District IT leaders are prioritizing BYOD, assessment readiness, and broadband access for their schools, despite that 80 percent predict flat or declining IT budgets for the upcoming year, according to the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) first-of-its-kind National IT Leadership Survey.
The survey, released in March, was distributed to district IT leaders nationwide and includes data from 250 of these leaders. It provides insight as to how education leaders are leveraging technology to engage students and prepare for the Common Core State Standards. Sponsored by Education Networks of America and done in partnership with MCH Strategic Data, the survey will be conducted annually.
IT leaders’ biggest challenges are budget restraints and lack of resources, cited by over 75 percent of respondents. Other common challenges include changing the educational culture to a student-focused, BYOD environment and breaking down silos in the district.
“A number of years ago, the IT leader was just someone who fixed computers,” says Denise Atkinson-Shorey, a senior consultant at CoSN. “Over the years, there’s really been growth, and understanding that it’s much more effective to have that voice and expertise to properly implement new technology. Especially in schools, we don’t have the extra money not to do things the right way.”
While superintendents spend an average of 3.6 years in one district, over 60 percent of chief technology officers spend six-plus years, the survey found. This stability is important and cost-effective for creating long-term technology plans and following them through, Atkinson-Shorey says.
And the two leaders often work closely together: 58 percent of district IT leaders report directly to the superintendent, which CoSN identifies as a best practice. “The K12 community is one of very few where technology is not only part of the business of doing business, but is also something that is used in the classroom, and taught in the classroom,” Atkinson-Shorey says. “Because technology touches all parts of the district, having that voice to understand the impacts and changes is important for administrators.”
To read the report, visit www.cosn.org.