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We hear a lot about data in education. Data dashboards. Data-rich. Data-informed. It’s everywhere. What leaders in schools really need though is information.

Something that children are taught as part of their Computer Science education at quite an early age is the definition of and difference between ‘data’ and ‘information’. In terms of technology, data is a value or set of values that have no context. Information is similar but it is data that has been given context.

What school leaders need is contextual information about their schools. Whether that’s information about assessment, attendance, engagement, online safety or usage of technology – leaders need this, because, at a macro level, such as that for which they have responsibility, information is key in helping them make informed decisions.

Just like their teacher counterparts, leaders are time-poor and so they don’t have the capacity to give context to the raw data that is coming in. Nor do they have the time to travel around to all the school sites and check important information that they need.

With that in mind, here are the top five things you should be seeking from your device and IT estate management systems to help drive access to contextual information – and not data – to support tracking and decision making:

1. Knowledge of what tech is being used

After salaries, technology forms some of the largest expenditures in schools, so it’s right that leaders should want to know what kind of return on their investment is taking place with the technology that has been purchased across the IT landscape in their organisation.

2. Knowledge of what hot topics students are talking about

We all know how important online safety and safeguarding are for our learners. Whether you’re looking at COPPA, KCSIE or guidance from ISTE, ensuring your learners are safe online is a key part of the responsibility we have in loco parentis for our learners. Keyword tracking tools that can contextually pick up what learners are chatting about, for example in Microsoft Teams chat, or what searches they’re performing or what notes they’re sending to each other in Microsoft Word… insights into trending discussions can help to keep on top of potential issues before they become problems. The additional benefit is that as a school, trust or district, you can flex and respond in an agile way, thanks to the contextual knowledge you have from the software you’re using.

3. Knowledge of software utilisation: how and by whom

Just as leaders will want to know how hardware is being used, they’ll want to know whether software that has been purchased is being used, how frequently and by whom. There’s no

point in paying for expensive education licences for software for everyone to use and have access to if it’s only being used once a month with one class on a Friday afternoon.

4. Knowledge of the top educational resource websites being visited

Again, leaders need to know which resources are being accessed most frequently. It helps with sharing about what’s working across the whole district or trust landscape and can open up lots of opportunities for collaboration, sharing and supporting professional learning around their use.

5. Insights on whether devices have received critical updates/software needed to keep students safe

Additionally, making sure everything is as secure as it can be is super-important. With increasing numbers of ransomware attacks hitting schools and the potential for security leaks, those in leadership must know at a glance where any issues could occur and what needs to be done to ensure secure coverage. Just as schools make sure fences surrounding their perimeter are free from holes, they’ll want the same for their IT estate. The last thing a district or trust needs is an avoidable back door that can allow undesirable activity to take place, putting data and information from within a setting at risk.

So what?

Well… fortunately, there’s an app for that: NetSupport DNA.

With our award-winning ‘best of class’ software solution, you can achieve all of the above and so much more besides.

From the trending keywords word cloud that is part of its safeguarding module, from reports that can share all of the above and more, NetSupport DNA is well worth a look at for your school, district or trust.

Learn more by visiting NetSupport DNA’s website https://www.netsupportdna.com/education/. To ask any questions, simply jump on a live chat – and be sure to download a free trial to see how NetSupport DNA can become part of the lifeblood of your school!