Sociotechnical systems

Education and schools are now sociotechnical systems and we need to pay attention to what that means. Ian Sommerville’s video explains it clearly and well so that you can understand the implications and the concept. It is now a discipline of study which has actually been around since the 60s but the implications of it and the necessity of it are  becoming clear.

“Sociotechnical systems are systems which include technical systems but also operational processes and people who use and interact with the technical system. “  Anywhere where people and technology are working together as part of a network with the intention of achieving organisational goals. If you look at the sociotechnical systems stack, you not only have a clear idea of how people and technology can work together, you also become more aware of how and where you should be focussing your attention for trouble shooting or improvement:

2.Operating system
3.Communications and data management
4.Application system
5.Business processes
6. Organisation
7. Society

Teachers have been busy in the last few years working in the area of application system to find the right tool, apps, software, devices and approaches to ensure students are meeting curriculum and examination board outcomes and requirements but also to establish what can and cannot be done with different aspects of technology in a classroom. They are now , probably, in a good position to give reliable and valid feedback which would grow that area. They are also in a position to align what they are doing with technology to school site plans and national curricula so that we can better define what can be achieved, what is being achieved, and more importantly address the pitfalls and sticking points. One of the more obvious ones , at the moment, is how to address electronic work which does not appear to be that of the student whether that is in a class situation or an exam one. We need to look at that and use our experience to remedy it. Before we were all trying to get it all up and running.

There is a similar growth which could take place in the communications and data management area. It is happening but we need to be looking at it clearly so that national bodies, school bodies and everyone connected to the education sociotechnical system can communicate better and more effectively in house, locally, nationally and internationally. The system stack is a convenient way to look at the sociotechnical system in schools to make sound judgements as to what can be improved, enhanced, addressed. It means you have a way of looking at the good processes occurring and then the ones which might be diverting the system from working optimally. Before we  continue  to extend and build our education sociotechnical systems we need to build in  review and reflection points of our systems. That kind of self-awareness will only grow our capacity to manage our sociotechnical system competently.


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