It’s very difficult for educational establishments to keep up with the rate of development and demand when it comes to technology. As more tech savvy students enter higher education, they demand the same level of connectivity that they experience in their daily lives. Students expect their learning to be conducted both in and out of a classroom environment as they have been brought up using on-line, mobile, video and social tools.
Increased collaboration, immersive learning (VR/AR), AI and big data analytics are all impacting how students learn and are evaluated. Education is no longer bound by time or place; personalised learning is gathering pace. The range of technology that can be used in teaching and learning continues to grow, requiring new products to be introduced. However, every new technology, product or IoT widget that’s installed puts more pressure on their IT infrastructure, which schools and universities can’t necessarily upgrade at the same rate.
There has been a move to the cloud and lower cost solutions. For example, the cost, provision and support required for Chromebooks are much less and provide access to a range of Google’s educational software. There’s also a growing use of BYOD in education which moves the onus of provision and support to the owner. Typically, schools still require computing devices, server solutions, software, printers, networking equipment, interactive classroom technology including whiteboards, projectors and other AV equipment.
However, everybody is expected to do more with less. In education, new and emerging technologies are both challenging and aiding traditional teaching methods. With tighter budgets, educational establishments, students and teachers are increasingly reliant on IT.
There are some really fascinating products for the early years and SEN spaces. Interestingly what have previously been seen as ‘consumer’ products are now making their way into the classroom, with VR being an example.
As more use cases are being found, VR and AR also bring new dimensions to teaching and learning, tackling a range of subjects and providing the opportunity for virtual field trips around the globe. Both VR and AR in educational establishments enable students to experience and collaborate on a topic as if they were actually present in that environment. With new educational apps being made all
the time and prices falling for the gear, the opportunity for educational resellers is growing in this area.
The next few years will certainly see these and other technologies like AI becoming more mainstream. Collaboration will also become more important with conferencing becoming the vehicle to bring subject matter experts into the classroom.
Resellers can play a vital role not only in introducing new technology and products but also in ensuring that their educational customer’s infrastructure remains fit for purpose. Things like switching, wireless, network security and even basic cabling may struggle to cope with the added demand. With limited budgets, long-term and effective planning to cope with the rate of change is key, and many schools rely on channel partners for this.
Phil Brown is the sales and commercial director for Exertis.