Educational leaders are the driving force behind continuous improvement in schools. This influence is reflected in the guiding purpose of the online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Educational Leadership program at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). The imparts the progressive skill set educational leaders need in order to improve teacher performance, organizational effectiveness and student achievement in educational institutions.
Information management in educational leadership is central to this progressive skill set, though generally associated with business management. However, effective information management facilitates continuous improvement in any organizational setting, including schools. Given this, understanding modern information management can help educational leaders achieve their most important goals.
What Is Information Management?
Smartsheet describes information management as “making sure that the right people have the right information at the right time.”
Information management involves gathering, organizing, storing, analyzing and using data to support an organization’s needs. Importantly, data (in this context) is raw and unstructured, merely facts. Through processing, organizing and interpreting that data, it becomes information. Analysis of this information can create insight that informs decision-making and action.
The widely used Information Management Body of Knowledge (IMBOK) framework focuses on knowledge areas needed to achieve strategic objectives through information management. These include information technology (IT) and the information systems (IS) incorporating IT. These systems analyze and interpret relevant information through processes that glean insight for decision-making.
Desired benefits inform IT, systems, process and information selection. The strategy identifies opportunities and plans according to organizational needs and ensures information management processes meet those needs. Four process areas (projects, organizational change, operations and performance management) connect knowledge areas in action.
In an iterative, cyclical fashion, strategic imperatives inform benefits. Professionals can use these benefits to define operational targets, which guide process and information selection and establish the user requirements that direct IS selection. Finally, the system requirements inform IT selection and investment.
Why Apply Information Management to Education?
Information management can inform the operational and organizational elements of schools, too. Educational professionals often apply information management to guide business technology integration, projects and operational optimization. Plus, educational leaders, such as the author of IMBOK, also apply information management frameworks to educational improvement processes.
The goal is to use available information resources to help schools achieve desired results, which is the focus of an article by Kim Schildkamp on using data-based decision-making to drive school improvement. Schildkamp maintains that this process should define goals that align with school strategy, policies and mission. These goals inform the collection of relevant data from available sources, including:
- Formal sources (summative assessments)
- Informal sources (formative assessments, informal observation, student and peer self-evaluation)
- Research evidence (academic educational research)
- “Big data” analysis
Analytical interpretation or “sense-making” leads to improved actions, evaluation and ongoing iteration of the school improvement process. This course of action reflects the iterative, strategy- and goal-oriented methods of IMBOK’s information management framework.
Applying information management tools helps professionals achieve specific outcomes and overarching school goals like those of FGCU’s M.S. in Educational Leadership online program. Intended outcomes may be to better differentiate instruction for diverse learners, design more effective curricula or integrate impactful formative assessment practices to inform teaching strategies.
Desired organizational results could also include increasing efficiency in scheduling, budgeting and staff communications. These provide other benefits, like giving teachers time to focus on students and increasing resources for professional development and technology integration.
Information Management Involves Everyone
Towards that end, the COVID-19 pandemic forced rapid integration of remote education technologies, causing significant disruption to educational processes. However, such educational technologies can provide a great deal of real-time data on student learning, achievement, engagement, teacher performance and instructional method efficacy.
These technologies also facilitate efficient, streamlined information management processes. Integrated data visualization tools like dashboards can help administrators and teachers monitor performance continuously and iterate strategies accordingly, further supporting continuous school improvement.
Integrating information management systems and achieving positive outcomes relies on all stakeholders’ willing participation, engagement and input. Schildkamp highlights the central role of leadership in guiding the process from stakeholder involvement, goal setting and data source selection through interpretation and action. Educational leaders inspire, motivate and coach followers, structuring and facilitating the change process while providing the resources and training needed to achieve desired results.
Leadership processes in information management and system integration also support the imperative of educational technology. Digital literacy is an essential 21st-century skill students need. By engaging teachers and parents in information management processes, leaders can bridge digital gaps between home and school as well as gaps between educators.
How an Advanced Degree Can Help
The potential for improving educational and organizational outcomes is reason enough to incorporate modernized information management into educational leadership practices. With every facet of contemporary life, society and education inextricably tied to technology and data, information management is more than a worthwhile pursuit for educators. It has become a critical component of effective educational leadership in the digital era.
Graduates with in educational leadership can become educational professionals with in-demand information technology skills to impact student outcomes. Program courses like the Tech for Educational Leadership course give students the information and management skills to fulfill administrative, instructional and other roles in and outside the classroom.
Learn more about FGCU’s Master of Education in Educational Leadership online program.