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Even though there are still four months (and change) left in 2017, I’m fairly certain that I’ve already identified the “top ed-tech trends” I will write about in my annual series.

This will be the eighth year I’ve undertaken this project, and I know by now that it’s an immense amount of work. As such, it’s best to start early. It takes about a month in order to pull together all the news and links from the year and another month to write the ten articles. That’s pretty goddamn impressive, if you ask me, because I typically write the equivalent of a book in that time frame.

I’m a little nervous about this year’s project as I start my Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship this week. Initially Kin and I had thought that we’d keep our apartment in LA and that I’d return to the west coast for November and December and the intensive research and writing of the year-in-review. But now I’m not sure. We might get an apartment here in NYC. As everything is so up in the air, it makes this project seem even more daunting, and I think I’m going to try to start work on it even earlier than usual.

As it stands, here are the trends I’ve identified:

  • The Politics of Ed-Tech
  • The Business of Ed-Tech
  • Fake News
  • Privacy and Surveillance
  • Personalization
  • Automation
  • CTE (Career and Technical Education) and “Skills”
  • Free Speech – on Campus, on Social Media
  • Social Emotional Learning
  • Inequality

I’d like to talk about platform capitalism too, which I think is intertwined with data, privacy, personalization, and inequality. That’s the challenge with all of these – they’re all connected: the politics and the business; the exploitation and inequality and the surveillance; shutting down free speech and academic freedom and rebranding education as about jobs and skills, and so on.

From this list, I hope to make it clear that I am less interested in particular products or even the things that are usually designated as “trends.” I don’t think VR is a trend. I don’t think the Internet of Things is a trend. I think those both are a reflection of a technological culture that responds to press releases more than to anything else. That’s why I’d say the most important trend so far this year is “fake news” and not, say, 3D printing or what have you.

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Audrey Watters


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Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2017

A Hack Education Project

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