Latest figures from Futuresource Consulting show that global education hardware spending hit $13 billion last year, up 11% on 2012. The study explored mobile PC devices, classroom displays (such as projectors and interactive whiteboards) and complementary devices (visualisers, voting systems, voice amplification and related products), and reveals that the market will continue to rise in value out to 2018 and beyond.
“Despite a lull in a number of other technology markets, education technology continues to perform, even with pressure being applied to education budgets across the world,” said Colin Messenger, senior market analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “Our annual strategic report also shows that there’s plenty of growth to come, with the total universe value expected to reach US$19 billion by 2018, a CAGR of 8% from 2013 to 2018.”
This increase of universe spend in education technology has been primarily driven by the uplift in the mobile PC market – laptops, tablets and netbooks – which now accounts for 62% of the total spend.
The explosion of tablets and one-to-one learning programs, primarily driven by the iPad and iPad Mini, has dominated the news in the last 12 months. This is especially true in US school districts where iPad sales have taken a dominant slice of the budget. Tablet PCs are also projected to see significant growth over the forecast period, due to the implementation of large volume projects such as Turkey’s FATIH tender, as well as other tenders in Korea, India, and Thailand. Many countries are also experiencing increasing uptake of Chromebooks.
In addition, the growth of the tablet category is fuelling an increasing trend for interaction between classroom display and tablets, and this trend is likely to drive integration of AV and IT solutions. This investment by schools in personal computing devices is seen as an ideal match to Interactive Flat Screen Displays (IFPDs) for collaborative or ‘flipped’ teaching techniques.
Flipped teaching is a form of blended learning in which students learn new content online
or by watching video lectures, often at home, and what used to be ‘homework’, is now done in class with teachers offering more personalised guidance and interaction with students, instead of lecturing. This is also known as ‘backwards classroom’, ‘flipped classroom’, ‘reverse teaching’ and the ‘Thayer Method’.
Impact on displays
Changes in teaching methods will have an increasingly significant impact on the choice of display technologies used in classrooms. Some1.4 million displays were sold into education last year but the product mix continues to transform. IFPDs saw more than a four-fold volume increase. There is a proliferation of new models and new vendors entering the market, which is leading to increased competition for the IWB vendors who have traditionally dominated the segment.
The IFPD market is expected to have some of the greatest growth in the classroom technology market, with a 2013 to 2018 volume CAGR of 11%. “As the education sector continues to transition towards digital, many further requirements need to be met beyond the hardware itself,” says Messenger, “with the emphasis being channelled from hardware activity into software, content, infrastructure and services.”
The report ‘Technology in Education: Global Trends, Universe Spend and Market Outlook’ is available now from Futuresource Consulting. With more than 100 pages of forecasts, statistics and analysis, this report provides an annual round-up of critical information for any company seeking to understand the market opportunities for technology in education, including the opportunities, outlook, market movements, megatrends and competitive shifts.
UK education technology: through the looking glass
What do patterns in equipment supply indicate about migration towards new teaching methods in UK schools? Caroline Wright, Director of British Educational Suppliers Association, comments on the findings of the Association’s latest report.
The goal posts for schools are constantly moving. Life in schools is starting to resemble the game of croquet in Alice in Wonderland, where the mallets were multi-coloured live flamingos, and the croquet balls were sleepy hedgehogs. The playing card soldiers had to double themselves up and stand on their hands and feet to make the arches. Everyone played the game with great enthusiasm but there were no rules; the flamingos flew away, the hedgehogs would hide, and the role of the playing cards was to literally move the goal posts at every opportunity. Like Alice, educators are at a loss as to how to play the game and get results.
Recent changes in the curriculum are driving reform at a dramatic pace. The new primary computing curriculum involves the teaching of coding and writing logarithms, while the introduction of modern foreign languages demands classroom teachers to quickly adapt to the curriculum requirements such as grammar, punctuation and spelling. Dramatic changes such as these have placed many teachers in the unenviable position of having to instruct others in subjects with which they themselves are unfamiliar. In turn, schools are not only changing their investment focus but are also starting to change the way they teach.
