Key Findings to the CoSN ‘Driving Innovation Hurdles’ Report

CoSN (Consortium of School Networking) is the premier North American professional association for school system technology aims.

We are very excited to announce that CoSN has just released the first of 3 reports which focus on the hurdles facing implementation and utilization of school system technology. Alongside these reports, CoSN will also be releasing a practical toolkit to inform strategic planning and smart technology integration into teaching and learning.

Want to know what this all means for you? Don’t worry we have put together the following simplified guide summarizing their findings along with our thoughts on what we think this means for the industry. If you’d like to read the full ‘Driving K-12 Innovations’ report simply click here.

Top 5 Hurdles Affecting Education

The K-12 Advisory Board looked at the state of education and the biggest hurdles and obstructions facing education, in particular when it came to imposing new technology within schools and districts. The 5 key hurdles they found were;

  1. Scaling and sustaining innovation – How can we impact change when people within the organization are reluctant to change?
  2. Digital equity – How do we ensure those without full access to internet and digital tools have access to them?
  3. The gap between technology and pedagogy – How do we ensure that technology is always grounded in solid pedagogy? Should we buy something simply because it looks shiny or because it actually impacts learning?
  4. Ongoing professional development – How do we personalize PD for each person rather than using a top down, all-in-one model?
  5. Technology and the future of work – With advancing technology, how do we ensure our children are prepared for the future?

Spotlighting Two Hurdles

The advisory board took these top 5 hurdles and looked at the ones that they felt were the most significant challenges currently impacting education. The two they found were ‘The Gap Between Technology and Pedagogy’ – buying for the sake of buying or buying to have an impact within the classroom –  and ‘Technology and The Future of Work’ – how we ensure children are educated in the ever-evolving world of technology.

Below is a breakdown of the focused analysis of these two main hurdles impacting education:

Hurdle 1: The Gap Between Technology and Pedagogy

The major question when determining whether to buy a new product is whether it considers the growing needs of the students and potential impact of student learning. Professional development that is grounded in pedagogy is also crucial.  Continuing advances in technology create disconnects between the needs of the students and the skill sets of the teachers.

Searching and finding the next ‘cool’ thing can be interesting and exciting. However, focusing on the pedagogical needs of the students and then purchasing technology that meets those needs is a much better strategy.

Pro tip: Create a strategic plan which establishes a shared vision of curricular and pedagogical approaches.

Professional development is critical for bridging the gap between technology and pedagogy. Simply providing devices isn’t enough!  Many schools struggle to integrate new technology successfully because teachers struggle to use it on a regular basis. As a result, it’s not only classroom teachers that need professional development. District leaders, principals, and other school leaders are equally in need of professional development. This PD needs to cover the ‘why to’ of using technology to support teaching and learning, not just the ‘how to’. Focusing only on the ‘how to’ will prevent teachers from appreciating the benefits of the technology and will result in teachers feeling that integrating technology is a chore.

Giving teachers opportunities to see the purpose of technology through exploring and reflecting upon the ‘why to’ is incredibly important. Deeper professional learning enables teachers to support student learning more effectively.

As technology advances and more schools adopt devices, PD becomes a more urgent challenge. A recent PwC (2018) study showed only 10% of US teachers feel confident teaching higher-level technology skills that meet the increasing workforce demand. 79% of respondents say they want more technology-related professional learning, and 81% said they want more funding and more ‘release time’ to attend PD workshops, build curriculum plans or course materials. Find out more read the PwC report here.

PwC also found that a large proportion of teachers are not making innovative use of technology. According to US teachers, the use of classroom technology is broken into two ways.

  1. 60% passive by watching videos, reading websites
  2. 32% active by coding, producing videos or performing data analytics

NOTE: It is also important to link creation with technology with higher order skills such as critical thinking, reflection and computational thinking.

Internationally, this is the same story. Another report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states that “Professional development should target their overall school culture, providing time for professional practice, collaboration and identification of what works.” Find out more read the full report here.

The demand for STEM skills is rapidly increasing. As such, countries such as South Korea now emphasize “computational thinking, coding skills and creative expression through software” within its country-wide national curriculum. At the end of 2018, South Korea had trained 60,000 elementary teachers and 30,000 middle school teachers through a myriad of software education.

The major gap between technology and pedagogy results in wasted time and money, frustrated educators, and lost opportunities for students to develop new curiosities and skills for the digital age.

What if we could bridge this gap?

What if technology was purchased with the sole intention of improving pedagogical practices which benefited the students in developing their high end tech skills and benefited the teachers who are using it?

With foresight and preparation, educators can move students from passive to active learners who take charge of their own learning, collaborate, participate, inquire, discover, reason and create.

This hurdle is easily solvable! By merging PD with an intentional rollout plan, technology is more likely to have the desired impact.

However, this also needs to affect the district level. Leaders such as superintendents and chief technology officers need to fully understand teacher needs, as well as invite them to have say on strategic planning moving forward. Facilitating these conversations helps create an organizational culture that values professional development and continued growth.

