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Ryan Pelc, Design Engineer, Technical Services, ScanSource

Technological Evolution of the Education Vertical

Over the last year to year and a half, many industries have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare providers, retailers, grocers, and other businesses of all kinds have had to adjust the way they operate. When it comes to operational changes, perhaps one of the most widely impacted verticals continues to be the education space. The education system has faced a new reality that depends on technology to create a safe, healthy environment for students, faculty, staff, and families. The pandemic sped up the need for additional remote learning capabilities, communication solutions, and network security functions. And even as many schools plan to reopen next school year, it is imperative school systems have the available resources for ongoing remote learning programs to support students and staff, as the trend won’t be going away any time soon. This calls for many new solutions, all of which ScanSource can assist with. You can find out more about our education-focused solutions here.  

Ryan Pelc, Design Engineer on ScanSource’s dedicated Technical Services team, recently shared his thoughts on the top technology trends we’ll see in the education vertical over the next few years. Before joining ScanSource, Ryan spent 15 years as a Network Administrator for a large K-12 school district, where he oversaw the district’s network encompassing 42 school buildings and more than 18 thousand students.

 

What are your thoughts on the role technology has been playing in the education space (pre-COVID and current state)?

Technology has become a critical component in the education vertical. It provides so many capabilities for students and faculty, whether they are learning in person or remotely. We have seen an increased demand for 1 to 1 devices for students to utilize both on campus and at home, as well as connectivity and productivity software to enable teachers to interact with and present to students both in person and remotely. Digital text books have become much more prominent than ever before, and many partners are implementing more cloud storage applications and solutions for school systems than in the past. The list goes on. Technology has become the fabric and foundation for much of what takes place in the modern education system. Similar to the role technology is playing for many corporations and businesses with hybrid workplaces, technology in the education system will continue to play a pivotal role for years to come.

 

Specifically, what technologies will have the most impact in the way educators and school systems operate as they safely return?

I would say 1 to 1 devices and the MDM solutions to manage them, as well as content filtering to meet the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) guidelines. High speed wireless and switching in all buildings throughout a district is now imperative, and large internet connections paired with powerful firewalls are also seeing more implementation. Schools are also having to consider internet at home options for students with little to no remote internet access. This is something many schools didn’t have to think about before, and it’s more common than many may realize.

 

What technologies have been most impactful in the education space over the last year?

Digital collaboration and remote learning platforms have been the key to keeping students and educators engaged with one another throughout the last year or so. VPN technology has also seen a major uptick, as more students than ever before have been remotely accessing school district networks. This has also led to an increase in the need for security appliances, software, and firewall installation. With K-12 schools utilizing blended and hybrid learning formats, Learning Management Systems (LMS) also play the valuable role as a bridge between the teacher and student. These systems allow the teacher to easily share assignments, lessons, feedback and other materials with the students, while also providing a means for reliable reporting and tracking of student progress and achievements.

 

In your opinion, what are the top 2-3 education trends for 2021 and heading into 2022?

·       Digital collaboration

·       Pervasive internet access for students (in district, at home, etc.)

·       Blended/Hybrid Learning

 

Please tell us a little more about your background and experience in the education space.

I was a Network Administrator for a large school district for 15 years. My role was to install, configure, and maintain the district’s wired and wireless networks, VoIP & analog phone systems, battery backup systems, and distance learning hardware and software, among other duties.


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