With increased data and connectivity come threats to school networks and a focus on equity--and K-12 IT leaders have their plates full managing these challenges, and more.

10 priorities for K-12 IT leaders

With increased data and connectivity come threats to school networks and a focus on equity--and K-12 IT leaders have their plates full managing these challenges, and more

School districts are moving to highly digital ecosystems, and K-12 IT leaders have more and more to manage to ensure that teaching and learning can go on uninterrupted by failing or clunky technology.

CoSN’s annual IT Leadership Survey offers critical insight into what’s expected of today’s K-12 IT leaders. The survey’s findings help to identify areas where IT leaders might need more support and assistance as they work tirelessly to meet the IT needs of administrators, teachers, and students.

Related content: How school IT leaders can avoid a cyberattack

“From managing infrastructure and cloud-based services to rostering and passwords, the sphere of IT leader responsibilities continues to expand. Ultimately, IT leaders are connecting administrators to operational efficiency, teachers to actionable insights, and students to opportunity. As districts focus on closing the homework gap, IT leaders have another dot to connect–home access,” according to the survey.

IT hardware and management companies such as LaptopsAnytime–which offers kiosks that give students and educators access to the right laptop, tablet, or combo device at the right time–along with others such as Impero, Classlink, and Skyward, are just a few of the partners aiming to help school and district IT leaders with this balancing act.

Related Content:

eSchool News IT Solutions: Hardware and Management Guide

The eSchool News IT Solutions: Hardware and Management Guide is here! It features strategies to help K-12 IT leaders work with school administrators and teachers to prioritize IT solutions that support innovative digital learning in classrooms. A new eSchool News Guide will launch each month–don’t miss a single one!

The survey breaks down the top 10 findings to help IT leaders manage their responsibilities and outline their priorities.

10 things impacting K-12 IT leaders this year

1. Cybersecurity is the top priority for IT leaders today. It comes as no surprise, according to the survey, because school districts collect more data and threats to that data are increasing.

2. The top 3 challenges faced by IT leaders for the past 3 years remain the same: budget, professional development, and breaking down department silos.

3. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies declining in popularity. They are used by only 16 percent of school districts, probably as a result lower cost devices being introduced to the market.

4. Virtually all IT leaders (95 percent) agree that addressing the homework gap is a concern for their district. This is a significant change. Last year 30 percent of leaders indicated digital equity was not important issue for their district vs. only 5 percent one year later.

5. Print is not dead. Past predictions have been overly optimistic. For 67 percent of districts, print still comprises at least half of their instructional materials.

6. There is some progress on all areas of interoperability, but only Single Sign-On (SS0) has been fully implemented in more than a quarter of school systems.

7. This survey identifies a number of ways in which IT leaders are looking to be more relevant to teachers and learning, with 75 percent of IT Leaders saying it is important to be more responsive to educator IT needs in the classroom.

8. The largest percentage of IT leaders continue to have education backgrounds (40 percent), followed by those with technical backgrounds (35 percent), a growing number from business/management backgrounds (20 percent) and other (3 percent).

9. Lack of ethnic and racial diversity in school district IT leadership remains a serious problem in most school systems, with no progress since last year. “The ethnic and racial diversity of IT leaders continues to look very different from the population they serve,” according to the report.

10. The percentage of women in school district IT leadership roles has declined in recent years. In 2016, women made up 36 percent and men 64 percent of IT leadership positions, and in this year’s survey, the breakdown is 28 percent female and 77 percent male.

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Laura Ascione
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