13 modern challenges today’s school tech leaders face

8. Training and Support for Technology Specialists: With a lot of focus on teachers, PD for technology staff is often overlooked. However, today’s K-12 IT leaders are being asked to have a “far broader vision than in years past and acquire a multitude of new skills,” says CoSN. Developing these skills requires PD opportunities.

9. High-Stakes Testing: With testing moving online, there is fear that valuable technology resources will be diverted from instruction to assessment, and that the new Common Core State Standards assessments might now work well on district-owned or BYOD devices, said forum attendees.

10. Fractured Leadership: Several participants cited “lack of vision” from district leaders and many discussed “fragmentation and isolation” as issues for concern. “Although tech leaders are increasingly being integrated into top-level decision-making, it is still a challenge to insure that all parties sit down at the table together, on a regular basis to plan for the ways in which technology will be deployed to support education,” notes the report.

11. Technical Challenges: A rapid increase in student- and teacher-owned mobile devices on the school networks and the evolving system requirements of online assessments add new complications, said attendees. “Beyond that, the rapid cycle of change means that by the time purchasing decisions are made and users are trained in the use of new tools, the technology might very well be out of date,” said panelists.

12. Security: Though most technology leaders say it’s time to “open up, rather than lock down,” digital tools, this typically involves a “delicate balancing act” because it is also necessary to comply with legal requirements and maintain security in order to keep students safe and technology protected from hackers, viruses, and other breaches.

13. Perceived Value: “Ironically,” says the report, “if technology leaders do a good job, the technology becomes increasingly seamless and invisible, which can cause it to be overlooked as a necessary expenditure. As [some attendees] put it, ‘Personalization gives some people the feeling that IT is not needed. If they have access to the tools they like and things are working, they forget all that goes into ensuring that technology continues to work smoothly in the background.’”

For more information on how the technology landscape in schools has changed, as well as the many solutions to the challenges listed, be sure to download CoSN’s report (CTO forum report are available to CoSN members only or for a fee).

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