31 Days to Become a Better Ed Tech Leader -- Day 6: Find Quick Wins

A task a day for 31 daysIf you have been reading and carrying out, or at least thinking about, the tasks so far, you're now in a position to think about quick wins.

I said on Day 1 that the last thing you want to do is go in changing everything before you've had a chance to see what's going on. In fact, I read some advice for new Heads of Department to the effect that you should make no suggestions in senior management meetings until you've been in post for at least half a term. That may not be entirely feasible, but there's a grain of common sense there, and the same applies here. A major change, like getting rid of the computer labs altogether, may fly in the face of everything the school holds dear and has been working towards for years, in which case you'd have a hard time even getting the idea off the ground. Big changes need time and ground work.

But quick wins, as the term suggests, are different. They are small changes which you can bring about immediately, or almost immediately, but which have a profound effect. The key thing is that they are often incredibly simple. Here are some examples from my own experience:

Putting a printer in each computer lab

In the school I joined as Head of ICT, there were two and a half computer labs (one was really a Business Studies room), but only one really expensive printer, which was locked away in the server room. Indeed, it was so expensive that when it went wrong the call-out charge for a service engineer cost £60 (approximately $90) — and that was before they even did anything. And hardly anyone used it anyway, because it was locked away.

At that time, new inkjet printers cost around £70, so it made perfect economic sense to buy three of them and install one in each room. Suddenly, printing out your work was easy and natural instead of the dreadful hassle it had been. Bringing about this change took just a week, from placing the order to having the new printers up and running on the school network.

Changing the room-booking procedure

Another small change, which was big really, was changing the way the computer labs could be booked by non-ICT classes. It took me about an hour to change the procedure such that it would now take someone two or three minutes to book a room instead of an hour or more. I'll be saying more about what I did on another Day.

If you've just joined the school, or if you followed Doug Woods' advice, namely:

Try looking around your school as if you were a visitor and see what perception it gives.

you're in a great position to look at the situation with fresh eyes — a situation which most people have become so used to that they never question it.

Making small changes can have a big effect on what you might call 'the user experience'. The benefit usually far outweighs the effort involved. So now that you've carried out a SWOT analysis (Day 1), walked around the school (Day 4) and thought about what you'd do if you had bucketfuls of cash (Day 5), have a think about what you could change or put into place today or tomorrow that would make a huge difference to the way your colleagues, and the students, perceive and use educational technology in the school.