Digital Strategies

A brief overview and insights of how a digital strategy fits within an educational environment


In education we rely on technology for admin efficiency and educational transformation. To harness the benefits and successfully implement technology a holistic understanding of Educational Technology (EdTech) is required. Software and Hardware are often the first point of any strategy overlooking important key issues which range from infrastructure to human resources. Furthermore, distinguishing the roles technology plays in education gives us insights into common pitfalls leading to a more coherent digital strategy.

The following views are based on my own experiences with technology. Coming from a background in Industry with extensive experience of system development combined with my present role as a Teacher, Computing Lead and Whole School EdTech has allowed me to act as a bridge between the management, teachers, techies, parents and students.

Roles of technology

In the majority of educational establishments technology falls under 3 areas:

Infrastructure & Operations

This is usually the IT technician role, dealing with internet connectivity, networking, devices, account management, user support, digital security and anti-virus, hardware procurement

Information Services & Data

Management of school data systems (MIS), business analytics, internal reporting and reporting to parents, communications, streamlining of functional process etc.

Educational Technology

Integration of digital learning into the curriculum, professional development training for teachers, innovating use of classroom technology, digital skills coach to staff and students etc.

The above will all functional well provided the right skill sets make up the various teams but certain questions remain. What is their direction? Who decides how hey work together? The answer usually comes in the form of a senior management but is this the right person? Do they have correct skillset?

common issues

Digital Literacy

The level of digital literacy amongst teachers is fundamental to being able to harness the various tools available. Schools introduce new tools without the correct training or support. Tech training must be embedded into a school professional development plan giving teachers and staff a base level of literacy.


Almost in all cases a pre-requisite is to have good Internet connectivity. Not having a suitable connection to buildings will almost certainly prevent institutions from reaping any potential benefits. Furthermore, actual connection quality within a building is determined by the physical arrangement of WiFi and network hardware.

Human Resource & Capability

Having the right person skilled for the job is a given. However, we find that often misunderstanding the nature of the job can lead to having the wrong person performing a job they are not qualified to do. Having roles in place for each of the three areas along with leaders ensures a strong team. The three areas mentioned previously will work independently within their specialism and have a level of autonomy but this often leads to a loss of a holistic focus within the establishment. Leaders may be experts in education and not technology, support or a specialist skill set that combines elements of all 3 areas would be needed.


The traditional approach to technology in schools is to have an IT technician, members of the admin department managing the school MIS and tech-savvy teachers working with educational technology as well as a reasonably full teaching load. Usually each area operates completely independently of the other (different budgets, line management, physical locations) which results in a disjointed approach to development as each department has their own priorities. It is up to the Principal to have a holistic view and try to prioritise investment and support, which is a difficult task. As our use of technology has increased exponentially many schools try to cope with the demand for support by adding additional human resources into these segregated departments, if budget allows. However the structure remains unchanged there may not be a clear vision for the use of technology, therefore the investment may not be in the optimum area.

Capacity for Innovation

Another issue when assessing requirements for technology staffing is to factor in capacity for innovation to deal with the speed of change. The amount of time it takes to research, design, test, master, implement and share a new innovation should not be underestimated, couple this solution development cycle with evolving requirements and emerging technologies and you come to understand that the “experts” need to build in considerable capacity to be able to “innovate” and stay ahead of the general users.

Procurement Capability

Schools spend millions towards technology costs, both for hardware and software. At times not knowing the true costs of contracts and maintenance fees. Leading to a a loss of value and not being able to maximize the benefits of teaching and learning.

Procurement choices must be made by a suitable person who has a clear understanding of the technology they intend to purchase.

Safety, Privacy & Data

Concern about privacy, safety, and data security and how education providers and students are being protected. The poor implementation or a poor product itself can be cause of safety and privacy concerns.

A digital strategy

Every establishment needs a Digital Strategy. For larger regional or global organizations multiple sub strategies could be adopted to cater for the needs of the local context that would ultimately work towards the group vision.

Strategies must have a clear vision with suitable aims. Objectives and key goals must be clearly defined which are based on context. Each goal must be measurable and realistic. The underlying fundamental and ongoing goal for any digital strategy is digital literacy. Strategies will vary depending on school contexts which includes factors such as infrastructure, cost and staff expertise.

The successful implementation of any strategy means being able to measure the objectives in a meaningful way. Strategies must have established specific milestones that will together lead to the end vision. This can come in many forms and phases. Once method for this is having a scale or spectrum for digital maturity.

Digital MAturity

A schools digital maturity can be assessed based on a spectrum broken down into core areas. These core areas will fall within a schools context and digital vision. The following fundamental core target areas would make a good staring point:

Leadership: Leadership integrates digital learning as a core aspect of the school’s improvement and transformation. The impact is demonstrated through the whole school commitment to integrating digital learning and finding new and innovative ways to enrich and enhance the learning experience of students and adults.

Adult Learning: Coaching and mentoring are routine in the school. Learning communities are used to guide and support adult learning, with a strong inquiry focus.

Student Learning: Digital technology is seamlessly woven into the learning experience. In most case, students lead the use of technology, judging what, when, and how to utilise for maximum impact. Personalised learning strategies are regularly used to empower students to own their learning and support agency.

Curriculum Design: The embedded curriculum is innovatively designed to go beyond expectations. As a result, the students are able to use a broad range of computing skills to impact positively on different areas of applied learning.

Parent engagement: Almost all parents are fully engaged in and many contribute to a highly effective ed-tech strategy. Embedded technology allows for effective parental engagement in student learning and school life...

A range of effective tools and strategies are used and understood by almost all parents, which results in strong progress for students and greater connections for parents.

Assessment: Digital technology is used as an integral aspect of assessment. The seamless use of tech results in teaching being sharply focused on the needs of students due to precise diagnosis of learning need.

The use of tech to support assessment results in a dialogue which supports students and provides teaches

Digital competency and citizenship: Students are exemplary digital citizens. This is demonstrated through their articulate and competent use of technology accompanied by a sophisticated explanation of ‘why, how and what’ in relation to their learning. Students use digital learning to innovate and take a role in educating others within and beyond their school. Students can actively and independently demonstrate how digital learning contributes to their understanding as a global citizen.

Wellbeing: Teachers and students are confident and capable of choosing the most appropriate technologies for every task they set out to do. School staff are an outstanding example of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and have reached high levels of productivity and efficiency, finding ways and tools to minimise distractions. Students and teachers have built meaning connections with other schools in and out of the group and frequently engage in collaboration with them. The school has taken planned out steps to create a safe digital environment for staff and students, it regularly collects feedback about their staff and students’ digital wellbeing and takes actions accordingly.


In the age of data where technology is an essential tool in all educational environments not having a digital strategy would lead to missing out on the benefits technology brings. The content of such strategies is dependent on many factors and the execution should be systematic and well thought through. Having the right expertise and human resource and knowing about common issues will determine the success of the overall digital approach taken.