The Ripe Time

Digital Transformation, Done Right, can be Fruitful

Over the past couple of years, the Canon Solutions K-12 Advisory Board has talked to us about several key variables within the state of education in the United States. They have touched upon security issues, demographics, school models, and provided insights into the changing face of education in the U.S. One area that gets a bit more attention is edtech spending and digital transformation.

Spending on edtech continues to skyrocket and purchase intentions for digital curriculum remains high. The commitment to digital transformation inside and outside the classroom is the issue of the day and can be overwhelming for us all. According to Dianna Drew, Executive Director of Technical & Document Services at Grand Prairie School District, “Digital workflows and solutions are the future. Anything and almost everything has a workflow and can be made digital. However, I don’t think everything, especially in curriculum, needs to be that way because kids need to have tactile sensation in order to learn.” 

The business of school, just like any business, requires efficiency. According to the Learning Counsel’s 2021 Digital Transition Survey, hardware purchasing increased and social-emotional learning systems are among the highest tech areas in consideration for purchase. Audio enhancement was identified as critical for hybrid classrooms, where students may be attending live and others virtually, with 31% of schools planning to purchase more of this technology.

The survey also revealed that the K-12 market has fractured into more alternatives, with far less traditional model schooling. Both administrators and teachers are interested in a delivery model shift and lean toward Hybrid Hyflex and Blended/Flipped. There were slight gains for traditional public schools and districts due to new offerings such as online-only paths attached within the institution and by charters. Private schools lost students, and homeschooling was up by another .6%, although this growth rate is slowing to under 10%.

With the ever-growing pressure of digital transformation, the human element cannot be forgotten. People learn from people and real human engagement cannot be replaced. Our board of advisors are staunch advocates for efficiency within the business of school but are equally passionate about incubating the humanness within the learning environment. Gary Kerbow, Director of Purchasing

Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District, states “I think we have a fantasy that everything can be digital. I don’t think it will ever get that way. Until we all turn into AI units that can transmit information telepathically, we’re not going to be totally digital. But we will continue to look at digital solutions to make things accessible, convenient and more cost effective.”

Simply put, no school district endeavors to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They are not focused on transitioning to a digital platform just because technology dominates our lives. On the contrary, they are aiming to have technology support a deeper level of engagement with the students and the surrounding communities. 

It is not earth-shattering news to know that our teachers are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. The fact that most of their processes are manual carries a remarkable burden. Teacher-centric lesson planning is a massive hidden time cost that reduces attention on students and inhibits predictive analytics that would create full personalization because neither digital material nor pathways are normalized. 

Our ongoing research and interviews highlight wonderful opportunities for efficiency and growth within the K-12 segment. Clearly, new types and new ways of offering professional development are needed, new processes are required within the operations of a school district, and all investment should be made within the best interest of the students. 

As we recently wrapped up our latest advisory board meeting, it was clear that the energy of our K-12 educators in this country is unparalleled. The challenges are steep and at times tiresome, but the passion that emanates from our schools and their leaders is at an all-time high. That commitment combined with the access to digital solutions makes this a very ripe environment for positive change within the K-12 landscape.

EnvisionED K-12 Top Issues for K-12 

Based on our interviews and our discussions with the Canon Solutions K-12 Advisory Board, some of the most pressing issues of the day are as follows:

  1. Infrastructure and Access: Not all students have access to the technology and infrastructure necessary to support digital learning. This could be due to a lack of devices or internet connectivity, especially in rural or low-income areas.
  2. Teacher Training: Teachers need to be trained in the use of technology in the classroom, including how to integrate it effectively into their lesson plans and use it to support student learning.
  3. Digital Equity: There is a growing concern about digital equity in education. This means that all students, regardless of their background, should have access to the same digital learning resources and opportunities.
  4. Security and Privacy: There are significant concerns around data privacy and security when it comes to digital learning. Districts must ensure that student data is protected and secure.
  5. Cost: Digital transformation can be expensive, and not all schools or districts have the budget to support it. The cost of devices, software, and infrastructure can quickly add up.
  6. Change Management: Implementing digital transformation requires significant change management, including communication and training for staff, students, and families. It can be challenging to get everyone on board and ensure that the changes are implemented effectively.

Addressing these challenges requires a coordinated effort between educators, administrators, policymakers, and technology vendors. By prioritizing digital transformation and investing in the necessary resources and infrastructure, schools and districts can help ensure that all students have access to high-quality, technology-enabled learning opportunities.