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Back to School: Opportunities in K-12 IT: Page 2 of 3

The demand for technology to support remote learning exploded in 2020; now educators seek high-level expertise and solutions to improve learning outcomes. By Jennifer Oladipo
Reader ROI: 
THE K-12 TECH FOCUS is shifting from enabling remote learning to improving learning outcomes for in-person and hybrid school.
SCHOOLS SYSTEMS are looking to consolidate the “technology sprawl” that resulted from pandemic spending.
CHANNEL PROS serving or entering the market must understand educators’ needs and focus on pedagogy over technology.

The New Tech Stack

With lessons learned, K-12 educators have clear ideas about future tech spending.

“It’s so important to meet teachers where they are, what they’re looking for, and how can the tech solve the problem,” says Stacey Roshan, a teacher, author, and education technology consultant in Maryland.

Here’s what she and other experts say educators are seeking now:

  • Devices. Schools simply need more. “They’ve gone from nice-to-have to must-have, one-to-one, always on. Devices can’t go down, or a kid is effectively not in school,” says Pikar.
  • Displays. Projectors are out; high-end multi-angle camera systems are in. Teachers’ flat panels are shifting from whiteboards to remote monitoring screens.
  • Audio. More sophisticated audio allows simultaneous talk and enables the teacher to control audio and be clear from wherever they’re standing, in class or home.
  • Video. Teachers are sold on recording lessons for asynchronous learning, as well as having students deliver assignments via video.

Technology to better serve special needs students and those with limited connectivity at home is in demand now too. Finally, schools that purchased too many apps, tools, and systems want to consolidate the “technology sprawl” that resulted from last year’s spending rush, according to Leger.

Help Teachers … Teach

According to an IDC survey of teachers’ biggest post-pandemic needs, engagement with students and parents is No. 1, followed by connectivity. That’s a reversal of what channel pros have come to expect.

Roshan says teachers appreciated what the rapid tech increase allowed them to do, but they’re more excited about employing the new ideas it sparked. For instance, they learned Zoom fatigue can be a challenge, but some students who’d sat silent in the back of the classroom suddenly had a lot to share in the Zoom chat. Now teachers want that capability inside the classroom.

In addition, high-end cameras help students better engage with teachers, while flat screens give teachers a better view of students’ engagement and challenges in real time. Roshan says video has turned out to be a powerful communication tool for reaching parents, too.

“The educators themselves are in transition, so the demands are just extremely high,” says Pikar, adding that ed-tech providers now must demonstrate such a high level of understanding about education that Trox is transitioning into a “pedagogy provider.” It acquired another company to help meet this goal, and now offers professional development courses for teachers, created by educators. In addition, Trox’s sales team has biweekly training that focuses on teaching, not technology.

Large technology vendors like the Dells and Ciscos of the world are increasingly relying on educators as advisers and implementation specialists to work within schools, according to Leger. There’s no reason channel pros can’t do the same.

Roshan, who frequently acts as a paid or volunteer adviser, says tech providers must be able to understand the teachers’ needs, but also bring useful ideas.

“You can have the most amazing tool ever, and you won’t see the learning outcomes unless it’s integrated [with lessons] in the most meaningful way,” says Roshan. In contrast, she says, “You can have a simple technology that can be amazing when it’s integrated meaningfully.”        

About the Author

Jennifer Oladipo's picture

JENNIFER OLADIPO is an award-winning business journalist. She’s written for national and international publications focused on science and technology sectors and has held communications positions in multiple organizations, including a Fortune 200 technology company.

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