This Week’s Trends in Education and Technology (June 1-7)

[The Week in Education and Technology is a weekly summary of news, events, and ideas related to education.]

Notable Quote

I’ll admit a certain fondness for the Latin phrase, Sic transit gloria mundi, or “Thus passes the glory of the world.”

The phrase was used in papal coronations from 1409 to 1963, as a reminder of the transitory nature of life and earthly honors. I often it to point out the transitory nature of human plans and currently held societal convictions, most of which are eventually replaced by new plans and convictions based on different thinking, research, or public interest.

I find sic transit gloria mundi particularly relevant to education models, education technology, and education policy. After all, education, as we know it today, is still in its infancy, less than 100 years old. Changes are rampant, as we should expect them to be in a newly formed, dynamic model. And with every shift in direction, many of the “old ways” are cast aside.

Thus, sic transit gloria mundi is a reminder to place our hopes in ideas and visions that transcend the plans and thinking of our present generation. What we consider today to be a “gold standard,” may very well become an outdated theory or practice in the very near future.

Things That Caught My Attention

K-12 Education

Keeping sic transit gloria mundi in mind, I would suggest that it’s always a good idea to question the efficacy and validity of our educational practices. A good example can be seen in this lecture by economist Sam Peltzman in 1993, in which he asks what schools are for and whether or not they are succeeding. AEI posted a podcast with Rick Hess this week that revisited Peltzman’s answers, as well as the road that has brought American public education to where it is now.

Indeed, it seems that public schools in the U.S. are at a crossroads and it’s not clear how we can or will move forward. Enrollments across all K-12 grades will show declines in less than 10 years and traditional public schools are losing students at noticeable rates, both to private schools (traditional and virtual), and public charter schools (traditional and virtual). There is no evidence that this trend will reverse, which means our current system and the infrastructure we have built up around it, will continue to disintegrate.

There is certainly plenty of criticism of public charter schools, their methodologies, and their impact of public school systems. At the same time, there is also ample research to show that, at least in some areas, they represent an improvement. For example, a comprehensive 2014 study from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that California charter schools perform better for the state’s least advantaged citizens. “Specifically, CREDO found that poor black students at charters gained an average of 36 extra days of learning in literacy, and 43 extra days of learning in math, compared with those in traditional public schools; poor Latino students gained 22 extra days of literacy and 29 extra days of math.”

One of the reasons for the impact with lesser advantaged populations os the fact that charter schools have greater demographic diversity among their teachers than traditional public schools. A recent study from the Fordham Institute” adds a notable new facet to the existing research, finding that black students are much more likely to encounter a same-race teacher in a charter school than a traditional public school. And the study’s author, American University professor Seth Gershenson, says that the greater likelihood of racial matching might help explain charters’ success with minority students.”

Inevitably, parents, communities, and governing bodies will determine the future of education in the U.S. That said, the fact that Los Angeles voters recently defeated a proposed tax increase to support public education is telling. It may signal that school spending will remain tighter as education jockeys for funding position in government funding race that also includes health care, public works, and security. Whatever the case, it’s likely no coincidence that K-12 spending is still reeling from ‘lost decade’ of economic growth.

Higher Education

Here is a quote from Jean Rauch, Manager of Consumer Activation at Bayer Healthcare (part of a Cengage report on employment skills): “Students don’t have the knowledge for general business protocol – how do they answer the phone, respond to an email, conduct yourself in a meeting. I won’t hire someone who can’t look me in the eye.”

This is obviously one of the challenges facing U.S. higher education today, as many students are graduating with a deep understanding of domain information while lacking essential professional and thinking skills. Some see this as a reason to question the general value of a college education, while others see pathways for new, more affordable models of instruction.

Meanwhile, we continue to struggle when it comes to bringing postsecondary learning to rural or remote areas and prisons. And the cost of higher education is a serious, very real issue, as shown in a new report from the National College Access Network (NCAN).

Oh, by the way, I should mention that American college and university enrollments declined again – for the 8th year in a row.

Et Tu Publishing?

Finally, and in sticking to my theme of transitory human accomplishments or institutions, I should note that Barnes & Noble bookstores finally found a purchaser this week. I remember the first time I encountered a Barnes & Noble store, how incredible the book and media experience was. However, while retail over the past 20 years the New York bookseller stayed with its original paradigm. Today, even though I live fairly close to a Barnes & Noble, I go only when I’m in the need of a quick gift.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Research Articles and Posts for the Week

TEL Library Posts You May Have Missed

Planning Your Life -Learning Journey (Learning Tips)

TEL Mastery Standards: Designing for 21st-Century Competencies (Learning Design)

K-12 Education

Charters Employ More Diverse Teachers Than Traditional Public Schools. Is It Giving Them a Leg Up With Minority Students?

NEPC Report: Time to ‘Hit Pause Button’ on Virtual Schools

When blue L.A. rejects more school spending, it means something

Big Disconnect Between How Much Money K-12 Gets and How Fairly It’s Spent

Report: K-12 spending still reeling from ‘lost decade’ of economic growth

What is American Education?

Research Shows That Charters Do Best for California’s Low-Income and Minority Students

Higher Education

More than half of online learners want to change careers

A look at how states are struggling to shore up higher ed, general finances

Insights into Online Education and OPMs from the College Scorecard

“To Be Honest I’m Not Sure If We Have a Textbook”

Despite Rising Costs, College Is Still a Good Investment

Soft Skills: Unlocking the Power of Knowledge

Rethinking the cost of college education

Report: More research needed to improve access to higher ed in prison

American college and university enrollment declines again – for the 8th year in a row

Fewer than half of public colleges are affordable to low-income students, report finds

What Happens to Those Who Live in Higher Education Deserts?

Learning Design and Learning Theory

Moving From 5% to 85% Completion Rates for Online Courses

Curriculum Planning to Support Learning

Soft Skills: Unlocking the Power of Knowledge

Student Panels: Non-traditional students and consistency in course navigation

Thinking With Your Hands

Teach Slower to Teach Better

Workforce Readiness

More than half of online learners want to change careers

Minimum wage analysis using a pre-committed research design: Evidence through 2017

From rhetoric to reality: creating communities to forge a skills-based future

Soft Skills: Unlocking the Power of Knowledge

Media, Publishing, and Cultural Trends

Hedge Fund Elliott Mngt. Agrees to Buy Barnes & Noble

Immigrants in America: Key Charts and Facts

Humanity’s next century: an Empty Planet for education?

What America will look like in 2040: Older, less white, less religious

Technology and Financial Trends

CVS Health’s strategy to change healthcare after Aetna merger

Walmart Will Pay For ACT And SAT Test Prep For Employees

Walmart Expands Employee Tuition Benefits

Chegg Expands Student Debt Relief Benefit for Employees

A how-to guide for taking the guesswork out of innovation in emerging markets

Carrefour says blockchain tracking boosting sales of some products

Less Like Us: An Alternate Theory of Artificial General Intelligence

Uber loses $1 billion in quarter as costs grow for drivers, food delivery