Technology continues to play a significant role in evolving the learning environment. A catalyst in driving change in teaching methods, it has given educators the ability to positively impact student learning outcomes. But with all the benefits that technology brings, challenges arise for IT administrators who must continually find ways to proactively implement solutions and resolve potential issues that advanced technology and innovation presents to them.
The top technology trends in the K-12 school segment that create challenges for IT specialists.
1) Customizable learning: With the ability to customize lessons, teachers are empowered to build their programs to accommodate the learning needs of their students and give them multiple pathways to learning. This can often mean teachers are combining one or more tools and platforms to delivery their programs. The larger the selection of tools they use, the more complex the job is for IT specialists who must set up and train users to ensure a seamless experience.
2) Open Education Resources: With free tools and materials like textbooks, research articles, videos, tests and software available to students and teachers, students have access to a wealth of resources to enhance and complement their studies without the added strain on the school budget. However, free resources present some challenges to teachers. Content can quickly become outdated and irrelevant, quality is out of the teacher’s control and teachers may not have the time to find the appropriate resources and materials that fit their curriculum.
3) Bring your own device: With schools experiencing budget limitations and technology continuing to advance, allowing students and teachers to use their own device to access course materials provides a solution for all parties. Teachers and students reduce the learning curve that exists with adapting to new equipment and devices and schools don’t have to fund the replenishment and replacement of their IT assets as frequently. But with this type of program, IT specialists are faced with challenges with accessibility, bandwidth, security and compliance.
4) 100% Digital Delivery: Some courses are now available only online and made accessible to students even outside of their traditional student catchment area. Digital delivery allows schools to expand their program availability beyond that which they currently offer. However, equitable access to these courses for students who are economically disadvantaged is the challenge for both IT administrators who seek to find solutions and teachers who need to find alternative ways to offer courses without bias.
5) Blended Learning: With access to video conferencing and other live streaming platforms, teachers are able to blend their course delivery with face-to-face online conferencing giving students virtual access to teachers while being physically outside of the classroom. For larger schools, this could present bandwidth and connectivity issues and results in increasing costs from internet providers.
6) Agile Start-up Model: By embracing the culture of innovation, schools are allowing technology to re-shape education. Fostering creativity, entrepreneurship and agility is a positive movement for schools but can come with some unrealistic expectations. Technology allows teachers to measure, track and assess how students are learning and can drive the curriculum decisions that help them improve the way they teach. However, the wish list of technology solutions that teachers present may put some unrealistic demands on an IT department that works with limited budget and human resources.
Schools in the twenty-first century are making leaps and bounds towards improving the way they educate. But, to support this trend, IT departments must work hand-in-hand to plan, strategize and implement the right tools, support and training required by teachers in order for them to succeed in positively impacting the learning outcomes.
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