This Week’s Trends in Education and Technology (February 7-13)
[The Week in Education and Technology is a weekly summary of news, events, and ideas related to education, technology, and culture.]
…schools that are good at raising test scores are not necessarily the same schools that are good at preparing students to enroll in college.
Identifying High-Performing Schools for Historically Underserved Students
This week’s notable quote comes from a new paper from the Urban Institute that looks at ways to identify high schools that are producing positive outcomes for historically underserved students. It turns out that After finding that test score gains and college enrollment rates have a correlation of just 0.13, they conclude that, “schools that are good at raising test scores are not necessarily the same schools that are good at preparing students to enroll in college.”
So, school test scores are not a great indication of whether high schools are preparing students to be successful in college or careers? Who woulda thunk?
Meanwhile, a new study from Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence and Child Study Center finds that high school students generally have negative feelings about their school experience. Chief contributors to those feelings are being tired, stress, and boredom.
The frequency of negative feelings students experience, the authors write, is “likely to undermine students’ attention, motivation, and ability to learn and thrive.” The authors suggested a cultural shift in schools that emphasizes and supports self-care as something that could benefit students’ learning, health and overall well-being. Pringle suggests a greater emphasis on social-emotional learning as a way to give students tools to better regulate negative emotions.
Five small community colleges in Minnesota’s Northeast Education District plan to merge in order to combat enrollment declines. These declines are indicative of a general trend in Minnesota.
Overall, the Minnesota state system has lost about 20 percent of its enrollment over the past decade, according to Bill Maki, interim vice chancellor for finance and facilities at the system. While officials work to improve recruitment and retention, the system’s persistence rate has been relatively flat over the past decade.
Christopher Fiorentino, president of West Chester University in Pennsylvania, thinks that one solution for public higher ed institutions that are struggling is to come up with a new approach to subsidizing them. His idea? Treat these universities as companies that are too big to fail and offer them the same types of assistance states do to such businesses.
Many states offer subsidies or tax breaks to businesses and firms that are considered too important to be allowed to fail, based on the premise that this support will preserve jobs, both directly and indirectly, and hence declines in income and state tax revenue will be prevented. If the failing firm being subsidized happened to be a steel mill or auto factory, states would find other sources of funding to attempt to save jobs.
So, how many institutions — public or private are at risk? The new book The College Stress Test has a formula for that. In their conclusion, the author’s write:
What the numbers tell us is that just less than 10 percent or less of the nation’s colleges and universities face substantial market risk. Sixty percent face little or no market risk. But the remaining 30 percent are institutions that are bound to struggle. To thrive, they will need to reconsider the curricula they deliver, the prices they charge, and their willingness to experiment with new modes of instruction.
This just in. According to a Bloomberg report, private equity firm Thoma Bravo will fall short of the shareholder votes it needs to complete the acquisition of educational software company Instructure, Inc., provider of Canvas, the nation’s leading LMS by market share.
This news comes the same week that Phil Hill released his end-of-year analysis of the LMS market for U.S. and Canada. We’ll see what, if any long-term impact the acquisition has on near and intermediate-term adoptions.
Meanwhile, getting back to Instructure/Canvas on another issue, I liked this post by University of Oklahoma instructor Laura Gibbs regarding the need for Canvas and other LMS platforms to address student data privacy (particularly now that these platforms are using student data to improve their adaptive-learning algorithms).
By the way, three cheers for The Body Shop and its adoption of an “open hiring” policy.” What does this mean? Simply that they are going to hire applicants based on general qualifications on a first-come basis. This eliminates background checks and other traps that impact adults facing barriers to employment.”
And I think this extensive analysis of bootcamps will be of interest to many. Its conclusion is that, while they can provide value and be profitable, “it’s difficult for bootcamps to be both profitable and to provide high quality education while growing at a rapid pace. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where a coding bootcamp is a good venture capital investment.”
So, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it…
And what about AI and writing? It seems that MIT’s latest AI can rewrite outdated Wikipedia pages. The system can “rummage through the millions of Wikipedia pages, sniff around for outdated data, and replace it with the most recent information available on the internet in a “human-like” style.”
We also have systems that use algorithms to write term papers for students using selected key words. an algorithm that writes term papers for them based on chosen keywords. These systems aren’t producing A+ essays just yet, but they will improve and, since the compositions are original, will bypass plagiarism detection. Most important or unfortunate, they can scale cheaply.
Okay, so if machines are doing the writing, who owns the copyright? After a great deal of analysis and meta-analysis, Todd Carpenter concludes:
My sense is that in a process driven by lawyers with a vested interest in the extension of intellectual property to the output of machines, and with the support of billions of dollars of technological investment, past precedent will be damned and the work of machines will be carved out for special treatment by our intellectual property rules. Regardless of the fact that as machine learning and applications grow they will be further outside of the realm of human understanding, it will still be claimed that the designers of the system somehow knew the machines would produce such-and-such outcome, and therefore they should be granted ownership of the outputs.
Privacy will continue to be a big topic of discussion and legislation over the coming years, and one of the gnarliest issues is whether or not governments should have special access to encrypted personal data stored on devices or through apps. Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which has claims more than two billion users, is pushing back against government calls for a `back door ” to such data. As company head Will Cathart explained in an interview, “For all of human history, people have been able to communicate privately with each other […] And we don’t think that should go away in a modern society,”
This past week also saw plenty of buzz about foldable smartphones, aka Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Flip. While there are plenty of reasons to “ooohh and aaahh,” I does make me wonder if there is enough differentiated value-add to drive this particular smartphone trend.
Finally, in case you were wondering, there is a real connection between education and poverty. “Lack of access to education is a major predictor of passing poverty from one generation to the next, and receiving an education is one of the top ways to achieve financial stability.”
Episode 9: Higher Education Institutions Sailing in harm’s Way (Ed+TEch Futures Videocast)
Episode 10: Lowering the Barriers to Participation (Ed+TEch Futures Videocast)
The Village That Laughed (A Parable)
Episode 11: A Three-Pronged Strategy for Disruption (Ed+TEch Futures Videocast)