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The History of the Future of Education Technology

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    This blog's last post of the year, looking at the posts that garnered the most clicks in 2013. Only 3 of them were penned this year. 3 of them were written in the last days of 2012 (that is, they were part of 2012's year-end review). And the other 4 continue to be the most-read here, even after several years. (Sorry, Codecademy.)

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    For being the week between Christmas and New Year's, there was a surprising amount of news - and it wasn't all "let's bury this news at the end of the year while everyone's on holiday" either. News includes: a reprieve for CCSF in its accreditation woes, the release into the public domain of the Peeragogy Handbook, a pivot for Kaggle, a patent for Jaron Lanier, and more.

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  • 01/07/14--22:37: Predictions
  • Some ed-tech predictions for the new year. OK. Not really. I just spent the last 7 or 8 weeks writing at length about what I thought were the most important ed-tech trends of 2013. It's not as though any of those are going to stop being important because the calendar has flipped to 2014. But nor is it that any of these trends are "done deals." Ed-tech isn't inevitable. None of it. When we hear assertions of inevitability, I think we need to ask questions about why those predictions are being made.

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    Three pronouncements this week. Three lists of innovators and intellectuals in education. From Forbes, its annual "30 Under 30" list. From the American Enterprise Institute's Rick Hess, "The 2014 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings." From Politico's Dylan Byers, a response to Ta-Nehisi Coates's pronouncements about Melissa Harris-Perry and his own list of "America's foremost public intellectuals." There isn't any overlap of who devised these lists or who's on these lists, but damn, I think there's important overlap in how these lists were made and what that process and what the choices reveal.

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    In this week's education news: school closures across the US due to brutally cold weather; a study into the reading levels of university football and basketball players; guilty pleas for those involved in the Atlanta Public Schools' cheating scandal; the passing of Amiri Baraka; more wackadoodle pronouncements from Maine's governor; a delay in New York state regarding inBloom; the LAUSD iPad saga continues; and the 12th anniversary of No Child Left Behind.

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  • 01/14/14--18:49: The State of "Open" (2013)
  • Oops. I forgot to post my notes from a webinar I gave last year. I was asked to speak about "The State of OER" to AMICAL, a consortium of American liberal arts universities outside the US. No big surprise, I spoke about how MOOCs were dominating a lot of the discussion about "open education" - without actually being "open education" at all. Here are my slides and my notes.

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    Oops, I forgot to post the notes from my talk in Paris in December when I spoke at API Days. I was the killjoy who said we might want to think not simply about the wonders of technology -- ooh! ahh! APIs -- but about the cultural and political implications of opening up data. Again, who owns education data? Also, I talked about Clint Eastwood. Don't ask. Just enjoy the slides...

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    In this week's news: MOOCs and anti-MOOCs, White House datapalooza's and summits on education, the acquisition of Chuck E Cheese by a private equity firm, startup funding announcements galore, a court ruling on "net neutrality," awards for professors Marvin Minsky and Jeff McClurken, research from the Pew Research Center on e-book readership, and the death of Gilligan Island's "Professor." (And more...)

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    Hey! I got a job! I'm the editor and lead writer for Educating Modern Learners, a new education website (launching in mid-February). I've written more thoughts about why I took the job over on my personal website. tl;dr: there's a huge need for a new narrative in the media about education and technology: one that challenges the corporate reform agenda that simply wants to use technology to make schooling more efficient and one that challenges those who argue that school as-is is "just fine." Progressive education plus progressive tech plus progressive politics.

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    In this week's news: MOOCs. MOOCs. MOOCs. Research about MOOCs. Research about Facebook. School shootings. Ridiculous statements from California Governor Jerry Brown about online education. Ridiculous suspension of email privileges at CSU Pueblo. No more formaldehyde in Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo. And other things that make you say, "Wait, what?"

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    I sat on a panel yesterday at the OCLC Symposium in Philadelphia. The panel title: The Hype and Hope of MOOCs. The panel members: Bryan Alexander, Anya Kamenetz, Ray Schroeder, Cathy De Rosa, and me (facilitated by Skip Prichard). I was #teamhype all the way. The audience (library-folks) were #teamhope. I didn't have a prepared talk, so I've just storified my notes along with tweets from the event.

