Ed Tech Trends

5 Hurdles to Technological Innovation in K–12 Education

Innovating in education, especially with technology, doesn't come without its hurdles. These may be organizational; they may involve people not knowing what to do or having a lack of resources, but the result is a slow-down in the adoption of innovation. The top one, however, is growing the innovation once it has been proven, according to a new report.

The report was produced by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), which has taken over the work from the New Media Consortium's Horizon K-12 reports, a decade-long series that ended in 2017 when that organization ceased operations. CoSN participated in that series as a lead partner, and now it has picked up the baton with the goal of producing three shorter and more focused reports each year for the K-12 segment.

According to an international advisory board of 111 education technology experts assembled by CoSN, the top five hurdles to innovation for K-12 (from a list of 27) were these:

  • Sustaining and scaling innovation, expanding new practices "from a few classrooms to multiple settings across schools and school systems"; this was specified by 44 percent of the advisory board members;
  • Digital equity (cited by 43 percent), gaining access to the "broadband connectivity, digital tools and content and innovative instructional strategies" for every student in every school;
  • Filling the gap between pedagogy and technology (42 percent), with a "continual, dialectical relationship between research and pedagogy" and "timely professional development for teachers";
  • Providing ongoing professional development (35 percent), which needs to be "personalized" and "job-embedded" for greatest impact; and
  • Figuring out technology and the future of work (32 percent) and sorting out how learning and teaching need to adapt in a world of "artificial intelligence, robotics and deep learning," which are expected to have a major effect on work for students.

The report offered a bunch of advice from the members of the advisory board, such as, "Encourage professional learning communities" and "monitor the effectiveness of technology and make course corrections, if needed." But perhaps the best advice was to begin conversations with the school community to get its help in overcoming the hurdles and turning them into "opportunities."

"Technology is changing at breakneck speed -- and the pace is accelerating," wrote Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN, in a statement. "Building on the important work of the 'Horizon Report,' the Driving K-12 Innovation series will help education leaders keep up with the digital ecosystem so they can improve learning settings and opportunities for all children. This entails tackling the major hurdles that are discouraging innovation."

Over the next year, the organization will also release two additional reports, "Accelerators," covering "megatrends" that drive change; and "Tech Enablers," on tools that help manage the change. CoSN also said it would release a toolkit in 2019 to help school leaders and practitioners with the conversations they need to have to put their plans into action.

The "Hurdles" report is available with registration through the CoSN website.

While CoSN is a vendor-neutral professional association for school district technology leaders, the "Driving K-12 Innovation" project is being supported by a number of companies, including ClassLink, Google, Amazon Web Services, Dell EMC, Kajeet and Education Networks of America.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.