And while funding is still included in the list, many challenges are new and developed due to new policies, mandates, and changing cultures.
“As the technology world moves from centralized, tightly controlled and localized to distributed, open, and cloud-based, district leaders face a growing number of challenges,” according to CoSN.
Challenges identified by forum panelists and participants include [in no particular order]:
1. Equity: Due to BYOD policies and solutions, student-owned technology has raised new worries about the digital divide. “This is compounded by the disparity between those families with broadband internet service at home and those with no connectivity at all,” notes the report.
2. Bandwidth and Infrastructure: Requirements for 1:1 initiatives, BYOD policies, online assessments, and other initiatives are asking for more bandwidth and setup than ever before.
3. Funding: “Typically, technology expenditures geared to the business of running a schools or district take priority over the instructional uses that are key to a 21st century education,” says the report.
4. Community Support: According to panelists, it’s hard to make the case for education technology to “teachers who fear it will jeopardize their jobs, parents who remember school before the days of computing, and community members who think funds might be better spent elsewhere.”
5. Scale: Growing community populations, as well as scaling up effectively from small pilot programs to full-fledged deployments, require massive infrastructure changes, as well as more professional development (PD).
6. Changing Mindsets: One of the newer, yet most “persistent” challenges faced by technology leaders, is how to keep the focus on learning rather than the device or the network. “CTOs and other technology specialists need to learn how to see things through the eyes of teachers and students and work closely with curriculum leaders to make decisions that support the educational vision of the district,” explains the report.
7. PD: As mindsets change, so does the definition of what makes effective PD, the report notes. Panelists agreed that the challenge is helping teachers “see that the power of technology goes far beyond teaching the same way with some new tools added: learning new approaches to pedagogy requires sustained PD and ongoing support from experts who understand the classroom and the change process.”