IT Trends

The 3 Key Challenges Impeding K–12 Technology Implementation

The major challenges facing technology adoption in education haven’t changed much over the years. But the priorities of school and district technology leaders have.

According to a survey released this week by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), the key challenges facing ed tech have remained consistent for the last three year. Those are, in order of priority:

  1. Budget constraints (the top barrier in six out of the last seven IT surveys conducted by CoSN);

  2. Lack of availability of relevant professional development/training; and

  3. The existence of silos, making effective communication difficult.

According to CoSN, the budget and professional development constraints are intimately linked and cut across departments: “Budgets are also directly linked to professional development (PD), which is the number two challenge on the list. In the open-ended answer section of the survey, respondents were asked about areas in which they wished they had more time; they cited the need for PD for all stakeholders — administrators, teachers, IT staff, as well as the IT Leaders themselves.”

Meanwhile, the top priorities for technology leaders have shifted.

  • Ranking first in this year ‘s survey was data security (aka cybersecurity), up from second place last year and third place the year before.

  • “Cost-effective/smart budgeting” came in second. This priority didn’t make the list in previous surveys.

  • Data-driven instruction and decision-making was the third-highest priority in 2019, as it was in the previous year’s survey.

According to CoSN: “For the second straight year, cybersecurity has the top spot on IT Leaders’ technology priority list. At a time when school districts are collecting greater amounts of data, threats to the security of that data are also increasing. Since 2016, there have been over 400 reported K-12 cybersecurity incidents. IT Leaders are well aware that their institutions are faced with the same challenges as the corporate sector, but risks in K-12 may actually be higher. According to a recent report, educational institutions are specifically being targeted by global cybercrime organizations….”

The results were released during CoSN's annual conference, taking place this week in Portland, OR. The complete report is freely available at

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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