Washington Watch: The top technology influencing K-12’s future

The latest K-12 edtech news from the nation's capital, including what technology is expected to have an impact on education and the growing need for broadband.

Report: Top 5 technologies influencing the future of K-12 education

The “2019 Tech Enablers” report identifies five key edtech developments and emerging solutions, including mobile devices, cloud infrastructure and extended reality (XR). 

The report, the final issue in the three-part Driving K-12 Innovation report series produced by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), features an international advisory board survey of more than 100 experts, who considered 27 tools and narrowed them down to the following five tech enablers:

  • Mobile devices: Ranked the highest in importance and having the most immediate adoption, these hand-held or wearable devices, such as smartphones and tablets, connect to the internet and enable access to information and activities anytime, anywhere. 
  • Blended or hybrid learning: This mix of face-to-face instruction and online learning has trended in recent years and gets renewed attention in the new “Tech Enablers” report due to increased adoption of effective technologies in schools and at home. Blended learning facilitates personalization in the classroom, gives students more autonomy, and frees educators to work with kids individually.
  • Cloud infrastructure: Virtual infrastructure, delivered or accessed via a network or the internet, gives schools flexibility and security to move hardware and software services away from physical locations, which can reduce operational costs and ensure on-demand access to learning. 
  • XR: This platform may include augmented, mixed and virtual reality—technologies that experts say enhance the physical world with interactive digital imagery and graphics. Educators are increasingly using these technologies to help students learn complex content and to provide experiences otherwise impossible due to funding, geography or physical challenges.
  • Analytics and adaptive technologies: Tools that measure, analyze, predict, and customize instruction and other learning tasks, which in turn help educators adjust learning experiences based on student needs and preferences. 

CoSN is releasing a toolkit to help its district administrator members engage in conversations about innovation and apply the lessons listed in the report. 

“The best way to use the series of reports is to think of them not as giving you the ‘answers,’ but rather to use them as a spark for conversation,” says CoSN CEO Keith Krueger. “While these are the key trends for 2019 according to our experts, the key is for education leaders to ‘invent the future.’”

 Krueger says the series can serve as a road map for adopting innovative practices at the district level—identifying hurdles, determining any external factors that may impact teaching and learning, and discussing new and emerging tools that affect education.

“Too often, we start with the technology, and we should start with the ‘why,’” Krueger says.



Funds for Learning survey finds growing need for broadband

The E-rate program from the Federal Communications Commission remains a critical part of establishing broadband connectivity for schools and libraries, according to a recent trends report by E-rate consultant Funds for Learning (FFL).

FFL polled 1,763 E-rate applicants across the U.S. and its territories to determine how E-rate funding can best serve the needs of schools and libraries. Feedback from the report will be provided to the FCC and may inform federal E-rate rules in the coming decade.

The report comes at a critical time since key provisions of the 2014 E-rate order, which expanded federal support for school broadband, expire in 2020 and are now up for consideration.

“Applicants agree that this is a really important program—that it’s vital and fulfilling its mission,” says John Harrington, CEO of FFL. “It’s not perfect, but we’re seeing a lot of improvement in the administration of the program, and the institutional structural changes that have occurred under new leadership have done a lot to prop up the program and get it on a stronger footing and to improve the experience for the applicants.”

Findings from the survey include:

– 88% of applicants expect bandwidth needs of schools and libraries to increase in the next three years.

– 81% of applicants are satisfied with E-rate’s management under Radha Sekar, CEO of the Universal Service Administrative Company, which oversees and administers the E-rate program for the FCC.

– 82% of applicants agree that insufficient internet access at students’ homes or in libraries is a significant issue in their community.

– 70% of applicants agree that E-rate competitive bidding rules are lowering prices for their internet access services.

– 88% believe Wi-Fi is “extremely important” in fulfilling the needs of schools and libraries, compared to 79% in fiscal year 2018.


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