New software in your school? Look before you leap


A disastrous start of the school year

This year’s start of the school year could not have been any worse.  I’m talking about the implementation of the new software that seems to have evidence of amazing accomplishments;

With more than 3.5 million users of our school solutions, Visma is a market leader in Northern Europe. Our solutions contribute to a more efficient and flexible school administration, from kindergarten to higher education and adult learning. Visma InSchool is number one in the market of school administration software in Finland. Source: Visma

No wonder our County Council was intrigued. Anyone could easily fall for this kind of advertisement. To boost, they conducted a trial with two or three schools in our county before implementation. That turned out to have little value. The system just does not work in our schools.

Most schools in most countries have to abide by the decisions made by others. And that is very frustrating, to say the least. Even in my wildest dreams, I’m not sure how this could have been any worse than it turned out to be. It is strange that a system that is so successful in Europe, and Finland, could be difficult to implement in our county?

I guess my point is that every country is different when it comes to how we arrange our schools, and we have to honor that. And times are changing, right? We all agree that school should not be the same as it was 5-10 years ago? And that means that people who develop software for schools today need to listen closely and carefully to those who work in schools today and know if the boot fits.

Me, I would like a system that is visionary. That allows students to present their mastery when they are ready. Where each student can make individual decisions, where they allow flexible schedules, lunch brakes when we need it and can even let a second-year student choose third-year students subjects.

In the system we have now; those are “castles in the air “as we would say in Norwegian.

Common guidelines for implementing a new software system

  1. Listen to the users, what are their needs, what is important in the day to day management?
  2. Testing, testing, and testing. Be careful with choosing schools that try this out. Are they reliable? Are they flexible? Do they represent all the schools that will use this?
  3. Are the users onboard? Do they have the will to do this? Changing a system is hard work. Is it worth it? What is in it for me, a good question to ask
  4. What else is going on when we do this? In Norway, we are getting prepared for a new school reform. Is this the right moment to switch an important data system? Can we wait a year or two? Will it matter?
  5. Are we sure the software is ready?

Change is good, but too many at the same time could be disastrous

Why did I choose to write about this now? The answer is that today I just learned that our county is also planning on changing our LMS next year.

Brace for impact is my only advice.

We have had a disastrous fall in 2019. Norway is preparing for a school reform in 2020. So my question is;  is 2020 the year we should change our LMS? Really? Seriously?

Why not be sensible and wait. No harm done if we do!

 

 

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