I’m about one week into my annual “Top Ed-Tech Trends” project – something that will take me the rest of November and most of December to complete.

I’m in the process of going through all my Hack Education Weekly News articles – the round-up of education and technology news I post each Friday. (I’m halfway through the year.) Then I’ll do the same with all my weekly newsletters.

I started with ten categories that I thought I’d write about, creating ten files where I put links to various stories that have been published throughout the year. This helps me see if indeed my initial categories are adequate. It also helps me see who is really pushing certain “trends.”

For example, I thought that I’d seen a lot of buzz this year about “mindsets” so I initially had that on my list. But as I worked my way through my weekly news stories, I didn’t really see much coverage of this “trend” until April when Edsurge covered Panorama Education twice. Panorama was initially founded as an education survey company, which said it would help schools understand what parents, students, teachers, and staff were thinking. Apparently “mindsets” sells better these days. (It’s just announced today it’s raised another round of funding. You’ll never guess which publication has the news.) There has been some more coverage about mindsets (and how to measure them) – but almost all the stories come from Edsurge.

That’s not a trend. That’s the cultivation of a narrative in the hopes of making something a trend.

In the past, I’ve always included “the politics of ed-tech” and “the business of ed-tech” as two of my articles in the series. But under the Trump Administration, “the politics of ed-tech” (and more broadly, “the politics of education” and “the politics of technology”) are just too massive for one article. And if you read this series, you know these articles already tend to be incredibly lengthy. The Trump Administration and its new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have been quite active in trying to set a new education agenda – one that touts virtual charter schools and vouchers, apprenticeships, for-profit universities, learning to code and so on and that wants to crack down on immigration and free speech – so I’m really having to rethink how I organize this series.

Edsurge’s work in advancing certain ed-tech narratives is actually helpful here, because rather than think about this in terms of “trends” – and let’s be honest, I rarely covered “trends” the way in which others do – I can think about this in terms of the myth-making that the tech industry relishes.

So these are the stories I think I’ll be looking at (although this list is likely to change as I progress, because good grief I can’t write 14 of these):

  1. Ed-Tech as Fake News
  2. The Arc of Ed-Tech History Is Long and It Bends Towards the LMS
  3. Betsy DeVos and the Religion of “Innovation”
  4. The Business of Student Loan Debt
  5. Immigration and Ed-Tech
  6. The Business of Tutoring (and the Consumerization of Education Technology)
  7. Personalization and Platform Capitalism
  8. Robots Are Coming For Your Jobs (So Learn to Code)
  9. Your Education Data is Insecure
  10. Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and Ed-Tech
  11. Credentialing and the New Economy
  12. Ed-Tech, Ed Reform, and “The Curriculum”
  13. Education Technology’s Inequalities
  14. The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow and Other Online Education Failures

Audrey Watters


The Stories We Were Told about Education Technology (2017)

A Hack Education Project

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