The National Education Association (NEA) published a list of 10 challenges facing public schools, spanning issues from educating undocumented students to electing more-informed legislators. Although managed services (MSPs) and value-added resellers (VARs) can’t offer solutions to every issue on the list, you can help customers and prospects in the education vertical address these five challenges through the EdTech solutions, support and services you provide:
Tight budgets: With costs increasing and education funding cut in some states, schools are looking for ways to make ends meet. EdTech solutions are available that can automate manual processes, saving time and labor hours. Technology also enables in-house printing and paper reduction, which could represent thousands of dollars of cost savings each year district-wide. Although it may be a tough sell to get a district to invest in new systems, data analytics can deliver a return on investment (ROI). By providing administrators with greater visibility into their operations and budgets these solutions can help find redundancies, spot and correct costly trends, and monitor progress toward budget goals.
Teachers’ mounting responsibilities: Over the past few decades, legislation has mandated that educators do more, but those mandates weren’t accompanied by an increase in funding for more resources. As a result, teachers bear the burden to meet new standards and ensure student achievement at specific performance levels. Technology can help engage students with lessons that leverage a variety of media and allow students to learn at their own pace. EdTech enables teachers to focus on individual students, rather than moving the whole class forward regardless of comprehension. Technology can also assist with time-consuming tasks such as grading tests or communicating with parents, freeing teachers to focus on student achievement.
School safety: A Pew Research Center survey after the 2018 Parkland, FL, school shooting found that 57 percent of teens are worried that a shooting could take place at their schools. While the country debates ways to prevent future incidents, many schools need physical access controls to improve security. Often, school campuses are completely open to anyone via multiple points of entry. Fencing, controlled access points and a single, monitored entry to each building could address some of those vulnerabilities. Schools can also improve security with monitored camera systems, and a system that alerts students and faculty if security has been breached.
Bullying: It’s not possible to monitor and intercede when bullying occurs outside of the school environment, but solutions are available that allow students and teachers to report incidents that occur at school. They can also empower students with direct contact to support organizations — which can bridge a vital gap in school districts with limited resources. Additionally, these solutions enable school administrators to monitor activity online for keywords or phrases that may indicate cyberbullying. Administrators can also collect screenshots or video to document bullying.
Tech hype: The NEA points out that the education vertical is inundated with technology hype. The noise about an emerging EdTech can create confusion — and even conflict — among administrators and teachers over what’s best for students. Schools can benefit from trusted advisors who understand their profession and their communities and help them separate technology solutions that will provide real value from solutions that are only “nice-to-haves.”
MSPs or VARs with consultative sales processes, who take time to understand their prospects’ specific pain points and gather views from all stakeholders, can help schools make the best EdTech investments.