How Integration Can Transform Operations And Increase Efficiency

Nearly every action or process today has been brought into the digital age. Specific technologies have been created to handle the boring, repetitive, time consuming aspects of our jobs to allow us to focus on what we do best. For example, when it comes to organizing massive amounts of data, technology is much quicker and more precise than we are, making it more practical to have a system in place that manages data for us. While technology takes care of the data, we can focus on the human aspects of our jobs like communication, creativity, analysis, and strategy.

Tech In Education

In the education sector, countless new technologies have emerged to influence how students learn, teachers teach, and schools operate. Student information systems, learning management systems, smartboards, ebooks, cloud storage, countless apps, and more have been introduced and are now integral to the way schools function.

Technology Needs Input

While technology is advancing at an exponential rate, becoming ever more complex and impressive, it still requires someone or something to put it into action. To work correctly, these systems need a constant influx of data. 

The question is, how does technology receive the data it needs to function as intended?

There are two answers to this question: either through manual data entry, or by receiving data from another piece of technology that captured the data. The second option is made possible by a process called integration.

Pitfalls Of Manual Data Entry

Your school gathers data every single day in the form of attendance records, grades, participation, which could be thousands of data points each day. Luckily technology has been built to handle that data.  

If your instructors and administrators are weighed down by manually entering data into each system that you have at your school, technology is likely hampering efficiency. Your school is missing out on a huge efficiency gain by having your staff spend hours updating and uploading data into a system. It takes them away from the other responsibilities of their jobs and makes the data susceptible to human error. 

For example, if an instructor is taking attendance on pen and paper, they either have to send that sign-in sheet to an admin or enter that into a spreadsheet themselves. Then the admin must take that spreadsheet and upload it to the different systems used at their school. This whole process means that at least two people need to handle that data just to get it into the system. 

Having four or five software systems at your school to help improve processes is great, but their utility is maximized only if they can communicate with each other.

Integration Is Key

Using what’s known as an application programming interface, or API, developers can configure the capabilities of technology to enable the exchange of data between them.

But how integration works is less important than why it is so powerful. By allowing a free flowing exchange of data between systems at a school, integration creates an ecosystem of technology that works together instead of working simultaneously as separate point solutions.

Zero Or Minimal Manual Data Entry

Integration dramatically decreases the amount of manual data entry. Instead of uploading the same data to separate systems, staff would only need to upload the data once and that data would be shared with every piece of integrated technology. 

In some cases, integration can eliminate manual data entry completely. For example, if a school has an automated attendance solution in place, daily attendance data can be captured and uploaded to the SIS automatically without requiring any staff to touch it. 

Transform The Role Of School Staff

While systems constantly receive and manage the data through integration, the role of school staff can transform to be much more analytical. Instead of being the source of data for the technology and then being asked to examine it, staff can analyze data and take action on trends or one-off situations. What’s more, data can be shared instantly, allowing staff to discover outliers or trends much quicker than if they had to rely on manual data entry. This early analysis allows staff to take action right away. 

More Opportunity To Focus On Students

The time saved through bypassing manual data entry is a huge factor for staff. What could previously take up hours per week has been reduced to just minutes (or can be eliminated completely). The hours saved allow staff to spend more time with students, colleagues, or refining curricula. This is especially helpful in career schools, where non-traditional students benefit the most from facetime with school faculty.

Seek Integration

If your school has multiple pieces of technology in place that don’t actively share data between each other, see if they offer integration capabilities that you aren’t utilizing yet. And if you’re considering adopting technology in the future, make sure that it can integrate with the systems your school already has in place. Otherwise, you may be stuck entering in and uploading data into the systems that are supposed to be saving you time and energy.

Let technology work for you instead of you working for technology. 

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