Hi, Brian Cohen here, Vice President for the Center for Digital Education. You know you live in New York when it’s 22 degrees on Monday and 60 degrees on Wednesday. This probably means we will have 25 inches of snow next week…❄️

Enough about the weather, I am here to give an ed tech update, arguably my favorite topic.

Do you want more ed tech insights? Answer yes or no – maybe we can make this a thing.

I am seeing three major themes in the ed tech landscape that will follow us into 2023. Here’s a breakdown:

1. Everyone is Re-thinking the Classroom

The MOC (massive online course) was not the classroom disrupter that some thought it was going to be. Higher education leaders, in their quest to meet the needs of the students, are now working to find the right balance for online learning and to ensure all students (in-person and online) leave with the best education and skills.

The biggest challenge: Technology has not caught up with the limitations of the brain.

  • What do I mean by that? For those of you who drive cars, try to look out all the car windows and all the mirrors at the same time. It’s impossible. There lies the challenge of online classes.
  • In online and hyflex classes, faculty must find the right balance to focus on the students in front of them, as well as the students who are virtually attending. The same is true for the students. They need to engage with their fellow students in the classroom – in both a real-time and virtual way.
  • Technology can’t completely compensate for the limitations of our own mindset, but it will get there over time.

The big picture: Technology in the classroom needs to be leveraged so that the students learning online and, in the classroom, can benefit.

My thought bubble: Augmented reality will become a big player in this. Stay tuned, the classroom will catch up to Star Trek in the not-so-distant future.

What about K-12? Well, the shift back to in-person learning after online learning from the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely changed the ways that teachers and students access learning materials.

  • Now, K-12 classrooms provide an opportunity for students to access learning materials anywhere, anytime, in addition to what they’re learning in class (but not necessarily as a substitution for in-person learning like we see often in higher education). The ability to access these materials anywhere and anytime will enhance the learning experience and impact learning metrics.

2. The Ongoing Cyber Challenge

Education establishments continue to be a target for cybersecurity attacks because of the large amounts of data they hold.

  • Cybersecurity is extremely important because of the targeted data that schools have (name, birth dates, SSN, etc.).
  • Unfortunately, it’s highly likely that the stolen identity of a 5-year-old would not be noticed until the damage has already been done and the student is now in their 30s and dealing with the impact of having unknown debts, or even worse.

K-12 Challenge: In most school districts across the country, the cyber skillset and knowledge needed is not at the level desired and recruiting those skills is difficult.

Higher Ed Challenge: There is a need to balance protecting IT assets while maintaining an open access policy to tech for education purposes. Not to mention that every student who walks onto campus with five devices makes the university more vulnerable from a cyber perspective.

Privacy Challenge: The more data we collect, the more important it is to focus on privacy concerns. Many waking moments are spent on how to you protect the privacy of students, faculty and staff for both K-12 and higher ed.

  • There’s a big push to think about the need for and role of privacy officers and data officers. Specifically, questions on who has access to the data, who should have access to data, and how to maintain, support, use and protect data in the most efficient and strategic ways.
  • As we move to the cloud and data resides in different places, applications or systems, we struggle with keeping data safe and secure. We also must make sure that only those who need access have access.

3. Everyone Loves Data

This seems like a good time to dig into the data (literally).

Data is probably the most important asset that any organization can have, whether it’s K-12 or higher ed, and for many different reasons.

Let’s talk K-12: Faculty are constantly using technology to learn more about students engaging with the learning materials and devices that they’re using.

  • For example, data on how much time a student spends on an online assignment goes into a repository. This data serves as an invaluable tool to superintendents, principals, chief academic officers and even faculty who are interested in leveraging that data to better understand their students, what works, what’s not working, who needs more help and why.
  • The more we can do with data to ensure student success, the better. That’s why it has become the most important asset in K-12, as they learn how to use, collect, mine and analyze information.

Let’s talk Higher Ed: Data helps faculty understand their own effectiveness in classrooms. It not only helps to inform the creation of new programs and strategies, but it can also help improve the delivery of services.

  • Think about a student swiping their card to get into the library, how long were they there? Five minutes or Five hours? What hours of the day are students entering the cafeteria? Student behavior can provide enormous insight into learning outcomes and where additional services or support could be useful.
  • Data can help us tell academic stories. Schools are focusing on data literacy to teach people how to leverage, collect, report and analyze data.

Where You Come In:

I think the door is wide open for innovative tech companies to go into the education market and make recommendations. You don’t have to be a tech company that sells virtual blackboards or cameras, the opportunity is also there for cloud, data, workforce systems and much, much more.

Share your ideas and help education institutions realize that they don’t have to change everything at once – we just need to begin to move the needle to see a cultural change in the way education is delivered.

At the Center for Digital Education, we are passionate about responding to education’s priorities through our programs. If you are interested in partnering with us to share your education solutions, we are looking for industry partners who are equally as excited about the future of ed tech. Let me know if you would like to learn more about aligning your products and services with our ed tech initiatives.

Have a great holiday season and I look forward to connecting in 2023!

Brian Cohen, Vice President, Center for Digital Education & Center for Digital Government