CARY, N.C.--()--SchoolDude.com and eSchool News have partnered for a second year, along with the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), to conduct a survey of more than 600 school district leaders and IT administrators. Key findings from this latest survey, conducted in November and December of 2008, are similar to the previous year, indicating that IT funding and staffing remain the top issues for IT professionals. A newly emerging challenge, however, is the rapidly expanding demand for school bandwidth, due to the rise in use of video applications such as video streaming, YouTube, and TeacherTube.
“For a second year, the survey confirms that IT professionals in education do not have enough staff to integrate technology into classroom instruction or implement new technologies—factors which have been identified as critical for student success”
“For a second year, the survey confirms that IT professionals in education do not have enough staff to integrate technology into classroom instruction or implement new technologies—factors which have been identified as critical for student success,” said Lee Prevost, president and co-founder of SchoolDude.com. “It is very concerning that 69 percent of respondents feel their staffing levels do not allow them to effectively support the needs of their districts or schools.”
Balancing Priorities and Wearing Multiple Hats
The most significant challenge looming over school IT professionals is balancing staff time between proactive and reactive responsibilities. Fifty-five percent of all respondents said more than half their workload is reactive, and one in five said at least 75 percent of their workload is reactive instead of proactive. Crucial training and classroom IT integration are often sacrificed when aging or faulty equipment needs to be fixed or teachers and administrators are struggling with software questions. This leaves too little time for planning new projects and helping educators integrate technology to teach 21st century skills.
In another key survey finding, 68 percent of respondents said the number of technology devices in their schools had increased over last year, and 66 percent said IT staffing hasn’t kept pace with those changes. Supporting that sentiment, only 31 percent of respondents reported having enough IT staff to meet overall needs. The most common solution for IT professionals is to fill several roles simultaneously, a condition especially true in smaller school districts.
Software as a Service (SaaS) Eases the Burden
To boost team efficiency, nearly half of respondents said they have implemented Software as a Service (SaaS), in which a service provider hosts applications and delivers them to users over the Internet. Seventy-two percent of those who have moved to SaaS cite its ease of deployment as a key benefit, and 65 percent like SaaS applications because they require less technical support. However, fears over data security have exploded in the last year, with 72 percent of those who have tried SaaS saying they have concerns about losing control over their data, up from 40 percent last year.
Advances Occur, Though Key Challenges Remain
While survey results indicate the need for significant increases in funding, IT personnel, and infrastructure investments, school IT departments are making progress integrating technology as an effective educational and communications tool. Respondents reported creative approaches to meeting their personnel shortages and workload demands. Several use co-op arrangements with nearby districts to share workloads and expertise. Others have identified tech-savvy teachers who are willing to devote some of their time to IT. Some recruit community-based IT experts to volunteer service in local schools.
When it comes to district communications, 37 percent of respondents said their districts have a faculty intranet, and another 27 percent are working toward this goal; 38 percent offer secure remote network access, and another 40 percent soon will; and 45 percent have implemented student, parent and teacher web portals, while another 39 percent soon will.
For an overview of the survey results, read the eSchool News Special Report on School IT Support at http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/special-reports. To download the full survey report, go to http://www.schooldude.com/survey. For more information on the results, contact Nick Mirisis, marketing manager for SchoolDude.com, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SchoolDude is the nation's leading provider of on-demand operations management solutions designed exclusively for the unique needs of educational professionals. SchoolDude's broad suite of on-demand tools for operations management offer easy to use, affordable solutions to help both small and large educational institutions save money, increase efficiency and improve services. For more, visit www.schooldude.com.
About the eSchool News Network
eSchool News covers education technology in all its aspects--from legislation and litigation, to case studies, purchasing practices and new products through its monthly newspaper, companion website, and email newsletters. Together, the eSN Network serves an unduplicated audience of more than 700,000 executive educators. In addition, its video programming is distributed to community-based cable audiences of more than three million viewers.
The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) is the country’s premier voice in education technology leadership, serving K-12 technology leaders who, through their strategic use of technology, improve teaching and learning. For more, visit www.cosn.org.