School leaders are more optimistic about their ed-tech budgets than they have been in five years, market research firm MDR says.
Forty-one percent of K-12 districts expect to spend more money on hardware during the 2014-15 school year than they did the previous year. That’s up from 25 percent of districts that expected an increase in hardware spending in 2013-14.
Twenty-six percent of districts say they’ll spend more on software this year, up from 12 percent last year. Forty-three percent say they’ll spend more on teacher professional development, up from 24 percent last year.
IT support is the real winner, with the percentage of districts increasing their spending this year tripling over last year (36 percent vs. 12 percent, respectively).
Overall, nearly 90 percent of districts said their spending on all four of these ed-tech categories would increase or stay the same this year compared to last year.
Forty-four percent of districts say one-to-one computing has been “substantially implemented” in their high schools; 36 percent say this of their middle schools, and 20 percent say this of their elementary schools.
Flipped and blended learning appear to be on the rise as well. Sixty-three percent of districts say at least some of the high school classrooms have implemented flipped learning, while 60 percent report some usage of blended learning.
You can find more information from MDR’s 2014 “State of the K-12 Market” report here.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology will host a series of Future Ready Regional Summits to help school district leaders improve teaching and learning through the effective use of ed tech.
The summits follow a Connected to the Future meeting hosted by President Obama at the White House in November, which drew 115 superintendents from across the country. The Future Ready summits will support school district leaders in creating an ed-tech plan that leads to personalized learning experiences for all students—especially those from traditionally underserved communities.
The summits are open to district leadership teams on a first-come, first-served basis from districts where the superintendent has signed the Future Ready District Pledge. More than 1,300 superintendents have taken the pledge as of the posting of this article.
The ed-tech summits are being offered in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education, with support from the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission and a coalition of more than 36 content partners. Here are the dates and locations of the summits; for more information, go to www.FutureReadySchools.org.
Helping faculty integrate ed tech into their instruction is still a key pain point for campus technology leaders, according to the 2014 Campus Computing Survey, the largest ongoing study of IT planning and policy issues in American higher education.
Four decades into the higher-education technology revolution, the survey found that although campus technology leaders say user IT support is one of their top institutional priorities, many still struggle to provide adequate IT training and support for their students and faculty.
The survey also reveals a serious challenge in providing digital resources for disabled students, major concerns about IT security in the cloud, and a decline in support for Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs.
CIOs and other ed-tech leaders from 470 colleges and universities responded to the 2014 survey. While four-fifths of respondents said helping faculty with ed-tech integration is an important institutional priority over the next two to three years, only 28% of campus technology leaders rate their faculty ed-tech training as “excellent”—and just 13% rate their technology training for students as “excellent.”
The findings help explain the frustration that many faculty experience in their efforts to use technology effectively during instruction, said Kenneth C. Green, founding director of the Campus Computing Project, in a press release.
The struggle to support students and faculty effectively was one of five key campus technology trends revealed in the survey’s findings. Here are four others:
Giving disabled students equitable access to ed-tech resources is a big challenge for colleges.
Fewer than half (47%) of respondents said they have a strategic plan for IT compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates—and fewer than one-fifth (19%) rated their IT services for disabled students as “excellent.”
‘MOOC Madness’ seems to be on the decline.
Only 38% of respondents agreed that “MOOCs offer a viable model for the effective delivery of online instruction,” down from 53% last year. Meanwhile, expectations for making money on MOOCs also declined: Just 19% of campus technology leaders agreed that MOOCS “offer a viable model for campuses to realize new revenues,” down from 29% last year.
Colleges and universities are continuing to ‘go mobile.’
Continuing a steady climb in recent years, 83% of institutions have activated mobile apps or will do so this academic year. That’s up from 78% last year, 60% in fall 2012, 42% in fall 2011, and 23% in fall 2010. Across sectors, public universities lead the movement: 99% will have a mobile app by the end of the current academic year, followed by 95% of private universities, 92% of public four-year colleges, 77% of community colleges, and 73% of private four-year colleges.
“Colleges and universities are clearly playing catch-up with the consumer experience,” said Green in explaining this trend. “Students come to campus with their smart phones and tablets expecting to use mobile apps to navigate campus resources and use campus services.”
Campus technology leaders report that tablets and smart phones have higher priority in their IT planning activities: 83% say tablet devices and 82% say smart phones will be “very important” in their planning over the next two to three years, compared to just 64% who say laptop computers will be very important.
Concerns about the security of cloud-based services linger.
While the percentage of campuses reporting a strategic plan for cloud computing rose to 29%—up from 27% last year—33% of respondents don’t believe cloud services are as secure as what they can provide themselves on campus.And though nearly half (47%) of respondents said they now operate their learning management system in the cloud, fewer than 10% believe their institution will be running a “high value” application such as a finance or student information system in the cloud within five years.
With data privacy concerns on the rise, more than 40 ed-tech companies have signed a“Student Privacy Pledge” promising to collect and use student information responsibly.
Led by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and the Software & Information Industry Association, the pledge aims to “enhance the trust between families, schools, and third-party service providers,” said Jules Polonetsky, FPF’s executive director, in a press release.
Ed-tech companies signing the pledge say they will…
• Never sell student information or target ads based on student behavior.
• Use student data only for authorized educational purposes.
• Not change their data privacy policies without giving stakeholders notice and choice.
• Enforce strict limits on the retention of student data.
• Allow parents to access, and correct errors in, their children’s information.
• Maintain comprehensive data security standards.
• Be transparent about how they collect and use student data.
The pledge comes six months after the high-profile demise of inBloom, a controversial nonprofit organization that intended to build a national, cloud-based student data system to improve education.
Amid an onslaught of criticism from parents and data privacy advocates, states that had signed agreements with inBloom began to pull out of the initiative last year, and the group shut its doors in April.
As school leaders turn to ed-tech companies for help in collecting and storing student data in the cloud, data privacy advocates worry about what will happen to this information—and whether it might be used for marketing purposes.
As of mid-November, more than 40 ed-tech companies had signed the Student Privacy Pledge, including Microsoft, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Follett.
A complete list of companies signing the pledge is availablehere; are your ed-tech service providers on the list?