Education News

What does technology in Utah look like?

What does technology in Utah look like?

Originally published April 2024

For the past nine years, Connected Nation (CN) has partnered with Utah Education Network (UEN) to develop the Utah School Technology Inventory Report, a statewide inventory that compiles critical data about technology usage and gaps in Utah K–12 schools.

The fifth biannual report was released earlier this year, highlighting more than 82,600 data points representing 1,034 schools across Utah. The final report provided a comprehensive summary of the Utah school system and an overview page for every school district and charter school in the state.

Schools and school districts featured were the Vista SchoolIron County School District, and Canyons School District.

The Results

So, why is it important for schools, administrators, teachers, parents, and school Information Technology (IT) professionals to review this report? The simple answer is, the data clearly shows why technology is an essential tool in Utah education.

First Key Takeaway

In 2023, Utah schools utilized 1.32 computers per student, which is unchanged from the ratio in 2021.

Schools need to know whether they are keeping up with the standard of computing devices per student. Having enough devices is critical because students use them to learn in the classroom, complete homework, communicate with their teachers and classmates, and much more.

“We didn’t want to run into situations where some students were trying to go to other schools in the district because they had more technology,” said Troy Lunt, Director of Technology for Iron County School District. “It was something that we were trying to standardize and create the right environment for technology in our schools.”

Second Key Takeaway

Statewide, 7 out of 10 schools (70%) report that they deploy mobile learning devices such as laptops or tablet computers to students on a 1:1 basis. Nearly 2 out of 5 Utah schools (38%) allow students to take those devices home. By comparison, in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, only 6% of schools made this option available.

Having devices for students to take home was a necessity during COVID, and that trend continues today. Providing students with mobile devices enables them to communicate with their teachers and complete assignments at home PLUS explore more academic opportunities.

“I don’t know how a student can learn if we are not providing the right opportunities for them beyond the school day,” said Scot McCombs, Director of Information Technology at Canyons School District. “The inventory helped us identify and work through overcoming our Digital Divide. That is so important to not just our community, but the whole state.”

Other Key Takeaways

  • Altogether, state local education agencies report that students use more than 878,600 different computing devices.
  • Google Chromebooks remain the most popular type of computing device, with schools providing more than 594,000 Chromebooks to Utah students.
  • Only 7% of Utah schools say that the wireless hardware used in the school is newer than one year old, which is a significant decline from previous years.
  • One-quarter of schools (25%) say that their wireless gear is four or more years old, while nearly one-half of schools (48%) report that their wired hardware is four years old or older.

This inventory is helping schools to not only be accountable for what technology they currently have, but also to pursue their vision and goals in the educational technology space.

“The UEN inventory has helped us look at the bigger picture in our school,” said Troy Bradshaw, Director of Finance and Information Technologies for the Vista School. “It seems or looks like we have tons of technology, but when looking at our inventory on a reporting basis, it shows us where those gaps and weaknesses are.”

If you are a part of Utah K–12 education, check out the full Utah School Technology Inventory Report here.