High Tech Trends

The 15 Key Technology Hurdles, Trends and Enablers for 2020

An organization of school technology leaders has given a peek at the “hurdles, accelerators and tech enablers” that innovation efforts in K-12 will face in the coming year. The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) developed the list based on an annual innovation survey among its members and discussion among an advisory board that includes nearly 100 education leaders and practitioners. Full coverage of the topics will be published later in 2020.

CoSN (cosn.org) was formed in 1992 as part of a coalition which advocated for the 1997 enactment of E-Rate. Today the organization is the premier professional association for school technology leaders, with a stated mission of providing current and aspiring education technology leaders for PreK–12 with the community, knowledge and professional development they need in order to create and grow engaging learning environments for students.

Accelerators, CoSN explained, are the “megatrends” that help promote teaching and learning innovation in schools. The top five accelerators for 2020 follow this order:

  1. Learners as creators, giving students real-world learning experiences;
  2. Data-driven practices, the use of data to help make decisions in all aspects of school operation;
  3. Personalization, to provide individualized learning paths and promote student voice and choice;
  4. Social and emotional learning; and
  5. Building the human capacity of leaders, giving and taking opportunities for people to learn new skills.

Four of those appeared as the top accelerators in 2019 too, and in the same order. Only social and emotional learning is new to the list.

Hurdles pose major obstacles to innovation in education. This year’s list encompasses:

  1. Scaling and sustaining innovation, growing new practices from a few classrooms to the entire school or district;
  2. Data privacy and ownership;
  3. Evolution of teaching and learning;
  4. Pedagogy versus the technology gap, helping teachers understand the research behind new technology usage and helping them develop their skills; and Digital equity, making sure every student has access to broadband and digital tools as they need them.

Three of those hurdles — scaling and sustaining innovation, the link between pedagogy and technology, and digital equity — appeared in 2019’s list too.

“Tech enablers” are the tools that school and districts can use to overcome the hurdles and tap into the accelerators. In 2020 the top five tech enablers, ranked in order of importance, are:

  1. Digital collaboration platforms;
  2. Tools for privacy and safety online;
  3. Analytics and adaptive technologies in learning, which can help customize learning experiences, build on areas of student strength and target support.
  4. Cloud infrastructure, which allows school systems to move their hardware and software away from physical locations and make them available anywhere; and
  5. Mobile devices, which can enable access to content and activities anytime, anywhere.

The first two enablers are new to the list, while the remaining three appeared in 2019.

The organization said that its “Hurdles + Accelerators” report will be published this spring; “Tech Enablers” will appear in the summer.

The organization has invited its members to provide their enabler examples, projects and resources, especially those related to digital collaboration platforms and tools for privacy and safety online, for possible inclusion in future publications.

“The ‘Driving K-12 Innovation’ initiative reaffirms CoSN’s commitment to providing up-to-date information on how new technologies impact various education stakeholders,” CoSN CEO, Keith Krueger, said in a statement. “We hope this year’s findings lead to new dialogs about how to transform learning and improve student outcomes as we look to the future.”

The 2020 survey results and the innovation project are on the CoSN website.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of Spaces4Learning.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.