Research Question 4: Significant Challenges

What do you see as the significant challenges that will impede technology integration in U.S. schools over the next five years that high-performance Internet can help address?

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

NOTE: The Significant Challenges are sorted into three difficulty related categories based on their appearance in previous Horizon Report editions -- solvable challenges are those that we both understand and know how to solve, but seemingly lack the will; difficult challenges are ones that are more or less well-understood but for which solutions remain elusive; wicked challenges, the most difficult, are complex to even define, and thus require additional data and insights before solutions will even be possible. In your responses to the trends below, feel free to explore why or why not the challenge should be in its specific category.

As you review what others have written, please add your thoughts and comments as well.

Please "sign" each of your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Sam Sam Apr 1, 2015


Compose your entries like this:

Challenge Name
Add your ideas here, with few complete sentences of description including full URLs for references (e.g. http://horizon.nmc.org). And do not forget to sign your contribution with 4 ~ (tilde) characters!


Balancing our Connected and Unconnected Lives
With the abundance of content, technologies, and overall participatory options, learning institutions need to lead the way to facilitating finding a balance between connected and unconnected life. With technology now at the center of many daily activities, it is important that learners understand how to balance their connected life with other developmental needs. Educational institutions should lead the way to ensure learners do not get lost and absorbed by the abundance of information and technology, and encourage mindful use of technology so that students stay aware of their digital footprint. As education aligns closer with technological trends, teachers will have to promote this balance, encouraging students to feel, digest, reflect, touch, and pursue sensorial experiences that are crucial to developing character and integrity. Finding a balance and guiding learners to personal success should be society's compromise with new generations of students. This is one area where the adults would do well to observe and engage the students in a lively discussion re: the value and cultural criticality of technology in the student's life. There is a very fine line between being connected and unconnected as far as the Internet is concerned. The focus should be on working with young people to help them define the skills required to differentiate between conceptual digital environments and human reality. My generation had to go through a similar process with the television and in some cases the automobile. Attempting to demonize or otherwise devalue technology of any ilk in the post WWII world will merely result in a deeper dependency on the part of the user. The "unconnected life" is somewhat of a misnomer from a technology standpoint in that we speak against continuous connectivity, but then spend a great deal of time and resources to expand the reach of networked technology into every aspect of our lives. The most valuable skillset is being able to integrate technology into the teaching/learning process and the day to day process of establishing and growing human to human relationships. Perhaps the core goal should be teaching K-12 students who live in a hyper-connected world(technologically) to leverage connectivity to create and enhance their quality of life, and to support others in the same quest. The common thread is that the Internet of Things is not about technology, it is about what we DO with the technology. The smartphone of today is the fancy pair of basketball shoes of yesterday as far as our students are concerned.- mabbiatti mabbiatti May 21, 2015Mike Abbiatti I agree. We understand connected and unconnected lives. How will the children born today know unconnected life? - jmorrison jmorrison May 26, 2015

Breaking Out of the LMS
There’s a world of difference between online learning and networked learning. In higher ed, the LMS (learning management system) or CMS (course management system) have not changed in 15 years, while changes outside have pretty much blown the walls off our libraries and classrooms. Most of these systems do little to recognize the collaborative digital world outside the walled gardens. Faculty concerned with managing grades and dropboxes do not seem eager to explore platforms beyond that facilitate natural collaboration, communication and creativity–tools that offer learners the opportunity to customize and organize content and ideas in ways that help them make meaning and authentically participate. - joycevalenza joycevalenza Jun 21, 2015

