US Edition

The State of
Technology in Education

2021/22

After a period of reactivity and a steep learning curve in teaching modes, educators finally had a moment to catch their breath in 2021. The result? A genuinely holistic approach to learning, one that champions the benefits of edtech: personalization, engagement, and interactivity. One that’s ready to react at short notice. And one entirely underpinned by classroom-based pedagogy and, most importantly, student wellbeing.

Where do you want to start?

Key findings from 2021/22:

A truly exceptional school looks at how it can bring technology up to today's standards while working in conjunction with the curriculum. It looks at the community needs, teacher needs, and tries to balance the two.

Strategy

Schools' strategic plans

Strategic buy-in varies, but most agree that social and emotional learning is critical for 2021/22. With staff and student wellbeing thrown into stark relief during the pandemic, educators are focused on rectifying the impact of a year of isolation and remote contact. Although the majority of schools are committed to edtech, many lack a coherent adoption plan.

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1st Place

Improving social and emotional learning is schools’ top priority, according to the largest consensus of educators (39%).

Strategy:

The headlines

Are schools headed in the right direction?

During the shock of 2020, educators could be forgiven for wondering how schools would handle the challenges ahead. Now confusion has largely given way to confidence. 71% of educators agree their schools have a clear strategic vision, agreed by most school leaders (88%), and the largest proportion of non-school leaders (45%).

Does your school have a clear strategic vision for the year ahead?

Non-SMT

45.4%Yes

18.5%No

36%Don't Know

SMT*

87.8%Yes

6.7%No

5.6%Don't Know

* SMT - School Management Team

Not everyone is convinced. Over a third of non-school leaders (36%) aren’t sure if their school has a clear strategic vision, suggesting a failure in communication. Of them, almost half (47%) blame failure in leadership.

If not, why?

Training

Teacher training and school PD

To find out how many teachers believe that technology helps them do a better job, skip to part two — schools’ use of tech.

Skip to next chapter

Who gets a say in strategy?

52% of educators play a role in their school strategy—24% have no input.

Just over half of educators provide input or take a lead role in devising their school strategy. Understandably, 90% of school leaders contribute. However, the gap between teachers is pronounced, with 40% of teachers having no input—23% less input than IT and 28% less than school leaders.

What role do you play in formulating your school’s strategic vision?

Who makes the final call?

Although most school leaders are involved in strategy, the ultimate responsibility more often rests with principals. 43% reported principals take the lead role in strategy setting, with 40% saying it’s a collaborative school leaders project.

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Making students feel suppported and connected

Regardless of strategic misgivings, educators are broadly in alignment when it comes to what matters most. After a tumultuous year, student wellbeing is front and center.

  • 93% of educators agree with their schools’ priorities.

  • 39% of educators say social and emotional learning is the most widespread key strategic priority.

What does your school identify as key priorities for 2021/22?

School leaders have slightly different priorities

Non-school leaders accounts for the bulk of the support of social and emotional learning, with nearly half (49%) saying it’s a strategic priority. SMT, meanwhile, identified hybrid learning (40%) and blended learning (34%) as more important, with social and emotional learning taking third place (27%).

“There must be more of an emphasis on social/emotional wellbeing and less focus on test results.”

“If we focus on teaching the whole child, grades, attendance, and behavior will improve.”

Most educators champion technology, although many are hazy on strategy

Technology is a strategic priority for 72%, but 30% say they don’t have an IT-specific strategy or don’t know if they do. School leaders may be reticent to commit budget, but this could backfire. Schools that are slow to upgrade technology could find themselves spending more overall to catch up with early adopters.

“We have made great strides in technology use, accomplishing lots we were not able to do before, and I feel we should continue with this work. It's not a district goal or even a goal at many campuses so it is doubtful it will happen.”

“I believe we need to focus on real-life applications of technology, and the use of technology to better differentiate for our students. However I do not believe that is in the strategic plan.”

What does this tell us about 2021?

  • After the confusion and disruption of COVID-19, educators have emerged with reassuring confidence in their schools' strategic priorities. This broad alignment needs to persist if it’s to translate into greater successes.

