Classes are in-person. Classes are online again. Back to in-person. Online again.
This is a cycle playing out at schools across the country, and there does not seem to be an end to the cycle in the short-term. Some schools used the spring and summer closures to prepare classrooms for either virtual or hybrid learning opportunities, while others fully expected to be back in the classrooms in a normal routine by now. Many schools that did not invest in technology upgrades over the summer are beginning to consider these projects, hoping to have them in place for the winter and spring semesters.
The timeline to successfully complete a technology upgrade project before the end of 2020 is rapidly closing for many reasons:
- In a world where we can purchase most anything online and either pick it up in the store in an hour or have it delivered tomorrow, we have begun to expect that level of speed in many areas of business and life. But, just because we have that expectation doesn’t mean that it’s realistic. Professional AV projects take time to be planned and executed properly. Equipment must be scoped, engineered, procured, shipped, configured, tested, and installed and each of those steps requires time. Compressing timelines usually leads to either compromises in budget (higher) or functionality (less) that need to be made to meet a tight delivery schedule (check out the article “Why Do AV Projects Take So Long?”).
- The reality of the calendar. It’s now October. If you are hoping to have a reliable technology model that supports virtual, hybrid, or Hy-flex education in place for the start of a new semester in January, you should be placing your final product orders and locking in the installation, testing, and training resources you will need in the coming weeks.
- Presidential election years always bring a degree of future unknowns, and this year is no exception. When you combine that with the future unknowns of a worldwide pandemic, there is no time to waste in placing equipment orders and locking in your labor.
- Supply chains are an issue. It is becoming increasingly difficult to quickly source the cameras and microphones that are essential in any virtual learning model. We are seeing much longer lead times and more frequent issues with inventory availability. Once a solution is engineered, it must be procured quickly, or you run the risk of not being able to source the equipment and returning back to the design phase, wasting precious time.
IMS is actively working with many school districts and universities to expand their online learning capabilities for the start of spring semesters. Key features of the projects include:
- Adding cameras and microphones to all classrooms to allow students attending in-person and students participating remotely to have the same teaching experience (check out this case study about classroom upgrades at West Chester University)
- Expanding web conferencing hardware and software to facilitate communication and collaboration among students and staff.
- Installing digital signage to keep students and staff who are in a building or on campus up-to-date on rapidly changing guidance and procedures.
The traditional education model in the US is rapidly evolving, and schools that are embracing this digital transformation will experience a higher level of student success and, for schools that need to drive enrollment, have a significant competitive advantage. In the midst of a changed world and changing student and parent expectations, can you afford to fall behind?
If you need to upgrade your online learning capabilities before the start of the 2021 semester, schedule a consultation today to start planning and lock in the equipment you will need.
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