Competing Models of Education
New models of education are bringing unprecedented competition to schools, especially for students whose needs are not being well served by the current system. Charter and online schools have particularly gained traction in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Scandinavia. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, there are more than 6,000 charter schools in the US alone with more than 1.9 million students enrolled, compared to over 98,000 public schools where 49.4 million students are enrolled. Most US states also offer and encourage enrollment in online courses, and some states are requiring students complete them in order to graduate. Adding to this challenge is the fact that many students do not formally attend either type of school; the National Center for Education Statistic reports that nearly 3% of the school-age population was home schooled during the 2010-11 school year. Ninety-one percent of the parents of these children cited concern over the environments of tradition and charter schools when asked about their choice. For school leaders and policy makers, the challenge is to meet such competition head on, offering high-quality alternatives to students who need them. As new platforms emerge, there is a growing need to frankly evaluate models and determine how to best support collaboration, interaction, deep learning experiences, and assessment at scale. Two challenges to note in moving forward with online and hybrid in K12: 1) laws and funding are tied to seat time, carnegie units. Until society, laws and the resultant funding change to permit/embrace what adaptive and online technologies can do, progress of any model changes will be hampered. Funding should be based on performance/achievement, not how long you were "present". 2) Schools are required/asked to not solely focus on academics. For example, public schools are also asked/required to address a variety of societal challenges; feeding (lunch and at times breakfast), services in psychological/behavioral, clothing and at times shoes, identification for child protection services, digital citizenship, equal sports opportunities, health care (on premise nurses to clinics), public library, childcare during parent/guardian work hours, and for many, provide students with their only high bandwidth connection to the Internet and hopefully, I2. As we contemplate different and competing models, perhaps solutions to address the non-academic societal challenges should also be part of our thinking. (- jbillings jbillings Jun 1, 2015)

Creating Authentic Learning Opportunities
Authentic learning, especially that which brings real life experiences into the classroom, is still all too uncommon in schools. Authentic learning is seen as an important pedagogical strategy, with great potential to increase the engagement of students who are seeking some connection between the world as they know it exists outside of school, and their experiences in school that are meant to prepare them for that world. Use of learning strategies that incorporate real life experiences, technology, and tools that are already familiar to students, and interactions from community members are examples of approaches that can bring authentic learning into the classroom. Practices such as these may help retain students in school and prepare them for further education, careers, and citizenship in a way that traditional practices are too often failing to do.

Expanding Access
The global drive to increase the number of students participating in undergraduate education is placing pressure across the system. The oft-cited relationship between earning potential and educational attainment plus the clear impact of an educated society on the growth of the middle class is pushing governments to encourage more and more students to enter universities and colleges. In many countries, however, the population of students prepared for undergraduate study is already enrolled — expanding access means extending it to students who may not have the academic background to be successful without additional support. Many in universities feel that these institutions do not have sufficient time and resources to help this set of students. Equity. Some students are engaged in schools where they are encouraged to use the tools of their time to learn and create with choice and without significant barriers. Some go to schools dominated by protective/restrictive rather than free-range authentic practices. Some students have libraries rich with curated learning resources, subscription databases, ebooks, audiobooks. Some have no access at all and no preparation at all should they decide to pursue higher ed. - joycevalenza joycevalenza Jun 21, 2015

Improving Digital Literacy
With the proliferation of the Internet, mobile devices, and other technologies that are now pervasive in education, the traditional view of literacy as the ability to read and write has expanded to encompass understanding digital tools and information. This new category of competence is affecting how education institutions address literacy issues in their curriculum objectives and teacher development programs. Lack of consensus on what comprises digital literacy is impeding many schools from formulating adequate policies and programs that address this challenge. Discussions among educators have included the idea of digital literacy as equating to competence with a wide range of digital tools for varied educational purposes, or as an indicator of having the ability to critically evaluate resources available on the web. However, both definitions are broad and ambiguous. Compounding this issue is the notion that digital literacy encompasses skills that differ for educators and learners, as teaching with technology is inherently different from learning with it. Supporting digital literacy will require policies that both address digital fluency training in pre- and in-service teachers, along with the students they teach.

