Insights on Use of Wireless Solutions in Education

Insights on Use of Wireless Solutions in Education

Keeping in mind the growth of edtech in China and our interest in knowing more about the Asian edtech scene, we are reaching out to various education businesses across Asia to understand the role they are playing in the ecosystem.

Last month we came across a team of passionate people who are trying their best to help teachers leverage technology in the classroom with the motive to make student self-learners. Win-Long Won, who is the Vice President - Sales & Marketing (APAC) at Screenbeam (by Actiontec) took out time to share more about their work in a recent interview.

1. How would you define your solution for education in minimum number of words?

ScreenBeam wireless solution is the only-one standard wireless display receiver, the central concept of this solution is to untether teachers from the front of the classroom and allow them to move freely around the classroom, and to arouse students’ auto-didacticism to enhance their learning outcome by creating an interactive Wireless Flipped Classroom.  The advance features of the solution include WiFi channel self-select, internet free, fast and direct mirroring, free application download, and the solution has its own central management system to allow IT admin to update and manage the devices in different classrooms and buildings.

2. Let's talk about the core value proposition. What problem is ScreenBeam Wireless Solution solving and for whom? 

In the past 100 years, the traditional way of teaching has been an one-direction delivering of message the way most of the time teachers passed knowledge to students; 30 years ago, the introduction of eTeaching and learning had been discussed which emphasized on the integration of online resource and teaching materials and the convenience of data accessibility, and students were able to share their work with teachers or classmates.   

In recent years, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), a concept from enterprise industry, has been gradually penetrating to education; other than the convenience that the eLearning materials are brought to the educators, moving freely around the classroom is also essential to enhance the interaction between teachers and students.  However, teachers still have to stand in the front of the classroom due to facilities, such as using laptop or other instrument requires wires. This might cause poor interactivity between teachers and student who sit in the back of the classroom. 

Foreseeing the opportunity, Actiontec started to invest in R&D for wireless solution to different industries. Actiontec awarded the world-first certification from Miracast (international WiFi standard) and the first wireless device certified by Intel WiDi Gen4 in 2012, and several international prizes such as Edison Gold Award (2013) and Best Choice Gold Award from Computex (2014). 

Designed for education, ScreenBeam wireless solution is an easy-to-use device which teachers without IT background can start with.  Teachers don’t need to download any application to run the projection. They are encouraged to design their own teaching materials for students in different levels; so as to students, they can share their works in one click to all the classmates wirelessly.

Pre-school and K-12: children in this stage can only concentrate on things for a short period of time, it’s easier to catch children’s attention with toys, drawing and simple, colourful, or creative contents.  With ScreenBeam wireless device, teachers or parents can utilize touch screen/digital whiteboard and tablet to interact with children on art and scientific lessons which allow students to interact with their teachers and parents.

Higher Ed: students in this stage are more active and have higher interest in using mobile devices to help them finish homework or assignments, etc. They tend to manage or share their work in real time; therefore, the wireless display plays a role to help students to strong their self-motive presentation ability. Students’ interests could be aroused through interactive group presentations and competitiveness would be increased between groups indirectly as well. For instance, students can use their mobile phones to take photos or videos during field trips to companies and share with other classmates immediately.

3. Could you share details on the number of education clients? What has the market response been worldwide? Walk us through a ScreenBeam Wireless Display Solution implemented school.

Actiontec has more than hundreds schools users across North America, Europe, and APAC; especially in North America where Actiontec initiated the solutions to the globe.  The demand of wireless display solutions is getting higher and higher due to the popularity of mobile devices, cloud, e-learning resource, and the BYOD concept towards education; teachers and IT experts are looking for a solution to solve their problems and create a simple but modern digital classroom.

One example is Mesa Public School in US, the largest school district in the State with more than 63,000 students and 3,800 staffs in school.   To realize the change of teaching environment, untether the teachers from stage to around the classroom, and effective leverage the technology to which they have access quickly.

The school started from building up different demonstration rooms to show different mobile devices and invited teachers to use the devices and provide feedback to the IT administrators.  During the period of try-out, the IT experts also looked for different solutions to projecting content to big screen wirelessly. 

They tired a few similar devices in the market and did an evaluation to all the receivers, and chose the most suitable one based on the criteria of dependability, connectivity, display quality, security, durability of usage, the compatibility to different models of mobile devices and projectors, easy navigation, cost effective, and easy to manage, etc.  The schools chose Actiontec wireless display solution, and deployed more than 3,600 devices in classrooms across buildings.