Piloting new technologies and sharing results within a network of schools can help school districts and individual schools. Another option might be partnering with tech companies to inform their research and ensure these companies are providing products that clearly reflect and support pedagogy.

“It is so important that educators are supported by sound pedagogical practices within professional learning. Helping teachers to improve their craft by leveraging technology to improve the success of our students is crucial. As a district, we need to have all voices at the table when making technology purchase decisions. This is a vital step to ensure the technology and the pedagogy matches up within instruction.”

— Anna Baldwin, Director of eLearning and Integration, Anderson School District Five, SC

Hurdle 2: Technology and the Future of Work

With the new technological advances, how does education stay ahead and work with these emerging technologies rather than get beaten by them?

The major challenge for educators is to anticipate and develop a skill set that will ensure they are ahead of the curve. Creating ample opportunities for students to engage with emerging technologies could stir their interest and excitement about designing future technology. Tying these tools to real-world and deep learning outcomes is, as a result, essential.

With the growth of technology, the skills needed to succeed often have less to do with computer programming and rather with ‘digital literacy’. Digital literacy is the ability to interpret, create and strategically use digital information. In a survey produced by McKinsey Global Institute (Read the full survey results here) more than 3000 business leaders in seven countries found that there is a ‘significant need for everyone to develop basic digital skills for the new age of automation.’ Basic digital literacy skills are the second fastest-growing set of 25 core workplace skills for the future, behind only advanced IT and programming skills.

“We’re missing a great opportunity if we don’t make the connection between the evolving role of robots and AI as a factor on the opportunities for future learners. We need to make a real-world connection for learners.”

  • Norton Gusky, Coordinator of Educational Technology/Educational Technology Broker, NLG Consulting and Co-Chair of CoSN’s Emerging Technologies Committee

Next generation technologies are already making their way into many industries, including education. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of these, with many learning management systems already built with AI in mind. Many products and services developed by non-profit groups and companies are quickly becoming available to educators. For example, some products harness AI by using aggregated data from students to understand how they solve math problems.

AI has the potential to personalize learning with perceptive, adaptive digital tutors and enliven learning experiences with mixed reality and augmented reality alongside virtual and artificial reality technologies. With technologies harnessing this power, educators will be able to design learning environments that mimic working environments and partner more easily with employers, providing students with authentic, virtual learning opportunities.

For teachers and administrators, next-gen technology could support pedagogy and assist with classroom management and rote tasks, offering granular insights into student learning and needs. This will ensure educators are expected to spend more time on their core work; teaching, learning, and in-person interactions with students.

Surmounting the Challenge

It will take time to fully grasp how next-generation technologies will change the future of work and education. For now, the Advisory Board recommends paying attention to developments in this arena and to start discussing how emerging technologies will impact;

  • Life and work, and what that means for preparing students for a happy and productive future
  • Education through digital learning materials and environments (analyzing learning behavior, interactions between learners and individual learning experiences for each learner)

Additional resources:

  • A Future Ready project to develop a framework for identifying, developing, collecting evidence of and evaluating key attributes of future-ready learners. Collaboration, creativity, personal learning, problem solving, global sustainability, and other attributes for which there is historical research.
  • Ask About AI: The Future of Work and Learning, a 2017 report offering ways for educators to prepare for the coming of AI

Conclusion: So what does it all mean?

The two hurdles highlighted above pose significant challenges to educators. It’s about starting the conversations now to determine opportunities these present – and how you can make a difference within your school or district.

The CoSN K-12 Innovation Advisory Board recommends starting conversations with your community to change the prospected outcomes for these hurdles. Why not give it a try:

  • What would it take for your students to experience innovative education?
  • How could you help teachers immerse students in engaging learning experiences designed to spark curiosity, deepen knowledge, and build higher-order thinking and practical skills?
  • How could you help students become agents of their own learning, with the digital fluency to pursue knowledge, collaborate, create, and solve problems?
  • How are learning, doing and thinking intertwined and connected to the wider world?
  • What skills will students need to navigate the world of work in the ‘fourth industrial revolution’?

What we think

We agree with the large majority of the report. There is a distinct lack of pedagogical thinking when purchasing technology within schools. We need to be asking important pedagogical questions and considering impact on student learning prior to making any purchasing decision.

At MobileMind, meaningful professional development is at the heart of everything we do. We believe that when districts are spending significant money on technology, they deserve high quality professional development to ensure schools are making the most of this investment.

As the report shows throughout, stakeholders need to understand the reasons why technology has been purchased and what the desired impact is on student learning.  Teaching why to use the product will further enhance how teachers use the technology.

As the report suggests; a pro tip is to create a strategic professional development plan accompanies the rollout of the new technology.

 

We hope you’ve found our simplified breakdown of the CoSN ‘Driving Innovation Hurdles’ Report useful. Keep an eye out for our next blogs covering a breakdown of CoSN’s following two reports due to be released later this year!

In the meantime if you’re interested in kick-starting your technology innovation journey, why not download our free PD Planner here: https://mobilemind.io/5-steps-turn-school-districts-into-gsuite-experts/

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