The current needs of the new teaching regime have meant that some teachers are seeking external help to ensure that they are able to stay abreast of the changes. These embryonic changes in teaching come in the form of collaborative professional development, mentoring and coaching.
Working collaboratively is an increasingly necessary part of today’s education system, particularly in light of the significant changes being made to both the teaching curriculum and the way students are expected to learn. A report by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers reminds us that ‘the best teaching and the best learning happen where professionals work, learn and reflect together’. This can either be realised by bringing in additional staff or by collaborating with other schools. However, developing a sustained system of collaboration takes time, and is not yet well enough established to have a noticeable effect on changes in investment in technology.
What we are seeing from our recent research undertaken with school leaders, is that there is a clear appreciation of the impact that the curriculum changes will have on the need for teaching resources, with 25 per cent of respondents stating a positive impact on the investment in teaching aids. Unsurprisingly the biggest change in spending appears to be in regards to continuing professional development and training, with 61 per cent of schools suggesting an increase in investment.
Our recent Resources in English Maintained School research backed up this positive change by also revealing an increase in funding across all schools.
Primary schools stated that their resource budgets have increased to £34,650 in primary schools and £155,000 in secondary schools, a 3.8 and 2.5 per cent respective increase on last year. When breaking this spending down, investment in ICT equipment is the one area that is significantly higher than originally forecast, with a 7.5 per cent increase in primary schools and 4.3 per cent in secondary education. In terms of actual money, in 2013/14, it is estimated that English maintained schools will have spent £496 million on ICT. A typical primary school is projected to spend £690 million more in 2014/15, while a typical secondary school projects a significant rise of £7,260.
It is interesting to note an even higher increase in investment is forecast for ICT furniture and desking systems. Primary schools suggested a 12.9 per cent increase while secondary schools suggested at 7.5 per cent increase in expenditure. Understandably an increasing number of schools (63 per cent of primary schools and 46 per cent of secondary schools) state that they are adequately funded. This increase also translates to their view on the sufficiency of their ICT infrastructure.
Continuing with the trend that has emerged over the past two decades, over half of schools anticipate that more than 50 per cent of pupil-time will involve the use of ICT by 2015. Overall, the impact of improvements in ICT investment will be focused on computers for pupils (most likely tablets): 25 per cent of surveyed schools indicate pupil PCs/tablets as being positively impacted by the recent changes compared to just 11 per cent in 2012.
It is the interactive whiteboard (IWB) that is taking the hardest hit. Schools suggested that the area of investment that is most likely to be cut is ‘whole-class learning delivery technologies’. Our resource survey has tracked the provision of interactive whiteboards (IWBs) since 2005, and the latest figures indicate 83 per cent of primary and 70 per cent of secondary schools consider themselves already well-resourced with IWBs.
The interesting point however, is that in both cases this figure has dropped since we last carried out the survey in 2012 and this appears to be set to continue. The outlook for 2015 that just 20 per cent of primary and 30 per cent of secondary schools will be under-resourced with IWBs.
When asked about product areas where schools still feel under-resourced, schools stated tablets (77 per cent), Wi-Fi (55 per cent), digital content (46 per cent) and laptop computers (41 per cent) to be areas which require the most immediate focus (see ‘Demand for strategic framework for technology in schools’ below).
Along with computer provision, a good indication of the general status of ICT provision in a school is to review the status of peripheral items. Peripherals include printers, scanners, digital cameras and other items that combine with a computer to add functionality, such as voting devices and data-logging equipment. We are seeing a steady trend of improvement in the resourcing of peripherals in both primary and secondary schools.
As staff feel more and more confident in the daily use of technology, we are seeing an increase in their willingness to experiment with new and more complex AV equipment. So while Alice was left to blunder through Wonderland, schools appear to have found their way out the rabbit hole, with their budgets and investment plans in place, giving a very positive outlook for ICT and AV suppliers.
The evolving landscape of teaching is expected to bring increasing numbers of changes in teaching practice, including the collaborative teaching structure that we have outlined. How this will affect investment in technology remains to be seen, however we’ll step through the looking glass and let you know what we find!
