2023 Outlook

Wishes and Worries for 2023: What Ed Tech Leaders Are Thinking About

During the final weeks of 2022, THE Journal asked scores of ed tech leaders about their wishes and worries for 2023. Cybersecurity and teacher resources were the most common topics addressed in the responses — many of which include specific ideas for new policies and practices for K–12 education in the United States. Following are the two questions we posed and the responses.

THE Journal: If you could wish for any single thing to happen in 2023 — policy, funding, law, popular opinion, anything impacting K–12 ed tech providers, users, or outcomes — what would that be, and why?

“Wish list: That all states follow North Dakota’s lead in teaching cybersecurity to students in grades K–12. Wish list item 2: that the Federal Communications Commission E-Rate Program which provides discounts for school internet connections significantly increase network security including but not limited to advanced firewalls as advocated by Microsoft and Cisco.”

— Harris Freier, data privacy attorney and partner, Genova Burns

“If I could wish for one thing to happen in 2023 to improve student privacy, it would be increased funding for dedicated personnel at the state and local levels. In my prior role as the Chief Privacy Officer at the Utah State Board of Education, I saw firsthand the impact funding full-time privacy personnel at the state level can have on providing support to schools and districts in the form of providing model policies and training, monitoring compliance, and investigating complaints.”

— David Sallay, Director of Youth & Education Privacy, Future of Privacy Forum

“I would like to see federal policies put in place to establish guidelines and support for school districts to implement strong digital identity controls, including third-party access controls. … Implementing automated third-party access controls as part of a larger digital identity program in 2023 will be key for reducing strain on already limited school resources.”

— Joel Burleson-Davis, SVP of Worldwide Engineering, Cyber, Imprivata (formerly SecureLink)

“Unfortunately, the cybersecurity issues and needs across the K–12 sector is so multifaceted, that there isn’t a one-silver-bullet wish. I suspect that many would likely ask for the expected: more funding, more training, E-rate consideration, more understanding of the needs by administration and boards. But for me, I think my wish is a cohesive overall national plan, with sustainable solutions. Although tossing temporary funding at K–12 helps in the short-term, there is no long-term sustainable plan for implementation, funding or management. For example, if we put product funding aside, because the ‘wish fairy’ came tonight and gave K–12 all of the current and future products it needed. How would the vast majority of K–12 agencies have the sustainable resources and ability to manage them? We can do better.”

— John Wargo, MS-ISAC Executive Committee Member, Center for Internet Security

“I hope districts finally get the funding and support they need to improve cybersecurity. Many people are advocating for updating the E-rate program to include more advanced and contemporary cybersecurity technologies. The funding vehicle portion of E-rate’s cybersecurity is woefully outdated. But I see this E-rate step as a bare minimum. What I’d really like to see is a significant change in policy that takes the education sector seriously as critical infrastructure. The cyber incidents taking place across the country should not be taken so lightly. There is a tendency to view cyber attacks as being contained to the digital world with little to no impact on real lives. But this touches so many facets of our education system, including issues of safety, learning equity, and nutrition. When schools have to close fo ra day or more (due to a cyber incident), when building security systems are being infiltrated, these have real consequences for the physical safety of our children and the people committed to teaching and nurturing them every day.”

— Charlie Sander, CEO, ManagedMethods

“The last few years have accelerated the digitization of education. Yet schools’ cybersecurity capabilities are not keeping up with the risks of this digital transformation. I would like to see policy makers modernize some of their language on IT security and provide resources that would help education organizations keep up with risks. In parallel, I think that both industry and governments need to keep investing in Cybersecurity talent programs in high schools and colleges to help address the risks across public and private sectors.”

— Paige Johnson, VP Education Marketing, Microsoft

“At one time my Hulu, Netflix, and Disney+ accounts were all separate platforms with separate login portals. … The proliferation of ed tech resources in the nation’s classrooms has led to just such an issue. With so much ed tech at their fingertips, educators are overwhelmed with them. My wish is that ed tech providers offer educators more “platform solutions” that centrally locate services in one place, improve interoperability, and most importantly, better support teachers and students. Just like having all your favorite entertainment resources available through a single sign-on solution, putting all the things teachers and students need to support instruction in one place helps ensure these resources will provide value and return-on-investment.”

— Scott Kinney, CEO, Discovery Education

“At Google, we believe that no matter the background, everyone deserves access to great learning experiences. And for students, so much of learning comes down to the teacher. In the second installment of our Education Trends Report: Evolving How We Teach and Learn, we delve into the ever-changing role of an educator. Our research suggests that the role of teachers is shifting from “gatekeepers of knowledge” to “choreographers of learning,” and it’s essential that the right structures and supports are in place to ensure teachers can thrive and that the field continues to grow. As we head into 2023, one of our many wishes is that teachers are given the tools, time and respect that they need and deserve, so that they can continue to guide, grow and inspire their students.”

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