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  • August 10, 2011

Why Aren’t School Administrators Using the Web?

question mark key

We came across a study from the Haselton Group, telling us that “traditional print media remains the most trusted source of information for school administrators”.  And social media, which many businesses and organizations use for practically everything, including researching strategic business decisions, is eschewed by all but a small portion of these district leaders.

The study is based on a survey of 10,000 superintendents, principals, and district-level administrators across the country.  On average, administrators mainly rely on both colleagues (48 percent) and third-party sources (52 percent) to stay informed on best practices, industry news, and new product information.  But, their sources for third-party information skew heavily toward traditional media.  According to Collin Earnst, principal at Haselton Group, industry magazines are still the most-preferred source of independent data. Only one in four district officials follow education-related blogs (including this one, we’re sure), but these resources only apply, on average, for 12 percent of their information gathering.

In contrast, executives in other industries rely heavily on web-based resources for information.  According to research by Forbes Insight, “corporate executives may be just as happy viewing the business information they seek online as they are reading it.”

  • 4 percent hold the Internet as the single most important information source dominating all others such as colleagues, personal networks, trade publications, etc.
  • When it comes to decision making, 53 percent of C-level executives find online information themselves (as opposed to delegating the research)
  • 70 percent of them read “traditional print media” online rather than the paper version, while 69 percent view “traditional broadcast media” on the Internet and not on TV.
  • Search engines are the most valued source of information online with 63 percent of respondents considering them “very valuable.”

If these figures are anywhere near being accurate, we’re perplexed. Why aren’t school district administrators using the vast resources available to them on the web?  With all the clamoring for more transparency, tighter budget control, and greater efficiencies, how come they’re not flocking to the Internet to discuss best practices with their peers, stay current on industry trends, and compare and research new products?  Is it lack of access or lack of interest?  Time constraints? (Although it seems to us it would be a lot quicker to go online).

We’re stumped.  Is this something you see happening in your own district?  Why do you think administrators are not using the Internet to help run their schools’ business operations?  Inquiring minds want to know.

 

  • July 26, 2011

New User Interface Simply Increases Productivity

Hello from K12 Enterprise.  Summer is a great time for vacation, implementing new district projects (no students, few teachers), and in our case, introducing a new user interface.

Built on Microsoft Dynamics NAV, the interface is designed to be streamlined, efficient, and user-friendly.  K12 Enterprise utilizes this technology to deliver features and functionality just for school systems, from complex payroll scenarios to state reporting requirements. There are lots of benefits to the new release you’ll want to read more about, but the one we think you’ll find really helpful (and we’re most excited about)  is the Role-Tailored Client (RTC).

The completely redesigned user interface gives district employees a clear view of relevant tasks and information, and helps them accomplish more each day.  By displaying  frequently used features and important actions and information, RTC gives each employee a personalized and uncluttered window and an overview of upcoming tasks. This intuitive user experience goes a long way toward prioritizing work and maximizing productivity.

Andrew Fass, our CEO sums it up this way: “From day one, school district personnel think ‘This was designed just for me.’  That’s a sign of a system that works exactly the way people need it to.”

And isn’t that a refreshing change – particularly during this long, hot summer.

(Want to learn more?  Go to: http://bit.ly/reWYVT)

 

 

 

 

 

  • July 7, 2011

IT Education Lags Behind – Again

rabbit and turtle picture for blog

First the good news: According to International Data Corporation (IDC) , IT spending will beat total economic growth in the U.S. through the end of 2011.  That should help recovery efforts.  IT expenditures are predicted to top out at 5.6%, while the overall gross domestic product (GDP)  will grow 3% by the end of the year.  The increase will be lead by IT purchasing in the healthcare, media, and professional services sectors.  These industries are each projected to reach a 7% increase.

Now the not-so-good news: IT spending in education is projected to increase by only 3.4% through the end of this year.  It does, however beat IDC’s earlier projection of 1.5%.  The education forecast is the same growth predicted for the insurance industry, and exceeds just a few other verticals (construction, banking, securities/investment services). Education is left in the dust by 12 other segments with stronger growth predictions.

Hardware is responsible for the majority of the increase, due to pent-up demand and delays in refresh cycles.  And core hardware will also be an investment for school districts.

This comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with IT in education, and education funding overall.  The reasons for these disparities are best left for other conversations.  But the fact remains that education routinely trails behind other business segments, and is rarely viewed as a business operation in the first place.  As former Education Secretary Rod Page said, “”Education is the only business still debating the usefulness of technology.”

How can this change?  Perhaps if school administrators and others in district leadership positions start thinking of their school systems as businesses, it might get the ball rolling.  Your thoughts and actions do create reality, after all.  Business IT expenditure are an investment in district success and efficiency.  When most people think of technology in schools, they immediately think of the classroom.  We need to remind them of the benefits of the most current software and hardware for the back office, and how money can be saved (and reallocated) by automating everyday processes.

What’s the situation like in your district?  How has your budget fared during these tough times?  And is business technology last on the list when it comes to budget allocation?  If so, how’s that paradigm shift coming along?

 

  • June 21, 2011

Transparency – What’s Your Policy?

blue pearl transparency

The folks at Katy (TX) ISD have a Q&A page on their website for general inquiries.  It’s an insightful  view of what’s on the minds and in the hearts of the good folks of Katy when it comes to public education.

The posting that caught our eye is the one from April, 2011 where the district addresses  questions about the budget, staffing, and programs for the
2011 – 12 school year.  These queries are not softballs by any means.  They are well-reasoned and carefully thought-out inquires about how the district spends the funding it receives, i.e. taxpayers’ money.