SMART amp and the BYOD problem
To mark the occasion of the official launch of the new SMART amp collaborative learning software, SMART Technologies staged a working demonstration of the product in London’s Science Museum. The demonstration featured school children engaged in collaborative projects both around the Museum and in a classroom environment. The whole event was streamed live around the world.
With the increasing adoption of mobile devices in classroom, the use and cost of disparate devices on different software platforms is now a serious dilemma for schools. SMART amp answers these problems by simplifying how teachers, students, displays and devices come together. As web-based software, it is accessible from virtually any internet-enabled device and eliminates deployment costs associated with operating, upgrading or supporting numerous proprietary operating systems.
SMART Amp allows for a seamless transition between learning environments and supports teachers with access to collaboration-rich resources. Teachers and students simply log into SMART amp software through their Google ID from any web browser. SMART amp doesn’t require the user to remember yet another password or spend time transferring files.
SMART amp enables students and teachers to work together in real time to solve problems and understand concepts in huge shared workspaces, building on existing ideas and creating new thinking. Among its many features is the ability for teachers to use its formative assessment tools to gauge student progress and get an accurate picture of how well students are following lesson material and adjust instruction accordingly, without interrupting the lesson activity.
The Science Museum demonstration showed how the ability to share and collaborate inspired the school children to get ‘hands on’ with the project, and, in our assessment, motivated them to acquire and retain new knowledge. In the school, SMART amp also provides teachers with a classroom management system where they can switch between whole class, small group and individual learning with easy file sharing and student grouping for project-based exercises. Teachers can control who can edit a document, have the class follow a lesson or show examples of great student work on the fly.
President and CEO of SMART Technologies, Neil Gaydon said, “We recognised that teachers were grappling with how to work with different devices and ensure a consistent experience for all their students with universal access to curriculum content. A cloud-based solution like SMART amp became an essential requirement in bringing these devices and platforms together into one cohesive learning environment.”
London’s Science Museum.
Education evolution and technology impact
From a single, widely understood and almost universally adopted ‘chalk and talk’ teaching methodology, the last decade has seen a comprehensive review of the role of the teacher in the classroom. Thanks to research undertaken by OECD, and the likes of Don Passey from the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University, a professional development framework has evolved which looks at how a teacher behaves in terms of three differentiated tasks: Knowledge Transfer, Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge
These core classroom approaches are desribed as follows:
· Teacher: whole class, direct instruction from front of class
· Student: passive learning with minimal interaction
· Content: textbook and worksheet driven
· Teacher: Instruction from front of class; student data drives instruction
· Students: Involved in interactive activities and engaged with peers; ability grouping
· Content: Engaging and interactive; provides opportunity to edit and share
· Teacher: “Point of Need” instruction provided to individuals / small groups
· Students: Mastery learning; working at individual pace in multi-aged environment; ability to connect with real-world experts and outside resources, including parents
· Content: Dynamic, real-world resources that provide opportunity for project or challenge-based learning
It’s typical for teachers new to the profession to adopt a ‘Knowledge Transfer’ approach while getting to grips with lesson planning and controlling students. However, it is now widely accepted, that utilising a combination of the three approaches is the most effective way to provide students with a deeper, richer learning experience. Moreover, all of these approaches can be enhanced and improved by the use of technology and in some instances, such as with Knowledge Communities, be reliant on technology to be effective at all. In spite of this, a spokesperson from the OECD estimates teachers are in Knowledge Transfer mode for 75% of the time, while Knowledge Community perhaps only accounts for 5% of teaching time.
Ian Curtis, Head of Northern and Central European Business at Promethean, believes that, in the UK market, there remains a strong preference for front of class display solutions – whether that’s an IWB or IFPD. This trend is supportive of the statistics from the OECD, and where the market currently sits. In terms of the growing demand for IFPDs in the UK market, from a pedagogical perspective, there is no differential between these and IWBs in terms of teaching method. They are both technologies which enhance Knowledge Transfer learning opportunities and as large multi-touch enabled surfaces, have the potential to greatly support student collaboration.
