The Urgent Need for IT transformation in K-12 Education and How to Meet the Demand

May 21, 2024

Technology has long demanded educators to reexamine their practice. But the pandemic transformed pedagogy permanently.

Forced to rely on devices and digital tools for nearly two years, educators now infuse more technology into their classrooms than ever before. In fact, nearly 80% of teachers used new resources and practices during the pandemic that they plan to continue using post-pandemic.

The demand for bandwidth, devices and digital learning resources will only continue to grow. If a school’s digital infrastructure doesn’t keep up, student learning can’t either. Because access to technology is access to education, there’s no argument — K-12 digital infrastructure is critical infrastructure.

K-12 IT Tech In SchoolThe impact of aging digital infrastructure in schools

Technology facilitates nearly every school task — communication, assessment and, most importantly, teaching and learning. Infrastructure must meet today’s needs but also evolve with inevitable advancements. But with limited resources and expertise, districts continue to make do with aging infrastructure. Some examples of dated digital infrastructure that impact learning include:

  • Outdated devices, operating systems and software
  • Obsolete networking equipment
  • Older classroom equipment (interactive whiteboards, projectors, audio-visual tools)
  • Legacy administrative systems and communication tools

The ripple effect of using old technology in the classroom impacts the whole school population. Schools using dated infrastructure are:

  • Less efficient – Schools need a wireless infrastructure that is fast, reliable and scalable to support 1:1 and BYOD learning. Aging network infrastructure causes connectivity to suffer. Older equipment and software require more maintenance and troubleshooting.
  • Less secure – Increased technology use equates to increased security concerns. School districts gather an extensive amount of sensitive data. Safeguarding this data is a top priority, but also an overwhelming task for limited IT staff. Older software and operating systems may no longer receive security updates, or use weaker encryption standards, increasing the risk of unauthorized access. Dated infrastructure may also lack robust backup and recovery capabilities, increasing the risk of data loss.
  • Less connected – Perhaps the most urgent problem of aging infrastructure and networks is its effect on student learning. Without the connectivity to access resources and collaborate, students can’t participate in learning activities. The impact of this digital disconnection is lifelong. In fact, students who cannot access reliable high-speed internet may not perform as well in school and are less likely to go to college.

The role of reliable connectivity in teaching and learning

To meet the demands of modern learning environments, K-12 schools need a reliable, strong network. Students rely on connectivity to:

  • Access resources – The Internet is the new textbook. Learning management systems are the new binder. Connectivity is the foundation of all student learning. It enables students to access research, learning materials and communication tools.
  • Collaborate – Connectivity facilitates group work. With it, students can communicate, share documents and collaborate in real time. It also enables efficient interaction with teachers.
  • Learn remotely – It could be temporary (a snowstorm or illness) or permanent (due to family preference), but remote learning is here to stay. At least half of the nation’s 20 largest school districts offered more full-time virtual schooling in the 2022-23 school year than they did before the pandemic. Connecting students to remote learning ensures equitable access and a continuation of learning, no matter the circumstance.
  • Prepare for the future workplace – The use of educational technology develops students’ digital literacy skills, essential for success in school and in future jobs.

Teachers rely on connectivity to:

  • Personalize learning – Technology empowers teachers with the ability to personalize learning for all students. Digital assessment tools show real-time student performance data and identify a student’s weak areas. Adaptive learning software adjusts content based on student performance. Learning management systems deliver personalized content to align with student needs. Innovative tools like virtual and augmentative reality offer students an immersive experience to fit their learning style. Flipped classrooms allow content to be delivered online so teachers can use class time for discussion and personalized support.
  • Assess – Digital assessment tools provide real-time data for teachers and timely feedback for students. These critical insights can inform instructional decisions that impact learning outcomes. When connectivity is reliable, the grading process is streamlined, freeing up a teacher’s time for more impactful student connection.
  • Communicate – Connectivity amplifies a teacher’s connection with students. Email, messaging apps and comments on collaborative documents all provide channels for teacher feedback and support.

Meeting the demand for digital learning environments

Supporting the digital backbone of a modern campus takes resources and skills that might be in short supply. Today’s school IT departments are doing more with less — less budget, less staff and fewer skills.

Your school’s technology investments should enhance student learning, not overwhelm your IT department. Outsourcing parts of your IT support to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) like Konica Minolta can make your school more efficient, collaborative and secure.

Managed Services — an efficient, reliable solution

Whether upgrading infrastructure, troubleshooting classroom technology or monitoring cybersecurity risk, managed services providers act as an extension of your IT team.

A managed services provider can:

  • Assess current technology – MSPs work closely with schools to evaluate school infrastructure and determine what needs replacement or upgrading. Konica Minolta’s Educational Technology Assessment solicits feedback from all end-users and evaluates how well a school is keeping pace with connectivity needs.
  • Plan for modernization – Most technology administrators know that infrastructure updates need to be made, but most don’t have the data to know what to invest in and when. After the school’s technology is assessed, a roadmap for future investments is made. Many MSPs deal with hardware and software sellers directly, so they are aware of current technology offerings and the best prices.
  • Upgrade hardware and deploy updates – MSPs can redesign a school’s network to increase bandwidth and reliability and reduce downtime. They can also assist with the deployment of devices. Many managed IT solutions put security strategies and practices in place to ensure your school complies with all standards.
  • Support IT staff and teachers – MSPs can manage the maintenance of new network and server infrastructure as well as respond to helpdesk tickets. Solutions like Konica Minolta’s Educators Helpdesk act as an extension of your school’s IT team, allowing IT staff to focus on what is important – the effective integration of technology into teaching and learning.
  • Reduce operational costs – Schools are more dependent on technology than ever, but tightening budgets can limit their capacity to modernize. When you outsource your IT services, your expenses will be consolidated into a single fixed cost. Managed Service Providers such as Konica Minolta operate with fixed monthly rates that you can easily calculate into your operational budget to avoid unexpected expenses.

Konica Minolta — Your partner in innovative learning

The promise of educational technology is diminished if your school’s network is slow and devices are dated. Leveraging a managed service provider like Konica Minolta can mitigate the challenges facing today’s school IT teams.

Your school’s technology investment should enhance your student’s learning. Konica Minolta ensures you have the support needed to do so. Learn more here.

Jon Clemons
National Practice Director - Education IT Services

Jon Clemons has spent more than a decade consulting and supporting school districts on how to optimize their technology and protect their data and students.