Student data privacy. In 2015, 46 states introduced 182 bills addressing student data privacy, 15 states passed 28 new student data privacy laws, and federal policymakers “increasingly engaged in the student data privacy conversation,” according to The Data Quality Campaign. “Privacy is on everyone’s mind right now,” said Abshire. To navigate these increasingly restrictive laws, school and district technology leaders are having to find a workable balance between the innovative use of technology, the personalized learning environment, and the rights of students and/or parents as it relates to data collection. Achieving that balance isn’t always easy, said Abshire, and it probably won’t get any easier in 2016 as even more states and federal groups adopt new privacy-related laws. Krueger concurs, and says privacy is a top concern for K-12 parents right now. “Privacy, which is shaping the technology conversation right now, could wind up derailing some of the opportunity to provide more personalized learning,” said Krueger, “particularly if we can’t collect and/or use certain types of data.”

Stronger library-IT alliances. Our recent story, Great ways library media and IT departments can work together, highlighted a few innovative ways that IT departments are working with library media specialists to achieve common goals. Expect to see more activity in this realm in 2016, said Scott S. Smith, CTO at Mooresville Graded School District in Mooresville, N.C. in fact, he sees the changing role of the school library media coordinator or librarian as a significant piece of the evolving K-12 IT landscape. “The librarian is no longer the keeper of the books, but a dynamic and vital leader in the school,” said Smith. Strong school library and media programs lead professional development for all educators, he adds, promote curriculum and technology integration, inspire information literacy, ensure balanced and aligned digital and print access to content, energize reading and literacy, and drive equity for all students. He points to Project Connect as a good example of this movement within the K-12 space. “The research is abounding that effective school library and media programs, led by qualified individuals have an enormous impact on student outcomes, achievement, and success,” he said, “There is a national movement toward this changing role.”

Addressing the human issues first. As he surveys the K-12 environment and progress that it’s made on the technology front over the last decade, Krueger said it’s not the equipment, hardware, or software that’s blockading future progress — it’s the people. “We have a long-standing belief that the biggest impediment to effective use of technology isn’t technical or technological; it’s people,” said Krueger. “We’ve spent the last 20 years asking, ‘Why should we invest in technology?’ but now we’re seeing more people asking, ‘How can our technology make a catalytic difference in the learning environment? That’s a whole different conversation.” For example, it’s not enough to buy 5,000 devices for a one-to-one program and expect teachers, students, and parents to pick up the equipment and start using it effectively in or out of the classroom. “So many one-to-ones have failed due to improper vision and purpose; we need to learn from these missteps and improve for the future,” says Krueger. “Going one-to-one is awesome, but good teaching and learning drive the process — not the technology or the device.”

About the Author:

Bridget McCrea is a contributing writer for eSchool News.