[The Week in Education and Technology is a weekly summary of news, events, and ideas related to education, technology, and culture.]
“We have the largest and longest expansion and job growth in modern history,” [That expansion] “is showing up in very different ways to half of the worker population that finds itself unable to move.”
Marcela Escobari, Senior Fellow – Global Economy and Development, Center for Universal Education
There’s inevitably a pattern that develops, seemingly by magic, as I review the news/information items I have curated each week. This week, the pattern in about “the numbers.”
For example, this Bloomberg article is a great reminder that the numbers don’t always mean exactly what we think they mean.
Unemployment is hovering near a five-decade low, workforce participation is at the highest level in six years and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell recently called the labor market “strong.” Yet, 44% of Americans age 18 to 64 are low-wage workers, according to a Brookings Institution report.
An estimated 53 million Americans are earning low wages, according to the study. Their median wage is $10.22 an hour and their annual pay is $17,950.
While many are benefiting from high demand for labor, the data indicated that not all new jobs are good, high-paying positions.
Anyone following the evolution of funding and business models in higher education knows just how much the “numbers” are used to argue for different practices, outcomes, or models. Consider, for example, the numbers around state funding for high er ed thrown around in different posts over the past week or so. One article argues that “State Higher Education Funding Cuts Have Pushed Costs to Students, Worsened Inequality,” while another talks about the “The Myth of State Divestment in Higher Education.” Inside Higher Education says the discrepancy in such reports is mostly about timeframes, which is partly true. Personally, I think Andrew Gillen gets closer to the “real” numbers issue in his post, which delves into the different economic models/variables used for analysis.
In related higher ed numbers, we have a report that “tuition revenue growth is slowing at both public and private colleges, as well as a new study that calculates the return on higher ed (degree) investment 40 years after enrollment.
Of course, when we talk about “numbers” in education, K-12 is always a strong contender, with a plethora of data about students, schools, and performance. For some context, it might be helpful to consult this recent primer on education statistics in the U.S.
Two recent reports shed light on numbers specific to unique segments of the K-12 space.
- Report: Many rural districts face education ’emergency’
- Report: More students with disabilities attending charter schools
One common use of all the numbers we collect is to analyze the efficacy or value of what we’ve been doing, in the classroom, our schools, education models, and education businesses. For example, this post shares the lessons learned from evaluating the “numbers” and experiences related to five years of CBE implementation work at Capella.
We also have some good numbers to look at with regards to the LMS market. On one hand, Phil Hill has a strong analysis of new data on Blackboard market share and hosting models, and on the other hand, we have financial analyses leading the board members of Instructure (Canvas) to explore the sale of the company.
The good news is that, for those teachers looking to create new numbers in the form of additional revenue, Amazon has announced that educators will soon be able to sell their materials in a new marketplace.
The topic of teachers and learning material provides a nice segue into traditional textbooks. In that space, there seem to be new opportunities for alternative textbook providers. In addition, we have more evidence that the traditional textbook market lives ion, in spite of all efforts to hasten its demise. As a result of continued robustness in textbook sales.use, Chegg has decided to switch distribution partners for that segment of its business.
This post on numbers related to incarceration vs. education in the U.S. is also an interesting look at some numbers in our society.
On the technology front, Apple has crunched the numbers and decided that it needs to release an AR headset by 2022 and AR glasses by 2023. The military is already heavily invested in this technology, testing new mixed-reality headsets that are like something from Iron Man.
And, finally, how would any of us manage our finances without being able to manage (or balance) the numbers? Perhaps with help from Google? That’s right, the tech giant has announced that it will soon be offering checking accounts for consumers.
The Four P’s of Sustainable, College-Level Learning (Learning Design)