The Education Market for Pro A/V Still is Very Uncertain

The education market is vitally important to all of us in the Pro A/V industry. It’s a core vertical to our industry growth. Unfortunately, with the onslaught of COVID-19, many verticals are down in growth and revenue, but education is expected to not have the same fate. The general consensus is that because of COVID-19, we will see more capacity for new A/V projects to take place with the absence of students, but there are two sides to every story. In fact, the education market still is one of the most uncertain markets in Pro A/V.

First off, the level of students returning to school varies across the board. In some states there is complete closure. In others, states have ordered only hybrid or remote instruction while others leave it to local health authorities to makes a decision which means some schools are open like normal. As AVIXA research has shown, we still are in the 1st wave of COVID 19 so we suspect things to get worse before better, thus 100% remote education in the US is a real possibly.

For schools that are opening or doing hybrid learning, they are spending aggressively on technology largely to make sure that students and teachers are safe during their return. Obvious solutions are laptops, video cameras, audio mics and headsets while still common, but not as frequent solutions are thermal scanners, mobile displays, tablets and broadcasting setups. As the need for remote instruction increases it becomes very difficult to find products like cameras, laptops and mics in-stock. So, we see the education market turning to consumer grade solutions because of availability rather than the quality of product, a natural decision point for the times we are in. We have heard in some cases Chromebooks are on backorder until 2021. By turning to consumer products, the Pro A/V industry loses out.

A/V projects for non-COVID-19 installations at the K-12 level mostly came to a complete stop in late April. Interactive displays or touchscreens, projectors or direct view LED projects were among those that were put on hold. Some have begun to resume and this holds true for many other traditional AV technology projects like auditoriums, athletic fields, etc. If these projects were in-process previously, they are now being completed, but much of the long-term improvement projects not directly related to COVID are taking a back seat.

For tech managers, we have seen them get a lot busier with the pressures to make sure each student has the technology to succeed. Funding seems not to be a concern for implementing these technologies because they are perceived as necessary. The common thread is that when requested, money can be made available. Obviously, some public schools have been hit hard and are choosing to budget A/V implementations, but private and higher ed schools have good funding for projects in general.

So, as you can see, there is a lot of uncertainty in the education market. Our goal as an industry should be to support schools the best we can, enabling students through technology to get the best education they possibly can through COVID 19. We look forward to the day when this market and other will begin to normalize.