The Real Problems K-12 IT Leaders are Having with Classroom Technology
If you’ve been in the education IT space over the past 5 years or so then you’ve probably noticed that things tend to change quickly and often. It’s important that school IT leaders are constantly aware of developing education technology trends and challenges so they can continue to plan, prioritize and support their school’s technology goals.
To help in this effort, over the last few years, CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) has organized the K-12 IT Leadership Survey. The survey’s purpose is to gather valuable information from education IT leaders. This info provides schools and ed tech professionals with an inside look into the priorities, challenges and trends that exist throughout our school wireless networks today.
Basically, it gives a birds-eye perspective of how schools are currently leveraging technology in education as well as what these leaders are dealing with, and what they expect to deal with in the future.
Here’s an overview of the survey’s most important takeaways.
Key Technology Trends in Education
If your school is or has already moved to Common Core than its not shocking to see that current IT leaders view assessment readiness as their primary priority. The issue IT leaders are facing regardless of where you’re located is the ability to actually support online assessments.
According to the data, less than 30% of respondents felt they were fully prepared. In total, 62% said they were fully prepared or almost ready, while the remainder, almost 40% weren't prepared at all to implement online assessments.
In addition to online assessments the survey also discovered many other challenges, concerns and interesting trends.
The challenges facing IT leaders have less to do with technology, and more to do with the culture and people of the education system. IT leaders feel the most challenging aspects of digital learning were the human and cultural elements highlighting the lack of professional development. However, while these issues are the hardest to solve the greatest challenge for all schools is money.
Budgets and resources still dominate everyone’s list of major challenges with 54 percent of those surveyed saying they don’t have enough money to cover the expectations from their district leaders and school boards.
Suggested Reading - "The Complete Guide to Planning Your E-Rate Strategy for FY2016"
One swiftly growing concern is privacy. As breaches and compromised security have become an expressed concern of parents and policymakers, it has naturally increased in priority for school IT departments. Last year the issue ranked last for concerns—this year it is definitely become a top tier issue. Student data is central, especially on the heels of the notable media coverage of major security breaches that occurred over the past year.
Suggested Reading - "How to Use and Protect Student Data on Your School Wireless Network"
Again the biggest concern however continues to be money. A whopping 70% of IT Leaders stated their technology budgets were flat or declining. While this is incredibly disturbing, there are programs out there that can help. E-Rate for example can be an incredible opportunity for every school.
Successfully applying for E-Rate means starting early, here’s your guide to maximizing your E-Rate planning for funding year 2016.
The CoSN survey brought to light some interesting, yet rather shocking trends. These included:
- School IT Leaders (CTO’s, IT Directors) are falling behind in compensation compared to those in the private sector.
- CTOs in the bottom 10% of earnings in the private sector still earned more than the average K-12 IT leader—even though the K-12 leaders have the experience and educational credentials.
- Female K-12 IT leaders earn less than the males.
- 65% of the lowest salary range for K-12 IT leaders are women.
- K-12 IT leadership lacks diversity—88 % are white. It does not reflect the general makeup of the K-12 student body, which is projected to have a non-white majority this year.
What Can Schools and Districts Learn from this?
The takeaways are fairly straightforward—money is the greatest challenge above all else. However, privacy and security of student data is rapidly increasing. Paper tests are becoming a thing of the past but not fast enough; schools need the resources to speed up this shift. The human infrastructure needs to be built around technology, and finding IT leadership that understands the educational environment is critical.
Suggested Reading - "What I Learned About School Wireless Networks from the IT Director"
School IT leaders will have an uphill battle when it comes to changing the current K-12 culture, and to do so they will need the resources and budgets to make it happen.
If mobility and technology are high priorities, it is in everyone’s best interest to create the right environment to support it.
Danny is the Marketing Manager at SecurEdge Networks. This basically means it’s his mission in life to make sure you have the secure mobility tools and resources that you actually want and can use. P.S. He also loves a good craft beer.