Till a few years (7-8 years) back, Interactive Classrooms Technology (ICT) Infrastructure used to act as an item of customer delight for parents. But with the factors like progression of technology, advancement of hardware, market/competitive pressure, downward thrust by the affiliation boards, lowering of costs, changing pedagogy at school level, demands of the current education standard and keeping in view the student of today the ICT has graduated being a hygiene product among the school offerings. From a differentiation proposition, it has evolved to be a must-have. This blog will help you understand the players in this industry and a how-to choose a guide for the school management and administrators.
Evolution of the industry
The business started primarily for computer education, but the movement caught pace with the availability of cheaper hardware and the adoption of computers by the normal folk. With projectors came a new wave, converting the study material and topics into multimedia animated features proving very effective in the learning of the students. Post this came interactive boards and later interactive remotes for students to answer the question. In all of this also evolved the use of touch technology on these boards thus helping teachers with various options.
Gradually now, the players in this sector have started to provide the following;
- Maths Lab
- Robotics Lab
- English Lab
- Science Experiment Kit
- Online Portal for students to help them access all the content online.
- ERP for Schools – To help regulate fee and inventory etc.
- Computer Lab and Training
How it happens
A server is installed in the school building which supports all the classrooms attached through LAN wires. All the classrooms are supplied with the following;
1) Computer Processing Unit
3) White Board/ Interactive Board
Players in ICT business
- Educomp http://www.educomp.com/: The pioneer in the industry and possibly the one with the most exciting hardware solution is the most widely used service currently. Educomp “SMART CLASSES” has become a synonym for the entire industry vertical.
- Next Education http://www.nexteducation.in/: A late entrant in the industry based out of Hyderabad but has expanded rapidly and now offering products across the needs of the school.
- NIIT http://www.niit.com/services/SolutionsforSchool/Pages/SolutionsforSchool.aspx: One of the oldest in the business with flexible solutions and pioneers in the realm of Maths Lab and ERP solution.
- EXTRA MARKS
- CLASS TEACHER
There are many more but more or less the market is flooded now ruling out the emergence of any new player in the future. There would be consolidation in the industry in the future given the offering has become a commodity for the schools.
Terms of Engagement
- Mostly they deal with the school is made for a period of 5 Years
- The payment is collected in advance for a quarter
- The service provider takes control of all the hardware for a period of 5 years post which the responsibility to maintain falls with the school administration
- The money charged from the school is divided into three types
- For the purchase of the Hardware product – Sort of EMI distributed over 5 years
- Usage of Licence
- Usage of Services
- Initially, a resource person from the company is deployed, but later based on the understanding of finances stays or moves out. This person helps in mobilising the usage of the services among the teachers.
How to Choose
There are certain guidelines one could keep in mind while selecting a product/service for their school
- Quality of Hardware – Have a close look at the quality being offered as eventually, it’s going to be your asset after a period of 5 years
- Depth of the network of the service – How is the company looking, would they be able to maintain the quality standard in serving you in the future.
- Depth of the Content – Check the books being prescribed in your school and the topics covered, are they covered by the content provider.
- Cost per class
Challenges for a School
- Teachers – Definition by itself cannot be bad, though it seems you while you make the teachers learn and adapt. Teachers mostly technologically challenged find it difficult to maneuver their way around the hardware thus causing the problem with the usage and mal-usage of the hardware.
- Upkeep – Expensive hardware in the classrooms with students can be a combustible situation
- Cost – Under pressure the schools have to buy this solution. The revenue model by the existing players is yet to evolve on revenue per student and is limited to revenue per class. This makes it difficult for New Schools to get this on their premises.