As students return to another school-year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report sheds light on how state education agencies and policy-makers are adapting to an increasingly digital, post-pandemic world.
The 2022 State EdTech Trends Report, released by the State Educational Technology Directors Association in collaboration with Whiteboard Advisors, draws on the results of SETDA’s flagship annual State EdTech Trends Survey of edtech directors, state superintendents, chiefs of staff, and other senior state officials from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Activity (DoDEA), and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The report supplements the survey findings with interviews of leaders in a number of states to spotlight their efforts to support digital learning. “Our job at the state is to advocate for what districts need and to promote our mentality that we are all in this together to help our students achieve,” stated Rob Dietrich, Senior Director of Teaching and Learning at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
“This report is so important because it represents the first attempt to document the shifts taking place in state education agencies as they adapt to a digital world,” said Jhone Ebert, Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Nevada Department of Education and author of the report’s preface. “In doing so, it spotlights great work taking place in states across the country while also identifying opportunities for further discussion, collaboration, and improvement.”
Among the key findings in the report and survey:
- Seventy percent of respondents reported that the State Education Agency or at least one district in the state was the victim of a cyber attack. However, 57% of respondents report that their states provide very little funding for school cybersecurity efforts.
- Survey respondents emphasized the need for greater focus on the effective use of technology. More than half report that schools have “a lot of edtech programs or products, but we don’t always use them effectively,” while only 8 states report collecting data on edtech use and efficacy.
- States vary greatly in how they are organized to support edtech, with only 55% of states reporting that they have a dedicated office for educational technology. Although billions of dollars are spent annually on edtech – an investment that increased significantly during the pandemic – many states still lack a dedicated edtech office. The names of these offices, their roles and functions, and positions within state education agency organizational structures vary greatly.
- States can more intentionally connect educational priorities and technological priorities – and support the connection with investment. Only 48% of respondents agree that their State Educational Agency (SEA) have explicit conversations about the role of technology in supporting state priorities, while only 41% say that the people working on edtech at the state level are regularly included in broader planning and strategic conversations around technology.
- Many states report a disparity between edtech priorities and their activities. For instance, although cybersecurity and privacy were high technological priorities for states, only 6% of respondents said their state provides ample funding for cybersecurity, 37% said the state provides cybersecurity tools to Local Education Agencies, and 57% said their state provides very little or a small amount of funding for cybersecurity.
“This baseline data provides a look into how states are internally organized, and it will be a catalyst guiding SETDA’s work as we continue to support state edtech leaders in creating the organizational structures and technological infrastructure to help schools create powerful and engaging learning opportunities for students and educators,” said Julia Fallon, Executive Director of SETDA. “Our hope is that it can serve as a guide to other institutions as well, and all those working to leverage the power of technology to rethink and transform their education systems.”
The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is the principal association representing U.S. state and territorial educational technology and digital learning leaders. Through a broad array of programs and advocacy, SETDA builds member capacity and engages partners to empower the education community in leveraging technology for learning, teaching, and school operations.