Integrating Technology in Teacher Education
Teacher training still does not acknowledge the fact that digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession. Despite the widespread agreement on the importance of digital competence, training in the supporting skills and techniques is rare in teacher education and non-existent in the preparation of teachers. As teachers begin to realize that they are limiting their students by not helping them to develop and use digital competence skills across the curriculum, the lack of formal training is being offset through professional development or informal learning, but we are far from seeing digital media literacy as a norm. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking, and thus skills and standards based on tools and platforms have proven to be somewhat ephemeral. In my humble opinion, digital literacy is very similar to the old teacher ed course in Books and Libraries,affectionately known as " books and berries". For quite awhile, technology has been moving from the home to the school instead of from the school to the home. Our pre-service teachers are more savvy about technologies in their daily lives, but do require the basic understanding of how to use everyday social and productivity tools in the classroom( either online or face-to-face), and the freedom to do so. A major stumbling block is that, in a number of cases, the K-12 systems have more up-to-date technologies than do the higher ed Colleges of Education tasked with preparing new teachers. Yet another reason to have a well designed strategy to respond to the Internet of Things phenomenon in Education as something much broader,deeper ,and significant than a simple Computer Science initiative.- mabbiatti mabbiatti May 21, 2015Mike Abbiatti

Keeping Formal Education Relevant
As online learning and free educational content become more pervasive, stakeholders and administrators must seriously consider what schools can provide that cannot be replicated by other sources. It is no longer necessary for parents to send their children to school for them to become knowledgeable and gain skills that will lead them to gainful employment. There are, however, valuable skills and attitudes that can only be acquired in school settings. Soft skills, such as face-to-face communication and collaboration, for instance, are essential practices for solving problems in a world that is increasingly interconnected. Similarly, work ethic and the ability to persevere through even the toughest challenges, both social and academic, are reinforced in formal education environments. The idea is to rethink the value of education as a means of reinforcing attitudes and skills learners will need to seek credible information, work effectively in teams, and persist in achieving their goals. A recent survey by the Workforce Solutions Group found that more than 60% of employers say applicants lack “communication and interpersonal skills.” On the same note, the National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed more than 200 employers about their top ten priorities in new hires and found that hiring managers desire people who are team players, problem solvers and can plan, organize and prioritize their work while technical skills fell lower on the list. Generally speaking, trends in hiring make it clear that soft skills such as communication and work ethic are differentiating outstanding applicants from the pile. I agree with the above premise - soft skills are differentiating. I also see an additional challenge to this discussion. Specifically, the impact and rise of globalization. It is important for students to participate early and learn to collaborate with people from different cultures, languages, work ethics, problem-solving skills, from different geopolitical boundaries, countries. This is an area where MOOC's are uniquely qualified. While we are doing a decent job of using online education in the K12 space, we are not preparing students on how to participate with students/people from across the world in an online environment. Yet, this is likely how many of the current 10th graders will work at least in part during his/her life span. The span of I2 opens up this possibility in rich and authentic ways. (- jbillings jbillings Jun 1, 2015)- jmorrison jmorrison Jun 16, 2015

Managing Knowledge Obsolescence
Simply staying organized and current presents a challenge in a world where information, software tools, and devices proliferate at the rate they do today. New developments in technology are exciting and their potential for improving quality of life is enticing, but it can be overwhelming to attempt to keep up with even a few of the many new tools that are released. User-created content is exploding, giving rise to information, ideas, and opinions on all sorts of interesting topics, but following even some of the hundreds of available authorities means sifting through a mountain of information on a weekly or daily basis. There is a greater need than ever for effective tools and filters for finding, interpreting, organizing, and retrieving the data that is important to us. I feel this is an important challenge. We try to sum it up by how do we help students become better critical thinkers. Digital tools and filters are and will become better. But, for at least the next 5-10 years, and hopefully beyond, the individual's sum total of cognition, experiences, intuition, and emotions will yield better solutions to problems. (- jbillings jbillings Jun 1, 2015)

