Category Archives: Education

TWIEtR: Dissecting EFF on student data privacy

A rather light week in edtech reports. The most interesting work was a calm take down of part of an earlier study from the Electronic Frontier Foundation by a knowledgeable and respected education technology leader in the trenches.

In weeks in which there are fact-based edtech reports, This Week in Edtech Reports (TWIEtR) appears, sourced from the tweets of @FrankCatalano.

Three weeks ago I noted the alarmist tone of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s detailed report, two years in the making, called “Spying on Students.”

Apparently I wasn’t alone. Now Jim Siegl, technology architect for Fairfax County Public Schools (VA) as well as co-chair of the group that developed the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Privacy Toolkit, has done a detailed analysis of the EFF report.

Siegl’s dissection undermines some of the EFF’s claims by noting errors and blind spots, notably in the 152 products that EFF cited as the basis for its findings. Siegl found more than 12 percent of the products shouldn’t have been included because they aren’t used by students, are locally installed (not cloud based), or other reasons.

Siegl went on to discover that more of the products had privacy policies than EFF cites, more had encryption at log in, and more had external protections likely not considered by EFF, such as being signatory to the Student Privacy Pledge enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission.

Siegl is careful to note that his analysis is his own work and doesn’t necessarily reflect the perspective of his employer. It’s a long read. But it’s worth it for those wondering if the EFF had the definitive say on the matter. Apparently not.

And one more thing:

I find it odd to quote myself, but my public note on Facebook and LinkedIn about the end of any status as a “contributor” or “columnist” was said best by a very slightly younger me:

“Some have noticed that I’ve again put my “Contributor/Columnist at GeekWire” status in the past. This time it’ll stick. While I’ve enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) a great relationship with GeekWire and its founders, John Cook and Todd Bishop. I haven’t been able to figure out a way forward to where I can again regularly contribute and fit in with the current direction of what is indisputably the definitive news resource for the Pacific Northwest tech industry and its workers, with a solid readership far beyond this geographic area.

“GeekWire has been patient with me as I try to figure a potential new fit, and as they try to determine where I could contribute the most (with my approach, interests, and time constraints). Despite a handful of contributions over the past two years, nothing has firmly aligned.

“Sometimes, it’s best to acknowledge the obvious. And that’s all this does. I still support GeekWire, its talented founders and staff, and hope I can be a resource for its current direction. Who knows? One day its direction may again more fully intersect with my own, and I’ll welcome that.”

TWIEtR: Kids & podcasts, Asian VC, kids & coding

Podcasts as the new “do it again!” for kids. Limited partners from Asia as a trend for US edtech venture funds. Gender tech stereotypes as a staple at age six. All this week in edtech reports.

Check out the @FrankCatalano Twitter feed for more in real time, and subscribe (if you wish) to these updates by email in the left navigation, above “NOTIFY ME.”

Every parent will tell you: Kids will request that favorite book be read to them, or that favorite video be screened, until said parent can recite the text or dialogue from memory. (Ask me about Winnie the Pooh sometime. Actually, please don’t.)

The same obsessiveness, apparently, is true for that favorite podcast.

A fascinating new study from Kids Listen, which advocates for high-quality audio content for children, finds that not only do kids actively listen to podcasts, but they listen again, and again, and again. The survey of more than 400 families discovered that 80 percent say kids listen to a podcast episode multiple times, and 20 percent listen to a single episode more than 10 times.

Also of note — half of kids listen to a podcast every week, and one third listen to a podcast episode every day.

The full infographic has more detail. An accompanying article on the public media news site Current has Kids Listen co-founder Lindsay Patterson observing, “I recently received a handwritten letter from a mother and daughter who listen to Tumble, the science podcast for kids I produce. ‘I never stop asking about flatworms,’ the daughter wrote, referring to her favorite episode.”

Maybe Winnie the Pooh isn’t quite so bad.

A lot has been written about US and other investment in Asian edtech startups. But a detailed new analysis by EdSurge’s Tony Wan finds it’s not a one-way street: “Nearly every major U.S. edtech investor, including Fresco Capital, GSV Acceleration, Learn Capital, Owl Ventures, Reach Capital and Rethink Education, now count Asian limited partners among investors in their newest funds.”

