Driving Innovation: Emerging Technologies & Leadership in the Spotlight

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What do augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), social and emotional learning (SEL), 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), use of video, data analytics, eSports, and blockchain technology have in common? These include some of the emerging technologies that educators during the SIIA and CoSN Feedback Forum felt are exciting and have promise within education.

The lively discussion, moderated by Linda Winter from the Winter Group, identified several newer technologies in education like AR and AI as well as how some technologies that have existed for a while, like video, are now used in formative assessment and shared in different ways.

Weaving throughout the time together, the district leaders mused on a variety of innovative ideas and how they view them. Here are some highlights:

  • Data analytics offer a promise of meeting the administrative and summative assessment data with the instructional side of education in the classroom.
  • Curriculum and instruction have a better understanding of technology, and the dialogue about technology should shift to learning – emerge the way we talk about technology in the overall education ecosystem.
  • Districts are beginning to want to use biometrics and facial recognition, and the question now becomes how do we secure that data, how is it stored, and how is it being used?
  • To advance understanding of emerging education technology, teachers and administrators need to go into the workplace and learn how people are doing their work; teachers should reflect and apply their learning, and rely on instructional coaches and other collaborations.
  • School districts rely on piloting when incubating innovative practices and determining impact for procurement. There should be an advisory team, integration team, and evaluation team consisting of multiple roles within the school district. Also, the service provider needs to connect to the vision of the school.

Some advice offered by the educators includes that the:

  • Vendors need to be upfront about their privacy.
  • Look at purpose and pedagogy around the emerging technologies – that is when it becomes compelling.
  • During an implementation with a school district, provide all of the resources for the use of products up-front. The resources should not slowly be rolled out.
  • Interoperability should focus on more than the SIS – all systems need to integrate.

Throughout the entire discussion, privacy, security, and safety were common themes. Protecting students is at the forefront of districts’ decisions, and service providers can offer solutions and ensure the safety of students. One final issue involves the idea of students and parents as consumers - How do we build that trust? Our students are consumers, and we need to provide them the opportunity to create and not just consume. Parents should be taken into account when making procurement decisions, implementing new initiatives, and educating them.


What are the SIIA and CoSN Feedback Forums?

Through a long-standing partnership between SIIA and CoSN, feedback forums provide an opportunity for developers of educational software applications, digital content, and online learning to hear from leading educators discussing issues important to them on the ground level. This feedback forum held on April 1, 2019, during the CoSN Annual Conference addressed critical questions about emerging technologies and their instructional value, the hurdles they’re encountering, the accelerators they’re expecting and the ways in which technology (and strategic technology leadership) can turn innovative vision into successful transformation for students, educators and communities alike. Look for the next one coming in June during ISTE.


Jill Jill Abbott is the Sr. Vice President and Managing Director of the Education Technology Industry Network of SIIA.