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How Educators Can Maximize the Tech Tools They Have

Our panel of experts breaks down the tech that makes effective education possible in a modern classroom, and why it takes more than the right software for students to succeed.

What is the biggest challenge you see educators facing today?

Exhaustion. With the substitute teacher shortage, teachers continue to lose their already too short planning periods to cover for colleagues who have to be out. Teachers, now more than ever, need tools and techniques to help them save time, adapt to the different knowledge levels of students, and engage their classrooms. You have to relate to educate. However, building relationships with students takes time and energy — things most teachers just don’t have right now.

Where have you seen education technology make the biggest impact in helping to overcome these challenges?

The greatest educational tools, in my experience, allow for formative assessment checks while teaching. Formative assessment isn’t for a grade; it checks learning while knowledge is forming and helps me as a teacher to understand where students are at that moment, so I can adapt to their learning levels. For example, when working on test review, my students play a game where I’ve loaded content. When the gameplay is done, I’m able to look at the problems that were missed the most and strategically review where students need it. Face time with students in the classroom is more valuable than ever, and effective formative assessment helps that time be well spent. 


Gavin Lee

Senior Manager, Business Development, Juniper Networks

What is the biggest challenge you see facing educators today?

As districts try to seamlessly support traditional, hybrid, and remote learning instructional models, record numbers of learning devices need to be securely connected, and higher-bandwidth-demanding applications like Zoom and Teams video meetings need to be accommodated. But when connections fail or stutter, digital learning doesn’t go as planned and learning outcomes suffer. 

At the same time, district IT departments struggle to keep up with their responsibilities and workloads. There is still major understaffing in areas like instructional technology support around classrooms, remote user support, and in technology planning and integration. 

Where have you seen education technology make the biggest impact in helping to overcome these challenges?

To introduce new efficiencies and improve productivity, many industries’ IT organizations are turning to AI for help. AI comes with a lot of hype that can be confusing and create false expectations. Luckily, AI for networking is very real and can provide substantial value to K-12 education today. In its current capacity, it can bring welcome relief in these understaffed areas by substantially reducing their network operations and troubleshooting workload, but equally important, it provides the foundation to enable a great user experience for connected learning.

Where do you see the adoption of education technology headed in the upcoming school year?

Programs to address learning loss, improving remote learning outcomes, supporting our educators and enhancements to student information, and learning management systems will be central. Also, safely returning to face-to-face classroom instruction will mean initiatives for supporting physical distancing compliance, deeper cleaning of facilities, accurate and timely contact tracing, and upgrading school HVAC systems to promote better ventilation to reduce virus transmission.

Which technologies have you seen make the biggest impact in enhancing student engagement within blended and remote learning environments? 

As many of these programs will require access to district- and online-based resources and programing, successful engagement by individuals requires they have a great and secure user experience. But if individuals trying to access these through the district’s network can’t connect or have slow, stuttered connections, their outcomes are sure to suffer. 

Similarly, for initiatives that integrate technology-based contact tracing and smart HVAC or building management systems on campus, just providing connectivity is not enough. Unlike individuals, if these systems or IoT devices fail to connect, they can’t call the district’s help desk to open a trouble ticket. Therefore, networks that focus solely on providing tools to manage the health of the network are no longer adequate. The satisfaction of the end-user experience or the device’s experience is what we believe is the new measure for network uptime.

What would you recommend for a school or district that wants to invest in EdTech but does not know where to start?

Start by building an infrastructure foundation to advance learning with a unified wired and wireless school district network solution that meets your needs for the next decade. The solution must:

  • Deliver exceptional user and device experiences with AI-driven insights and customizable service-level expectations (SLEs).
  • Transform and simplify district IT with AI-driven operations and automated support using an integrated AI engine with self-driving capabilities that proactively resolves issues before users even notice.
  • Defy infrastructure limitations with a microservices cloud architecture for network scale, agility, and reliably, natively integrating AI and data science tools to meet your rapidly changing requirements; and
  • Future-proof your district for location services to boost user engagement, locate assets, and support proximity tracing with ease and accuracy.  

The network solution that supports virtual BLE, machine learning, and integrated IoT technologies will be far superior, less costly, and easier to manage than overlay hardware and software options.


Scott Porter

Senior Technical Trainer, CompTIA

What is the biggest challenge you see educators facing today?

The biggest challenge is keeping current with evolving technologies and staying up to date with the materials needed to ensure you capture the key points of the various technologies. Other challenges include keeping curriculum and labs modern and adaptable so you can incorporate newer technologies. Finding creative ways to convey content without the resources being in abundance can be challenging as there is a lack of content available. 

An added challenge I see is with student engagement. Capturing the student’s attention and keeping them engaged in a virtual environment, while also making sure they are grasping the content, can prove challenging.

Where have you seen education technology make the biggest impact in helping to overcome these challenges?

The biggest impact is the boom of the internet and all the resources available for free or a nominal price. The hurdle is finding added content that can only be learned from within the educational system, and teaching the concepts in such a way that the student can grasp them. Students have multiple options to pick from when deciding how they want to learn: live sessions, virtual sessions, or self-paced. 

Emerging team collaboration technologies (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, Zoom, Slack) have fast-tracked edtech. These applications supply collaboration and remote support for students who need added explanation or hands-on aid. 

Where do you see the adaptation of education technology headed in the upcoming school year?

Due to the current pandemic and mandates, most of the educational technology has had to transition to a virtual environment. So most educational institutes have already started or completed the transition of going completely virtual. Going to a completely virtual environment requires setting up a robust infrastructure that can accommodate the required bandwidth and connectivity for students to be able to access the materials being taught. With the adaptation to being completely virtual, the educational institute must ensure they are keeping updated materials and content available for its student body. 

What would your recommendation be for a school or district that wants to invest in edtech but does not know where to start?

My recommendation would be to start by researching what is currently available, specifically cloud-based technologies and software. Don’t try to create innovative technologies that already exist and have a detailed structure for teaching the content. 

Once you identify the technology, figure out if your budget is adequate to set up a new infrastructure to accommodate the virtual environment and student population. Some educational institutions try to use a cookie-cutter approach to all technologies, which never really works out for all the students trying to learn the content. 

Which technologies have you seen make the biggest impact in enhancing student engagement within blended and remote learning environments?

The biggest impact with technologies is finding the best mix of hands-on learning and confirming that the students are reaching the required goals. For the educator, it is difficult to find that mix when you are not able to be in the same room to gauge what students are grasping or not. 

One of the biggest impacts is getting a platform that is easy to manage, update, and publish when content changes or needs to be updated. Also, the platform needs to be secure enough that the integrity of the materials is not compromised, especially if you are teaching vendor-specific content.

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