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How AI can help school districts stay competitive

IT leaders today are faced with many priorities — including cybersecurity, student data privacy, and digital equity — and they must meet these challenges with the right tools and strategies to ensure their district operates effectively

In its recent user-based annual survey, “The State of IT Leadership,” the Consortium for School Network (CoSN) found school IT leaders top concern is cybersecurity. 

“Education technology is no longer separated from the rest of the education ecosystem,” said Kathy Hurley, past CoSN board member and former Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for the Pearson Foundation. “The new ecosystem is composed of students, teachers, administrators, software professionals, and more. To be successful, the system needs to work together as a whole and technology comes into play at every level.” 

Last year, ransomware attacks rose by over 90% and schools inadvertently leaked nearly 30 million records in data breaches. 

One of the most targeted areas by hackers is email, and district websites with publicly listed email accounts open the door to a costly cyber breach or phishing attack. 

Let’s Talk improves districtwide cybersecurity by serving as the main point of contact so districts can take emails off their websites and protect important data. 

Today’s technology tools are transforming the way districts operate and relieving IT leaders of some of the top concerns, including cybersecurity, and providing new ways of meeting the needs of stakeholders using artificial intelligence and other tools.

Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN, says artificial intelligence is increasingly one of the tools that will change the game for school district success in the coming years. 

“Integrating artificial intelligence in a thoughtful way into the way schools operate will be a priority for all school IT leaders going forward,” Krueger said. “AI capabilities will likely play a significant role in the level of customer service districts provide by creating internal efficiencies for the district staff.”

Because the K-12 marketplace is constantly developing new tools, it’s important school districts continuously audit their existing technology to find opportunities to improve and better serve their community.

“School IT leaders must consider how they can best support their teachers and students, and that likely means it may not be what they’ve always done,” Krueger said. “Districts must look at whether or not they’re meeting their stakeholders’ needs.”

One of the best ways districts can learn about new products and services is connecting with professionals in the industry or networking with other tech-savvy school districts — whether it be traveling to a CoSN’s annual conference to hear industry leaders speak or attending a webinar from home. Last spring, K12 Insight hosted a luncheon for CoSN and school district leaders at CEO Suhail Farooqui’s home — giving these leaders the opportunity to connect and learn from each other. 

“Many times school districts think they can do things on their own and don’t realize what outside companies can do for them,” Hurley said. “Edtech organizations like CoSN and companies like K12 Insight are powerful entities that can help districts stay competitive with other K-12 public schools.”

Ready to dive into your district’s technology? Start with our free guide, “15 Questions To Ask When You’re Auditing Your School District’s Edtech.” 

 

About the Author

Dan Wittich
Dan Wittich is the Head of District Partnerships for K12 Insight. Most of his career has been spent in education technology, with experience in faculty development, learning science, strategy, and partnerships. He is passionate about improving access to quality education experiences to all learners — regardless of age, race, orientation, or background.

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