IT Trends

K-12 IT Leaders See Broadband and Network Capacity as Top Priorities

A new national survey of school information technology pros also found that leaders are planning for some major changes to the types of learning materials that will be used in their classrooms in the very near future.

Broadband and network capacity replaced assessment readiness as the top priority for IT leaders, according to the latest annual survey from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

This is the fourth year the CoSN has conducted a survey of K–12 IT leaders to highlight the trends and changes of the industry. The K–12 IT Leadership Survey, sponsored by software solutions company SchoolDude and conducted in partnership with education marketing agency MDR, was distributed to more than 120,000 U.S. school system technology leaders. More than 500 surveys were completed between January and March 2016.

IT leaders answered questions about their priorities, challenges, budgets and salaries, as well as personal characteristics like professional background, years of experience and education. New to this year were questions about “how districts assess the impact of technology, what support is provided to emerging leaders, what policies are in place regarding students’ use of personal devices in school, and what role IT leaders play in districts’ digital content purchasing decisions,” according to the report.

For the last three years, the survey asked participants to indicate their top three priorities from a list of 20 options. Assessment readiness was not listed as a priority as it had been in previous reports. Instead, the survey found that broadband and network capacity, wireless access and mobile learning were the first, second and third priorities respectively among IT leaders.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 64 percent of respondents said that privacy and student data is more important than last year;

  • Close to 90 percent expect their instructional materials to be 50 percent digitalized within the next three years;

  • Nearly all expect to use open educational resources (OER) throughout the upcoming three years, with 45 percent expecting digital content to be at least 50 percent OER;

  • Online productivity tools are the most used category of cloud-based solutions, with nearly 80 percent using online productivity tools;

  • Only 11 percent still have district bans on student personal devices;

  • 72 percent of women in IT leadership roles come from education/instructional backgrounds, while 54 percent of men in IT leadership come from technology/technical backgrounds;

  • 90 percent of school IT leaders surveyed are white, indicating that racial diversity is lacking;

  • 75 percent earned some college beyond their bachelor’s degree; and

  • More than one-third plan to retire within the next six years.

“The ranking of ‘Broadband & Network Capacity’ as the number one priority is a clear indicator that districts, like the general population, are embracing online solutions,” according to the report. “To address that priority IT Leaders need to navigate the number one challenge — ‘budget constraints and lack of resources.’”

The full K–12 IT Leadership Survey Report is available for a free download on the CoSN site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].