  • Another tough year underscored schools’ commitment to helping students recalibrate and reconnect to improve their emotional and social wellbeing.

  • Decision-making is a collaborative effort for many, although school leaders typically take the lead. Many principals will want to focus on involving the quarter of educators who have no input at all.

  • Schools must take on board critical feedback and ensure that any leadership concerns are addressed beyond the pandemic.

  • Technology is a strategic priority for most schools, but not enough. There are signs of a two-tier technology landscape, with half of schools pulling ahead using edtech to improve learning outcomes while the other half risk stalling the advancement of modern teaching.

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Training

Teacher training and school PD

Training is a top priority at most schools, especially for edtech and modern learning techniques. However, around a third of educators admit it doesn't feature high on the agenda. Blame lack of budget and time — the age-old problem in the education landscape. Some argue that providing more psychological support—and allowing teachers to choose their training—will lead to happier, more productive staff.

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83%

Training is widely regarded as a funding priority by educators—albeit more so by school leaders (93%) than teachers (69%).

Staff training:

The headlines

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Budget allocation could be better

Nearly a third of teachers say too little budget is allocated towards training.

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Funding falling short

More than four out of 10 educators say insufficient training is due to a lack of funding.

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Misdirected money

A third of educators say training funds are invested in the wrong things.

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Face-to-face and up-to-date

In-class tech training (25%) and modern learning techniques (25%) account for half of schools’ top training priorities.

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A shortage of support

Only 16% of staff receive full training and support, and 1/10 receive none at all.

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Are schools spending enough on upskilling?

Training is a funding priority, according to 83%. However, 69% of teachers agree compared to 93% of school leaders. There's some way to go until they're on the same page.

Which staff agree training is a funding priority?

SMT*

Teacher

IT

* SMT - School Management Team

“I feel that continuous training is needed to get the confidence needed for innovatively using this technology.”

Always more to learn

The highest proportion of educators (40%) say they receive some training and support, but more could be given. Indeed, only 16% of staff receive full training and support, and 10% receive none at all.

Not always enough time or money

While 32% of educators believe schools are spending enough on training, a significant proportion disagree.

2 in 5 say budget—the perennial problem—is the main reason more training isn’t provided.

31% of teachers and 35% of IT staff feel there’s too little budget allocated to training. Time is the next biggest obstacle for a fifth of educators (21%). Many teachers are left to train outside of work, placing an extra burden on their wellbeing and personal lives.

What do you think is the main reason there is not more training provided at your school?

Have your say. Our State of Technology in Education survey is back — share your experiences, continue the story.

Take the survey

“Most training is not adequate and is crammed in a short amount of time. Teachers still have to spend their own time learning the concept.”

Does more training autonomy equal better value for money?

Almost a third (31%) of educators believe the training budget is invested in the wrong things. Some suggested that, if teachers determined their own training, they could make the most of their limited time and prioritize essential skills.

“We could allow teachers to choose professional development as opposed to mandating training that is unnecessary.”

Tech training and modern learning are the highest priorities

Half of educators say either in-class tech training (25%) or modern learning techniques (25%) are the highest training priorities. Some complain that schools prioritize technology to the detriment of technology training.

What does your school strategy identify as a priority when it comes to teacher training?

Have your say. Our State of Technology in Education survey is back — share your experiences, continue the story.

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“Our district likes to tell everyone we are 1 to 1 (1 laptop to 1 student) but teachers are not trained well. Any PD for technology is the barest it can be to save time and money.”

Teachers and students need help to be healthier

Some school staff expressed concern that teachers might need additional support to help them cope with the increasing pressures of the job—and students could use extra support to adapt to post-COVID life.

“They are not doing anything to help teachers or students. No support in training for teachers. No support for students and the psychological toll that COVID has taken.”

What does this tell us about 2021?

  • Training is high on the list of priorities, befitting its acknowledged value, but budgets and time force teachers to shoulder the burden and inhibit their tech use.

  • Although only a minority received full training and support, most staff received at least some. That said, training outside of work hours will keep taking a toll on teachers if left unaddressed.

  • Educators are eager to level up their tech skills. Between them, in-class tech training and modern learning techniques account for half of schools' top training priorities.