“Teachers are satisfied with the interactivity they have with students and they have the control to the device and they can project any content to big screen in a few second. Schools also bring the solution to school conference rooms which allow presenters to do their presentation easily. No computer, plugs and cabled are needed anymore.” Nathan Myers, Educational Technology Director, Mesa Public Schools said.

Video (user experience from Mesa Public School):

4. What are the expansion plans for ScreenBeam Wireless Solution?

For vertical expansion, we will start from K-12 to establish the market by supporting local partners, channels and increasing media exposure on key education platforms in India to deliver the relevant information such as case studies, videos, and product brochure, etc. to system integrators and innovative educators; furthermore, we target all education levels which have interests to create innovative classrooms. 

Horizontally, Actiontec not only collaborates with suitable local distributors and key education platforms, as a lead partner of Microsoft, we also provide wireless total solutions from tablets to the whole environment deployment by giving the best practices from MIE (Microsoft Innovative Educator) in leading schools in different regions.

India is an important market for Actiontec in APAC region, Actiontec plans to provide thousands of devices and offer free trial programs for potential schools which have passion in trying new technology to improve their teaching methods and enhance the education quality in India. This is going to be a big initiation in India education market, at the same time we hope to have the opportunity to work with key education organizations to better the quality of education in land.

5. How do you think ScreenBeam Solution is different from other wireless display solution players in the market (in India or globally)?

There are three key advantages Actiontec’s solutions which differ from other players in the market for our business partners: 

  • International standard certified- ScreenBeam wireless display solution is the first company certified by Miracast (international WiFi standard) in the world. The standard feature reduces the costs of deployment, maintenance, training, and management due to the compatibility with the most mobile devices in the market.
  • Simplicity- It’s easy to use, there is no need to download any application, and internet is not required either. Plug and play anytime anywhere for teachers. It’s easy to integrate with current infrastructure and to manage and deploy for IT admin
  • Multiusability- Although the number of education apps and software has increased, the enabler should be the same so that can be quickly duplicated to deploy and managed with the lowest costs.  Actiontec’s solution is designed for the expectation, and is easy for SI (system integrator) to bind specification in biddings.

6. According to you, what are some of the biggest challenges of selling in education?

Actiontec has the best professional products in wireless display but the biggest challenge now is that we lack of local partners and channels to deliver both the solution and the message to those potential innovative educators or channel partners.  We provide thousands of devices for potential users to experience ScreenBeam solution and this allows them to enjoy the features and make comparison with other similar products.

In Asia Pacific region, China and India are considered as fast growing markets in education technology.  However, there is a gap between international schools and general schools, thus the budget for facility updates are different too.  Actiontec is focusing on providing high quality solutions at price between the high and the mid-range. This could still be difficult for schools with insufficient budget in classroom innovation.  Therefore, finding the right channels and targets in India market is crucial for Actiontec in order to enter the market. 

On the other hand, Actiontec believes the passion from every educator should have no difference towards bringing in the best solution in teaching; therefore, if the budget concern can be solved by receiving supports or government funds from education organizations, then every school can have the right to experience an innovative way of teaching and increase the student’s learning outcome.

7. What are your view about the growth of Education Technology industry in general and specific to India/Worldwide? What difference do you see in the EdTech Indian market in comparison to other countries?

The growth of education technology can be considered as the progress of the whole society that is moving towards to have a higher quality of education environment and increase country competitiveness.  The most difference from the past is from budget consuming to invest in education revolution.  We can tell from the sales number that wireless display solution is a right direction to invest in recent years, especially in China and India.

8. Being an experienced education professional, what would your tip be to the young edtech startups and entrepreneurs in relation to their marketing approach?

Education industry is a timing consuming sector which you need to go deep and understand teachers or relevant people’s need to provide the best solutions. Otherwise it is more like pushing the products to the market.  On the other hand, you will need to cook the market by involving key decision makers from top down to convince them to buy-in the ideas then it would be easier to move forward.   Therefore, except for the strong power on product development or execution; the other important thing is to have excellent presentation skills to introduce and demonstrate the products in real scenarios so that the audiences can also feel it. 

Overall, experiences or hands-on operation are important in education industry, and to have support from government would be helpful to succeed in the market.

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