The subject of most of the questions shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone: “Are high administrative salaries the cause of staff reductions?”; “How will reduction of instructional personnel impact class size and student-teacher ratio?”; “Why are we building new schools if we’re laying-off teachers?”.  The administration of Katy ISD does an impressive job of providing clear, understandable, and direct answers to all the posted questions. They should be commended, not only for the quality of their responses, but for tackling these issues in the first place.  They may not have answered every query, and we’re pretty sure there are people who feel their particular concern was not addressed.  But by giving people a forum for discussion, and not ducking the issues, they go a long way toward providing transparency on matters of concern to their constituency.

Oh, and one more thing.  The Katy ISD site provides a link to a document detailing exactly how the budget is spent and which expenditures may be reduced, pending the final state budget.

So how does your district deal with the issue of transparency?  Do you share the financial details of your operation – more than what’s required by law?  If needed, would you be able to easily access the pertinent data?

Tell us your ideas and policies – we’d love to hear how other school systems are responding to community requests for information on budget and other concerns.

 

  • June 10, 2011

We Change – You Win

We’re excited to tell you about recent upgrades to our financial and HR management software specifically for K-12 school districts. The updated version makes it easier than ever for administrators to better manage their school district’s financial health and oversee employee recruitment and retention, among other good things. You can read more in the News section of our website or on CityBizList

Once you’ve taken a look at the advancements, we’re pretty sure you’re going to want to know more.  We’ll be happy to walk you through the changes, and set up an individualized web demonstration for your district.  If you’d rather be part of a group – and hear your peers discuss the school administrative issues they’re facing – join us for our next monthly Web demo on July 14.  It’s easy to  sign up.

  • June 7, 2011

Technology Stampede

Person with images circling around his head

If you think technology is inescapable now, wait until you read this.

A new study released by Cisco Systems foresees a future where technology is considerably more pervasive.  Some predictions include:

  • Internet traffic will grow fourfold by the end of 2015
  • This will lead, for the first time, to zetabyte data sizes
  • Wireless devices will outnumber people by a 2:1 ratio worldwide, and a 5:1 ratio in North America
  • Six percent of all Internet traffic will come from tablet users
  • There will be 15-billion network connections, almost a 50% increase from 2010
  • Forty percent of the world’s population will be Internet users, about three-billion people

Wow.  Within the next four years, experts predict this technology explosion will lead to major bandwidth issues (no kidding), and the speed of broadband will be four times faster than it is today.

Which leads to the questions of how to manage, store, and use all these facts and figures in a meaningful way.  How will this data boom increase the need for powerful  tools that automate data  and facilitate decision-making?  How will business decision-makers successfully sort the significant facts and figures from all the clutter to get what they need?

Information is power, or so the saying goes.  If these predictions come true, information may become an uncontrollable beast. Are your business office resources primed and ready to handle it?

  • May 25, 2011

Cloud Computing – What’s Your Take?

Clouds

Right now cloud computing is THE hot topic among both I.T. and business professionals in K-12 school districts. How do you define cloud computing?  How do you describe its benefits (and its drawbacks) to your superintendent or other administrators? What’s a “hybrid cloud” and should you be using it? And on and on and on…

We came across an interesting, and possibly controversial, article by James Urquhart, a blogger who frequently posts on CNET. He argues that an organization must first categorize their cloud in terms of  a business model or an operations model, and the confusion about how to define those terms is contributing to most of the confusion and debate.

You can find his post here. It’s from the May 13, 2011, online edition of CNET.  As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.  Feel free to post your thoughts right here on our site.

Photo credits: freeimages.com

  • May 19, 2011

Does Your School District Need an ERP System?

Old photo of man working at a typewriter

Let’s face it, purchasing and implementing an ERP solution across your district is a big undertaking involving lots of resources.  And with the current budget environment, it could be difficult for others in your organization to see the benefit and value of a comprehensive financial and human resource management tool that doesn’t appear to have any relationship to what goes on in the classroom.

We came across this terrific article that can help you determine if your district is ready for an ERP system. It includes a list of things to consider before moving forward, as told by the Executive Director for Technology Operations for a Texas school district.

Here’s a quote from the article:

“For an education information system software package to fit the true definition of an ERP, it not only has to serve the needs of people in the finance and business side of the system, but also has to meet the needs of people in human resources and in student accounting.”

Thanks to our friends at EdTech K12 for allowing us to share this article with you. Take a look and let us know your thoughts. Post a comment here on the blog. And if you like this post, be sure to share it with your friends.

  • May 18, 2011

Hello!

Welcome to K12 Enterprise Community

For those of you who aren’t familiar with our product, we provide financial and human resource management software specifically for K-12 school districts.

As a Microsoft Dynamics solution, K12 Enterprise is a proven Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution backed by years of advanced development and successful implementations. Created by financial experts who understand the complexities facing today’s school districts, K12 Enterprise is specifically designed to support the business of learning—to eliminate waste, automate workflow, and inspire collaboration—in short, to optimize your business operations like never before.

We hope you find our blog helpful, informative, and a great source for news about the latest business technology trends in K12 education. We’re also going to toot our own horn a bit, giving you details about what’s going on at K12 Enterprise. An exclusive look into product updates, new clients, customer stories, and other bits and pieces to help you understand the way we work and how our solutions might be a good fit for your school district.

We look forward to your comments and thoughts, since a monologue isn’t nearly as fun as a dialogue. We’d like to hear your stories, your successes, and the challenges you’re facing. And be sure to let us know how we’re doing. You can leave a note right here on the blog. If you like what you read here, be sure to share it with a friend, “like” us, tweet about us, or send us an e-mail. Because without your input, what good is a blog anyway?

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K12 Enterprise, A Microsoft Dynamics Solution. Microsoft's leading financial and HR management software for K-12 school systems.