Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

What Are the Relationships between Teachers' Engagement with Management Information Systems and Their Sense of Accountability?

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

What Are the Relationships between Teachers' Engagement with Management Information Systems and Their Sense of Accountability?

Article excerpt

Introduction

The following study focuses on the implementation and use of Management Information Systems (MIS) in schools. Originally used in the corporate world, MIS provide vital information and analytical tools that are essential for an efficient and effective management of schools. Several writers have celebrated the ways in which MIS successfully provide schools with organizational and pedagogical enhancements (Blau & Feldman, 2012; Telem, 1995; Visscher, Wild, & Fung, 2001). However, so far there has been little discussion about the effects that MIS have on their users. Within this limited body of research, studies have mostly focused on the perspectives of head teachers (Blau & Presser, 2013; Haughey, 2003; Selwood & Drenoyianni, 1997). Nevertheless, far too little attention has been given to the perspectives of teachers, who represent the majority of the MIS user base.

This study takes the social construction of technology approach (SCOT) to suggest that technology is a manifestation of the social realm, and thus it bears different and even contradicting interpretations by players of potential interest. In the light of this approach, a critical discussion of MIS will be conducted by considering the perspectives and interpretations of teachers concerning the nature of MIS. As the literature review will suggest, the implementation and use of MIS in schools are associated with neoliberal policies, which aim to transform schools into 'businesslike' organizations that abide by principles of accountability. The major objective of the study is to investigate the relationships between teachers' engagement with MIS and their sense of accountability.

Literature Review

As a matter of public interest, schools regularly find themselves the focus of numerous reforms, aimed at making education more relevant and consistent with the world outside. Moreover, as public institutes that rely on taxpayers' money, schools are under continuous scrutiny to perform efficiently and effectively. In the past, efficiency and effectiveness in education were measured by the schools' abilities to produce knowledgeable and moral students, able to successfully participate in and contribute to society. Today, however, schools are faced with different expectations that seek to equip education with 'business- like' terminology, comprising of 'three interrelated policy technologies; the market, managerialism and performativity' (Ball, 2003, p. 215). This neoliberal discourse views schools as service providers, students as consumers, and education as the offered service.

A common thread among studies that describe the effects of implementing neoliberal practices in schools is the growth in performance data (Ball, 2003; Perry & McWilliam, 2007; Perryman, 2006). As Ozga (2009) writes:

'Data grew in significance from the late 1970s and expression of anxiety about standards and underperformance, linked to attempts to promote 'goodpractice ', through the 1980s and the rapid buildup of quality assurance processes that required specific data to be produced.' (p.153)

Today, schools require solutions for relieving data-handling pressures, ensuring that decisions are based on credible data, and guaranteeing that records are transmitted objectively and transparently. Originating in the corporate world and linked to 'data-obsessed' neoliberalism, MIS are a prominent digital technology that has continuously developed in the backdrop of neoliberal educational reforms. Broadly speaking, as neoliberalism wishes to eliminate inefficient forms of bureaucracy by advocating the notion of decentralization; schools are held accountable for their own performance and required to collect and publish performance data for the purpose of justifying public expenditures. As demands for accountability increase, so does the 'pressure to perform efficiently and profitably' (Selwyn, 2011a, p. 93); schools must 'provide an account of all school policies and practices to anyone and everyone' (Perry & McWilliam, 2007, p. …

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