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Opportunites abound for IT in education

17th Jul 2001
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The top cats in IT education and training grew faster than the rest of the market in 2000 – but there’s still a great opportunity out there.

“2000 was a terrific year for the IT education and training market and for the top 15 vendors in particular,” said Ellen Julian, director of IDC’s Workforce Management Services research.

“The momentum in the industry was generated by increased spending on software, which heightened the need for training, a growing need for professionals with technology integration skills, and an effort to reskill employees to compensate for the continuing IT skills shortage.”

The market grew 15% from $19.5 billion in 1999 to $22.4 billion in 2000, while the top 15 grew 20% from $3.6 billion to $4.3 billion.

The top five vendors according to 2000 revenues were:
• IBM Global Services
• Oracle University
• New Horizons Worldwide
• Global Knowledge Network
• SAP Education

Newcomers include Gateway Learning, NIIT, and Siemens Business Services. Because the top 15 vendors control less than 20% of the market, the IT education and training market offers plenty opportunity for all vendors in the industry.

“IT training providers that demonstrate their ability to help companies improve employee productivity and meet their business goals more efficiently by leveraging technology will be the preferred providers of training services,” said IDC manager Cushing Anderson.

The Internet has become a very important part of education. Students and teachers alike have benefited from the Internet’s abundant resources and the added excitement interactive projects bring to the learning environment.

Opportunities in schools
In a suburb outside Philadelphia, US, the North Penn School District, 13,000 students strong, houses 1600 employees in 18 buildings. While North Penn had been academically rich, it was technologically poor.

Rags to riches
Debbie Cline, technology manager for North Penn, explains, “I came in December three years ago, and there was pretty much no technology throughout the schools. In the whole district there were probably less than 300 computers – and those were mostly obsolete. So I worked with a committee to develop a four-year technology plan. It’s a kind of rags-to-riches story.”

Is everyone happy?
After three years, Cline is justifiably proud. She continues, “We went from nothing to a state-of-the-art network where 90-95% of all classrooms have computers with Internet access and e-mail. And we plan to move to an ‘anytime, anywhere, anyplace school where we issue laptops to students. We’re very happy.”

A better education system
Before Cline and the committee decided on a supplier, they did their homework. They wanted to develop a technology partnership and stay with that partner, so they looked at reports on the total cost of ownership.

“We finalized on Compaq for a number of reasons. They were one of the Big Three in terms of the quality of service, quality of the equipment and, particularly, because of their ties to education.”

They also looked at Gateway, IBM and Dell, but the main reason they chose Compaq was the leasing option.

Something for everyone
The technology transition has been systematic, says Cline: “The phases were broken down by curriculum. The first year we worked on math and English. The second year, we worked on science and social studies. The third year, it was art and music, PE and health. Along the way, we added special education, administrative and support staff computers. We’ve had good luck, and we’re very happy.”

The technology manager continues, “We’re on our third year. The first year we put in a little over a thousand computers. Last year, we put in a little over a thousand. And this year,we put in a little over a thousand. We’ll be done next year, and we’ll have over 4,000 computers in the district.”

Education for apprentices
Combining real world experiences and relevant educational themes, the Institute of Educational Advancement challenged the students in its Apprentice Program to build and program their own robots. And with the help of their mentor, a working roboticist with experience at Jet Propulsion Laboratories, NASA, and Carnegie Mellon University, they did just that.

The students not only built their robots, but also programmed them through trial and error. They learned important lessons about the human brain and the seemingly simple tasks that we take for granted.

Houston too
The Houston Independent School District, one of the country’s largest, has incorporated technology into almost every aspect of its infrastructure. And not only have they boosted students’ interest in their subjects, increased teacher productivity and improved administrative efficiency, HISD has gained national recognition collecting numerous awards and grants for its efforts.

New programs have taught students to work together as a team and solve problems creatively. Eight schools in the district created a robotics program in which students built a robot as a team, and then programmed its brain.

Offering network training and certification for its students, HISD also developed the Cisco Networking Academy so students could start working at a well paying job right out of high school.

But students aren’t the only ones benefiting from technological integration. Both teachers and administrators have been able to increase their productivity and efficiency with the integration of computer technology into the district. For example, the Algebra One project issued Compaq laptops to 300 algebra teachers.

Doing lesson plans, updating gradebooks and providing more efficient classroom presentations has helped the teachers utilize the full potential of technology. But perhaps the most significant task of all was to install the largest enterprise-wide computer network infrastructure ever to be placed in a public school system. Incorporating 25,000 workstations, this large project has delivered valuable returns – with many more on the way.



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