We are all feeling the ripple effects of the coronavirus outbreak. Schools, as the first point of socialisation, are of course no exception. In some countries, they were even the first affected, with governments pausing the school year to try and mitigate the local transmission of the virus.
It’s not all bad news, though.
While we understand the uncertainty and disruption that such an outstanding event brings to our daily lives, there is a bright side: Institutions, companies, and even individuals that are often stuck in cyclical behaviour can benefit tremendously from a sudden stop in motion. When the urgent stops being urgent, there’s suddenly time to focus on the important.
Now it is as good (perhaps the best!) a time as ever to finally take steps to work towards much-needed and elusive changes in your organisation. To help you be proactive in times of uncertainty and get your creative juices flowing, we’ve created a list of significant, fundamental changes you can propose in your organisation. We tried to focus on areas that affect all educational institutions equally, and that represent asymmetrical (low risk/cost = high reward) opportunities to empower your organisation. We also, going along with the times, have focused on areas that require little to none face-to-face interaction, and that can be addressed remotely. So read on, and let innovation flow through you!
#1: Cybersecurity and back-end solutions.
If schools are the #1 target for cyberattacks, it’s because of the same reason no one would think to put cybersecurity on the first spot of this list.
In general, schools have outdated systems holding valuable information, often mishandle financial data, have unqualified personnel with limited IT background handling technology, and rarely, if ever, update their systems. This, of course, leaves them open to attacks, which can cause issues that affect both finances and student’s lives.
On the positive side, most schools don’t need much to get up to date on their cybersecurity practices. There are even DIY online courses that can help you get up to speed in the middle of this crisis, something that can, and will be useful down the line.
#2: Set up extracurricular online-friendly programs.
What can you do to remain productive through a forced break?
In an era when more and more people are turning into alternative education solutions and homeschooling, a common criticism of traditional educational institutions is the lack of diversity in curricula.
Schools have a major role in society, going far beyond academic standards. We are not here to advise you to change your whole approach to education, but, in a time of crisis, the lack of materials and diverse online options created by educational institutions come to show, and that is something you can definitely work on during this pandemic.
Get creative! You can:
- Set up programs where teachers can drop resources for students to continue or reinforce their education.
- Create special libraries and repositories for online content that students (and maybe even parents) can review.
- Or even use this as an opportunity to offer online courses on areas untouched by traditional education, like meditation and personal finance. There are platforms like Coursera or Udemy that you can use for this.
#3: Have the hard conversations and recession-proof your institution.
We all prefer not to think about it, but an extended pandemic of unknown length will likely create economic imbalance. The adage says to expect the best and prepare for the worst, and this is definitely a time where you should do it proactively instead of working in hindsight. Along with the key people in your organisation, plan a meeting, and work out how you would act were the worst to happen, and see where you can meet the curve before things escalate.
Some questions to help you get started are:
- Where is the majority of our income coming from? What would happen if this source were to get sliced by 30%? What if all other sources disappeared?
- What easy-to-make budget cuts would give us an extra cushion but have a low impact on our overall functioning?
- Where do we have personnel that we can’t afford to lose? What would happen if X important person were to get sick/have to leave for an extended time? What can we do right now to protect us from this possibility?
- If we applied all these changes and nothing terrible was to happen, would that cripple or empower our organisation even further? What can we do to make sure it’s the latter?
They say obstacle is the way and, on this occasion, we have no other option than to think so. We know that the next months will likely be strange for many in business and life but, at the end of the day, the crisis of today will create the leaders of tomorrow.
We hope this article serves you well towards reinventing your school!