How might schools benefit from Web2.0?

Interesting report just released from the McKinsey organisation, reporting on a survey of companies using Web2.0 applications and the impact of this on their business.The research project sought to get a clear idea of whether companies are deriving measurable business benefits from their investments in the Web

The report is pretty optomistic, concluding:

69 percent of respondents report that their companies have gained measurable business benefits, including more innovative products and services, more effective marketing, better access to knowledge, lower cost of doing business, and higher revenues. Companies that made greater use of the technologies, the results show, report even greater benefits.

McKinsey also found that found that successful companies not only tightly integrate Web 2.0 technologies with the work flows of their employees but also create a “networked company,” linking themselves with customers and suppliers through the use of Web 2.0 tools.

The report provides a series of breakdowns to identify what the measures of benefits are, and illustrate exactly how and in what areas these benefits are occurring.

This got me to thinking about the use of Web2.0 in education. There’s been lots of talk (quite appropriately) about the use of Web2.0 tools for learning, as a part of the daily teaching and learning programmes with students, but what about the impact of Web2.0 technologies on the business of schools? If a similar survey were to be conducted among schools, I wonder what would be said about the impact in terms of our productivity, cost of doing business, communications with stakeholders, marketing etc – plus (the real interest for me), the potential for creating a truly networked education system?

I can certainly cite plenty of isolated examples that are occurring around the country – but I wonder how we’d fare if an objective metric were applied? Has anyone in schools done this sort of analysis?

3 thoughts on “How might schools benefit from Web2.0?

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  2. If you asked most teachers who McKinsey and Associates are, they would not have a clue. There are also those who believe that what happens in business has no place in education because education is about the kids while business is about profit. Hence the huge time lag between business take up of technology and educational take-up of technology. There are many elements of organisational theory and practice that apply to both business organisations and to educational organisations – why then do business organisations do so many of these things better than a the majority of educational organisations? I have to admit that I struggle with this concept, because I recognise and support the need for public education but am dismayed at the variability in standards and systems across the NZ education system, which impacts on the ability to be truly networked. It also impacts on the take up of technology in schools. I obviously do not have the answer to this issue, but definitely feel the frustration.

  3. I share your thoughts Conor – we tend to separate the notion of education and business, and perhaps with good reasons I guess. BUT – the fact of the matter is that our schools ARE businesses, and their business is learning. That’s what differentiates schools from a manufacturing business, for instance, where their business in manufacturing widgets. Schools educate students – and that’s a very different proposition in terms of the thinking, processes and outcomes we are on about. But it doesn’t change the fact that as an organisation they are a business. They have HR systems to consider, financial management, property issues, content management, student management, logistics and strategic planning, staff communications etc etc. These are exactly the same issues that business are grappling with, and for which they have invested significant amounts of time and money to get right, because they realise that in doing so, they will be better able to focus on what is their core business, in the case of schools – student learning. The conversations going on at the moment in the MLE group, for instance, are indicative of that – so much of what is being talked about is simply business management, reflecting the needs of the business, but business management none-the-less. And in that sense we have a lot we can learn from the broader business sector.

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