Apr 06 2022

Experts Share the Barriers, Accelerators and Enablers Facing Education Innovation

Digital collaboration, a teacher exodus and digital equity are some of the trends impacting innovation for K–12 learners in 2022, according to a new report.

To help educators consider the future of K–12 learning and the emerging technologies sure to impact students, the Consortium for School Networking undertakes an annual global research project called Driving K–12 Innovation.

Our annual research asks more than 100 global education and technology experts for feedback on the most important topics affecting teaching, learning and education innovation.

Without a doubt, this year’s results are shaped by the experiences of the past two years, as we faced unprecedented challenges in delivering education while also embracing the opportunity to accelerate change. This moment was unlike any other, and we had to meet it and reexamine the very idea of innovation in education.

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In a report on the project, experts identified three trends facing education this year in the following categories: hurdles (barriers), accelerators (trends) and tech enablers (tools).

What Are the Hurdles, Accelerators and Tech in K–12 Education?

Our experts believe the top three barriers to innovation in education this year are scaling innovation and inertia of education systems, attracting and retaining educators and IT professionals, and digital equity.

The biggest accelerators or trends in education this year are personalization, building the human capacity of leaders, and social-emotional learning.

And finally, our advisers identified digital collaboration environments, untethered broadband connectivity, and analytics and adaptive technologies as the top three ed tech enablers this year.

What Is the Meaning Behind These 2022 Education Trends?

What’s different about this year’s report versus the previous ones? A few key observations come to my mind.

First, scaling innovation has been on the list of hurdles for a number of years, but this year our experts added “inertia of education systems.” While we saw dramatic change nearly overnight starting in March of 2020, our education systems are largely not designed for quick change. Today, we are seeing a form of inertia in education that resists change and discourages innovation.

Second, the mass exodus of educators and IT professionals from K–12 is creating a crisis for our education system and our K–12 learners. Winston Churchill famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Both educators and IT staff are leaving the education sector for a variety of reasons, including the absence of serious professional development opportunities, limited growth paths and low salaries.

KEEP READING: Outdated technology contributes to teacher resignations in K–12 districts.

One respondent to our survey, David Deeds with the American International School of Egypt in Giza, shared this: “An IT admin tends to wind up with more than just one job … sometimes two or three … but the paycheck remains the same.”

We can gain from this crisis, but only if we seize the moment and address the concerns that are driving away some of our best and brightest.

Third, some of the hurdles and accelerators, such as digital equity and social-emotional learning, have always been on our radar, but the pandemic brought them to the top of the list. Likewise, 2022’s tech enablers answer those pandemic concerns of equity, such as digital collaboration environments, untethered broadband connectivity, and the growing ability to use artificial intelligence for analytics and adaptive applications.

Keith Krueger
Today, we are now seeing a form of inertia in education that resists change and discourages innovation.”

Keith Krueger CEO, The Consortium for School Networking

In this year’s report, Karen Swift at James Nash State High School in Queensland, Australia, makes her mission as a teacher clear: “As educators, we need to transfer all the good we know about when and how and why students learn, then integrate this educative capability within the connective capability of the technology tools.”

What Are the Next Steps for K–12 District Leaders?

The purpose of the report is not to offer specific answers but rather to spark conversation. Everyone involved in public education needs the space and tools to think about how do this — and this report can help you start the conversation.

While educators are struggling with how to keep the wheels on the bus, returning to “normal” doesn’t make sense when what we’ve done in the past didn’t work for so many K–12 learners.

Let’s make sure the window on innovation doesn’t close as the pandemic fades. Visit cosn.org to download the full report, which has more information on these trends as well as recommendations on how the education community can strategically move forward.

UP NEXT: Excitement builds for the CoSN22 conference in Nashville, Tenn.

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