To support ed tech, schools need to rethink budgets, infrastructure

By Raishay Lin, Contributing Editor
July 17th, 2012

Faculty and IT staff ranked limited budget as the top barrier to more tech-based learning.

As schools seek to provide more interactive, engaging, and personalized learning, newly released survey results reveal they need to radically rethink their budgets and infrastructure to support this new learning model.

Two-thirds of students want to use technology more often in their classrooms, and 76 percent of IT staff said faculty members show increasing interest in implementing educational technology.

But 87 percent of IT professionals said they would need to upgrade their infrastructure before they can incorporate much more technology in their classrooms, and almost nine in 10 faculty members anticipate problems moving away from the traditional lecture model.

In May and June of 2012, technology provider CDW-G administered a survey to 1,015 high school and college students, faculty members, and IT professionals about the trend towards new learning models that emphasize educational technology, problem-solving, and individualized instruction. CDW-G presented the survey results June 26 as a report entitled “Learn Now, Lecture Later.”

The company previously released research reports on the “21st Century Classroom” in 2010 and 2011, but it observed “an explosion of different devices to engage both students and teachers” in the last year, said Joe Simone, director of K-12 sales for CDW-G.

Simone attributed the sudden “spike” in ed-tech adoption to the ubiquity of touch-based devices such as tablets and smart phones.

“The way people interact with technology in and out of school is very different than just two to three years ago,” he said, noting that consumers now “expect physical touch.”

Schools are trying to “make more of a constant” between the technology that students use outside of school and the equipment available to them in school, Simone said.

Under the traditional learning model, the technology available at home to middle class and wealthier students often “outpace[s]” what schools are able to provide, agreed Mark Washington, director of technology for Port Huron Area School District in Michigan.

Surveyed high school students and faculty ranked laptops and tablets—two devices often available at home—as the technologies they would most like to see used more in classrooms.

“Schools need to have resources equal or better than what [students] have at home,” Washington said.

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2 Responses to “To support ed tech, schools need to rethink budgets, infrastructure”

July 17, 2012

Take a look at SETDA’s report ( The Broadband Imperative: Recommendations to Address K-12 Educational Infrastructure Needs.

SETDA provides guidance for all levels, but especially states, in their recommendations for student connectivity on AND OFF campus.

It is critical that schools look to scalable models for ensuring student access and equity off campus. These include leveraging BYOD and existing mobile/home access as well as providing access when appropriate.

Mobile Broadband itself is an excellent solution, but only scalable with a true elimination of waste, fraud and abuse. Traditional “monthly data plans” simply won’t work as they are built upon assumptions that you’ll buy more than you use (or need) and you often have to jump through hoops to ensure the use is on-task (if that is even made possible).

Schools must look to cooperate with parents to leverage their investments in BYOD models and to ensure apporpriate use of family-owned technology. They should also consider mobile broadband as a solution to address equity but restrict their budget to pay for only on-task and actual usage when/where needed. We built a library checkout model without monthly data plans for just this type of scenario.

Don’t pay for unused data, don’t provide internet access that is used for non-educational activities and only focus on what is needed to “fill the gap” versus buying for everyone. This is the only way to truly scale.

July 24, 2012

I think that what happens at home in terms of resources and technology is one aspect schools should not get involved with, apart from giving guidance only…..
Perhaps focussing on and adapting at pedagogical level is where the real innovation is….

Keep in mind there are more than financial reasons why a lack of equity in broadband is a factor…