9 Key Hurdles, Accelerators, and Tech Enablers in Education for 2024

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has released its annual list of the top hurdles, accelerators, and technology enablers impacting schools and districts this year. The "Driving K-12 Innovation" report is based on surveys and discussions among the initiative's advisory board, comprised of more than 140 education and technology experts around the globe.

A key theme for 2024 is change, COSN noted: "This year's top topics shifted more from 2023 to 2024 than they have in any of the past five cycles of the project, underscoring a turning point in education and emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts." Two new topics rose to significance this year: "Ensuring Cybersecurity & Safety Online" as a top hurdle and "Changing Attitudes Toward Demonstrating Learning" as a top accelerator. And several long-time trends dropped from the list, including "Digital Equity," "Social & Emotional Learning," and "Untethered Broadband & Connectivity."

The report identifies the top three hurdles, three accelerators, and three tech enablers for the coming year:

Hurdles are defined as "roadblocks that force schools to slow down, prepare themselves, and make a leap." The top challenges this year are:

  • Attracting and retaining educators and IT professionals;
  • Ensuring cybersecurity and safety online; and
  • Scaling innovation and overcoming inertia of education systems.

Accelerators are "real-world megatrends or catalysts that help motivate and increase the speed of innovation." Top topics for this category are:

  • Changing attitudes toward demonstrating learning;
  • Building the human capacity of leaders; and
  • Learner agency.

Tech enablers are "the tools that grease the wheels for schools to surmount hurdles and leverage accelerators. Top technologies here are:

  • Generative artificial intelligence;
  • Analytics and adaptive technologies; and
  • Rich digital ecosystems.

The report also includes a number of recommendations from advisory members on how to drive K-12 innovation forward in 2024. Highlights include:

  • "Keep the end goal(s) in mind. Technology is a means to an end, not an end." — Keith Krueger, CoSN
  • "Students, all students, need to continue to always be 'the why' we do what we do when it comes to driving K-12 innovation. The innovations, especially Gen AI, mentioned in this document foster collaboration, work to level the playing field, provide opportunities, and improve inclusivity for all students." — Phil Hintz, Niles Township School District 219
  • "Innovation should never happen in a vacuum. Seek out the voices, needs, and perspectives of the stakeholders most impacted by your decisions." — Michael Ham, The Learning Accelerator
  • "Today we have more technological innovations and tools than at any point in history. The capability and maturity of these tools far outpace an educational system's ability to adopt all of them. Because of this, school system leaders must put in place a policy, process, and the necessary resources to identify, evaluate, and integrate the technology tools that will enhance their current educational goals, and enable them to leverage these innovations to maximize the learning potential of all students." — Brad Rellinger, Northern Buckeye Education Council
  • "The time from idea to implementation for impactful innovation in education is rapidly shrinking. Advances in technology have accelerated, and old models for digital learning and technology integration have been showing their age for some time. Our systems need to build capacity and structures that allow for a rapid pivot when necessary, so that the current needs of all students are supported and their future needs can be accounted for." — Teshon Christie, Highline Public Schools

The full report offers a deep dive into each key topic and is available for free download on the COSN site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].