Personalizing Learning
Personalized learning includes a wide variety of approaches to support self-directed and group-based learning that can be designed around each learner’s goals. . Solving this challenge means incorporating into school activities concepts such as personalized learning environments and networks, adaptive learning tools, and more. Using a growing set of free and simple resources, such as a collection of apps on a tablet, it is already quite easy to support one’s on going social and professional learning and other activities with a collection of resources and tools that is always on hand. There are two paths of development for personalized learning: the first is organized by and for the learner, which includes apps, social media, and related software. School goals and interests are driving the other path, primarily in the form of adaptive learning. In this pathway, which envisions the development of tools and data streams that are still some time away from being seen in schools, adaptive learning is enabled by intervention-focused machine intelligence that interprets data about how a student is learning and responds by changing the learning environment based on their needs. While the concept of personalized learning is fairly fluid, it is becoming more and more clear that it is individualized by design, different from person to person, and built around a vision of life-long learning. Student-centered, technology-driven instruction remains elusive for most.
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/06/11/why-ed-tech-is-not-transforming-how.html "Student centered, hands on, personalized instruction envisioned by ed-tech proponents remains the exception to this rule. There is nothing transformative about every kid having an iPad unless you're able to teach higher-order teaching and learning. Teachers are using technology to enhance what they're doing, but they haven't really given students control over it....use technology to allow them to select and use the right technology, in the right way, with the right students, for the right purpose."- jmorrison jmorrison Jun 10, 2015
It's so easy to use the words and language of transformation to just keep doing the same old things. At CoSN we talk about the human infrastructure required for a culture shift that supports transformed teaching and learning, and a technological infrastructure that supports the new ways of doing things. Infographic on "Transformation as a Platform for Continual Evolution" here. Interesting article, "no Kid is Average" from Ed Week.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2015/06/nobody_is_average_every_student_deserves_personalized_learning.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS3- jmorrison jmorrison Jun 17, 2015 Personalized Learning. You have Flipped Classroom, which is part of blended learning, the real strategy. Combine that with the move toward competency-based learning (badging and adaptive software) and you get personalized learning. I think a lot of the things you have on your list are associated with moving toward more Personalized learning environments, but you don't specifically address it in your list. - apowell apowell Jun 8, 2015 Agree! And also see personalized learning (doing curriculum at your own pace, until mastered, with rich data and feedback) as essentially making independent, mastery-based learning possible. I think it is one of many tools that enable Authentic Learning - which means more than just preparing kids for SAT's and state tests, but going for deeper learning in richer contexts and also fostering student ownership of their learning. - marieb marieb Jun 14, 2015 [Editor's Note: Moved here from RQ2.]

Rethinking the Roles of Teachers
Teachers are increasingly expected to be adept at a variety of technology-based and other approaches for content delivery, learner support, and assessment; to collaborate with other teachers both inside and outside their schools; to routinely use digital strategies in their work with students; to act as guides and mentors in to promote student-centered learning; and to organize their own work and comply with administrative documentation and reporting requirements. Students, along with their families, add to these expectations through their own use of technology to socialize, organize, and informally learn on a daily basis. The integration of technology into everyday life is causing many educational thought leaders argue that schools should be providing ways for students to continue to engage in learning activities, formal and informal, beyond the traditional school day. As this trend gathers steam, many schools across the world are rethinking the primary responsibilities of teachers. Related to these evolving expectations are changes in the ways teachers engage in their own continuing professional development, much of which involves social media and online tools and resources. While fully online schools are still relatively rare, an increasing number of teachers are using more hybrid and experiential learning exercises, and experimenting with social media and others ways of building learning communities. As university students enter pre-service education programs surely they will be more tech savvy than those who proceeded them. It is almost like in a span of 15 years technology expert candidates may be the catalyst to change teachers roles.- jmorrison jmorrison May 26, 2015

Scaling Teaching Innovations
Our organizations are not adept at moving teaching innovations into mainstream practice. Innovation springs from the freedom to connect ideas in new ways. Our schools and universities generally allow us to connect ideas only in prescribed ways — sometimes these lead to new insights, but more likely they lead to rote learning. Current organizational promotion structures rarely reward innovation and improvements in teaching and learning. A pervasive aversion to change limits the diffusion of new ideas, and too often discourages experimentation. I agree with the basic premise as, there is difficulty in scaling teaching innovation. One way we're trying (and starting to succeed) to do this with technology and bandwidth is through our Center for Teacher Development. With parent, student and teacher approval; high resolution (pan/tilt/swivel) cameras and omni-directional microphones broadcast live telepresence quality a/v to observing teachers and principals. No disturbance of the students occurs as cameras are silent, nicely tucked away on top of a shelf. This observation(s) is typically followed by two-way telepresence interactive sessions between all educators. It's been very powerful for teaching learning. We are now extending the technology (and bandwidth) with universities and their teacher colleges being part of the program. Currently, we've had two in state universities and one out of state university, all through I2 connectivity. The scale in our case, is the time/logistical savings and quality of the observations by not disturbing the classroom (- jbillings jbillings Jun 1, 2015)

