Research Hub > Accelerating K–12 Digital Transformation Through the Network

December 13, 2023

3 min

Accelerating K–12 Digital Transformation Through the Network

School network improvements can transform the education landscape, empower teachers and put dollars back in the district budget.

CDW Expert CDW Expert

Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robotics have the potential to give K–12 students access to cutting-edge learning experiences. But many schools are struggling to implement and successfully support these technologies. One common limiting factor: the network.

A smart networking strategy — centered on advanced Wi-Fi, cloud management, AI automation and data analytics — can smooth the journey to digital transformation in the classroom. We’ve seen school districts that invest in network improvements achieve four mission-critical benefits:

1. Effective Technology Supports Student Success

Each year, students are more tech savvy than the previous class, and schools that lead with advanced technology drive better student engagement and provide more enrichment opportunities. Wi-Fi and digital services delivered by the network provide the foundation for cutting-edge experiences and better efficiency. Students receive a more connected, personalized and tech-centric journey from start to finish.

For instance, Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky leveraged Extreme Networks’ Extreme Fabric Connect to power a one-to-one digital learning initiative for 100,000 students across 170 sites. And Berkshire Arts and Technology (BART) Charter Public School in Massachusetts invested in Extreme Wireless and ExtremeCloud IQ to improve student access to feature-rich online content such as videos, interactive materials and podcasts.

2. Network Automation Lets Educators Be Teachers, Not Techies

Technology gives teachers access to new tools and resources, but it can also add a significant burden to already-overworked educators. When teachers are asked to take on new management tasks related to IT, they not only risk burnout but also may simply throw up their hands and abandon potentially game-changing tools.

A network that automatically takes on burdensome networking tasks leaves teachers (and, often, IT staff) free to focus on educating instead of troubleshooting. These features streamline and automate numerous repetitive tasks while also providing valuable insights into student learning and behavior.

3. Simple Networks Streamline School Operations to Save on Costs

Historically, K–12 technology has been hamstrung by budget limitations. And with the end of pandemic-related federal ESSER funding in 2024, many schools will likely find themselves struggling to keep the pace of their technology investments at the level of recent years. But with the right network investments, districts can save money, putting precious dollars back into their budgets to invest in advanced technology and curricula.

Taking network management to the cloud, for example, can save on operational and support costs, while AI automation simplifies networking processes. Add to that E-rate-eligible network solutions, and it becomes possible to bring in more sophisticated technology for equal educational outcomes. This network approach gives back to schools through both immediate and long-term savings.

4. Reinforced Network Security Protects Vulnerable Assets

With students and teachers all accessing online resources (often via their own devices), security gaps are growing, and K–12 networks need to catch up. Built-in security brings multiple layers of protection to every element of the school network, shielding sensitive data from breaches and leaks and guarding against cyberthreats. This leads to greater trust from parents and the larger community — and less time and money wasted on breaches.

The power of the network in education can’t be overstated. Through increased connectivity, students now have access to a world of knowledge and resources, teachers benefit from easier-to-manage technology environments, schools save budget dollars, and districts can better protect their data. The past few years have brought a whole new set of expectations to the world of K–12 technology. Schools need networks that can help them keep up.

Story by Natasha McNulty