Information technology is an essential aspect of every school. Students and teachers use computers to consume and create digital information. Administrators and staff use cloud-based student information and business systems to manage data and facilitate operations. Librarians manage digital collections and subscriptions to full-text databases, and technology specialists support learning management systems and other infrastructure to support mission-critical communication and interaction.
Much of the knowledge and skill needed to install and operate enterprise IT systems lies outside their areas of expertise, so school leaders retain IT professionals to install and manage the IT systems in their schools. They hire IT professionals who operate and maintain the IT on a daily basis, and they hire outside consultants for major redesign projects, installations, and upgrades.
While this is a very reasonable situation (nobody wants an IT professional to be running a school and no one wants an education professional to be running IT), it does pose a problem: School administrators must supervise school IT professionals and they must evaluate school IT decisions, but they lack the expertise to provide the necessary oversight. They may not even understand the challenges faced by the IT professionals they employ, or the reasonableness of the demands or limits they place on IT professionals and systems as a result of their decisions.
To provide an objective assessment of the existing IT infrastructure and practices, school and technology leaders can retain outside professionals to audit their IT systems. This must be an external assessment that complements, but does not replace internal assessments.