How to start an online learning program
Starting an online learning program is a daunting task. To help K-12 school and district leaders, the International Association of K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) has created this website as a guide to getting started.
Most of the website’s content is intended for program administrators, but the site also contains useful information for policy makers. It covers issues such as funding, policies, budgeting and staffing, curriculum, and ensuring quality.
“There are many existing resources for K-12 online learning. For individuals who are just getting started with the process, the number of resources can be a challenge to navigate. As much as possible, this site includes excerpts or links to these existing resources, as opposed to re-creating the information,” the website states.
“You may want to think of this site as your guide through the land of K-12 online learning, helping you to navigate and organize all of this information. Hopefully, we can also help you to avoid some of the pitfalls others have experienced.”
13 modern challenges today’s school tech leaders face
It’s not always about funding, though that’s still a major challenge for the modern school technology leader. A recent forum held for chief technology officers (CTOs) covered a wide range of 21st-century challenges, including one few saw coming: If the technology works “too” well, are tech leaders still valued?
During the forum held by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), CoSN brought together district-level technology directors to talk about “building a ‘Tech Department Dream Team,’ through a combination of panel presentation and table discussions.” Attendees explored the evolving roles and the expanded skill set of today’s CTO.
In the context of what skills are needed and how roles change, many CTOs began by listing the now-common challenges faced in schools and districts across the country.
And while funding is still included in the list, many challenges are new and developed due to new policies, mandates, and changing cultures.
“As the technology world moves from centralized, tightly controlled and localized to distributed, open, and cloud-based, district leaders face a growing number of challenges,” according to CoSN.
Challenges identified by forum panelists and participants include [in no particular order]:
1. Equity: Due to BYOD policies and solutions, student-owned technology has raised new worries about the digital divide. “This is compounded by the disparity between those families with broadband internet service at home and those with no connectivity at all,” notes the report.
2. Bandwidth and Infrastructure: Requirements for 1:1 initiatives, BYO policies, online assessments, and other initiatives are asking for more bandwidth than ever before and setup than ever before.
3. Funding: “Typically, technology expenditures geared to the business of running a schools or district take priority over the instructional uses that are key to a 21st century education,” says the report.
4. Community Support: According to panelists, it’s hard to make the case for education technology to “teachers who fear it will jeopardize their jobs, parents who remember school before the days of computing, and community members who think funds might be better spent elsewhere.”
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