Jun 26 2023

Make the Most of Your K–12 Workspace Solutions

CDW Amplified™ for Education services help school IT teams assess and amplify their Microsoft Education environment.

Every relevant, real-world solution starts with a customer problem. Right now in education, that problem is navigating diminishing technology budgets.

According to CoSN’s 2023 State of EdTech Leadership national survey, the majority (63 percent) of school technology budgets account for 5 percent or less of a district’s total budget. One respondent commented, “Long-range tech planning is challenging, as we don’t know what we will be facing even two years from now; the increasing costs of supporting tech are not manageable in our current budgeting process.”

The survey elicited these additional insights from respondents:

  • 60 percent are concerned that they will be unable to sustain device access
  • 40 percent worry about their ability to renew district licenses for software
  • 36 percent are concerned about sustaining their current staffing level
  • 20 percent worry about sustaining broadband access

In the past few years, schools and districts across the country have been making most of their key technology decisions based on emergency recovery funding, such as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund and the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). Schools were able to close the access gap by purchasing devices so more students could make use of technology, but now they must figure out how to sustain their educational technology programs without the emergency funding.

As those formerly healthy funding streams shrink, school technology departments are forced to rationalize their existing services and solutions and drill down to discover what is providing the most value for their diminishing budgets. In the case of Microsoft Education solutions, the suite is so robust that many schools may not be extracting the full value of their investment when using these tools.

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Lean on Services in the Face of the Funding Cliff

As the director of CDW’s Amplified™ Education Portfolio, I lead an education-focused product team dedicated to managing CDW’s existing services as well as building new ones to better serve education customers. I often see the sunsetting of emergency funding as the No. 1 problem for schools post-pandemic.

I was on the phone with a school technology director whose district had to cut roughly $1 million from its budget; it had been asked to cut $87,000 in software alone. Now, the district is working with CDW to figure out things like, “How do we maximize what we already have? Where might we be able to sunset other subscriptions?”

That’s what CDW Amplified for Education Services are all about.

CDW Amplified for Education began as a suite of services under the Amplified for Education brand, dedicated to helping schools solve problems in the Google ecosystem. When CDW surveyed our Microsoft customers, we found similar challenges with fully utilizing the potential of the many educational innovations that Microsoft has built into its education ecosystem.

CDW is customizing its existing Microsoft services to address this, providing education-specific consultation, support and training so our schools are aware of everything they have access to and feel confident implementing it.

With the addition of Microsoft for Education offerings, we can assess what the school already has in its Microsoft licensing structure, what it’s using and what it’s under-utilizing to help the school save money on its total IT budget.

READ MORE: What to consider when investing in collaboration technologies for the classroom.

Collaborate, Consolidate and Activate Within the IT Community

As part of the CDW Amplified for Education effort, the CDW Education Collaborative (formerly the North American Google Technical Collaborative) has expanded so school IT leaders can learn how to successfully implement and manage Microsoft technologies side by side with their peers, and with CDW and Microsoft experts.

The CDW Education Collaborative is a community of K–12 IT professionals based in the United States and Canada that provides a virtual meeting place where IT leaders can solve problems and network. The program now serves more than 1,250 school districts across North America, and it has greatly expanded its scope to address those using Microsoft’s software and solutions.

The CDW Education Collaborative is the first of many Microsoft Education–related services that CDW has planned to help schools fully realize the potential of Windows 11 running on affordable, classroom-friendly Windows 11 devices, including services such as a readiness assessment and ecosystem licensing review.

The goal of the CDW Education Collaborative, beyond supporting its members, is to create a community and provide connection in the often-siloed K–12 IT environment. In July, there will be a 45-day free trial of the CDW Education Collaborative available to anyone. This will include a Microsoft Education “takeover” July 11-13.   

CDW and Microsoft have heard customers voice their concerns and challenges, especially in this post-pandemic landscape. That’s why we’re investing in building out these services. And the Microsoft takeover of the CDW Education Collaborative is a low-risk way for education professionals to get a taste of these vital offerings.

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