Scott Evans – Marketing Manager, Califone
Imagine what a classroom will look like 30 years from now. You might envision students wearing virtual reality headsets and robots acting as teachers. But, what if these classrooms still used tried and true technology, such as a standard projector or a traditional calculator?
With so much buzz around new technologies like VR and robotics, members of the education community often overlook classroom technology staples that have been supporting learning for years.
While it’s easy to romanticize the potential for cutting-edge technologies to transform education for the better, it’s not feasible to expect schools to adopt these technologies at the rapid rate at which they are introduced to the market. Aside from budget concerns, it takes research and time to determine whether some of these new tools are truly improving learning outcomes.
In reality, schools continue to purchase legacy products in surprisingly large numbers. We still see district leaders purchasing boom boxes, cassette players, and even phonographs.
This pattern is, in part, due to educators’ desire to be able to maintain valuable content they already have that is compatible with existing classroom tools. For example, a Spanish teacher might regularly use a CD series for independent listening activities. Having classroom CD players enables the educator to continue using that familiar and effective content.
To Upgrade, or Not to Upgrade
To some education vendors, schools’ tendency to retain these products might seem problematic. However, this purchasing pattern can actually provide an opportunity for ed tech companies.
Schools cannot rely on old models of trusted technology indefinitely. Outdated document projectors and audio systems will eventually break down or cause hiccups in daily classroom activities. At some point, educators will have to find a replacement or make the leap to an entirely new tool to meet the classroom need.
This is where companies can benefit from updating older models of their products. Making even minor updates to established tools in your catalog is beneficial in the long run. When educators come back to your offerings and see that an update has been made to the technology they want to replace, that can be the key influencer in the decision they make to maintain the technology instead of abandoning it altogether.
A shift in focus to updating current offerings, rather than building entirely new products to keep up with emerging technology trends, can save your team valuable resources and increase revenue. One way to gauge interest in the continued purchase of older technology is by reaching out to those customers who are nearing the end of a product’s typical lifetime and asking about their plans to eventually replace the technology. This can be accomplished via email, phone call, or even a survey.
As flashy as VR, robotics, and wearables are, educators can’t entirely depend on these technologies to build classrooms of the future. Longstanding solutions such as headphones, whiteboards, and more will continue to act as the foundation for district technology strategies.
As technology providers look to the future of classroom solutions, we can’t leave behind the solutions already trusted by teachers, parents, and students. Innovation is possible even in our traditional technologies.
Scott Evans joined Califone in 2016 to support the company’s reseller and end user marketing efforts. He brings experience in marketing and product management roles with a variety of technology providers in the Computer Products, Audio Visual, Security and Office Products industries. Evans holds a BS degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois and an MS degree in Marketing from Northwestern University.