The US education technology (EduTech) market is exploding. It’s mushroomed at a compound annual growth rate of 8.81 percent since 2014, reaching US$43 billion in 2019 (Technavio Research).
But, the demand, growth and potential is coming from somewhere you might not expect.
Innovation in EduTech focused outside the classroom — on areas driving stakeholder communication, operational and process efficiency; designed to facilitate parent engagement, staff productivity, student participation and safety — tops the list.
Based on our experience and research, we’ve compiled the top trends and challenges we believe will shape this aspect of the EduTech industry over the next year — which your K-12 school should look to harness.
1. Streamlined school workflows Admin, HR, student & parent comms and information transfer
Every school district in the US is under pressure to cope with rising student populations. This is particularly true for New York City (NYC) schools — where a significant hub of CareMonkey and eChalk clients are located — with it listed as the largest school district in the United States.
According to educationdata.org, despite a slowing birth-rate, “US schools are still growing” across the board, with both individual educational professionals and school district planners needing to adapt. Across all year levels, US school enrolments grew from 47,204,000 students in the year 2000, to approximately 50,438,000 in 2015. By 2027, it’s estimated that 52,059,000 students will be participating in the US school system.
“Given the nature of considerable teacher shortages in many states across the country”, schools at both a district and individual level need to become as efficient as possible. This includes consolidating operational workflows and processes across the school — and even between multi-school networks — from student enrolments, to finance, HR and parent communication.
According to the Washington Post, school districts are also under increasing pressure to better manage the proliferation of disparate technologies, and integrate both new and existing technologies, to improve manageability for parents, staff and to drive consistent communication and engagement. Today, between 200 and 600 different, non-connected, apps are used across all school types and grade levels within the average school district.
Even organizers of the UK’s biggest annual education technology event, BETT, wrote that “smartly using current technology” and the “integration of new technology to complement current infrastructure” were two of the top five EduTech trends to watch in 2020.
With continued cuts to education funding in the US, especially the well-publicized squeeze on NYC school budgets, education leaders need to ensure technologies in which they’ve already invested can evolve to meet rapidly changing requirements, while reducing reliance on old, manual practices — like printing and face-to-face meetings.
4. Promote accessibility at every turn Through all processes & points of contact
From multi-lingual support, text-to-voice technology, and guided website experiences, harnessing technology to enable accessibility isn’t just mandatory for many schools, it’s the right thing to do. If the point of advancing educational practices and delivery methods is to extend the benefits of education and inclusive learning to more people, then technology’s ability to spread and accelerate inclusion might just be the most exciting EduTech prospect in 2020.
5. It’s time to fully embrace the cloud Infrastructure & multi-cloud environments
The education sector has been relatively slow to embrace the cloud, but on-premise technology no longer provides the accessibility, ease-of-use and flexibility that modern schools require. Teachers, parents and even students need 24/7, universal access to information — no matter where they are — be it for learning or safety purposes. Modern education institutions, practices and technologies also mean that schools produce, and are often required to keep records of, more data than ever before.
As said by Breck DeWitt, Education Strategist at Dell EMC: “K-12 and higher ed institutions are now faced with significantly more data; as a result, there’s a need for a flexible and budget-friendly method to securely store and access it. Education institutions will double multi-cloud datacenter usage by 2025 as it becomes the new norm.”
Parent engagement will be boosted by the proliferation of what CIO Magazine’s recent Top Tech Trends in Education article labelled as ‘nudge tech’. This term describes a collection of smart, connected, data-driven and mobile-enabled technologies, which work together to deliver timely, automated and personalized notifications and interactions between teachers, parents and students.
According to research from the George Lucas Educational Foundation, tech-based communication tactics are driving deeper parent-teacher engagement, student participation in school activities and tighter relationships between schools and families.
Research from Columbia University backs this, suggesting that “systemized digital outreach can help parents stay informed and become more involved, driving better student engagement”. Further, The American Psychological Association states that developing consistent and repeatable processes is critical for both “getting and keeping parents engaged”.
And, not only do engaged parents help ensure their children can participate more fully in school life, new primary research from the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter demonstrates that “parental engagement has a positive effect on a child’s academic attainment — regardless of age or socio-economic status”.
7. Ease staff workload with automation Boost teacher efficiency and capacity
Results from the OECD’s latest research into global education trends states that while teachers are working longer hours, that time is increasingly taken-up by non-teaching tasks, leading to burnout. Automating operational processes — like the request, capture and communication of student information and permissions — is critical for enabling efficiently-run schools and focused teachers.
Interestingly, additional research strengthens that produced by the OECD, also highlighting this as a common challenge among other developed nations. Recent UK studies by the NUT and Leeds Beckett reported that 90 percent of respondents said they were “on the verge of leaving” teaching due to unsustainable workloads. A further 86 percent said they already knew someone who had left the profession because of high workloads. Research from the UCL Institute of Education confirms those findings, with their own survey of 1,200 teachers revealing that “workload challenges” was “still the most frequently cited reason for having left, or for wanting to leave in the future”.
The better news is that, according to a recent US-based survey by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 83 percent of teachersare also optimistic about technology’s ability to expand their capacity.
8. Mobile ready — no excuses Anywhere, anytime, any device
Seeing is believing: CareMonkey overview — in 2-minutes
In just 2-minutes, see how CareMonkey is helping thousands of schools and other organizations save time, money and be better prepared for emergencies by digitizing and automating manual, disconnected or paper-based processes.