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Cory Shehan

Leveraging technology for a brighter future in education

Schools across the nation are experiencing a staggering impact from COVID-19 to the way they support learning and engagement. As of March 2020, a report from UNESCO1 reported that some 1.3 billion learners (or 80 percent) around the world weren’t able to attend school or university due to the pandemic. With the start date of schools quickly approaching and, in some areas, infection rates still rising, many schools and parents are trying to plan their next steps while understanding what all of this means for students.

In brighter news, even amidst the disruption, technology stepped up in a major way and will continue playing a key role in educating future generations. eLearning moved from a nice-to-have option to an essential choice, and many schools are adopting hybrid learning systems (a mix of in-person and remote education), new technologies, and more, to keep students engaged, safe, and secure. And, as a World Economic Forum article states, global educators are experiencing new opportunities to do things differently, and with greater flexibility—resulting in potential benefits in accessibility to education for students all over the world.

Our recent panel discussion, led by our VP of Technical Services, Kyle DeWitt, included industry experts from several of our key suppliers—Don Turner from Avaya, Bruce Canal from Axis, and Dr. Lance Ford from Cisco—who took a look at the trends, opportunities, and challenges for education during the “new normal.” Key takeaways of that engaging discussion are listed below. To hear all the insights from these experts, click the link at the end of this blog.

The panel opened with a discussion of the strain educators and parents face as they weigh their options when it comes to returning to school. Mr. Turner noted the opportunity technology-provider partners have to help schools and educators adapt in this time of change by offering new tools to help them collaborate and learn in new ways. He encouraged partners to put solutions in front of educators that challenge and improve them. Applications, integrated communications, and updated forms of software delivery all can help encourage learning.

Dr. Ford also discussed some new trends in education. For instance, on the educator side several higher-education institutions are putting the responsibility for the “how to” on the teachers when it comes to how they deliver classes. And, for the first time ever, parents are having to decide within their households how each student attends school (in-person, fully virtual, or hybrid) based on his or her learning style, attention span, and age, among other considerations.

As some bigger, technology-spend decisions may be delayed, Mr. Canal suggested partners focus instead on how education institutions can leverage what they have today by adding more functionality or better utilizing it, to help mitigate the spread of the virus. For example, a partner could help a local school leverage analytics on cameras, monitor social distances in hallways, or add power to the access control on doors so they open automatically. These simple tweaks could make a big difference in ensuring the safety of in-person learners.

The panel also covered key takeaways for partners, as they work to become trusted advisors to their customers. Dr. Ford suggested listening, building a relationship, and then proposing ideas that drive a cultural shift in education and are sustainable for years to come. Mr. Turner echoed that point and encouraged partners to drive solutions that help create better students who can help us build a better country. And Mr. Canal encouraged partners to be trusted advisors—not ones who seem to be looking to capitalize on this moment.

We offer our sincere thanks to Don Turner, Bruce Canal, and Lance Ford for sharing their time, and we invite you to watch the entire panel-discussion video here. ScanSource can help you enable your customers to return to school more effectively and unlock technology that empowers education. To learn how—and to access an infographic that dives further into trends and technologies—visit our website at or contact your ScanSource account manager.