However, one conclusion that can be drawn from the strong sales in IFPDs is that purchasing decisions are being driven by a growing ‘consumerist’ approach. Particularly in primary schools where there is often a lack of professional procurement expertise to prepare detailed technical specifications according to IT capabilities and school need. Teachers are responsible for making decisions around technology investments and it’s iPads and IFPDs which provide a more familiar user experience for them.
While teaching methods do not appear to be driving hardware investment, it is clear that technology can enable new approaches to teaching practice that are not possible with pen and paper. It is also clear that technology can be used to achieve improved efficiency and effectiveness in teaching, as with any other industry, with automation playing a major part. Technology is an enabler in the classroom by making lessons more engaging, but it also has the potential to save the teacher time. As such, Promethean is finding that schools are more likely to invest in solutions which save time and ultimately make their lives easier.
Although not strictly an ‘equipment sale’, the growth in popularity for BYOD policies brings with it additional challenges for the teacher – namely the use of multiple device types within the classroom environment. Curtiss says that: Solutions such as Promethean’s ClassFlow will help overcome this challenge, by delivering a cloud-based tool which can be used across a range of device types. In doing so, it equips the teacher with the means to combine the Knowledge Transfer of front of class with more Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Community based experiences – all through a single platform.”
As things stand, to remain competitive and be able to offer schools what they want (which might differ from what they actually need), Curtiss recommends that resellers should maintain a varied portfolio which offers a choice between IWBs and IFPDs but also supports BYOD strategies. “In the context of OCED’s teaching framework of Knowledge Transfer, Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Communities, in anticipation of teachers adopting a more varied range of these approaches, the channel needs to ensure it offers technologies which facilitate each modality – not just the traditional Knowledge Transfer stance.”
Curtiss is of the opinion that the evolution of teaching methods and the adoption of supporting technologies will create opportunities for the channel which go beyond equipment supply. “There’s an opportunity for resellers to expand into services which support wider technology deployment in schools, BYOD being an excellent example of this. However, BYOD is only effective when the right infrastructure is in place and needs to integrate with existing networks and technologies to achieve maximum impact. This is where the reseller can consult on a wider perspective and help schools to build truly connected classrooms.”
Chris Collins, Maths Teacher at St Birinus, Didcot, has been using the Beta version of Promethean’s ClassFlow. Here he comments on how the cloud-based software tool is already creating a more collaborative learning environment:
“We’ve been using ClassFlow with an IWB and a mixture of students’ own devices and tablets provided by the school. While it is early days, ClassFlow has made an immediate impact by giving me as a teacher a tool which facilitates truly two-way communication with the class. Leaps ahead of Learner Response Systems, ClassFlow is an extremely powerful communication and creative tool – enabling me to push lesson content from front-of-class to every student – and then pull it back again for further development and discussion.
“The biggest benefit that we have seen so far is that it facilitates instant two-way communication with the opportunity for immediate feedback and peer assessment. This level of engagement and whole-class dialogue just is not possible with paper-based tasks, and it wasn’t even possible with any technologies I’ve used previously.”
Demand for strategic framework for technology in schools
Samsung Electronics, European Electronique and The Education Foundation, a UK independent education think tank, has launched a new report that examines the future of technology within education. Their new report urges the industry not to ‘reinvent the wheel”.
An expert group, put together in response to a request from the UK Department for Education, has published a report identifying emerging solutions to the barriers facing schools using technology to improve learning outcomes. The report, titled ‘Technology in Education: A System View’, was written by James Penny (Solutions Director at European Electronique), Ian Fordham and Ty Goddard (Co-founders of The Education Foundation), with contributions of leading educators, industry leaders and academics.
The report identifies a paradigm shift in the use of technology in education; “technology must be more strategically linked to achievement and learning in all schools and learning organisations. And knowledge of how to achieve this needs to be shared more widely on a ‘what works website’ for all teachers and learners to benefit.”
