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Empowering EdTech Leaders to Address Their Key Challenges

CoSN recently released its 2024 State of EdTech Leadership Report, highlighting current challenges and priorities for K-12 IT leaders. This survey, now in its 11th year, gives district leaders the opportunity to see how others are implementing technology strategies, compare their own efforts to nationwide best practices, and determine future priorities and budgets.

Cybersecurity and data privacy and security remain top priorities for edtech leaders, as budget constraints and lack of resources continue to hinder IT efforts. However, some new trends and challenges did emerge from the findings.

Key Trends and Challenges for EdTech Leaders

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI): An overwhelming majority of edtech leaders (97%) recognize the benefits that generative AI can have on education. However, new forms of AI-enabled cyberattacks and cyberbullying are seen as top risks, as well as threats to student data privacy.
  2. Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity remains a top concern for edtech leaders with 99% of districts taking measures to improve protections. While the implementation of best practices has been increasing over the past three years, all districts need to implement more staff and student training to keep systems secure.
  3. Student Well-Being: 93% of districts are using technology solutions designed to address or improve student well-being. Best practices include adopting tools for monitoring and reporting bullying and self-harm, as well as for reporting anonymous concerns.
  4. Digital Equity: While 75% of districts report having students without home broadband access, a growing number of districts are no longer providing services to address student access to home broadband. This reduced support is concerning as the lack of home connectivity disproportionally impacts learners in low-oncome families.
  5. Parental Engagement: Parental engagement is recognized as an important factor for student achievement. Over the past two years, 73% of districts made changes to their parental engagement practices, including increasing the frequency of communications, expanding communication channels, and enhancing their parent portals.
  6. Procurement and Contract Management: Districts are making steady progress towards better governance of the use of free tools. The best practice with the biggest gain is adoption of an “approved apps” list. In addition, more districts have developed processes for requesting and reviewing new apps. However, districts remain behind the curve in leveraging technology to help manage their technology contracts.
  7. Staffing: IT leaders cite the inability to hire skilled staff as a top challenge, ranked second behind budget constraints. Many districts are outsourcing cybersecurity monitoring, suggesting the importance of expertise and up-to-date technology in this area.
graphic of tools meant for student learning

How Lightspeed Can Help

Districts aren’t the only ones who use the information in this annual survey to drive decision making. We at Lightspeed Systems value these findings as they help us better understand our clients’ evolving edtech needs and drive product development.

Our current product suite enables district edtech leaders to address many of the key challenges they are facing today.

Stay Ahead of Potentially Disruptive AI Tools

At Lightspeed Systems, we are providing features across the portfolio that support AI detection, management, and insights. Lightspeed Filter allows districts to easily manage access to AI sites with AI-related filtering categories that provide flexibility and control to comply with school policies. New reporting functionality enables districts to easily identify both allowed and blocked AI-related search queries and quickly review AI activity by district, group, and user level. Additionally, Lightspeed Digital Insight provides districts with visibility into AI app usage, including who is using them, when, and for how long, and streamlines AI app privacy monitoring and vetting.

Enhance School Security, Compliance, and Data Privacy Strategies

With Lightspeed Filter, districts can create a secure learning environment with the most effective, multilayered content filter for K-12. Lightspeed Digital Insight streamlines edtech data privacy management, allowing districts to easily manage public facing approved apps lists, see all applications in use on district networks and identify rouge applications that need to be reviewed. With a comprehensive view of app use, district IT leaders can easily analyze compliance with district approval processes and proactively track privacy policy changes. Additionally, Lightspeed Mobile Device Management ensures districts can safely and securely manage student devices.

Improve Student Well-Being by Proactively Identify Those in Need

Our online student safety solutions enable schools to reach struggling students earlier and take life-changing steps to protect their community. Lightspeed Alert, our at-risk student identification solution, monitors and analyzes online activity for signs of self-harm, violence, and bullying, providing visibility into early warning signs districts wouldn’t normally see. With Lightspeed Classroom Management, teachers can monitor student screens for incidents of cyberbullying, harassment, and other harmful behavior. Additionally, our new Lightspeed Tip Line enables districts to improve safety and student support through an anonymous channel for students, teachers, staff, and parents to report concerns or threats to safety and well-being.

Get a Clearer Picture of Digital Equity Across the District

As part of Lightspeed Digital Insight, the Lightspeed Digital Equity Module unlocks visibility into students’ internet access and device health outside of school with real-time data that districts cannot find anywhere else. The Digital Equity Module allows districts to proactively identify students with poor or no internet access at scale to save time troubleshooting, maximize the impact of digital learning, and empower all students to succeed. This tool can is also leveraged to improve planning and inform large-scale investment needs such as district WIFI upgrades and community planning.

Increase Parental Engagement with Visibility into Student Online Behavior

With Lightspeed Filter’s Parent Portal, districts can empower parents with visibility and control over their child’s internet usage on school-issues devices, at home and after-school hours. Parents can get access to real-time web activity, as well as a weekly online activity summary report, providing parents with actionable insights.

Make Informed EdTech Investments and Streamline Contract Management

Lightspeed Digital Insights enables districts to accelerate edtech evaluation and contract management. Districts can leverage app usage analytics to evaluate return on investment and drive purchasing decisions.

Optimize Existing Resources and Augment District Resources

All of Lightspeed Systems’ solutions are designed to make processes more efficient and effective for IT teams, saving time and valuable resources. And, in the case of Lightspeed Alert, we augment staff resources with our Lightspeed Safety Specialists, extending the bandwidth of often understaffed district teams.

students holding hands on the stairs up to graduation

Continued Innovation to Meet EdTech Needs

The role of edtech leaders continues to expand, and as this latest survey underscores, so do challenges and pressures they face.

“The role of edtech leaders is rapidly expanding as technology is permeating every aspect of our education system, necessitating their proactive involvement.” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN.

However, as the edtech landscape continues to evolve, Lightspeed Systems is dedicated to delivering state-of-the-art edtech products that will enable edtech leaders to provide their districts with safe, secure, and equitable learning environments.