Safety of Student Data
Safety of student data has long been a concern in K-12 education, which is evident through legislation that has been passed to safeguard students and their personal data, such as the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in the United States.106 As schools embrace ubiquitous technology, and more learning takes place online and in 1:1 settings, researchers see great potential to leverage these digital learning environments to mine data, which can be used to decipher trends in student behavior and create personalized software. Schools around the world are adopting cloud computing to support adaptive learning, promote cost-savings, and encourage collaboration, but sometimes the safety of student data is threatened when third-party vendors provide low-cost software as a service in return for access to student data that they then profit from.

Standardization Backlash
Teachers and unions are protesting the Common Core. Parents are opting out of standardized testing. Classrooms are focused on "teaching to the test" at the expense of teaching the subjects that the tests should measure. Accountability is a political reality and unintended consequences abound. But now the pendulum is starting to swing the other way. The implication is that the technology infrastructure that was created to support on-line testing and everything that flows from it is ripe to be repurposed for scalable, authentic learning. The focus on interoperability and data collection for reasons of accountability has kicked off the implementation of data systems that can now be used to provide students with the feedback they need to assess and take ownership of their learning. Individual devices with integrated curriculum can also be used as 24/7 collaboration tools. Apple, Google, and (to a limited extent) Microsofts sales and provisioning educational app stores can put control of content and apps in the hands of individual teachers, parents, and students. The obsession with measurement can be used to focus on non-cognitive outcomes such as curiosity, perseverance, disposition, mind-set, agency, collaboration, creativity, etc. Most importantly, the improvements in the distribution infrastructure can continue to evolve explosively, making rapid iteration and experimentation possible for a given student, classroom, or content/app developer. At least to the extent that infrastructure is maturing and more evenly distributed. This creates a need for ever-increasing bandwidth, as student data use becomes driven by students and parents and teachers, with increasingly detailed information in more dimensions that SAT-preparation are collected in real-time by well-designed apps & content, as virtual and immersive environments become more authentic alternatives to deep learning than mere lecture & video, as exploration and creation beyond "teaching to the test" enters a renaissance in an environment where every teacher has the tools to measure and show efficacy in multiple dimensions to parents and students in real time, as on-line geographically distributed co-creation and participative learning become more prevalent, and as the playing field is leveled allowing countless of innovators to provide new apps, content, and unique subject matter to students any time, any place. - marieb marieb Jun 14, 2015 [Editor's Note: This reads more like a challenge has therefore been moved to RQ4 Challenges.]

Teaching Complex Thinking
It is essential for young people both to understand the networked world in which they are growing up and also — through computational thinking — to understand the difference between human and artificial intelligence, learn how to use abstraction and decomposition when tackling complex tasks, and deploy heuristic reasoning to complex problems. The semantic web, big data, modeling technologies, and other innovations make new approaches to training learners in complex and systems thinking possible. Yet, mastering modes of complex thinking does not make an impact in isolation; communication skills must also be mastered for complex thinking to be applied meaningfully. Indeed, the most effective leaders are outstanding communicators with a high level of social intelligence; their capacity to connect people with other people, using technologies to collaborate and leveraging data to support their ideas, requires an ability to understand the bigger picture and to make appeals that are based on logic, data, and instinct. Computational Thinking ....across all standards (e.g., common core), maths thru language arts. The standards will necessitate integrated content through project-based learning, with projects largely designed, developed, implemented and iterated using always on grid connectivity to anything. Bandwidth has to be very robust. (- jbillings jbillings Jun 1, 2015) Computational Thinking as applied in STEM. Students will be developing more coding and data analytic skills. Real programming and "bigger" data. These skills in turn will drive interface with sensors and robotics as the Internet of Things and MakerBot become more common place. (- jbillings jbillings Jun 1, 2015)- jmorrison jmorrison Jun 16, 2015 [Editor's Note: Moved here from RQ3]