The report acknowledges that: “There are still major barriers to the adoption of technology in Britain’s schools. Universal high quality access to broadband in all schools would deliver significant benefit. And if schools adopted cloud-based technology and made choices on devices based on flexibility and total cost of ownership, they would see considerable savings.”
“The use of technology to improve achievement must be recognised more prominently and systematically in inspection and accountability frameworks with clear guidance on what good and outstanding looks like in practice.”
The report argues that one of the key requirements for a new technology enabled school led system is removing the main barriers to the wider adoption of technology and identifying how technology can support high quality outcomes across the system.
It contends that the energy and resources being deployed to support the ‘reinvention’ process are slowing down the level of innovation. Ground breaking thinking around technology and its role in system wide change is thwarted by the effort going into this reinvention. The next level of innovation is being slowed, which is not conducive to our economy remaining competitive in the long term.
At grassroots level in schools, colleges, universities, and also in our most dynamic SMEs and start-ups, the report says that we now have the potential to use our technological capability and expertise to lead the world in technology and education. As a nation, we are at a critical time in the development of the economy and harnessing the potential of the digital agenda in all its forms, is a national priority. With the sharing of innovative ideas and a system view technology could be the one of the key drivers to enable the UK to continue to be a world leader.
But before this ambition can be realised there are some issues that must be resolved. The first of these is access. Only 64% of children living in the poorest decile of households in the UK have access to the Internet, and 66% of the second poorest decile, compared to 93% of all households with children in the UK own a computer, and 89% of all households with children have access to the Internet via a computer
Many schools and learning organisations struggle to provide and maintain good or high quality access to technology compared to larger organisations with young people’s access to up to date devices, the quality and regular updating of critical infrastructure and connectivity for devices including providing high quality wireless provision and connectivity to the Internet being the most prevalent issues.
According to the Elearning foundation, 756,000 of school age children still cannot go online from a computer at home, and 653,000 lack access to a computer at home. These are highly likely to be the same children subject to the attainment gap and at risk of under-performing..
Even within the schools, the report identifies end-of-life equipment as a problem in the effective deployment of technology. “The proportion of old and ineffective computers is still prevalent in many schools and learning organisations. Equality of access to the benefits of educational technology is important to closing the achievement gap, driving up standards and increasing equity.”
Making the replacement of this legacy equipment a priority is a challenge for administrators and the supply side the industry. Schools and learning. Customer organisations need a robust evidence base concerning the range of methods of teaching and learning – proven pedagogies) that make the most difference when used and connected with technology.
For schools to evaluate the potential of blended learning – which is defined by the Clayton Christensen Institute as: “any time a student learns, at least in part, at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and, at least in part, through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.”
The report argues that a balance to be struck between more directed and constructivist forms of teaching and learning. Learners use technology to access resources and present what they have understood. The use of personal devices can be focused on reading or accessing pre-prepared materials. The teacher directs the majority of learning time. Summative examinations and tests do not regularly feature the use of technology.
In a constructivist environment learners are encouraged to explore ideas and share insights using many different sources. They then construct representations of their understanding, with teachers supporting and guiding. ICT plays a critical role and the use of personal devices essential. Also, in this scenario, the 21st Century skills of sharing ideas and information, critique and iterative working play a significant part in the overall learning environment.
To make the considerable investment in technology and skills, education users have to be satisfied that the change to a new paradigm represents value for money. Getting more for less is critical in a new system. At the level of government, local authority, principal, tutor, academy sponsor, school governor, head teacher and practitioner, the report says that the prevailing opinion is supports using tried and tested solutions rather than reinventing the wheel.
The report concludes that the recently published Digital Inclusion Strategy identifies that “the government is already investing in world class internet access and digital infrastructure, including public investment of over £1 billion to boost coverage of superfast broadband across the UK (to 95% of premises by 2017), and to connect businesses in our major cities”, but that: “Maintaining momentum is not enough.”
The report goes on to claim that: “there are some simple steps that schools, colleges and other learning organisations could take NOW that could potentially save millions of pounds over the next few years. It highlights areas of promise and we know there are many more schools and other learning organisations leading the way who need to share their story – so there is less reinvention of the wheel.”
