Aug 28 2023

3 Powerful Ideas K–12 Schools Can Swipe from Amazon, DoorDash And Venmo

Schools should think more like tech companies to make it easier to choose public education.

In this age of personalized digital content and limitless customization, the consumer mindset can permeate every aspect of modern life. This result of a society rapidly undergoing digital transformation is not isolated to the commercial market. Many consumers are also parents who send their children to schools. So, it is reasonable that our experiences as consumers will spill over into our expectations of our schools.

Let’s examine three consumer or market trends and how they may influence expectations for the modern K-12 environment. It is important to note that while the COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated the impact of these trends on society, they existed long before March 2020. They should not be dismissed as something that will pass as soon as a return to normalcy stabilizes the markets.

DISCOVER: How educators are personalizing learning plans for K–12 students.

What are the Benefits of Hybrid and Personalized Learning?

The first trend is largely observed by traditional brick-and-mortar stores using new technological capabilities to move to online retail. Countless examples including Sears, Blockbuster and Borders prove that not only can consumers tolerate such a shift but they also demand it.

What does this shift mean for schools today? Certainly, offering a hybrid approach to course scheduling has become essential for schools. Students can now fully enroll in online courses, where they may be instructed by remote staff. For students who have nontraditional schedules, online providers offer curriculum and access to teachers, with flexibility as a bonus.

These types of customization and personalized pathways for engaging in educational content are directly connected to the consumer trends we are seeing.

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Using Real-Time Data for Better Decision-Making

A second trend is influenced by advancements in data mining capabilities and the role that advanced analytics plays in consumer markets. Examples include package tracking for major shipping carriers (UPS, Amazon), real-time real estate market trend tracking (Zillow) and 24/7 human or artificial intelligence support for customer needs.

This access to real-time data establishes an expectation among consumers that they should have the same level of access to information at their local schools.

Schools must implement systems that allow for transparent access to data, which can allow them to help their students and impact citizen decision-making.

This can be realized by giving parents access to data on student progress in real time through a student information system or district websites or portals. Eventually, families will expect to know exactly where their students’ projects are in a teacher’s grading queue.

DIG DEEPER: Learn why more schools are embracing modern data platforms

Create a Consistent Customer Experience in the School Environment

Evolving technologies are helping to create an easier customer experience. Patrons can have food delivered to their doors (DoorDash, Uber Eats), groceries sent to their cars or homes (Peapod, Instacart), and money sent to their digital wallets (PayPal, Venmo).

This trend is more challenging for schools to embrace. Technology advancements and shifts to a customer service mindset can positively impact the operations of school systems. However, it must be a consistent and pervasive strategic effort and not just a shiny new system or tool.

Schools must train staff to be more aware of and responsive to customer needs, understanding that parents’ perceptions and expectations are largely influenced by consumer drivers.

This may look like schools making changes in processes and communication protocols to focus on parent and student needs. The goal is to see them as consumers who can make choices about where they receive their educational services.

RELATED: K-12 schools ramp up virtual parent-teacher communication.

Some schools have already begun to employ these practices through necessity. More schools would be wise to adopt a systemic approach to observing and responding to organizational operations and service delivery through the lens of these three trends.

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