Homepage Rankings and Research Companies Channelcast Marketing Matters CRNtv Events Acronis #CyberFit Summit 2021 Avaya Newsroom Experiences That Matter Cisco Partner Summit Digital 2020 Intel Partner Connect 2021

CRN Exclusive: D&H Brings Learning To Life With Cutting-Edge K-12 Virtual, Augmented Reality Tools

D&H's Peter DiMarco says adding virtual and augmented reality offerings will enable solution providers to move beyond technology and get more involved with curriculum and learning strategy.

D&H Distributing introduced product and service bundles to help education-fcoused solution providers stake a claim in the largely untapped virtual and augmented reality space.

The Harrisburg, Pa.-based distributor plans to offer customizable product bundles around the Google Expeditions immersive platform that includes virtual reality headsets, routers, cases, tablets, smartphones and monitors. D&H also will focus on HP Inc's Sprout Pro by G2, fusing together detailed 3-D scanning with 3-D printing capabilities to facilitate the production of real-world prototypes.

"Get beyond the device," Peter DiMarco, D&H's vice president of VAR sales, told CRN exclusively. "This [virtual reality] screams opportunity for the solution provider to put the building materials together and help the school district with services and support."

[RELATED: D&H Marketing VP Campbell On Cloud And VAR Growth, Leadership And Digital Marketing]

Adding virtual and augmented reality offerings will enable solution providers to move beyond technology and get more involved with curriculum and learning strategy, according to DiMarco. Many learning directors and teachers, for instance, would like to see 3-D printers inside each classroom rather than one per building, DiMarco said.

Less than 10 percent of the nation's student population has access to virtual or augmented reality tools today, DiMarco said, meaning that solution providers moving into the space will have tons of new opportunities.

Virtual reality gives a broad range of student ages the ability to experience new geography, geology or life sciences concepts in visceral fashion that's far more engaging that the textbooks or flashcards of decades past, DiMarco said. Students can then unlock more data or description within the virtual reality application by clicking on certain elements, which tap into the reference data to get more information.

Major inhibitors to the adoption of virtual reality technologies include a lack of standardization around classroom devices and a lack of consistent technical support within school districts, DiMarco said. School districts would benefit from a virtual reality bill of materials and reference architecture, according to DiMarco, as well as implementing a process to access and support virtual reality technology.

Solution providers can procure an Expeditions demo kit with a single student device for $495, a kit with 10 student devices and headsets for $3,650, and a kit with 30 student devices and headsets for $9,730, according to the distributor. The 10- and 30-pack kits also include a teacher device, a router and a case, while the demo kit includes a single teacher device and comes with free configuration.

A bring-your-own-device (BYOD) option including everything but the student devices is offered for the 10- and 30-pack kits for $1,492 and $3,245, respectively, according to the distributor.

Alternatively, solution providers can procure an HTC virtual reality kit from D&H for $1,553. This includes a Vive headset, an Asus virtual reality-ready PC, an Asus monitor, a Logitech keyboard/mouse, and a gift card supporting science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) education.

Solution providers selling the Chromebook typically realize margins of a couple of points on the device itself, DiMarco said. In contract, DiMarco said D&H's virtual reality kit alone should offer solution providers 10-point margins, with ancillary professional, managed or implementation services adding an additional 10 to 15 points of margin.

D&H plans to offer its complete enablement program around virtual reality to a couple of hundred resellers that have a robust pool of K-12 clients and are interested in making this a true practice rather than selling devices transactionally, DiMarco said. The enablement program will include extensive education and training, wireless assessment services, and sales promotions and offerings, DiMarco said.

Virtual reality can be easily attached to a solution provider's endpoint or infrastructure practice and layered on top of functions such as networking and storage. DiMarco recommended that solution providers name a dedicated virtual and augmented reality lead inside their own organization focused on aligning offerings with the curriculum and learning strategies of their school district clients.

D&H's virtual reality kits are suited for school districts that have adopted VR in small part and aren't sure how to scale or leverage that, DiMarco said, as well as districts that committed to STEAM and advanced learning experiences but aren't sure how to execute that vision.

Immersive technology such as virtual reality and 3-D printing should capture the attention of students, particularly in the K-6 age range, according to John Kistler, business owner of J&B Technologies.

"It's less of a cognitive and more of an immersive experience," Kistler told CRN. "You really have to keep a kid's attention with a shiny thing."

The Maryland Heights, Mo.-based D&H partner will be interested to see how ruggedized the equipment is given how reckless children can be, Kistler said. Specifically, Kistler wonders if the kit will use higher-end equipment that's painstakingly repaired by channel partners under a service contract when it breaks, or if the bundle opts for less expensive technology that's simply replaced should it get damaged.

All told, Kistler said there's a "huge market" for taking the technologies children are familiar with through activities such as video games and leveraging them for educational purposes.

"All the kids are flying drones and putting headsets on," Kistler said. "It's the way of the future."

Back to Top



    trending stories

    sponsored resources