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innovation hurdles

5 things standing between K-12 schools and innovation

A new report highlights obstacles on schools' path to innovation and change

Sustaining and scaling innovation is one of the top hurdles K-12 district leaders face as they strive to bring new and bold ideas to education, according to a new CoSN report.

Hurdles are more than just “pesky obstacles” to innovation, the authors note in Driving K-12 Innovation: 2019 Hurdles. These challenges slow down progress and force educators to make sure they’re prepared for the leap to innovation.

The report is the first of three in a series focusing on hurdles, accelerators, and tech enablers that spur K-12 innovation. The series, which will culminate in a toolkit to inform strategic planning and tech integration, honors the legacy of the Horizon K-12 reports.

CoSN convened an advisory board of more than 100 ed-tech experts to identify and rank broad issues, along with the implications of and solutions to those issues, to form a better picture of where K-12 innovation, equity, and other priorities stand today.

“Visionary, strategic technology leadership is critical for creating a systemic, digital ecosystem and preparing every child for the world of today and tomorrow. Making smart technology decisions in education is becoming more difficult, however,” writes CoSN CEO Keith Krueger in the report’s introduction. “Technology is changing at breakneck speed—and the pace is accelerating. The Driving K–12 Innovation series responds to this challenge.”

The top 5 hurdles to district innovation include:

1. Scaling and sustaining innovation: Many school systems lack the agility, strategies, and mindsets to move innovative technology practices from a few classrooms to multiple settings across schools and school systems.

2. Digital equity: Equitable access to broadband connectivity, digital tools and content, and innovative instructional strategies is a growing concern. Socioeconomic status, geography, race, gender, or disability limit access to opportunities to learn in a digital world.

3. The gap between technology and pedagogy: Rapid advances in technology are putting pressure on educators to refresh or shift their approaches to teaching
and learning.

4. Ongoing professional development: Engaging all teachers in meaningful professional development on innovative teaching practices is key to successful technology integration. Top-down, one-size-fits-all, sit-and-get training
shows little to no impact on student achievement.

5. Technology and the future of work: Artificial intelligence, robotics, and “deep learning” are among the game-changing technologies that are altering how people think, learn, live, and work. Now is the time for educators to seriously consider how technologies on the horizon will impact teaching, learning, and the world that awaits students in coming years.

The Advisory Board recommends that educators initiate conversations with their community, considering how to overcome the hurdles and turn them into opportunities:

  • What would it take for your students to experience innovative education?
  • How could you help teachers immerse students in engaging learning experiences designed to spark curiosities, deepen knowledge, and build higher-order thinking and practical skills?
  • How could you help students become agents of their own learning, with the digital fluency to pursue knowledge, collaborate, create and solve problems?
  • How are learning, doing and thinking intertwined and connected to the wider world?
  • What skills will students need to navigate the world of work in the “fourth industrial revolution?”

The report is free to download and explores key issues and hurdles in detail.

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Laura Ascione

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