  • A considerable proportion of educators disapprove of how training funds are spent. Schools should reevaluate existing programs to ensure they're investing in the most valuable skills, and they should give teachers more say in what they learn.

  • Wellbeing is high on the agenda for all, with signs that teachers would welcome proper support for their own wellbeing, as well as that of their students. An enduring focus on health would ensure the pandemic had at least one positive legacy.

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School Budgets

Costs and considerations

Budgets and bureaucracy will make strategic objectives hard to achieve this year. This familiar story is causing despondency at a time when higher-level strategic priorities are shifting from exam results to student wellbeing. Technology-wise, while most educators believe tech spend is adequate, many say funds can be invested unwisely. Meanwhile, frustrated staff complain that state purchasing systems often make it impossible to buy what students really need.

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Wellbeing is schools' highest priority, but precious few believe it will feature in next year's spending.

Budgets:

The headlines

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Money matters

Over half of schools agree budget is a major influence on strategy.

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Budget battles

Budgets make it difficult to realize strategic objectives, according to the largest proportion of educators.

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Bringing up the budget

Over two-thirds of educators (69%) agree that schools are spending enough on technology, but around half of those (34%) say it can be invested in the wrong things.

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Money talks, but not everyone’s listening

Budget is a key factor for 52% of schools when devising strategies and remains a consideration for 44%. For a lucky few (4%), budget is regarded as irrelevant to strategy, suggesting such ample funds are a rarity.

How big a role does budget play when devising your school strategy?

Have your say. Our State of Technology in Education survey is back — share your experiences, continue the story.

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Do you think budgetary constraints will make it difficult for your school to realize its strategic objectives in 2021/22?

Have your say. Our State of Technology in Education survey is back — share your experiences, continue the story.

Take the survey

Less money, more problems

Unsurprisingly, school staff stress that tight and shrinking budgets are among the most persistent factors standing in the way of educational goals. Some are concerned that certain subjects, particularly sports, win more funding at the expense of others.

“Our district is looking at some huge funding deficits. Reduction and restriction will lead the way until we can get our student numbers up and the financial support of our community.”

The cost of bureaucracy

Even having the funds doesn't guarantee well-resourced classrooms. Educators expressed frustration that bureaucracy often prevents them from purchasing what they need.

“I am afforded very little input on the budgetary process making it difficult to allocate appropriate resources.”

“We are stuck with the bureaucracy of the state’s purchasing system and it is nearly impossible to purchase anything even though we have the money.”

Are schools allocating enough to edtech?

Besides salaries, technology is the biggest spend for most schools. The largest consensus of educators (69%) agrees tech spend is at the right level, although around half of them (34%) say it's not always on the right technology.

“Monies should be invested in the children and not pet projects.”

How do you feel about your school's allocation of budget to technology?

Have your say. Our State of Technology in Education survey is back — share your experiences, continue the story.

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19% of school staff believe tech spend is too low. A closer look reveals that teachers (30%) and IT staff (27%) want more money for edtech—while just 10% of SMT agree. 39% of SMT think tech spend is at the right level—but can be invested in the wrong things.

How do you feel about your school's allocation of budget to technology?

Money doesn't make students happy, at least not yet

Despite social and emotional learning being the highest strategic priority for most schools, the vast majority report that wellbeing won’t be reflected in spending next year. The hidden cost will become apparent in time. Just 1% of schools will invest in wellbeing for 2022/23.

What does this tell us about 2021?

  • Strategic vision matters, but budget makes the difference between "possible" and "improbable" educational objectives.

  • Bureaucracy and restrictive state purchasing systems are holding students and teachers back. But those who have been able to invest in new tech are reaping the rewards.

  • Salaries understandably account for the most significant chunk of spending, but technology is the next highest spend after it.

  • Given technology spending is a high priority in most schools, it would reap dividends if everyone agreed that funds were allocated for maximum impact.

  • Social and emotional learning is said to be a top priority. But a glance at the 2022/23 budgets uncovers that almost no schools will be paying to improve wellbeing.

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This year’s big EdTech questions, answered.

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