It’s generally understood that integrating edtech into schools can be complex, but what’s less often discussed is that it represents one of the most universal pain points for administrators and educators today. And when you look at larger, more densely populated school districts–in urban markets like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or Chicago–district leaders often face added pressures and challenges to do digital right, and often with little support.
Yet, those urban districts seem to have some of the greatest appetites for edtech. According to the National Education Association, educators in urban schools are more likely to strongly agree about the value of technology, both for themselves and for their students.
But in spite of that enthusiasm, the particular challenges that urban districts face often means they are, in fact, among the last to successfully implement technology in their schools.
What are the challenges?
There are a few notable challenges that most urban districts have to manage when considering a digital transformation:
- When I was superintendent of Clark County School District in Nevada, we had approximately 18,000 teachers across 367 schools. Automatically, scale–especially in the context of edtech–becomes a substantial issue when you are managing larger numbers of teachers, students and large class sizes.
- According to Future Ready Schools, there are 21 million students in the US who still lack the broadband capabilities necessary for digital learning. This lack of connectivity often comes from dealing with older facilities, which we see in many urban districts, and the ability to integrate hardware in these schools can be a huge obstacle.
- Students in lower-income urban districts often have less access to technology outside of school. To ensure equity for all students, when administrators and teachers are planning to implement blended and online learning models in the classroom, they also have to consider if their students will be able to continue using technology to study at home.