[The Week in Education and Technology is a weekly summary of news, events, and ideas related to education, technology, and culture.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The River Place (A Parable)