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    A few thoughts from the "conversation" that José Vilson and I facilitated today at Educon. It's such an important conversation to have -- and a difficult one to be sure. From the classic essay by Peggy McIntosh: "It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power, and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already."

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    In this week's education news, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address. It was pretty dull. I think he mentioned education stuff. Atlanta was hit by a massive snowstorm that left thousands of students stranded in school buses and at school. They responded with far more grace than did the students at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who did not get a snow day and took to Twitter with racist and sexist epithets about the school chancellor. Go team. But seriously, go team at Northwestern University where football players there are trying to become the first college athletes to be unionized. Oh. And MOOCs are back in the news this week in a big way. Wheeeee.

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    Last summer, Bret Victor gave what I thought was one of the most interesting keynotes I've ever seen. The title: "The Future of Programming." The conceit: he pretended like he was delivering a talk in 1973. In it, he focused on the innovations in computer programming in the 1960s and 1970s. And aye, the rub: many of these were not adopted by the tech industry; many of the innovators have been forgotten. The keynote inspired me to think about the same thing for ed-tech, particularly since there are so many innovations from around the same time. The work of Alan Kay, Seymour Papert, and so on. So in turn, I gave talk this morning at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit on the "History of the Future of Ed-Tech."

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    In this week's news: FCC promises to spend more money on broadband for schools and libraries. Tech companies throw in some stuff to sweeten the deal. (iPads for poor schools! Wheee!) McGraw-Hill went on a bit of a shopping spree, acquiring two startups. Cengage looks to exit bankruptcy. Remind101 raised $15 million which blows my mind because yes the founders are really nice guys but holy shit, $15 million for a free messaging app?! Howard will not partner with Pearson to make a distance learning program for HBCUs. And nary a MOOC-related peep. I guess we're all busy taking Cathy Davidson's Future of Ed class. Or something.

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    Happy Valentine's Day, lovers of learning. MOOCs were back in the news this way -- not in a big way, but in a funny way. And you know I love that. In heartbreaking news, it looks as though Comcast might acquire Time Warner Cable. Having been a customer of both, I can say this isn't good news if you like your Internet. Even more damning, what all of this means for the future of "Net Neutrality." Well, the Internet was a powerful tool for education, at least while we had unthrottled access. And RIP Stuart Hall.

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    In this week's news: money money money money money. Also MOOCs, some job changes, a Presidential apology for making fun of art history majors, promises about net neutrality, tin foil hats in Missouri, more WTF legislation in Kansas, Google Fiber expansion, various press releases touting sign up numbers, Arne Duncan in the NBA All Star game, and a looming clown shortage.

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    In this week's education news: Facebook teams up with edX to offer online education (and Facebook) to Rwanda. The Department of Education "clarifies" its privacy rules (where "clarifies" equals "punts"). Lots of startups raise money, including Edsurge, Piazza, Credible, and Skillshare. Pearson stocks fall on reports that it's still struggling with ye olde transition to digital. An Arizona state senator worries that the Common Core means that students will learn about math that uses letters in place of numbers. Glasgow University students elect Edward Snowden as their rector. And RIP to one of the greatest professors of paranormal studies that ever lived: Egon Spengler.

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  • 03/07/14--20:18: SXSWedu. This Again.
  • SXSWedu brings together some of the leading voices in (US) education: politicians and policy wonks (at the state and federal level), industry folks (from startups and corporations), the money people (from foundations and investment firms), educators (teachers and administrators), students, PR people, and journalists. And yet these groups mostly keep to themselves, only really mingling for pitches and press bonanzas. When they do talk to one another, it's often talking *at* one another via panels lasting 50 minutes with 10 minutes for Q&A. (The exception, I suppose: the parties.)

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    Woohoo! SXSWedu! Wheeeee! News released in time with the event: new curriculum from Amplify! A revised SAT! Chromebooks! Analytics! Hype! And stuff. There was lots of other news too: Obama's budget for 2015; the acquisition of a couple of startups and funding for a bunch more; SRI's report on the usage of Khan Academy (note, it said "usage" not "effectiveness"); more edX consortium members; a decision in the Kansas state supreme court on school funding; and an epic spelling bee battle.

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