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Aug 24, 2015

"Beam me up, Scotty" – The new K-12 Classroom

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Have you walked into a K-12 classroom lately and wondered where the chalkboard of yesteryear has gone? Classrooms are starting to look more like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise with gadgets and gizmos lighting up everywhere in hopes of turning your child into Mr. Spock (sans the Vulcan touch). And as more children are exposed to consumer technologies at an earlier age, their attention spans are getting shorter. In response, K-12 schools have come to grips with this new reality by upping the ante with more dynamic and creative solutions to keep students engaged.

During Q2, which represents the start of the educational buying season, we saw growth in the B2B channel from Q1 in a myriad of technology categories that typically resonate with the K-12 market. For example:

  • 97% unit growth in Chromebooks
  • 94% unit growth in interactive whiteboards
  • 54% unit growth in storage/charging carts
  • 25% unit growth in document cameras
  • 28% unit growth in Wi-Fi access points
  • 19% unit growth in portable two-way radios
  • 16% unit growth in tablets
  • 14% unit growth in projectors

If we look at some of the overarching trends that are driving the adoption of these technologies, they indicate that the K-12 system is rapidly trying to change its approach to education, as well as offering more collaborative tools for teachers and parents. For example, many schools are “flipping” their classrooms, which means the instructor is spending less time lecturing and more time leveraging technology to help students master subjects while enhancing study and collaborative skills. 

The growth in Interactive whiteboards is in part due to its ability to allow instructors to connect their PC and provide more dynamic content to students, thus keeping them more engaged. On interactive whiteboards, many teachers are typing their notes on the screen versus writing them in cursive on the chalkboard, lessening the chance for misinterpretation by students who may have had a tougher time following along when deciphering the teacher’s handwriting or struggle with learning disabilities.

Another notable technology that that has recently seen increased growth is document cameras, wherein teachers can put any object (paper or three-dimensional) under a camera and display or manipulate it on a larger screen. For example, under the premise of teaching students better study skills, many instructors are using document cameras to go through each chapter in a textbook and use it to teach students how to identify the main points in the text.

From a student perspective, many schools are moving to a 1:1 initiative - or one tablet or laptop per child. This fosters a collaborative learning environment, and is a key driver of the increased consumption of Chromebooks and tablets in the K-12 segment. The adoption of tablets and Chromebooks has also propelled growth in the storage and charging cart category, as these personal devices need a place where they can be safely stored and charged while not in use. Schools that have adopted a 1:1 program are also experiencing an increased need for investment in better networking gear such as faster Wi-Fi access points, since the demands of more devices are taxing the network.

So, the days of clapping erasers may be a distant memory. But it is clear that schools are rapidly trying to prepare students for the digital age, investing more time and resources in outfitting the classroom (and home environment) with technologies that will enhance students’ learning experiences. In the future, we expect greater adoption of technologies to be woven into the classroom as more schools adopt STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs and enhanced learning environments. 

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