Why IT Partners should be talking about digitization strategies with their K-12 customers Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Email Jay BogosianAugust 30, 2023August 30, 2023 LinkedIn Viewed: 92 TAGSK-12e-ratefederal e-rateclassroom technologydigitization The K-12 learning environment has changed substantially over the past three years. Classroom digitization accelerated during the pandemic as school districts rushed to enable remote learning. Almost every student now has an endpoint device such as a tablet or laptop, and many classrooms feature advanced displays connected to a control computer the teacher uses. Educators will continue to rely more heavily on digital tools in the classroom. In the next five years, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications will likely become common in classrooms. Teachers may leverage the metaverse, which combines AR, VR, and the internet to provide an immersive, collaborative environment as a learning platform. Some school districts already use AR and VR for field trips that students can take without leaving their desks. Immersive online competitions also are starting to gain popularity. Already, esports, which use video games for multiplayer competitions, has become a common extracurricular activity. All of these technologies require infrastructure, security, and power protection. As districts develop plans to further digitize their classrooms, they will need guidance from IT experts to make the right technology and infrastructure decisions. Opportunities for IT solution providers That’s where IT solution providers can play a fundamental role. Schools will need upgrades to their infrastructure on top of the work that took place in recent years. The equipment supporting AR, VR, and the metaverse will increase demand on school networks. Schools will require more bandwidth capacity and possibly new routers, servers, storage, and uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) as they deploy applications that process large amounts of data. With back to school already here, IT solution providers should reach out to district administrators and IT leaders to discuss current and future needs. Providers can make a big difference, especially in smaller districts that do not have IT teams. While large districts typically have IT departments to plan and manage technology upgrades and implementations, small districts in rural and remote areas often do not. Identify funding sources In addition to consulting and services, IT solution providers can help districts identify funding sources and manage the process of securing federal grants for technology projects. One major source is the E-Rate Connectivity Fund, which the federal government disburses to school districts around the country each year from taxes collected on cell phone use. E-Rate was established in 1996 to make high-speed internet affordable to schools and libraries for online education and library services. The E-Rate funding cap for 2023 is $4.77 billion, a 7% inflation-adjusted increase from 2022. Eligible schools can get reimbursements of up to 90% on services such as internet access, data transmission, internal connection, and broadband design, configuration and integration of wireless networks. In addition to E-Rate, federal and state governments provide funds for schools to apply for their technology initiatives. One recent example was the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which included funding to provide students with devices for classroom modernization. To learn what funds are currently available, click here. Digitization plans for the school year As schools move forward with digitization plans, IT solution providers can help with the additional equipment, capacity, and power protection they need to support a productive, safe learning environment. As solution providers, if you haven’t yet touched base with your clients in K-12 districts, now is the time to discuss new projects and how to execute them. By having these conversations, you will help schools further their digitization strategies while cementing your IT trusted advisor role with your education clients. Ready to prepare for these conversations? Access the webinar “How Partners Can Help K-12 Customers Embrace Digitization” to learn how to help your clients better harness digitization and address the growing demands on their IT infrastructure.