Educational Institutions Leverage Trending Tech to Stay Ahead of the Curve

Today’s educational institutions, from K-12 schools all the way up to high schools and universities, face a lot of the same challenges and goals as many companies.

Today’s educational institutions, from K-12 schools all the way up to high schools and universities, face a lot of the same challenges and goals as many companies: increasing staff productivity, improving office workflows, keeping costs under control, protecting data against security threats, and remaining as ecologically responsible as possible. 

But they also have to meet objectives that are unique to education, such as enhancing the learning experience for all students and ensuring that faculty have the latest teaching tools at their disposal. To achieve these goals, schools of all sizes aim to be more innovative and forward-thinking as they try to keep up with constant change. 

One way they’re doing that is by taking advantage of new technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), wearable devices, and interactive displays. There’s clearly a growing market for these technologies, with the education sector driving part of it. Consulting firm Deloitte in a 2016 report predicted that VR will have its first billion dollar year in 2016, with about $700 million spent on hardware and the remainder on content.

With the application of AR and VR, schools create entirely new opportunities to teach students about a range of subjects. AR apps provide direct or indirect views of real-world environments whose components can be augmented by computer-generated input such as video or graphics. Students can study the human body by creating and manipulating AR-based models of how systems of the body work. They can experience virtual tours to more deeply understand the various components of the body. This kind of visceral interaction with the subject matter provides a more profound and memorable learning experience.

Similarly, teachers use VR to allow students to experience new environments simply by wearing VR headsets and taking virtual “trips” to far-away places. The novelty of this technology means that we are currently educating the first generation of students who can see the whole world from their classroom – not just in a textbook or on a TV screen, but in a completely immersive environment that simulates reality. 

In addition to VR headsets, other wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches also present teaching opportunities for institutions, particularly in the area of helping students learn what they need to do to stay more physically fit. Wearable technologies have changed the way data is communicated, collected, and analyzed in schools, according to an April 2016 report from Research and Markets entitled “Classroom Wearables Technology Market In the US 2016-2020.”

The study said wearable devices are being actively adopted in the education sector, and predicted that the classroom wearable technology market in the U.S. will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46% from 2016 to 2020. Products such as fitness trackers and fabric sensors help students learn about the importance of being physically active by enabling them to keep track of steps, heartrate, and other metrics throughout the day.

Interactive displays are another key technology that’s helping institutions more effectively merge fresh technology and teaching practices. Products such as interactive whiteboards, projectors, and touch-screen displays are used with mobile devices to provide more interactive and engaging learning experiences, connecting younger generations with educational content in a way that is more natural and exciting for them.

Making better use of more established technologies like mobile devices and the cloud can also have a massive impact on improving the learning experience for students. Even though these technologies have been available for a while, they still find new ways to make waves in the educational sector. And their ubiquity is growing; research firm Technavio Research predicts that the global mobile education market will grow by 21% over the next five years.

The recent rise in the number of educational apps and platforms on smartphones and tablets is a significant factor contributing to market growth during the forecast period, Technavio says. These apps not only facilitate better learning for students, they also help educators better manage student and administrative data.

Experts believe that cloud-based instructional platforms and digital curriculum and educational applications will be used along with interactive displays and mobile devices to enhance and extend learning programs in schools and online. In fact, the cloud in general continues to play a major role in education, as institutions look for more efficient ways to deliver applications to end users and make their IT infrastructures more efficient. Cloud computing in the education market is expected to grow from $5.83 billion in 2015 to $15.02 billion in 2020, with organizations utilizing the cloud to streamline business management and overall process, according to Markets and Markets.

But as more cloud-based applications arrive at ever-quicker rates and a greater variety of mobile devices appear to access them, the complexities and dangers of incorporating these assets into the curriculum grow as well. To address these concerns, schools must make sure they are operating at maximum efficiency in basic areas such as office productivity, network connectivity, workflow, and security. 

For example, schools need to increase efficiencies in functions such as printing, communications, document flow, and data protection. That will help them make better use of their growing information resources and the newer applications. 

Newly available technology available in HP PageWide business printers can play a role in helping schools manage these tasks, alleviating some of the current burdens and allowing institutions fully embrace the technology of the future. For institutions seeking advanced printing solutions, only HP PageWide printers can deliver the fastest speeds, affordable color printing, and at a surprisingly lower cost than expected. It all adds up to best-in-class cost of ownership.