According to the recently released 2023 State Edtech Trends Report, cybersecurity remains the primary concern for K-12 school administrators in the United States for the second year in a row. The report, completed by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and Whiteboard Advisors, provides insights based on input from leaders in 45 states, Washington, DC, and Guam. In addition to highlighting cybersecurity, the report addresses the emergence of generative AI in schools and the importance of home Internet access.
Rising Concerns: Cybersecurity and Generative AI
Cybersecurity is the top priority for 24 percent of state leaders surveyed, marking an increase from 17 percent last year. This highlights the growing recognition of the importance of protecting educational institutions from cyber threats. However, despite the rise, 42 percent of respondents still feel that their state needs more funding for cybersecurity needs.
The report also highlights the rising concern of generative AI use in schools, particularly highlighting ChatGPT. While 55 percent of respondents have witnessed increased interest in AI policy development over the past year, only 2 percent indicated that their state has an AI initiative. Illinois is featured in the report for its proposed legislation to establish a generative AI and natural language-processing task force for K-12 schools.
Addressing Home Internet Access and Ed-Tech Tools
Home Internet access remains a significant challenge for many students. According to data from the Federal Communications Commission, 17 million students still lack reliable access to the Internet at home. However, there have been notable improvements in certain states. New Mexico, for instance, reduced the number of students needing more access from 75,000 to fewer than 40,000 through collaborative efforts between various agencies.
Additionally, while states have made progress in tracking the use and effectiveness of ed-tech tools in their districts, there is still room for improvement. Thirty-nine percent of respondents stated that their state needs to collect data on the use or effectiveness of such tools. Massachusetts is recognized for its publication of ed-tech strategic planning and system guides, showcasing the state's commitment to monitoring and optimizing the use of technology in education.
Collaboration is Key
To address the evolving concerns surrounding cybersecurity, AI, equity, and the effective use of ed-tech tools, the report emphasizes the importance of collaboration between state offices, administrators, educators, policymakers, and technology developers. By working together, these stakeholders can ensure that technology is tailored to meet the specific needs of the education systems.
The 2023 State Edtech Trends Report highlights the continued prominence of cybersecurity as the primary concern for K-12 school administrators. It also draws attention to the emerging challenges posed by generative AI, the need for equitable access to home Internet, and the importance of tracking the use and effectiveness of ed-tech tools. Collaboration among stakeholders is crucial in addressing these issues and equipping students to thrive in a technology-driven world.