Environment scanning has become an invaluable means to achieve success in educational planning. This article purports to analyze the meaning of environmental scanning based on available literature as this is being confused by many, and followed with its significance for educational planning.
The objectives of an environmental scanning system are defined by Coates as detecting technical, social, economic, scientific, political interactions, trends and other elements significant to the organization in context of future; defining the potential threats, opportunities, or potential changes for the organization implied by those events; promoting a future orientation in management and staff; and alerting management and staff to trends that are converging, diverging, speeding up, slowing down, or interacting (Coates, 1985).
In a similar vein, it is described as a forecasting system to an institution that providing valuable information for strategic planning. It assists decision makers to anticipate the current happenings in the state, region, nation and world that shall affect the nature and quality of the institution and its educational programs. Aguilar (1967) defines “environmental scanning as the process of collecting information about the external world to decrease the uncertainty of information that flow in the organization and also helps in warning the managers/stakeholders of the organization about the external changes.
Environment scanning is a process of systematic surveys and interprets the relevant data in order to identify external opportunities and threats that may exist in an organization. The institution attempts to collect all information about the external world, its competitors and of oneself. Thus the organization makes changes in its strategies and plans on the basis of information collected in regard to managing the future needs. These strategies assist the organization to raise the strength, curb the identified weaknesses, assess the potential opportunities and attempt to reduce the impact of prevalent threats (SHRM, 2012). In Pacific context, there is need to formulate strategies that can help in operational and overall functionalities of school system and identify the significance of environmental scanning in respect to making future educational policies. Therefore, environmental scanning provides strategic intelligence useful in making organizational strategies.
One has to be able to distinguish between Environmental scanning with traditional data gathering. There are four major differences highlighted, firstly, as it is primarily concern with anticipating the future rather than describing the present; secondly, it is wider in scope in comparison to traditional data collection as it is based on the assumption that major impacts on the school system may come from unsuspected sources as based on social, political, technological and political indicators that are not previously considered, as to notice these signal of changes that can give opportunities or pose threat to school system; thirdly, it focuses on the interaction of events and trends in order to formulate to analyze the school system; and lastly, it is an integral part of planning process, which is collected continuously and considered at each step in planning (Poole, 1991). According to Tokai 2005, there are many types of educational planning but strategic planning is considered to be the most efficient planning tool as it portrays the environmental changes both internal and external and also the challenges and the risks. It helps in setting desired standards and objectives to be achieved in the future.
Significance of Environmental scanning in Educational Planning
Educators are implying the method of environmental scanning to determine the social, political, economic and technological changes in which school system operates. So, it becomes essential for an educational institution to be proactive to be informed about the environmental changes that could affect the future. Environmental scanning is highly valuable in order to assist the educational planner to assess the possible benefits of school. These planners objective is to formulate a method to collect information in respect to opportunities and threats of the educational institution; as this required expertise to analyze the events in regard to their effect on the future of schools. Environmental scanning plays a vital role as it helps the planners in identifying the critical events, trends and also the emerging problems existing in the day to day running of the schools. Environmental scanning becomes important for the educational planners to gather entire information about the events occurring that may affect the future growth of the educational institutions. In the contemporary world this scanning is becoming famous as it aids the stakeholders in the strategic planning process which is essential for the survival of the better school system in future. Scanning involves assessing the external factors i.e. scanning, monitoring, forecasting, assessing and merged with internal analysis of vision, mission, strength, weaknesses, that supports the decision makers to formulate strategic directions that a school needs to make in order to fulfill the strategic objectives and plans of an institution.
The environmental scanning in schools can be done by using the various tools such as SWOT analysis which helps in analysing the internal environmental strengths and weaknesses and examining the external environmental threats and opportunities and thus aids decision-makers to take appropriate decision; STEEPLE analysis to know about the social, technological, environmental, economic, political, legal and ethical threats and opportunities and PEST analysis to know about the political, economic, social and technological threats and opportunities. These tools will help the schools in identifying the problems and bringing improvement for the future development and expansion of the educational institutions. It is important to gather the up-to-date information that will aid the educational planners in taking the effective decision for the future benefits of the schools (Sharma, 2017).
To sum up, both external factors (such as scanning, forecasting, monitoring and assessing) and internal factors (such as mission, vision, weaknesses, strengths) are merged together in environmental scanning by the stakeholders in order to achieve the strategic aims and objectives. Thus, it assists the educational committee in defining the various trends, events and issues, threats and opportunities to achieve the organization goals, mission and vision effectively and efficiently.
Disclaimer: Dr Sakul Kundra is an assistant professor in history at the College of Humanities and Education of the Fiji National University. Ph.D History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, M.Phil History, MA History, PG Diploma in Journalism, PG Diploma in Book Publication and PG Diploma in Education (Dec 2018).
Dr Sakul Kundra is an assistant professor in history at the College of Humanities and Education of the Fiji National University. Ph.D History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, M.Phil History, MA History, PG Diploma in Journalism, PG Diploma in Book Publication and PG Diploma in Education (Dec 2018).
Bhawna is a Head of Language, French and business management teacher and MYP assistant co-ordinator at International School Nadi (IB Curriculum), Nadi, Fiji Islands. Masters in French and Masters in Commerce (Delhi University); and PGD in Education from USP (Dec, 2018). The views expressed are their own and not of this newspaper or their respective employers. For comments or suggestions, email. firstname.lastname@example.org