Industry Blog

Affordable, Effective, Collaborative "Classroom of the Future"

The potential for educational institutions to cut costs by rethinking the logistics of their digital learning initiatives has often been overlooked. As digital learning gains traction as both a highly effective and economically viable educational platform, options for cutting costs and improving efficiency are steadily increasing. We evaluate your district's specific situation and advise you how to maximize your digital resources. We design an integrated hardware and software solution that employs practical approaches to provide personalized learning experiences to each student.

When the Clarke County School District first came to TSAV for consulting services, their primary goals concerned both physical logistics and the contractual burdens of their existing relationships with hardware and software providers. Over the years, they had integrated digital learning programs into their curriculum, and at that time the options for available providers were relatively limited compared to the options available today. As digital learning started to become the standard, many more hardware and software options became available. However, the district was bound to their existing hardware and software providers and thus were unable to reap the benefits of increasingly competitive costs for digital learning capabilities. As a result, they faced unnecessarily high costs associated with existing contracts and quickly realized that the longer-term budgetary implications would prove unsustainable. We had to address the following questions.

  • How can we improve on the efficiency of existing digital learning capabilities and simultaneously lower costs to the client?
  • How do we incorporate digital learning at home as well as within the classroom?
  • How do we accurately measure the results to determine if what we have done is truly effective?

The Solution: Accounting for Everything, One Thing at a Time

With the primary goal of finding a creative way to align their budget more closely with current market prices, we analyzed all of the district's existing hardware and software needs. In turn, we were able to pinpoint a number of solutions that would reduce the out-of-pocket expenses associated with their existing workflows and minimize dependencies on proprietary hardware and software. Among others, we presented them with workarounds to the following fundamental problems:

1. Problem

The physical wiring of each room did not allow teachers sufficient mobility with their workstations. As a result, expensive infrastructure was required, including ongoing maintenance fees due to recurrent damages to connective wiring. This produced a defined long-term cost of implementation.

Solution

We connected each room to a wireless network and connected an additional small form factor computer to each projector system, allowing teachers to connect to the classroom presentation system remotely. With that, the need for external wires was eliminated, thus considerably reducing ongoing maintenance costs and improving mobility. This also made more funds available for small-group learning opportunities and project-based initiatives. In effect, this technology untethers teachers and untethers students, resulting in a dynamic and mobile learning environment.

2. Problem

Based on the terms of their existing partnerships with software and hardware providers, the district assumed they were limited to the resources available through proprietary components.

Solution

With extensive experience in optimizing digital learning programs for educational institutions, we were able to direct the district to a number of free resources, compatible with their existing interfaces, which did not require the authorization of parent companies and in turn, resulted in significant cost savings compounded over time.

3. Problem

With a highly sophisticated network of devices and functions already in place—including sensor-reactive lighting systems, CCTV, and access control functionality—the district was unsure that they would be able to improve functionality without accruing major costs for upgrades and/or replacement components.

Solution

By tapping into the unrealized potential of components currently in place, we were able to preserve the existing electrical and data infrastructure while simultaneously enhancing system capabilities. We were able to leverage light sensors by incorporating a master shut-off functionality that would correspond to all AV systems, thus cutting energy costs and maximizing the life and health of existing components. We were also able to tie mission-critical paging functionality into the existing phone lines by investigating options for voice-over-IP-phone system components. The final result was lower installation costs and improvements to long-term systems support.

The process of analyzing physical logistics had us focused on many factors, including the instructional environments, furniture orientation in the building, the proximity of one classroom to another, resource locations within the building, and the specifics of the hardware and software capabilities currently in place. Through this process, we were able to determine what their standards were and to define what could be improved in a cost-effective way as well as according to a strict timeline for deployment. Eliminating dependence on proprietary pieces of equipment also resulted in less infrastructure requirements, maintenance, set up time, and additional training demands for faculty and staff. Power load requirements for related components such as data drops, conduit, and wiring were also greatly reduced. Network-based systems are easier to install and maintain, minimize replacement costs, and provide for more flexibility for teachers.

By shifting the district's focus from products to a mindset centered on tools and goals, we were able to migrate their existing system into standardized features that would save them substantial amounts of money in both the short and long terms. Ultimately, this resulted in a remarkable return on the investment for the district.

The Clarke County School District serves as a prime example of the ability of institutions that have invested in network-based digital learning to reexamine their existing budget and in turn save vast sums of money. Pursuing this opportunity on a wider scale could have far-reaching implications on the economic livelihood of counties, districts, states, regions, and, in effect, nations. TSAV's approach provides for practical, sustainable solutions that cost less and optimizes the usability of classroom systems.