Leadership Teams + Technology Are Making Education Equitable
Today’s Education: New Opportunities, New Challenges
Challenge: Accessibility and Equity
Wealth and racial composition of schools matter. They matter A LOT. Approximately 80% of students attending low-income schools are Black or Hispanic. Unfortunately, the amount of money a school has, and its racial composition, are significant factors in whether a student will receive a quality education.
Today’s emerging technologies, especially virtual reality, artificial intelligence–powered individualised learning, and data-driven analytics are all radically transforming education. Students’ needs are being identified and met through these technologies, and many educators believe that as technology applications in education continue to advance, the educational playing field will grow more equitable.
Top 4 Challenges Education Faces Today
1. Tech Fatigue
Technology’s transformation of the educational realm is not going to be quick and easy. There are obstacles that must be overcome, or at least significantly reduced, in order for equitable learning to be achieved. One of these is tech burn-out. Urban policy expert Dana Bryson asserts that “Kids are increasingly addicted to technology but they feel burnt out at the same time.” She goes on to say that kids would benefit from 7-10 minutes of “microlearning” in which they would be exposed to mini learning segments such as short videos, which she believes would help kids engage with learning material without boring them.
2. Lack of Tech Diversity
While technology is now a given in the classroom, it is still proving to be a challenge. Swapping out existing resources with updated edtech resources is costly and time-consuming and, even more concerning, as with all educational tools, there is no technology that is diverse enough to meet the needs of every student. For example, the wildly popular and highly touted Time4Learning programme falls short of meeting students’ educational needs. While it is spot-on for some subjects, it falls short in others, resulting in students using it for only one or two subjects.
3. Educator Shortages
Another challenge is employment shortages. Finding qualified teachers and staff has been an ongoing struggle for districts and schools nationwide. Even well-paying roles in key leadership positions are becoming nearly impossible to fill.
4. School cybersecurity threats
Vulnerable targets for cyberattacks, schools must be vigilant, especially against ransomware attacks in which their data is breached, then encrypted and locked by a hacker. Ransomware attacks are becoming more prevalent due to the sheer amount of personal data schools have and because they have a lack of funding for cybersecurity.
Getting it right: Teaming Educators with IT Leaders for Change
Educators and staff are re-examining their educational methods, practises, and beliefs in order to adjust, and even embrace, emerging technologies. Students now have more agency and choice in what and how they learn – so much so that teachers are now primarily guides rather than instructors.
All of this tech-driven change is good news for marginalised students. Schools are becoming more egalitarian, collaborative, and personalised thanks to the expanded curriculum and engaging activities that tech provides.
However, this “bustin’ out” of the old educational model into a refreshing new one cannot flourish unless schools are able to adapt to these changes. Enter Instructional Leadership Teams (ILTs).
Education & Data: Why They Go Hand-in-Hand
ILTs are vital to achieving equity and improving learning within schools. Using data protocols in order to pinpoint and reduce bias and to explore trends that both positively and adversely impact groups of students, ILTs commit to making necessary changes that foster equitable educational opportunities.
More specifically, a quality ILT team improves instructional practises, providing opportunities for students to demonstrate their growth and for teachers to provide their students with higher quality feedback on specific learning targets.
Though there is great potential for schools to provide equitable education for all of their K–12 students by incorporating cutting-edge educational technology into the classroom, many districts have limited capacity to do so. This situation can be changed by keeping focused on the goal of achieving educational equitability through technology in the classroom and by utilising the wealth of accessible data in an ongoing, systematic way. As educator and author Peter Drucker sagely comments, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”