TWIEtR: inBloom, BETT, M&As

Let’s start by getting the TWIEtR acronym in the headline out of the way. It stands for, “This Week in Edtech Reports.”

Every day I scour the web for interesting reports and fact-based analysis about what’s happening in education technology. And, on Twitter, I’ve tended to tweet reports that provide a larger perspective or highlight a sweep of trends.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate anecdotes or pure opinion. Both have their place (and I’ve written lots of columns and commentary). But neither are as useful for reference.

Yet my tweets have the lifespan of a fruit fly. So I’m hoping these weekly round-ups will coalesce what I found interesting, with the caveat that what I find interesting also tends to include industry-focused reports, and may stray to where edtech intersects consumer and other kinds of technology.

As a one-time and long-time journalist and industry analyst, I’m hoping you’ll find these pointers useful, too. I’ll provide brief commentary from time to time.

This is an experiment and I hope to replicate it weekly. If you’d like to not have to check back to see if I have, go ahead and use the “Subscribe” box on the left. I promise you’ll only get blog posts.

It’s rare that an edtech startup gets a detailed post-mortem. But inBloom, which began life as the Shared Learning Collaborative (and which I explained early in its life on MindShift nearly five years ago), gets a useful and thoughtful deep-dive from Data & Society in a report called “The Legacy of inBloom.”

Adding further perspective are four accompanying essays from long-time data privacy experts and observers, such as Bill Fitzgerald, Olga Garcia-Kaplan, and Brenda Leong.

The abrupt implosion of the well-intentioned initiative deserves this kind of analysis, especially as proper handling of, and communication about, student data has become an even larger topic since inBloom died in 2014. Cautionary tales have value.

There have been a number of good analyses and reports about how investor interest in edtech startups flagged in 2016. Now Berkery Noyes Investment Bankers weighs in with a slim “Education Mergers and Acquisitions Trends Report” sporting some stunning statistics about last years’ education merger and acquisition activity.

From K-12 to adult, the news was not great, especially if you compare slightly down deal volume to nose-diving dollar value. As many except the biggest cheerleaders in the industry have said, if you’re an edu startup looking to cash out, better focus on building a profitable business first … or instead (always my preference).

One of the best industry analyst firms in edtech (if not the best) is Futuresource.  And one of the biggest edtech trade shows (okay, the biggest) is BETT in London.

Futuresource’s analysts scoured BETT and developed a free 43-page  “BETT 2017 Show Report” for download, in which each “page” has a text-heavy PowerPoint slide’s worth of content. Annoyingly, there’s a form in front of it (and no summary). But hey, it’s free. And a nice piece if you can’t afford to go across the pond every year to attend.

Trivia: BETT, originally an acronym for the British Educational Technology and Trade show, actually prefers to be called “Bett” now and has booted the meaning behind the acronym. But when it comes to calling it that, I bet few do.

And one more thing:

It looks like EdSurge, once my column home, has completed its transition to being more about edtech resources and information than news. It’s actually been a gradual shift, but the new home page suddenly puts paid services front-and-center. News is clearly secondary.

I’m not surprised. Journalism these days is a hard business and the bills need to be paid, especially if investors are involved. Something’s gotta underwrite the coverage if there are no subscriptions and few ads.

But if you, like me, want to avoid the sea of promotion the EdSurge home page has become, you can get right to the stories at this link. I’ve been promised by those in the know that news coverage will still continue, even if it’s not quite as immediately visible.