The K to 12 education sector is high on the list of industries upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also high on the list of industries that were perhaps permanently changed by the pandemic.
Remote learning remains an area of intense focus in the K to 12 education sector. Many school districts were caught unprepared by the abrupt shutdowns and the move to remote learning in the early spring of 2020. Some form of remote or hybrid learning models might remain an option for certain areas in the near future. Other districts simply want to be prepared for whatever comes next, providing continuity of education in the aftermath of natural disasters or other unexpected events.
But remote learning is not the only challenge facing the education sector. It’s not even the only challenge exacerbated by the pandemic.
The US is among the world leaders in investing in education. The country spends about 6.1 percent of its GDP on education. But where and how that money is spent varies widely from community to community. Even as the pandemic begins to fade, its impact on education funding will continue to be felt in the years to come.
Lower tax revenue in places hit hard by the pandemic will mean less funding for public education. Poor economic conditions can also result in students moving from more costly private schools to under-funded public schools, exacerbating the budget shortfalls.
The education sector faces some serious challenges in the coming years, and technology can help solve some of them — if there is funding available.
Where tech vendors can form strategic partnerships in education
Hasty implementations of remote learning must now give way to more strategic, long-term planning. But there are other opportunities for technology vendors to help educational institutions think strategically about the future.
Data and analytics
The private sector is deploying data analytics to improve visibility and uncover inefficiency. If budgets are tight, schools and school districts can benefit from a more complete picture of their operations. More informed decisions can help with procurement, hiring and resource allocation, just as they do in the business world.
In the education sector, analytics can help measure the impact of the curriculum, technology investments, learning strategies and more. The analysis can then be used to produce research, apply for grants and support funding requests.
Education administrators are no strangers to data. That doesn’t mean they have mastered the art of data collection and analysis, however. Beyond the classroom, having an accurate picture of facilities, food services and student health and wellness, for example, can inform better decisions around spending and resource allocation. In a sector where it seems every dollar counts, reducing the costs of heating the buildings, for example, can free up funding to be spent on teachers and students.
Emerging technology for K to 12 schools
Popular emerging tech solutions in the private sector include artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented and virtual reality. There is a lot of potential for these technologies both in the classroom and in the administration of educational institutions.
Potential applications for artificial intelligence in the education sector include personalized lessons for students and the automation of administrative tasks. Augmented and virtual reality make hands-on learning possible in areas where it was previously too costly or logistically impractical.
In the short term, these emerging technologies are likely aspirational for many school districts. They often come with a high price, so a clear use case and a path to ROI is critical in your messaging to prospects in the education sector.
Accessibility for K to 12 students
In the US, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires schools to make the technology they use fully accessible to students with disabilities or otherwise to provide equal access to the educational benefits and opportunities they create. Yet meeting the needs of every student remains a challenge for many educational institutions.
Assistive technologies available to help students and teachers include software for captioning, dictation and text-to-speech conversion. Devices like large-print and braille keyboards and smart pens also improve educational access for disabled students.
Messaging around compliance is standard practice in the private sector where technology that helps protect data and manage risk is highly valued in industries like financial services. In education, compliance is just as important, but the funding is often harder to find. If you can help your prospects in the education sector meet or exceed their obligations while staying within their budget, you can help them overcome a significant challenge.
Accessibility to technology
The other side of accessibility revolves around broader access to technology. Rural school districts still suffer from insufficient bandwidth. Poorer school districts often lack access to devices for students and teachers.
If you work in marketing for a technology vendor, you may not often think about internet connectivity. But consider this: 17 percent of teenage students in the US say they have been unable to complete homework because they do not have reliable access to a computer or internet connection.
Once again, money is the most significant hurdle to overcome for schools trying to connect students with internet access and devices. If you’re a vendor in this area, familiarize yourself with some of the sources of funding available and bring your prospects in the education sector a plan for finding the funding and the technology they need to connect their students with the tools they need.
In an effort to support K to 12 education in the wake of the pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law in March of 2021 included more than $13 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. Grants from the ESSER Fund went to state educational agencies, which then the funds to local educational agencies in their state.
Training for teachers and staff
Many of us know children who can pick up a smartphone and have their favorite music and videos playing in seconds. As we get older, this comfort with technology takes us by surprise because we often get less comfortable with new technology.
Teaching students with technology requires training the teachers; so does teaching students about technology. This is an area where many school districts struggle. A PwC survey found that 79 percent of K to 12 teachers would like to receive more professional development for technology-related subjects.
Proper training means better outcomes, for both teachers and students. You simply cannot prepare students for modern work without technology. If you’re a technology vendor you’re well positioned to help in this area. Your employees are, by definition, comfortable with technology. By providing the resources to train teachers and students, you’re providing a valuable service, helping your customer improve ROI and becoming a true partner, not just a vendor.
More class time for teachers
According to McKinsey, the average teacher works 50 hours per week and spends less than half that time with students. In the private sector, we’re often telling corporations to improve efficiency and free up resources for more valuable tasks by automating business processes and removing manual work.
The message in education isn’t terribly different. Teachers deliver the most value when they teach. Any technology solutions you can offer to speed up the administrative and manual tasks teachers are asked to do means more time preparing for lessons and teaching students.
Need to reach prospects in the education sector?
Technology investments in K to 12 education often follow a very top-down process. Administrators and principals are the people to target if you’re trying to market tools for the classroom. For infrastructure and business technology, it’s administrators and IT leaders who likely have the most influence.
TechnologyAdvice connects technology vendors with their ideal customers through lead generation, digital advertising and content creation. If you are a B2B marketer looking to reach prospects in the education sector, we can help.
Explore our B2B marketing solutions to learn more about the programs TechnologyAdvice offers and get in touch to talk to an expert.