And the technology and the infrastructure is now at such a stage where it is more affordable and capable, with the right professional development and support of teachers, to radically change the way teaching and learning is delivered across the UK. The time for change is now.” But perhaps the most telling phrase in the report is the quote from the NESA’s 2013 Report ‘Decoding learning’: In the last five years, UK schools have spent more than £1 billion on digital technology. From interactive whiteboards to tablets, there is more digital technology in school than ever before. But so far there has been little evidence of substantial success in improving educational outcomes.” Of course it would all have been different if we had all been using Android.
Education: high-end, higher ed
With competition among universities for the best staff and students, state-of-the-art AV is near the top of the institutional wish list. James Belso, Senior Sales Manager (UK & Nordics)for Christie Digital, comments on buyer requirements and behaviour in this specialist sector,
Depending on your generation, universities either conjure up images of dusty halls of learning with equipment that is decidedly end-of-life, or high-tech science parks with state-of-the-art solutions. Since the advent of private / public funding initiative and research partnerships, the later is increasingly the norm. But does this mean that solutions sold into this market have to be hot off the developer’s test bench?
James Belso, Senior Sales Manager (UK & Nordics) for Christie Digital says “it depends”:
“For our business this greatly depends on the application. For general AV presentation or cinema theatre applications we would not recognise the higher education market as an early adopter. By contrast, for the use of 3D stereoscopic visualisation, we would recognise higher education as one of the key segments for the advancement of these applications, often in partnership with the private sector.”
“For these applications universities appear to approach advanced visualisation as playing a core role in developing their position within the broader national and international research community. They also look to draw funding from partnership with local, national and sometimes international businesses that extend beyond the initial investment in display technology, particularly where it relates to rapid prototyping, geological mapping and developing new medical procedures.”
“The first five and six sided CAVE’s established in Europe have utilised Christie projection technology and both are modelled on this public / private partnership between university and industry. While the Department of Health made a £5m grant available for radiotherapy students in the UK to secure virtual learning, where London South Bank University LSBU secured £250K of funding to develop this training system (known as VERT), other universities in the UK followed.”
Given this diversity of needs, Belso says that initial customer meetings shouldn’t get hung-up on detail:
“Given the broad nature of our product portfolio, we see our brand engaged for an equally broad set of application requirements — from general presentation, medium and large-scale AV deployment in classroom and theatres with supporting networks, content sharing solutions, to cinema and, as referenced earlier, 3D visualisation. We look to Christie partners to focus on the application needs and the purpose / function of the installation, so initial customer discussions shouldn’t focus on resolution, brightness, illumination or imaging technology as, typically, there are a number of display products that satisfy the basic technical parameters but far fewer products that offer the best solution.”
“Assessment on display performance follows function and then matching best fit for environment, operator or audience requirements before finally offering choice against a range of budgets. If we were to look at a general theatre environment in higher education, we have seen increasing demand for the ability to present multiple sources within a wide landscape canvas, sometimes with supporting reference screens depending on how theatre seating is raked. The greater focus on source and presentation management changes from theatre to classroom, where content sharing for solutions like Barco ClickShare and Christie Brio become the requirement. The University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield and others certainly take this approach.”
This consultative selling approach has much more in common with the sales process offered to a corporate client than a typical school, where price is the dominant factor. Belso says:
“Our product line does not target school classrooms; given the expenditure available for these installations and the lower expectations on performance vs. price, this would exclude our brand. That said, within a higher education setting, we find that because of the breadth of our product line, exceptional warranties, product support and application knowledge — shared with our partner channel— the brand has often secured wide-scale deployment on campus for seminar and workshop spaces as much as larger auditoriums.”
“This has been a growing sector for Christie as strong partner support has seen greater presentation of the brand to the higher education sector and customers are regularly surprised by the value offered by what they considered to be a premium brand beyond their budget. Christie’s expansion of its product portfolio to include LCD and a wide range of single-chip DLP systems has no doubt helped, as has the opportunity to present the same to customers when engaged for other display solutions, from videowalls to CAVEs.”