Jan 21 2021

Remote Learning Surface Old Challenges Under New Context

After navigating monumental disruptions, schools find themselves challenged like never before. But the way forward is full of potential and opportunity, with help from IT.

The global pandemic changed everything. And yet, in many ways, it did not. CoSN’s 2020 Leadership Survey highlighted that the top three challenges school leaders face when it comes to technology were: budget, professional development and department silos. Those challenges have remained the top three for the last four years and were unchanged in 2020 despite nationwide disruptions and closures for schools across the country.

IT Support Reimagined Under New Guidelines

But what has changed are the ramifications of those challenges, which were cast in stark relief as school districts scrambled to secure, distribute and support technology to faculty and students with limited resources, time or notice. The good news is many IT leaders and teams met the moment and pushed through to do their best to meet the needs of their community. But one thing IT leaders, such as Adam Phyall, director of technology and media services at Newton County School System in Georgia, are encouraging everyone to focus on is the future and the opportunities with technology, not on recreating what school was like pre-pandemic.

“Everybody just really has to try not to make things like they were,” says Phyall in our roundtable on remote learning, “Helping Hands” on Page 26. “When collaborating, that hinders some of our decision management. We’ll miss great opportunities to really make changes and reach all students if we’re trying to put it back in the box of how things used to be.”

DISCOVER: The evolving role of IT in remote education.

While access and connectivity are the name of the game when it comes to remote learning, keeping up with security is equally important. Eastern Carver County Schools in Minnesota bolstered its remote learners and workers by implementing security management software to ensure all of its devices were up to date with regard to software patches and security fixes.

“Schools are extremely soft targets with many avenues of attack,” says ECCC Information Systems Administrator Craig Larsen in our story, “Shields Up” on Page 18. “You have to take these kinds of measures and have the right tools in place to stay on top of security.”

As school districts across the country continue to navigate the challenges in the months ahead, students, teachers, parents and administrators know now more than ever, that when it comes to enabling the education of the next generation, anything is possible with help from IT.

MORE ON EDTECH: Schools strengthen defenses amid increases in cyberattacks.

Illustrations by Taller Callery

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