion, the lack of advancements and technology supporting business administrators and employee benefits is centered squarely on the antiquated systems vendors use. These vendors are not supporting needs of most classroom teachers and administrators in the insurance arena at all.
For many of us, maybe the global pandemic forced us to use tools that have been present for years? Why should our use of technology inside and outside the classroom in support of student success be different? My guess is it is not you. It may be the old systems from legacy vendors that are in your way. I encourage you to expect better!