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How emerging technology is changing K-12 classrooms

Kacy Zurkus | Aug. 28, 2015
While students in K-12 classrooms are building robots in their makerspaces, IT professionals are building the infrastructure needed to keep up with the latest technologies in the 21st century classroom.

The role of the IT professionals has become even more demanding because, “There needs to be innovations on the backend from servers to storage. All of the edge devices on the front-end need to exist within a secured fabric,” says Lento.

The role of the IT professional has also grown to include mediator, and even educator. Procuring the funds to build the infrastructure, especially in public schools, can be a formidable obstacle, and Valade recommends a multi-tiered approach. It’s important to consider where the desire for technology and devices falls in line with the greater priorities of a school’s mission.

Moving too fast might slow things down

Knowing how to effectively communicate the value of investing in technology will help a school system develop a comprehensive plan for continued success. Schools need to think about if they want to delay tech improvements for a year or two, or, as Valade cautions, “get devices in hands now but end up with a poor experience.”

Even if finding funding for technology isn’t an issue, the physical structure of the school can create complications. Many schools were built in the 1940s–1970s, and they were not designed to run new Cat 5 cables.

From the students to parents, school boards, teachers, administrations and IT professionals, there are a lot of players to consider, and a lot of stakeholders who want to see the success that educational technologies are promising.

It’s important not to be driven by ego in the race to bring more technology into the classroom. While all of these tools and gadgets are intended to meet today’s students where they are and prepare them for the work force, rushing in too quickly can backfire.

 “Technology is leaping and bounding itself so fast. How do you keep up? How do you plan for replacement costs?,” Cazes says,  It’s the nature of the beast to get excited, so it’s easy to raise more for the initial investment, but how do you get support for strategically sustaining and replacing the technology?”

Investing in technology is not a single line item in a budget. IT professionals need to communicate with school boards and the community to change the mindsets of people who remember the classroom as one thing and are challenged by conceiving the ways in which technology is reshaping schools.

Lento agrees that schools need to “start at a focus of improved student outcomes. What does student success look like?  Most parents are still in the space of, ‘I went to K-12 and this is what it looked like, and it worked.’”

Consider the integration of technology not as a race but a journey. “Through the journey, the leadership team needs to evaluate what they said student success will look like, how they said they would measure it, and then look at the data they are using to measure it,” Lento says.


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