This Week’s Trends in Education and Technology (February 7-13)

by | Feb 13, 2020 | TWTET

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

Notable Quote

…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

Things That Caught My Attention


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.

Higher Education

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.

Learning Design, Learning Theory, and Educational Technology

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).

Speaking for myself as an instructor using Canvas, I think the purpose of data in an LMS should be limited to the courses in which students are enrolled, and any use of data beyond that purpose should be protected by a data privacy policy, requiring permission for reuse beyond that original purpose.

Workforce Readiness

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.”

Media, Publishing, and Cultural Trends

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.

Technology and Finance

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.”

Research Articles and Posts for the Week

TEL Library Posts You May Have Missed

Episode 9: Higher Education Institutions Sailing in harm’s Way (Ed+TEch Futures Videocast)

This Week’s Trends in Education and Technology (January 31-February 6)

Episode 10: Lowering the Barriers to Participation (Ed+TEch Futures Videocast)

Education Futures Episode 9: New Models and New Opportunities in Higher Education (Podcast)

The Village That Laughed (A Parable)

Episode 11: A Three-Pronged Strategy for Disruption (Ed+TEch Futures Videocast)

K-12 Education

High Court Leans Toward Support for Religious Schools

High School Rankings Are Incomplete

Three Decades After Its First School Funding Lawsuit, New Hampshire Turns to the Public for the First Time to FInd an Equitable Solution for All Students

Study: Majority of students’ feelings about high school are negative

Building a Learner Variability Mindset

Higher Education

HS Diploma, 2-Year College, Apprenticeship — Which Is the Best Path? New ‘Right to know’ Bills in 6 States Would Give Students More Data About Options (and Outcomes)

A Lutheran college in Portland will close after the spring 2020 semester

The benefits of community college students transferring to selective liberal arts colleges

States need a new approach to subsidizing struggling higher ed institutions (opinion)

The Oddsmakers of the College Deathwatch

Students who transfer credits from community college have a new option

Rural Minnesota community colleges plan to merge

Learning Design, Learning Theory, and Educational Technology

State of Higher Ed LMS Market for US and Canada: Year-End 2019 Edition

OU Digital Teaching: LMS, Privacy, and Purpose Limitation: A response to Melissa Loble

A new implant for blind people jacks directly into the brain

Wiley Launches Adaptive Calculus Courseware Built on Knewton Alta

Building a Learner Variability Mindset

Labor Trends, Workforce Readiness/Education

The Body Shop is adopting “open hiring”

Bootcamps and ISAs: Economics, Challenges, and Opportunities

Transparent Credentials: the connected ecosystem of work and learning

Ohio Students Take Giant Leaps Forward with Deeper Learning

Media, Publishing, and Cultural Trends

According to Bloomberg: Instructure fails to get votes to approve Thoma Bravo acquisition

Are Algorithmically-Generated Term Papers the Next Big Challenge to Academic Integrity?

If My AI Wrote this Post, Could I Own the Copyright?

What Is the Connection Between Education and Poverty?

Who doesn’t read books in America?

Reducing Friction in OER Adoption

Stephen’s Web ~ Reducing Friction in OER Adoption

An Update to OhioLINK’s Affordable Textbooks Initiative

Information wants to be free*

Technology and Financial Trends

MIT’s Latest AI Can Rewrite Outdated Wikipedia Pages

Why laptops could be facing the end of the line

WhatsApp hits 2 billion users, and its pushing back hard against governments on encryption

learning about machine learning

WhatsApp hits 2 billion users, touts privacy, but issues remain

Steam: Virtual reality’s biggest-ever jump in users happened last month

Reusable packaging delivery service Loop is expanding to stores

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip is the first foldable with a flexible glass cover

Web traffic increases in 2019 were driven by mobile

The State of AI Adoption – High Performers Show the Way

Next stock market crash: Mark Yusko sees 40-60% sell-off, lost decade

Why the Great Recession made inequality worse

Robot farmers are changing the future of agriculture

Welcome to the Era of Supercharged Lithium-Silicon Batteries

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