Next Generation Education Technology Companies

The new roles for education ICT partners

Published: 25 September 2012

As education technology becomes more ubiquitous across the education sector we will see the dominant role of the education technology company move from a technology hardware supplier to one of a change agent. The primary role of the change agent in the education sector is to enable educational establishments to transform teaching and learning with the aid of education technologies and services that are designed to support teachers and learners.

Connected and networked schools require radically different education technology companies to support them. They expect their ICT partners to transcend traditional business practices, to bypass old habits, rituals and mindsets. Schools will increasignly expect their ICT partners to be more adaptive and certainly more creative in how they promote the use of ICT to support teaching and learning. In a world of the supernodes school leaders will demand their ICT partner to take them beyond what is currently imagined or foreseen.

School leaders will be more responsive to education technology companies that can support them with their organisational development plans. Organisational development in the education sector is the deliberare and planned effort to increase the relevance of educational establishments in the 21st century. It is about being ready to meet the challenges of the modern knowledge and connected economy.

The business model of the education technology company will begin to focus more on value added services and less so on deriving ever diminishing margins from supplying and implementing hardware. The successful education technology company will be more intelligent and responsive to meeting the future needs of schools and these needs will increasingly focus on promoting innovative practices that encourage and foster participative teaching and learning.


Next Generation Education Technology Companies

The education technology company will emerge as a significant stakeholder in shaping a school's curriculum offer to its learners and the wider community. At present many schools lack the knowledge, the means or the connections to offer a broad ranging digital portfolio of qualifications to their learners. As a change agent, the education technology company is in a unique position to act as a catalyst to enable the school to offer exciting qualification routes that will engage and enrich the lives of many learners. The support offered to the school may be direct or through the company's supply chain but it will entail support to develop new programmes of study and supplying teaching staff to aid the delivery of new digital qualifications. At present, many of the education technology companies are not appropriately structured to fulfill the needs and requirements of the new supernodes. In order to build capacity to manage these new business functions the education technology companies will either establish new sub-divisions or they will establish new business relationships with a broader supply chain.

The business case for promoting the new business model is simple and powerful. If the new supernodes are to offer a rich and vibrant digital portfolio to learners and to other networked and connected schools they will require an ICT infrastructure that is capable of managing increasing workloads and they will require a broad range of end user devices and services that can support progressive teaching and learning. Revenues will rise as schools seek to enhance their education ICT capital. Schools will continue to support a long-term investment programme in ICT if they see a correlation between enhanced ICT services and school performance.

The expectations of school leaders will gradually change when connected devices and services become ubiquitous. The relative value of connected devices will fall because school leaders will expect ubiquitous access to connected devices and services. They will place increasing value on services that promote the intelligent use of ICT to support the educational agenda of the knowledge and connected society. Education technology companies that respond positively to this changing world will emerge stronger and more capable of meeting the needs of the education sector.