Using computers to enhance operations and improve each school’s ability to educate students takes relentless effort and innovation. Computers can be a major component of that success, if the following seven principles are followed:

  1. The overall plan, regardless of the sophistication of the technology to be used, must be designed intelligently, and there must be a commitment to implement it. Technology will not fix basic managerial problems, nor overcome a poorly designed district plan.
  2. Decisions must be based on accurate data. Technology can play a major role in helping staff to collect and analyze data.
  3. Don’t just use software to perform tasks the way they’ve always been done. The period in which new technology is introduced into school management is an excellent to time to review all current practices. Find out where inefficiencies may have arisen–such as in purchasing or bus scheduling–and use this opportunity to improve school processes as well as use technology.
  4. Commit resources to training all staff members in the use of technology. Make sure that training is oriented toward the equipment and software that is being used, whether it’s specialized or off the shelf.
  5. Top administrators must make a public display of their commitment to technology by using it.
  6. Use as few different information systems as possible, so that duplication of effort (and of software) can be avoided.
  7. However, accept that different systems are likely to be used. That means it’s important to be able to access information from each system and then merge and share it. For example, analysis of a student lunch program may require purchasing records, maintenance information, payroll data, student health data, and information about government program eligibility. This information is not likely to be housed in a single database.