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Demand for Wireless Networks, Tablets Will Grow, District Officials Say

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Over the next three years, district technology officials say they expect to place an increasing emphasis on strengthening wireless networks, and on the use of tablets, a new survey reveals.

The percentage of district tech officials who identified tablet usage as a top priority jumped to 40 percent in 2012 from 25 percent a year ago, according to the survey, released by MDR, a provider of marketing information and services for education.

Tablets rose to the third-highest area of priority. The second-highest area of priority was server virtualization, cited by 51 percent of respondents. But the top area of need identified by district tech officials, by a wide margin, was the development of wireless networking—identified by 85 percent of those surveyed as a top priority, a jump from 71 percent a year ago.

The survey was included in MDR's State of the K-12 Market 2012 report, a market analysis available to members of the EdNET Insight research service. MDR shared a portion of the report's results with Education Week.

In one sense, the continued and projected interest in tablets probably isn't surprising, given the array of mobile technologies school officials are seeking out to meet students' needs, and the popularity of that particular technology.

And the attention directed toward wireless tech also rings true, when considering schools' needs for reliable service and sufficient bandwidth to meet rising demands, such as those brought about by online testing.

A few other findings revealed in the survey:

• A large majority of districts—more than 90 percent—say that modifying curriculum and assessments in preparation for Common Core standards and tests is a high or medium priority;

• Social media is playing a big role in teachers' professional development these days, with many educators using everything from professional learning networks to "Tweetups," to build their skills; and

• For companies seeking to work in schools, the report finds that "better communication, more listening, company stability, and more effective and engaging materials," are regarded as qualities that make educators see businesses as potential partners.

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