Educational Technology Innovations: The Hurdles, Accelerators, and Tech Enablers

Leading and Implementing Educational Technology Innovations: Hurdles, Accelerators, and Tech Enablers edLeader Panel recording screenshot

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This edLeader Panel is presented by CoSN and AASA.
Sponsored by ClassLink

Through the Driving K-12 Innovation series, CoSN, in partnership with AASA, continues to share high-quality trend reports supporting emerging technology in K-12 education to transform learning. In this initiative, a global advisory board of K-12 leaders, practitioners, and changemakers discusses the central themes driving, hindering, and enabling school teaching and learning innovation.

In the edLeader Panel, “Leading and Implementing Educational Technology Innovations: Hurdles, Accelerators, and Tech Enablers,” three superintendents who served on the committee that developed the Driving K-12 Innovation 2023 report discussed those hurdles and accelerators and identified which are the top tech enablers on that list.


The CoSN report defines these as roadblocks that force schools to slow down, prepare themselves, and make the leap to attracting and retaining educators and IT professionals, designing effective digital ecosystems, and digital equity.

The challenges districts face regarding staffing are outdated hiring practices and difficulty retaining them when there are more lucrative opportunities in the private sector. When it comes to effective digital ecosystems, district leaders are challenged with designing a group of connected information technology resources that allow students and teachers to interact and communicate in an effective, valuable way.

Finally, with digital equity, the hurdle to providing equitable access to quality digital technologies, technology use, support, and digital content is imperative for all learners.


These are defined as real-world megatrends that drive the needs plus skills expected of learners and practitioners. The three accelerators identified are:

  1. Building the human capacity of leaders
  2. Learner agency
  3. Social and emotional learning

When leaders, formal and informal, regardless of title or rank, take action to strengthen the professional community of their schools and lead with a strategic vision, they open the door to innovative practices that can enhance student experiences.

Learner agency refers to students as active choice makers in their education, reconceptualizing their role from “student” to “learner.” So, with a robust learning environment, students can transform from order takers to innovators.

Regarding social and emotional learning, it is evident that a core function of education is building skills and understanding for mental, social, and emotional well-being. Educators must consider how social-emotional needs are enhanced or diminished with varying technology uses and reimaging norms.

Tech Enablers

These are the tools that grease the wheels for schools to surmount hurdles, plus leverage accelerators. These tools include artificial intelligence (AI), untethered broadband and connectivity, and a rich digital ecosystem.

AI is an interface that mimics the complexity and function of human brain processes such as decision making, learning, evolving, problem solving, perceiving, and demonstrating creativity. While many in the educational space are looking at AI as a potential hurdle, the superintendents stated that “we must embrace it as an enabler.”

Ubiquitous broadband internet and the underlying technologies enable robust connected learning without requiring devices to be physically connected. It is not a one-size-fits-all situation. If districts work with the community and businesses, they can provide students with connectivity options to access their learning.

Finally, a rich digital ecosystem is an interconnected system or digital environment enabling student learning and supporting education administration. Ensuring a rich digital ecosystem is critical because it allows for deeper, more meaningful collaboration.

The panelists who participated in creating the Driving K-12 Innovation 2023 report are each taking a personalized approach to lead and implement technology innovations in their districts.

Whether it is connectivity, social-emotional learning, or building and retaining high-quality educators, staff, and leaders, the resources, information, and strategies this report offers district leaders and IT professionals support student growth, collaboration, and connections to the world around them.

Learn more about this edWeb broadcast, “Leading and Implementing Educational Technology Innovations: Hurdles, Accelerators, and Tech Enablers,” presented by CoSN and AASA, and sponsored by ClassLink.

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Super-Connected is a free professional learning community for school superintendents, district leadership, and aspiring district leaders.

AASAAASA is the premier association for school system leaders and serves as the national voice for public education and district leadership on Capitol Hill.

CoSN CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. CoSN provides thought leadership resources, community, best practices and advocacy tools to help leaders succeed in the digital transformation. CoSN represents over 13 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education.


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Blog post by Eileen Belastock, based on this edLeader Panel.