In education IT we have a phrase — ‘technical solution to a people problem’ — to describe the use of technology to solve a behavioural problem that would be better solved simply by having people behave more sensibly or by following existing rules… rather than trying to implement increasingly baroque limits with technology, which are invariably bypassed because the problem is that the user isn’t respecting the rules in the first place. When it comes to COVID-19 contact tracing, it has become clear that Bluetooth-based contact tracing is a technical solution to a public health problem. This applies to both the COVIDSafe app, which is technically deficient in multiple ways, as well the Google/Apple Exposure Notification, which is conceptually deficient.
What a year. COVID-19 has left barely any aspect of our lives untouched, but in IT the change and acceleration it has wrought led to the pandemic being called ‘CIO of the year’ back in April. And it deserves that title, having shown businesses the value and necessity of investment in IT for working from home and without physical contact. Most of these technologies have been around for a while, and often employees were asking to use them but being refused by recalcitrant IT departments. Let’s go through some of them.
The COVID-19 pandemic that began sweeping the globe in early 2020 has resulted in several effects that have significantly changed many people’s lives. One of these changes is in how and where people work. Although it could be (rightfully) argued that many employers had already understood and embraced the advantages of true workplace flexibility, it was not until the realities of the pandemic set in that the shift took place in earnest.
The education sector has had a rapid infusion of technology thanks to COVID-19, but it hasn’t gone smoothly or equally at all schools. As someone who works for a school, I was on the frontline of this, and I’ve also read a lot about how other schools approached the challenge. Here’s what I’ve observed.
After months of disruption and unease, we seem to be entering a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, what exactly that phase is depends on who you ask, and where you are in the world… or indeed, within Australia. This uncertainty is perhaps as damaging to the economy as the actual lockdown. I don’t think anyone can accurately state that they know what will happen next. Questions such as Will there be another outbreak in NSW?, When will they develop a vaccine?, Is it actually safe to send my kids with medical condition (x) to school? and What’s up with geopolitics? really won’t be answerable for some time yet.