Under-resourced School Infrastructure
Critical school infrastructures are under-resourced. Rather than encouraging researchers to build on and extend core resources, leverage shared file systems, and open accessible service APIs, institutions are narrowing their focus to what they perceive as the minimal subset of enterprise services they can afford to sustain. As a result, educators are often trying to design new, innovative learning models that must be integrated with outdated, pre-existing technology and learning management systems. Probably how technology will change our lives is too broad. But through the lens of K-12 technology/internet what will the effect be on dialogue/communication? What will it look like in the future and how will we adapt what we are teaching/learning to the impact it will make?- jmorrison jmorrison May 26, 2015 http://www.speedmatters.org/benefits/archive/k-12-education/ Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure
Although the most difficult barriers to digital transformation are human, nothing can be accomplished without a robust infrastructure that supports new ways of teaching and learning and also supports their continual evolution. The full technology stack needs to be essentially "invisible" to the instructional side of districts - that is, it works so well and intuitively and seamlessly that the barriers to adoption are reduced to cultural ones. To really fulfill that vision every student will have 24/7/365 access to the Internet, his learning community, and his content via a personal, unshared device of his choice as well as access to other devices whenever needed (laptop for composition, cell phone for capturing video in the community, work station for creating movies, mega computers for big data analysis, etc.) Every parent, student, and teacher will be able to choose tools and content from curriculum developers or entrepreneurs or universities, in small chunks or integrated curriculum, using sophisticated search based on efficacy, reputation, cost, fit, etc. Parents will be able to make decisions and provide authorization for the use of student data (detailed information for teachers, aggregate anonymized information for researchers, etc.) Interoperable data standards will support deep student insight into their own learning across subjects and digital tools and platforms.The first steps that allow the "stack" to evolve require high speed internet to classrooms and 24/7 connectivity to students. This infrastructure must be scalable and future-resilient. Although the current FCC suggested bandwidth is only 1Mbps/student, this is less than what even cellular data supports. Further, once districts commit to 1:1 or BYOD, the requirements become non-linear with, in aggregate, many districts seeing 60% year over year growth in bandwidth demand. This is equivalent to a doubling of demand every 18 months - as though there were a Moore's law of bandwidth growth. More details here (although the on-line version of this article seems to be missing the first paragraph...) - marieb marieb Jun 14, 2015 Human Infrastructure. The human challenges to integrating technology are twofold: First, most districts don't have a clear understanding of the value proposition. Second, change is hard. Pioneering districts are often contacted by those that are looking to implement digital transformation, but their first questions are almost always "What device should we use," and "How do you pay for it?" These initial questions reveal a focus on the shiny object which leads districts astray. The first question should always be "Why?" Why are we implementing digital transformation? If the answer is engagement, or because kids are digital natives, or because our parents expect it, or because the board wants it, or because everyone else is doing it, the district needs to look deeper. If the reasons don't have to do with preparing kids for a connected, collaborative, always-changing work-place, the program is likely to be deemed a failure since the gains are unlikely to meet the hype otherwise. So the first, big obstacle is that the scattered districts nationally must understand why they should make such a herculean investment. Even with a clear and appropriate vision, however, change is hard. The underlying characteristic of digital transformation in all its forms is the scalable transfer of control and ownership of learning to students. This requires an incredibly difficult shift in perspective and paradigm for teachers, administrators, and parents. It is also difficult to implement. More here. That said, the presence of technology along with the gentle but unrelenting pressure to implement from the administration, often has a catalyzing effect. If the infrastructure is seamless enough to support experimentation and analysis, the diffusion of innovations among good educators tends to occur organically, though among poor educators it is common for the infusion of technology to amplify their limitations, actually leading to worse outcomes. So the second obstacle requires a change in the values and evaluation of educators to recognize shifts in teaching toward student-centered practices and outcomes. - marieb marieb Jun 14, 2015- jmorrison jmorrison Jun 16, 2015