What Keeps Edtech Leaders Up At Night?



How is your district to-do list looking? If the results from today’s release of the 2023 State Ed Tech Trends Report are any indication, it’s long and complicated. I had the chance for a sneak peek and some background insight with Julia Fallon, Executive Director of SETDA (The State Educational Technology Directors Association), to discuss key findings of the survey data. Click through for a listen and scroll down for some highlights and takeaways.

Among the key findings in the report and survey:

  • Cybersecurity Tops the List: The report underscores that “cybersecurity” is now the paramount concern in K-12 education–an increase in priority since 2022. However, a staggering 42% of respondents reported inadequate funding and support for cybersecurity needs, signaling a critical gap. 
  • Federal and State AI Policy Lags: While 55% of respondents observed an increased interest in AI policy development, only 2% reported having active AI initiatives in their states. The report highlights the urgent need for comprehensive AI strategies at the federal and state level.
  • Home Access Demands Attention: “Home access connectivity” jumped to the top of the list of top unmet technology needs across the country, with nearly one-third of respondents listing it as their primary concern. This emphasizes the digital divide’s persistent impact on education.
  • On-going Focus on EdTech Effectiveness: The number of states collecting data on the effectiveness of their edtech tools also increased according to respondents, and using edtech effectively to support instruction remains a top priority for state leaders. 

Some more highlights:

  • Acceleration of Ed Tech Trends: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of educational technology and the need for secure and effective digital learning environments. The pandemic also revealed disparities in access, both in rural and urban settings.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy Development: There is growing interest in AI policy development, particularly in the context of generative AI. Federal and state-level AI policies are being considered, and the US Department of Education is providing guidance on AI in education.
  • Research and Evidence in Ed Tech Tools: States are increasingly interested in the research and evidence behind educational technology tools. Policymakers and educators want to ensure that technology investments yield positive outcomes in terms of student learning and achievement. Promising practices and effective use of technology are areas of focus.

The report is a follow-up to the 2022 survey and report, which was administered during a time when schools were completing their transition back to in-person learning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is a collaboration between SETDA and Whiteboard Advisors and draws in insights gathered from edtech directors, state superintendents, chiefs of staff, and other senior state officials from 45 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), and Guam.

Kevin Hogan
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