This article includes news items that didn’t quite make the cut for part 9 of my annual review of the year in ed-tech

Facebook, Education, and Algorithms

Facebook Fires Trending Topics Team

Via The New York Times: “In the latest episode over the proliferation of fake news and the people who believe it, a Tampa woman who thinks the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Conn., was staged has been charged with threatening a parent of one of the slain children.”

Facebook Overestimated Key Video Metric for Two Years

AltSchool and Other Private Startup School Fantasies

Schooling Silicon Valley

Defining Personalization

Twitter’s New Timeline Isn’t About Usability, It’s About Tracking Your Behavior

The Palimpsest of Progressive Schooling (Part 4)*

Under the hood of personalized learning: A New Hampshire teacher of the year explains

“McGraw-Hill Education’s ALEKS Adaptive Software Will Be Used in ASU’s Global Freshman Academy,” says the press release, which only uses the acronym MOOC twice.

Analytics Literacy is a Major Limiter of Ed Tech Growth

Opening the algorithms: Could we use open analytics?

UT Austin and SMOCs: One university’s effort to personalize large lecture courses

“Florida Virtual Schools and Knewton to Collaborate Using Analytics,” Education Week reports.

Edsurge has released a report on adaptive technology. Education Week covers the report in turn (because infographic), asking “Is Adaptive Technology an Ed Tech Prize or Fool’s Gold?

“Is Immediate Feedback Always Best?” asks Edsurge. And golly gee whiz, despite all those ed-tech companies that claim that this is the amazing revolution they offer – immediate feedback – it appears that the answer to the question is “no.” See also: Dan Meyer on the research.

The latest person to make stuff up about adaptive learning is Virginia’s governor who says “the amount of time students spend taking tests could be cut through computer adaptive tests, although he didn’t provide details.”

Machine logic: our lives are ruled by big tech’s ‘decisions by data’

People Sorters

How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds

“Artificial Intelligence Could Help Colleges Better Plan What Courses They Should Offer,” says Edsurge. More promoting the wonders of AI in this Edsurge story: “A Siri for Higher Ed Aims to Boost Student Engagement.”

“Turnitin, seeking to expand beyond plagiarism detection, launches a tool to help students improve their writing as they write,” Inside Higher Ed reports. Seize all the student IP, Turnitin.

A report from Jisc: “Learning analytics in higher education.”

And yet headlines like this persist: “Adaptive Learning Holds Promise for the Future of Higher Education.” Oh. I see. “Sponsored Content.” No mention of who sponsored. Nice work, Education Dive.

Here’s the take from EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Personalized Learning, Products ‘Going Viral’ Are Hot Topics at Ed-Tech Summit.”

Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Marketing Claims From Adaptive Learning Vendors As Barrier To Adoption.”

Education Week has released a new report on “personalized learning.” A few of the articles: “‘Red Flags’ to Look for When Evaluating Personalized Learning Products.” “Checking Up on Personalized Learning Pioneers.” Rousseau could not be reached for comment.

Key Tensions in the Field of Learning Analytics” by Bodong Chen.

“Blackboard Partners with Fishtree for Personalized Learning,” says Campus Technology. Now educators can personalize their courses, apparently, which is something no one has been able to do until “adaptive technology” integrated with the LMS. Or something.

Via Techcrunch: “Lilwil’s personalized learning engine teaches teachers how to teach.” So that’s something.

“NASA Backs Arizona State on Adaptive Science Courses,” says Inside Higher Ed.

The Best AI Still Flunks 8th Grade Science.”

“What You Need to Know About Learning Analytics,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Who has ownership of campus analytics?” asks Education Dive. Spoiler alert: not students.

Research and Marketing

Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver on scientific research and the media:

Personalized Learning: What Does the Research Say?

Digital Promise has launched an interactive “research map” which aims to help ed-tech developers and schools find ed-tech research. The map draws on only 100,000 articles from 180 journals and only dates back to 2005 because that is the grand sum of education technology research.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Experiments with adaptive learning at 14 colleges and universities have found the software has no significant average effect on course completion rates, has a slight positive effect on student grades and does not immediately lead to lower costs. And after using the software for three academic terms, less than half of the instructors involved say they will continue to use adaptive courseware.”

Via Edsurge: “A new report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education, ”Financing Personalized Learning: What Can We Learn From First-Generation Adopters?“ has found that the costs associated with personalized learning – loosely defined – are largely comprised of salaries, facilities and operations, not technology.” Here’s the EdWeek Market Brief headline: “Financial Viability of Some ‘Personalized Learning’ Charter Schools Unclear, Report Says.”

“Adaptive Learning Earns an Incomplete,” says Michael Feldstein in a Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed about recent SRI Education research on the technology that shows adaptive learning software doesn’t really make much of a difference on students’ grades.

IBM Watson

Artificial intelligence, cognitive systems and biosocial spaces of education

Private “MicroSchools”

Denver is getting a private “microschool.” Tuition: $11,494. Invocation of Laura Ingalls Wilder in describing it: priceless.

Also via NPR: “From YouTube Pioneer Sal Khan, A School With Real Classrooms.”

“What’s So Innovative About Salman Khan’s One-Room Schoolhouse?” asks Edsurge. NPR also profiled Khan Academy’s new “lab school.” Solid work on the PR front, Khan Academy.

Social Emotional Learning Startups

Via Mindshift: “What ClassDojo Monsters Can Teach Kids About Growth Mindset.” According to that blog and others that repeated the company’s PR, the answer is apparently not “see how easily ‘growth mindset’ can be co-opted by a really insidious VC-funded version of behaviorism?”

‘Grit’ adds little to prediction of academic achievement.”

Via The Atlantic: “Against the Sticker Chart.” (No mention of Class Dojo, which is sorta surprising.)

Via Education Week: “Ed tech can help students develop critical social and emotional skills and character traits, but the market for such tools is currently underdeveloped, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group.” Grit-as-a-service.

Via NYMag: “Don’t Believe the Hype About Grit, Pleads the Scientist Behind the Concept.” But do make sure there are still plenty of headlines about “grit” as you sell your new book on the topic.

Education Week also reports on a new study by Carol Dweck on poverty and “growth mindset.”

Via The Atlantic: “Does Mindfulness Actually Work in Schools?”

’Tis the season for publishing books on “grit.” Via NPR: “Teaching The Intangibles: How To Ingrain ‘Grit’ In Students.”

Hot takes on soft skills from the guys at Education Next: “Time to Flit the Grit” by Russ Whitehurst. “Russ Whitehurst Throws Cold Water on the Grit Craze, But Is the Water Too Cold?” by Jay Greene. “What ‘Hamilton’ and Its 11 Tonys Say About Grit and Privilege” by Andy Smarick. OMG stop. Please. Stop.

Social-emotional learning and VR. Because Stanford. (And because Edsurge.)

Via The Christian Science Monitor: “Louisville’s experiment: Can teaching empathy boost math scores?” Note: it’s not “can empathy make us more caring and compassionate people” – it’s always about those goddamn test scores.

In other ClassDojo news: “Tacoma 9-Year-Old Gets Explicit Report Card Through App Used by Teachers.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “If Emotion Aids Learning, Does It Work Online?”

Via the Ledger-Enquirer: “A 13-year-old student who said he was ‘thrown to the floor’ multiple times by a teacher at Edgewood Student Services Center on Sept. 12 is expected to have his leg amputated today as a result of the alleged incident, according to his attorney.” (This is relevant here because of the “mindset” curriculum the school was using.)

Audrey Watters


Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2016

A Hack Education Project

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