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K-12 EdTech Poised for Additional Uptake Across Devices, Admin and Teaching Tools

Device and software purchases by K-12 schools across the USA continue to ramp up, with new vendor opportunities emerging throughout the education landscape. From classroom and administration tools to computing and audio-visual devices, planned purchases are on the increase according to a suite of new reports from market research consulting firm Futuresource Consulting.

The Ed Tech Voice studies, based on interviews with curriculum leaders within 406 school districts across all 50 US states, paint a comprehensive picture of the current and future developments within education technology uptake.

“Over the last 18 months EdTech has been placed under the microscope,” says Chris Pennell, Principal Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact across the US, with federal government agencies slow to make funding available to school districts. This was exacerbated by shortages, supply complications and distribution problems. Yet new hybrid teaching methods are emerging, and schools are undergoing a technology renaissance, delivering education in ways that can benefit students both now and over the long term.”

Classroom Tools on Track for 18% Growth

Classroom tools, which covers learning management systems (LMS), assessment tools, STEM technologies and productivity tools, is an area on the rise. Survey respondents stated that spend was up 1% this year compared to 2020, but is forecast to grow more aggressively in 2022, exceeding 2020’s figures by 18%.

Futuresource Consulting’s research also reveals that the use of LMS within classrooms has grown significantly over the last 12 months, with more than half of all of districts reportedly using LMS software, and a further 37% expecting to introduce it within the next two years.

“Districts are noticing a link between the use of LMS and improvements in student achievement,” says Pennell. “More than four in five districts told us that their LMS had directly led to increased student performance. However, there are opportunities for vendors to usurp incumbents. Districts believe that LMS providers can do more to improve the overall learning experience and address weaknesses in tools available to teachers. One in three districts currently using an LMS were considering either replacing or adding additional vendors to the roster.”

STEM a Priority

The focus on computer science and wider STEM subjects continues to grow, with 58% of districts making it a priority for their schools. Futuresource expects this wider interest in STEM technologies to lead to an increase in the use of coding tools, and virtual and augmented reality solutions. 70% of schools intend to expand their spending moderately or significantly on STEM technologies over the next two years.

Wide-Ranging Purchase Plans for Admin Tools

Administration tools vendors, those that provide school information systems, enterprise resource planning and communication tools, are also expected to enjoy a positive year in 2022. Almost all curriculum leads surveyed said that they have purchase plans for student-facing software applications.

SIS tops the list, despite approximately eight in ten respondents stating they are already using such systems across their school district. Opportunities exist for all vendors, as a high proportion of districts typically have more than one vendor in place, suggesting that decision makers are open to alternative solutions.

The Futuresource study shows that ERP will be an area of growth, too, with the majority of those not using an ERP solution are planning to implement one within the next two years. Futuresource expects there will be opportunities for a wide range of providers, as the market is likely to follow similar patterns to the localized adoption of SIS.

Despite brands such as Oracle and PowerSchool already building a substantial footprint, most vendors are being considered by a reasonable proportion of respondents.

Computing Devices Capture Majority of Spend

Computing devices, whether desktop PCs, laptops, Chromebooks or tablets, form the foundations of a school’s technology deployment, so it is no surprise to see that every school district has adopted devices of some description.

At 32%, Futuresource’s research indicates that spend on computing devices accounted for the largest share of IT budgets in 2020, although this was down on 2019 budget figures of 36%.

Desktop PCs retain the largest installed base, accounting for 35% of all devices across district schools, yet there is a trend for schools to migrate from desktop PCs to more flexible portable devices. This is more pronounced in smaller school districts, while medium and large school districts have some way to go to catch up with their smaller peers.

Chromebooks are still playing catch up with laptops, and have yet to reach the same levels of penetration. As a result, there’s plenty of room for growth for Chromebooks, both in terms of the number of devices per school and the number of schools using these devices.

“With extra funding coming through from stimulus acts, school districts were bullish about future growth in computing device spend,” says Pennell. “On average they expect to see an increase of more than 15% over the next two years.”

Interactive Flat Panels Shining Through

Projectors, interactive displays, screen casting equipment, conferencing equipment and loudspeakers account for 7% of total IT budgets on average. That’s a decline in percentage terms, but also represents a decline in real terms, likely due to funds being diverted elsewhere during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite more than 99.7% of school districts having at least one form of display device installed, interactive flat panels have a lower coverage, around two in every three schools at present. Futuresource expects this to be an area of growth, with many districts planning future ownership. Futuresource also expects an increase in penetration of interactive whiteboards, based on decision maker plans and the device types they have expressed an interest in.

Planned ownership of visualizers and video-conferencing solutions is also looking positive. And while COVID-19 is likely to have accelerated demand for visualizers in the short-term, there are some phones and tablet applications which are designed to emulate visualizers, and these may impact growth in the longer term.

exposed by COVID-19 provides both challenges and opportunities for the industry,” says Pennell. “The market has come a long way over the last 18 months, shifting its focus in line with increasing hybrid and remote learning requirements. Moving forward, all eyes are on whether schools will be able to leverage the many benefits of technological investment once COVID-19 subsides. We expect the new ways of teaching to become integral to pedagogy in a post-pandemic world.”

Futuresource Consulting’s new suite of EdTech reports includes classroom tools, administration tools, computing devices and audio visual devices. For more information on these reports or to make a purchase, please contact matthew.ledgerwood@futuresource-hq.com

About Futuresource

Futuresource Consulting is a market research and consulting company, providing its clients with expertise in Professional AV, Consumer Electronics, Education Technology, Content & Entertainment, Professional Broadcast and Automotive. Combining strong methodologies and unsurpassed data refinement with in-depth market knowledge and forecasting, Futuresource deliver the latest insights and technological developments to drive business decision-making.

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Chris Pennell

About the author

Chris Pennell

Chris Pennell is a Principal Analyst for Futuresource Consulting and is responsible for researching and reporting on enterprise technology trends. Chris’s research is focused on working with vendors and end-user clients to understand how technologies are disrupting and transforming the delivery of services by public and private enterprises. His main areas of focus include the digital transformation of front- and back-office services through emerging technologies as well as the increasing use of smart city solutions to improve outcomes for citizens.

Prior to joining Futuresource Consulting, Chris has spent the past 12 years researching government’s use of technology to drive better outcomes for citizens, most recently as the Research Director, Government Insights at IDC and has been a regular speaker on Smart Cities and Government technology.

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