Planning for the Future, Hoping for the Best
Late March feels like a lifetime ago.
Everyone at Education Week was working remotely by then, schools were scrambling to make the shift to online teaching and learning, the coronavirus was taking the lives of thousands of people—including educators—and the economy was in the beginning of its downward spiral.
The educational technology landscape was shifting more rapidly than we had ever seen before. Many school districts were making last-minute purchases of Chromebooks, iPads, or other digital devices to put in the hands of students, with the goal of giving everyone an opportunity to engage in remote learning.
In the rush to throw together online learning programs, confusion reigned, especially around equity issues. Officials in some districts, such as Philadelphia, initially said they would not continue instruction while school buildings were closed, because some students would not have access to WiFi or computing devices. But then those districts reversed course and put virtual or remote learning programs in place.
It was during that confusion that Education Week decided to reschedule its annual Technology Counts report—which every year takes a look at the state of educational technology in K-12 schools—from mid-April to early June. We wanted to let the dust settle a bit on the remote learning scramble, giving us some time to see how things evolved and what those changes are likely to mean for the 2020-21 academic year and beyond.
Clearly, tech-driven remote learning created huge frustrations for educators. We saw that in the results from surveys conducted by the EdWeek Research Center—and in our reporting. But we also noticed that, by necessity, K-12 educators across the country had upgraded their tech skills faster than ever before.
What impact will those newfound technology and virtual teaching skills have on K-12 education when school buildings reopen? How will schools use all the new digital devices they purchased this spring? And could the increased use of technology heighten already big concerns about data privacy and students spending too much time in front of screens?
This issue of Technology Counts tackles those questions, because we are all now looking ahead, planning for the future, and hoping for the best.
Vol. 39, Issue 34, Page 2