What keeps edtech leaders up at night? The answer is unanimous

Ninety-nine percent of districts are currently taking steps to bolster their cybersecurity and they worry that AI will bring forth new types of cyberattacks.

It’s been an exciting couple of years for the edtech sector. Since the pandemic, we’ve witnessed incredible innovations that enhance students’ learning and streamline teachers’ tasks—generative AI, for instance. It has also opened the doors to cyber criminals who are taking advantage of districts’ vulnerabilities as they experiment with new technologies.

That’s why cybersecurity ranks first on edtech leaders’ list of concerns, according to the Consortium for School Networking’s annual State of EdTech Leadership report. Cybersecurity has remained the number one priority since 2022.

“Our latest survey underscores the growing complexity of their challenges, from developing generative AI best practices and cybersecurity measures to addressing the digital equity divide,” CoSN CEO Keith Kreuger said in a statement.

Following cybersecurity, their top-of-mind issues include:

Priorities 2024 Rank 2023 Rank 2022 Rank
Data privacy and security #2 #3 #5
Networking infrastructure #3 #2 #2
Determining AI strategy #4
IT crisis preparedness #5 #4 #6
Cost-effective/smart budgeting #6 #6-tie #4
Parent school communications #7 #5 #10
Broadband and network capacity #8 #6-tie #3

Challenges surrounding tech implementation

Similar to the previous rankings, leaders’ top challenge to technology implementation has been consistent over the past three years: budget constraints and a lack of resources.

Challenges to implementation 2024 Rank 2023 Rank 2022 Rank
Budget constraints and lack of resources #1 #1 #1
Inability to hire skilled staff #2-tied #2 #2-tied
Existence of silos in the district that make it difficult to work together on technology planning #2-tied #4 #4
Relevant training and PD unavailable #4 #3 #2-tied

Excitement—and confusion—surrounding AI

New to this year’s survey were questions addressing leaders’ thoughts about AI. While the technology has significant potential for teachers and students alike, it also comes with its risks, which is why many schools have yet to adopt it.

According to the data, 40% of districts don’t have a defined approach for generative AI. Thirty-one percent of districts define their approach “depending on the use case.” Just 22% of districts embrace it and only 3% have banned it.

Moreover, more than half of districts (54%) don’t have an existing AI use policy. A mere 9% reported having one in place while 31% lack policy but instead fit AI into their current policies.

Their biggest concern with AI? To no surprise, it’s the cybersecurity aspect. Sixty-three percent of leaders are either “extremely concerned” or “very concerned” that AI will bring about new types of cyberattacks.

Now more than ever, leaders are beefing up security networks through various methods of cybersecurity. Given the severity of this issue, here are the top five practices to improve your district’s cybersecurity (according to this year’s survey):

  1. IT staff training
  2. End-user training
  3. Requiring two-factor authentication for district accounts
  4. Backing up all information and storing it off-site in case of an attack
  5. Encouraging staff to upgrade passwords
Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttps://districtadministration.com
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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