The case for OPEX device purchasing in Australia’s schools

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The case for OPEX device purchasing in Australia’s schools
Education is entering a new age of teaching and learning.
Photo by Artin Bakhan on Unsplash

How does DaaS and remote learning work together?

Over the years, technology has completely transformed education and how students are learning.

From K-12, and right through to tertiary education, schools across Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) are continuously working to bring their students the cutting edge of education technology - innovating with technology to augment and improve the way students are taught.

Like many industries, the impact of COVID-19 required a rapid shift towards online interactions for schools and universities. Classrooms experienced a rapid accelerated in the rate of adoption for digital learning solutions, with educators and students alike move online and relying on smart technology go about their day-to-day activities.

This shift that has been both widespread, and costly. In fact, recent research from Lenovo found that across Asia Pacific, more than 80% of students and 95% of educators increased their use of technology during the past year, while 68% of students and 85% of educators spent more money on technology during the past year than they had in the previous year.

This trend will only continue, with 66% of students and 86% of educators expecting to further increase their spending on learning technology in the coming year.

Now, as teachers and their students move back online during the latest lockdowns around the country, technology is in the spotlight once again.

What does the data tell us about our technology needs?

Unsurprisingly, Lenovo’s research has seen growing concern among parents, students, and teachers in ANZ regarding technology use. With all parties highlighting security and privacy as their chief considerations when using education technology.

Digging into each more specifically, Across Australia, students and their parents said it was extremely important that their technology provides security (73%), privacy (73%), flexible performance (57%), and continuous value (60%). While for educators, data privacy (79%) and security (68%) also ranked highly, however, they also named general ease of use (56%), collaboration features (51%), student assessment tools (51%), and accessibility features (41%) as extremely important to conducting their work remotely.

In my eyes, this boils down to the following two points:

1. Safety and Security. We all care first and foremost about the safety, security and privacy of our children online

2. Ease of Use and Accessibility. Simplicity and collaborative capability are key to running a virtual classroom. A teacher’s job is hard enough in person, let alone online – so the technology needs to work

Addressing Concerns with A New Operating Model

With the increasing reliance on technology by teachers, the issue then centers around cost to the schools and parents. Traditionally, when education institutions had to purchase new devices as part of a device refresh, it would lead to a significant up-front capital expenditure (CAPEX) cost and was largely inflexible in nature, without support for rollout, servicing, security management and more all of which can compound in both costs and complexity for schools.

Compare this to an alternative model, build on leveraging operating costs (OPEX) to finance devices, in models like a Device-as-a-Service (DaaS).

With DaaS, schools pay a per-user fee each month. This means that the cost of new equipment isn’t front-loaded, so capital isn’t tied up during a device refresh and can be used for other projects. According to Lenovo’s survey, approximately 93% of Australian educators stated that that their school has not used any device-as-a-service (DaaS) or subscription model. If we wish to address not only finance availability, but the major concerns of educators, parents and students mentioned above, this should change.

Because DaaS models have services built into them, the nature of a technology provider/ school relationship is much more supportive.

Services can include rollout support – making distribution and set-up for students and parents a simplified process handled by the technology vendor. Taking that further, packages can be bundled with devices management and security services which improve the level of support offered to schools by the technology provider – helping achieve the all-important device safety we want.

The benefits of DaaS for schools and universities are wide-ranging. DaaS offers standardisation across all device types. Within the region, 60% of Australian students said that they felt sufficiently equipped for e-learning, the second highest in the region after Singapore. However, this also demonstrates that 40% do not feel as equipped for remote learning, a concern as we approach end of school exams.   

The flexibility of DaaS means an end to frantic device upgrades or updates just before the start of the school year. Instead, updates can be done at any time during the year. DaaS is simply essential for institutions who are looking to reduce technology costs by simplifying the management of their environments.

As teachers and students across Australia and New Zealand adjust to a post-pandemic new normal, education is entering a new age of teaching and learning. Advanced technologies are paving the way for students to experience immersive learning with real-world applications, and empowering educators to help students continue learning through new and different methods, wherever they may be.   

Hassan Baickdeli is Head of Emerging Technology & Solutions at Lenovo Australia and New Zealand.

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