This Week’s Trends in Technology and Education (11-29-12-6)

by | Dec 6, 2019 | TWTET

[The Week in Education and Technology is a weekly summary of news, events, and ideas related to education, technology, and culture.]

Notable Quote

In many ways, my academic journey was like emerging from Plato’s cave. Just as the cave dwellers — who were hindered by physical chains — could only interpret shadows as reality, my way of thinking about the world had created mental, emotional and psychological chains that, in part, put me behind bars. Education helped me begin to unshackle them.

Giovannie Hernandez, a graduate of the Bard Prison Initiative and currently works as a client services associate at the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund.

Things That Caught My Attention


U.S. students’ scores on the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) showed no or little overall improvement.

Compared with scores in other regions, U.S. teens ranked ninth in reading, 31st in math and 12th in science. Nations with comparable student scores included Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Between 2015 and 2018, the U.S. improved its global ranking in each of the tested subjects — but not for the right reasons, Peggy Carr, associate commissioner of the assessment division at the National Center for Education Statistics, said on a call with reporters. “At first glance, that might sound like a cause for celebration, but it’s not,” Carr said. While U.S. scores remained steady, student performance in multiple participating countries declined. “It’s not exactly the way you want to improve your ranking, but nonetheless that ranking has improved.”

U.S. PISA results were less grim than the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores released in October. On that test, math scores were stagnant while reading scores went down.

Speaking of declines, it seems that the nation’s teacher preparation programs are continuing to see a decline in enrollments.

Since 2010 the nation’s teacher preparation programs have seen their enrollment drop by more than a third even as more students are pursuing bachelor’s degrees. At the same time, graduates of these programs declined by almost 30 percent.

The dwindling popularity of teaching as a profession means that 340,000 fewer students entered teacher preparation programs in the 2016-17 academic year, the most recent year for which data is available, than in 2008-09.

How can/will the U.S. address challenges like these in its education system? I’m relatively certain that many will see it as an opportunity for new and more innovative technology solutions. This rush to revolutionize education with technology is a big part of Audrey Watters’ focus in her research and speaking. In one of her latest presentations, she specifically addresses the technology hype that often gets translated as educational fact.

This is my great concern with much of technology, particularly education technology: not that “artificial intelligence” will in fact surpass what humans can think or do; not that it will enhance what humans can know; but rather that humans — intellectually, emotionally, occupationally — will be reduced to machines. We already see this when we talk on the phone with customer support; we see this in Amazon warehouses; and we see this in adaptive learning software. Humans being bent towards the machine.

At a very simple level, we can see this challenge–>hype–>reality cycle being played out with VR adoption in the classroom.

Higher Education

In higher education, we’ve seen a number of recent articles and posts on enrollments, college closures, and the challenges faced by for-profit and small liberal arts universities in the U.S. This type of attention prompted Bernard Bull to ask if predictions about college closures are actually causing more schools to struggle. Phil Hill also provides a helpful, data-driven look at the bold predictions made (and continually discussed) by Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn about upcoming college closures and mergers. This post by LISTedTECH has additional data about U.S. enrollments and the number of students impacted by recent college closures.

Not surprisingly, the steady stream of discussion about enrollment declines and increased economic pressures have led many institutions to rethink their goals and to look at new ways of meeting the market’s needs. A number of community colleges are at the forefront of such discussions, seeing a broad range of opportunities to equitable access to quality learning through distance education. One specific option being looked at by various institutions is the idea of embedding skill certifications into degree programs. Here’s a conversation with Credly’s CEO on Credly’s CEO discussing how colleges can prepare students for skills-based hiring.

When we talk about equitable access to higher education, it’s important to keep in mind the many men and women in our state and federal correctional centers. Here is the story of how access to college learning has changed the life of one former prisoner.

Workforce Readiness/Education

One of the biggest trends we’re seeing (and will continue to see) is college study as an employment benefit. As this article points out, however, these programs are still in the early stages and require plenty of work by colleges and businesses alike.

Of course, there are plenty of informal learning pathways available for adults these days, mostly in the form of do-it-yourself education.

DIY has become pervasive in our culture. In part it is fueled by the internet, most particularly by YouTube. In part it is energized by time and money savings. It is further driven by the possibility of personalization and customization to meet individual needs just in time and just in place. More than 50 percent of the DIY-ers are between 24 and 44 years of age, and the numbers are growing. This trend is immutable now; it is continuing to grow in numbers and expand into new fields every year.

