All schools use a range of software for teaching and learning, as well as for their administrative and support operations. In most cases, these applications are stored and made available using a mixture of CD-ROM, USB, computer imaging, VLE hosting and online subscription. This often becomes a legion of applications over time and, in most schools, the bulk of the staff use only a few of them with any regularity. Other than storage, licensing costs and loss of support for older software, the problem with having such a broad range of applications is that when considering new, innovative technology, busy schools can find it difficult to be certain of the benefit of using what they’ve got. Senior leaders can also meet resistance from staff who are uncertain of the benefit of moving away from their ageing, but trusted, applications.
One successful way to tackle this is to ensure that staff can see how they would use O365 to perform their daily tasks. By showing staff that they can save time, improve outcomes and generally make their everyday lives easier, they can begin to make their own judgements about why it would be a good idea to make the jump from their old software.
Here are the steps to making that happen:
Clarify the benefits of O365 with your leadership team
Getting the message across to staff requires buy-in from those at the top. Without this, staff will not get a consistent message about why it is a good idea to consider moving. Microsoft produce an enormous amount of collateral to support the reasons why O365 delivers faster, easier storage and sharing of files, along with clear examples of how their range of applications helps teachers and support staff alike. A good step would be to contact a distributor in the education market and ask for a presentation to the leadership team.
Demonstrate the Impact to Staff
Within each school is a number of key processes that are carried out by groups of people, for example where teachers set, mark and provide feedback on assignments for students, or where a number of people are involved in putting together the school newsletter. The role of each person and the software they use in these processes can be identified then mapped against the features and software offered within O365. This should then be presented to key personnel to giving them the opportunity to see how their working day would be improved by the move. This should help them feel more confident about adopting the school’s planned changes.
Manage the Changes
Without a clear plan for moving staff onto O365, the transition will be bumpy at best, or disastrous at worst. Change needs to be a managed process that places as few obstacles as possible into the natural flow of everyone’s day. Your overall plan must include timed stages, with enough space between them to ensure people are moved over to the new software without disruption. A good plan will contain a significant number of actions and tasks. These will vary according to what is being attempted, but the following should be in any school change management plan:
- A named person responsible for delivering the plan
- Authority from the headteacher
- A set of tasks that ensure the plan and ongoing progress are communicated regularly to staff
- Timed stages
- A set of tasks to arrange training sessions, based on duties and responsibilities, not functionality
- An iterative process of regular review and refinement
Moving a school forward is never an easy task, but as with any strategic objective, the move to O365 is a far easier transition if you can bring your staff with you. 9ine has considerable experience in the implementation of O365 and change management processes. Our teaching and learning consultants are also certified Microsoft Innovative Educators. Get in touch for an informal discussion about how your school might begin to benefit from O365.