K–12 administrators, educators and market experts highlighted infrastructure upgrades to combat education equity issues and the increased use of communication software in classrooms as some of the most prominent current trends in education.
“K–12 needs technology that is people-centric and can be quickly used without a lot of friction by students and teachers, and that is also enterprise manageable,” Peter Koczera, senior manager of education strategy and transformation at CDW, told attendees Tuesday at the International Society for Technology in Education’s 2019 annual conference in Philadelphia. “A lot of companies are thinking through how students and teachers really would use this.”
Screencasting Is Prominent in Classroom Redesign
One of the core tenets of an active-learning classroom is offering students and teachers the freedom to move around the classroom and use the space to engage with lessons.
Screencasting, according to Tuesday’s panelists, has been a popular integration for K–12 schools looking to give teachers the mobility they need to take a more active approach to education.
“For a teacher, not being tethered to the front of the classroom where that whiteboard is — it’s a game-changer,” said Tracy Smith, assistant to the superintendent for operations at Parkland School District in Pennsylvania.
Teachers were not the only ones to enjoy the new technology. Teachers incorporated screencasting to allow students to share their work, creating a more immersive experience.
“What surprised me was that they are giving students the reins to cast their work,” said Smith. “This has really changed the dynamic of the classroom. It’s not just the teachers doing the casting, it’s the students too.”
What started at the Parkland district’s high school quickly expanded to become a systemwide adoption after administrators recognized how successful the technology proved to be.
During this rollout, Smith said she learned “slower is faster” when it comes to classroom redesigns. It’s important to start with a pilot, identify success points, measure and either expand or adjust depending on the results. Regardless, patience is a virtue.
U.S. market reports mirror Smith’s enthusiasm for screencasting. “About 50 percent of the demand for screencasting is coming from North America,” Ben Davis, senior education market analyst at Futuresource told attendees. “We’re expecting significant adoption of about four times that in the next couple of years.”
Networking Addresses Technology Integration and Classroom Equity
When Smith pushed screencasting out across her district, she found having a robust infrastructure became a top priority. This sentiment was echoed by many of the panelists, who agreed the demand from new devices, classroom software and data analytics will force K–12 schools to take a hard look at their current bandwidth.
Panelists highlighted one issue in particular where updating infrastructure could help: closing the education equity gap.
At the Limestone School District in Ontario, Canada, administrators implemented a two-to-one technology program to help lower-income students complete online assignments. Doing so meant upgrading their network to allow for the additional strain.
“We’ve moved from a spoke network, where the internet came from the school network office, to an SD-WAN infrastructure, where each site is its own network,” said Alistair Macleod, Limestone District School Board member.
Looking forward, panelists said they expect that new iterations of bandwidth will have significant impacts on classroom equality.
"We're talking about how we can really bridge the equity gap,” said Smith. “5G is very exciting."
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