As cloud technologies evolve at a breakneck pace, educators across the country are embracing them as cost-effective and simplified ways of storing, managing and sharing critical data.
One in four colleges or universities surveyed in May 2011 for “IT Opportunities in the Education Market” has adopted cloud computing services, or plans to in the next 12 months. About four in 10 schools plan to implement unified communications solutions in the coming year.
“Technology is highly valued in schools. They want more of it,” says Carolyn April, director of industry analysis at CompTIA, which recently released a study that looks at the effects of technology on learning. “The friction comes from budgets often being so tight that there aren’t always as many opportunities to upgrade their technology as the teachers and the students might hope.”
More than one-quarter (26 percent) of teachers and 31 percent of administrators say they expect barriers to technology adoption of all kinds to get worse in the coming year. By outsourcing IT, schools can move technology spending from a capital expenditure that may need voter approval for the upfront cash outlay to an operating expense that is part of the annual budget and seems more financially palatable, April says.
Inside The Numbers
“IT Opportunities in the Education Market” was based on an online survey of 500 U.S. educators and administrators. The study found that 78 percent of the educators surveyed – about 350 at the K-12 level – believe the increase in technology has had a positive effect on education, and 65 percent say students are more productive than three years ago because of these advances.
With so much new education software available, from interactive whiteboards to audio augmentation to classroom management tools, integrators should feel confident their work won’t dry up any time soon in this market, although it may be different than past installs.
“There’s a lot of creative purchasing going on,” says April, noting that “a relatively high percentage” of educators are continuing to purchase new technology in the tough economy. “They may have to make trade-offs to get what they want, but it can be done. You may not get the brand you want, but you can definitely find something similar that does the job.”
The number one catalyst behind technology purchases by colleges, schools and universities is the desire to improve the overall educational experience for students. This objective ranks first for both K-12 schools (63 percent) and higher education institutions (55 percent).
Among technologies specific to the education market, classroom management software has captured the attention of teachers, according to the CompTIA study. Nearly 70 percent of teachers surveyed say they’re using this technology or plan to do so in the next 12 months.
Wireless networks are widely deployed across K-12 and higher education institutions, fueling environments where remote, 24/7 online access and mobility are the norm. A full 80 percent of schools have wireless service today, the CompTIA survey reveals.
Asked about some of newer technology solutions available today, more than half (56 percent) of K-12 teachers are most excited about the educational possibilities of using interactive whiteboards in the classroom, while 50 percent expect to make greater use of netbooks and tablets.
“There’s been a real convergence between consumer electronics in the daily lives of not only the teachers, but especially the students, and what goes on in the classroom,” says April. “Technology is going to really become indispensable.”
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