For centuries the personalized individual education came in the form of books. In the last half of the 20th century, there were “How to …” books and the “ … for Dummies” books. They were aimed at more superficial learning, often conveying far less than a college course or curriculum in the field. More often these books provided little depth of understanding or wider ramifications than a specific construct, process or skill. For deeper and broader understanding, learners continued to seek formal education at institutions of higher learning.

One question on many people’s minds is what skills does a person really need to flourish in the 21st century. This Big Think video dsicusses the skills that can set people apart as more jobs are affected by automation.

On a somewhat related note, it seems that many college students overestimate the importance of major selection for job prospects.

Educational Technology, Technology, and Finance

The big educational technology news of the past week is Instructure’s announcement of its possible acquisition by private equity firm Thoma Bravo. Phil Hill has this helpful follow-up with the seven things we know about the acquisition and the three things we don’t.

On the broader economic/holiday front, Black Friday saw huge online sales, many of which were smartphone purchases. That’s likely good news for both Samsung and Huawei as they look to provide a better value for smartphone consumers on a budget.

Research firm Gartner has a new report out on the 10 ways technology will change what it means to be human. Not directly mentioned int heir list is the impact technology will continue to have on language translation and, consequently, global communication. As one example of the potential, check out this AI-driven pocket translator.


Research Articles and Posts for the Week

TEL Library Posts You May Have Missed

The River Place (A Parable)

K-12 Education

A Decade of Decline at America’s Teacher Preparation Programs

U.S. Students’ Scores Stagnant on International Exam, With Widening Achievement Gap

Schools Face Barriers to VR Adoption in the Classroom

Why and How to Open a Microschool

Paving the Way for Computational Thinking in Rural Communities

Innovators Worth Watching: Sora Schools – Christensen Institute

Creativity in Learning

Higher Education

Texas college thinks it has cracked the code for high-demand health-care fields

The Rise of Do-It-Yourself Education

Why Isn’t It a No-Brainer to Embed ‘Certifications’ Into Bachelor’s Degrees?

Two scenarios for global higher education

Georgia’s public colleges soon will be offering a new form of two-year degree

California higher education reforms are tackling the biggest challenges

Cory Booker proposes $100B for HBCUs

Lessons From Vermont’s Demographic Crisis

OPINION: The odds for low-income students, and how to improve them

Despite closure fears, enrollment holds steady at private nonprofit colleges

Christensen Scorecard Update: Data through Fall 2019

Are Predictions About College Closures Causing More Schools to Struggle?

Community College Conversations About Access, Equity and Quality in Distance Ed

Credly’s CEO on how colleges can prepare students for skills-based hiring

Free College In Chile: What The U.S. Can Learn

‘Academic Capitalism’ Is Reshaping Faculty Life. What Does That Mean?

Forgiving Student Debt Would Boost Economy, Economists Say

Ex-incarcerated student: Society owes men, women in prison positive reentry

Lawsuit: CFPB Ignoring Mismanagement Of Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness

Learning Design, Learning Theory, and Educational Technology

Mixing in Online Courses Boosts Outcomes for CC Students

Seven Things We Mostly Know About the Planned Instructure Acquisition and Three We Don’t

Private Equity Firm Thoma Bravo to Acquire Instructure for $2 Billion

New Ownership for an LMS Giant: Private Equity Firm to Buy Instructure for $2 Billion

For student-centered learning to work, schools must rethink this key component.

The Uncharted Waters of Learner-Driven Online Learning

Ed-Tech Agitprop

PowerSchool Completes Schoology Purchase in March Toward ‘Unified’ K-12 Data Ecosystem

Workforce Readiness/Education

The Rise of Do-It-Yourself Education

When College Becomes a Benefit of Employment

Work Experiences Are as Important to Career Prep as School

What skills will set you apart when jobs are automated?

College Students Overestimate Importance of Major Selection for Job Prospects

Credly’s CEO on how colleges can prepare students for skills-based hiring

Ex-incarcerated student: Society owes men, women in prison positive reentry

Media, Publishing, and Cultural Trends

Some Very Bad News about the UNESCO OER Recommendation

US life expectancy has declined for the third year in a row

Technology and Financial Trends

Gartner: 10 Ways Technology Will Change What It Means to Be Human

This A.I. pocket device translates languages in real-time

Black Friday sees record $7.4B in online sales, $2.9B spent using smartphones

The Debt Crisis: The World Looks to Fix it With Yet More Debt

Huawei, Samsung get a phone boost as consumers look for better value

Huawei MatePad Pro is an iPad Pro rival for China

Fitness startup Mirror has big plans, including telemedicine

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