A new report from CoSN builds on a survey of more than 500 school systems to gauge the top challenges edtech leaders grapple with each day.
Cybersecurity, tight budgets, and much-needed infrastructure updates are among edtech leaders’ the top concerns and challenges.
The survey and report was conducted with the support of CDW-G and the Ed-Fi Alliance, and in partnership with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, MDR and Forecast5 Analytics.
“At a time when our schools are being asked to support more distance learning than ever before, understanding school districts’ challenges, priorities, concerns and the state of their IT infrastructure is an important tool in offering solutions to some of these larger issues,” says Troy Wheeler, president of the Ed-Fi Alliance.
“The good news is that if we band together, many of the challenges that IT leaders have identified can be addressed with more interoperable solutions, by stitching together the technology solutions that educators find most helpful in this new reality.”
The report’s top 10 findings include:
1. Cybersecurity remains the number one technology priority for IT leaders today, yet the size of the threat is generally underestimated — less than 20 percent of respondents consider any particular cyberthreat “High Risk.”
2. A large majority (74 percent) of IT leaders oversee both educational and administrative technology, blurring the lines between these systems.
3. Women hold even fewer IT leadership positions this year, continuing the trend of recent years.
4. The lack of racial and ethnic diversity in IT leadership persists, with an overwhelming majority of respondents identifying as white.
5. Over half of respondents say they do not have adequate staffing to integrate student-facing technology in the classroom. Without sufficient support for teachers, instructional technology is difficult to implement and can negatively impact learning.
6. The majority of IT leaders predict that artificial intelligence will play a significant or transformational role in schools, and recognize the need to address data privacy concerns first.
7. Digital equity remains a key priority for nearly all school districts surveyed (96 percent). IT leaders’ responsibilities have expanded as they work to close the “Homework Gap” with innovative solutions.
8. The top three challenges IT leaders face persist: budget, professional development and department silos. To create a successful digital learning environment, school districts should first create a cross-functional leadership team to improve information sharing.
9. 75 percent of IT leaders make decisions about digital content in their districts, an important step to cost-effectively integrating technology in schools.
10. Broadband progress continues. Nearly half of respondents (49 percent) have met the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband goal of 1 Gbps per 1,000 students, but infrastructure updates remain essential.
“This annual survey of school district IT leaders across the country allows CoSN to gain vital insight into today’s edtech trends. This new knowledge will enable organizations, companies and policymakers to help educators more effectively implement technology-enriched learning, both during COVID-19 and moving forward,” says Keith Krueger, CoSN’s CEO. “While this year’s results point to much-needed progress, additional focus on cybersecurity and improved IT infrastructure is required to truly enhance teaching and learning.”