Research Hub > How Services Drive Digital Transformation in K-12 Without Shredding Budgets
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How Services Drive Digital Transformation in K-12 Without Shredding Budgets

Here’s how outside partners can help schools easily and quickly accelerate their digital transformation journey.

As technology continues to evolve, many K–12 schools are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. Funding is one challenge, certainly. But even when districts secure the resources to make needed upgrades and new investments, they typically lack the staff necessary to roll out these new technologies in a timely manner and effectively support them over time.

In the race to procure and implement new technology, schools sometimes overlook third-party services. However, these services can both accelerate rollouts and expand staff capacity.

This is what technology leaders at Mt. Diablo Unified School District, located just outside of Silicon Valley, discovered as they recently started upgrading and overhauling multiple areas of their technology stack.

With 29,000 students and a healthy IT staff of 41, Mt. Diablo was primed to make some major technological upgrades, but it didn’t want to pull staff away from supporting students to focus on deployment and installation. Instead, the district took advantage of several of CDW’s services. It found CDW’s Chromebook deployment services — which includes device tagging, configuration and deployment — extremely helpful. CDW also worked with the district to support data center and networking infrastructure upgrades, along with new backups, surveillance cameras, clocks, bells and speakers.

While schools ultimately decide how many or how few partner services they need, I would recommend that K–12 leaders consider services in the following areas.


Planning and Design Help Can Set Up Schools for Digital Transformation Success

Any successful digital transformation effort starts with careful planning and design, including a comprehensive assessment of a district’s existing infrastructure, identification of areas for improvement and selection of new solutions that will fit both the district’s IT environment and its budget.

Vendor-agnostic advice from a trusted third party partner such as CDW — which has years of experience working with schools of all sizes across the country — can give IT and district leaders confidence that the solutions they choose will meet their needs and help improve classroom instruction.

Implementation and Configuration Support Shrinks Time Between Warehouse and Classrooms

Many districts lack the staff to simply get new devices out of the factory and to their students and teachers in a timely manner. During the pandemic, schools often lost track of who had which devices, leading to high levels of loss.

Deploying larger instructional technology, such as digital whiteboards, can be even more challenging. If schools don’t have a plan for adding capacity, schools run the risk of expensive technology moldering in warehouses. CDW and our partners offer Chromebook deployment services and custom configuration services that help districts speed up the time-to-impact of new technologies.

Comprehensive Training Can Drive Technology Adoption

New technologies can drive improvements in schools only if teachers know how to use them. Most teachers are eager to implement solutions that will improve outcomes for students, but they are already busy and can easily become overwhelmed if they are expected to use unfamiliar tools without training.

While some schools already have their own internal technology integration teams, those teams might be stretched thin and may not always be able to offer comprehensive training. External training can help teachers get up to speed quickly and encourage regular use of new technologies.  

Improve Cybersecurity Monitoring Without Staff Burnout

Finally, IT professionals in many districts find themselves overwhelmed with cybersecurity alerts from their rapidly growing IT environments. Most of these are noise or false alarms, which can create a false sense of security and lead people to stop responding to alerts. Working with external partners that can provide managed detection and response engagements, security assessments, and modern identity and access management tools can help districts navigate these challenges more effectively than they could on their own.

To achieve their most ambitious digital transformation goals, schools need to add new technologies and find ways to design their IT environments, roll out and manage new solutions, train teachers and ensure ongoing security. Third-party services allow districts to do all of this without adding staff or busting their budgets.

Jeff Mitchell

Advanced Technology Account Executive
Jeff Mitchell is an advanced technology account executive for CDW. He has been working in the public sector technology space since 2012 and has spent the past eight years exclusively serving public sector K–12 schools in Northern California.