Education technology is indeed global. And reciprocal.

It’s hard to say that the results of this research are a surprise. Still, the findings from a new University of Washington study are sadly consistent with anecdotal evidence.

For what tech news site GeekWire reports is the first time, the UW research shows that, “by first grade, children are already embracing the stereotype that boys are better than girls at robotics and programming.”

The good news: “At the same time, the kids believe that girls and boys are equally good or their own gender is better at math and other sciences.”

These are perceptions at age six, and may affect course and career choices. As one study author put it, getting to gender parity in tech is, “a hard problem … We won’t solve it in five or 10 years.”

And one more thing:

TWIEtR: Q1 Funding, K-12 LMS Use, French Startups

This week in edtech reports, startup funding (sort of) recovers in the first quarter, the US trails several countries in K-12 learning management system adoption, and who knew there were hundreds of edtech startups in France?

TWIEtR is a free service of @FrankCatalano (as I summarize interesting fact-based reports I see every week) and can also be received by email by signing up in the left navigation.

CB Insights, known for tracking investments into various market segments, released some “oh well” news for the broad educational technology sector for the first quarter of 2017. The number of deals is up. But the total dollar value of deals continues to drop, compared to any of the preceding three quarters.

Education Week’s Market Brief, in reporting the analysis of 131 total Q1 deals for a total of $545 million, notes that more than half of the deals were made in the seed or angel stage of investment.

As Market Brief states, “The number of deals in the first quarter still falls short of the zenith of the past few years, during 2015, when 148 were struck. And the value of the deals was well short of the recent high point of $1.345 billion, also during 2015.”

More snippets continue to be released from Futuresource’s recent exhaustive (and paid) report on K-12 edtech platforms. The latest, in a blog post, has a fascinating stat: while penetration of learning management systems in US higher education is near 100%, in K-12 it’s closer to 35%.

Why is K-12 so low with growth so slow? Blame, or credit, school technology and internet infrastructure, and major publishers’ business models that still rely heavily on paper textbooks, plus a lack of a top-down approach: “US penetration falls behind other advanced markets like Canada, the UK and Scandinavia, where regional and central government initiatives have helped spur adoption.”

Kind of a neat tool to catalog edtech startups (and established firms) in France: the new EdTech Observatory. At launch, it lists 242 education technology companies, by product, customer, technology, and region. It’s fun to click around.

An article promoting its launch has appeared on several sites (looks, to my marketing eye, like placed public relations).

And one more thing:

Sometimes, technology for education is a nice-to-have, not a must-have. A new report from the University of Massachusetts Boston, “Investing in the Crisis: Private Participation in the Education of Syrian Refugees,” implies how skewed perceptions can be.

With hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugee kids needing to be educated, the highest percentage of offered assistance by private companies and nonprofits is funding. But an equally high percentage is for education technology — far higher than actually building schools or providing school supplies, which are more basic when technology infrastructure may not be present.

As NPR quotes a report author, “Many of these companies are based in Silicon Valley, and they do not have a very clear picture of the context they are delivering to.”

It’s a sobering reminder of the bubbles those of us in the tech industry live inside.

TWIEtR: Student data privacy, algorithm risk

This week in edtech reports was a bit creepy. Two reports were released looking at the potential dark side of educational technology in terms of surveillance (student data monitoring), and  bias (algorithmic personalization).

As always, TWIEtR is all about fact-based reports (surveys, research and so on) that catch my eye on Twitter and in other news feeds. Subscribing to these weekly updates by email is easy: Just enter your email address above “Notify Me” in the left navigation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has a decided point of view about these things (you might recall they filed a federal complaint against Google in 2015 over alleged student data scanning in Google Apps for Education), released its “Spying on Students” report. Indeed, it was that December 2015 FTC complaint that began the campaign which led to this report.

The new EFF report uses charged language in this examination of data gathered by devices and software used in K-12 education (one example: “Surveillance Culture Starts in Grade School”). At the same time, it looked into privacy policies of 152 edtech services and surveyed more than 1,000 students, parents, teachers, and school administrators.

Some of the disconnects and risks, especially of “free” products that schools increasingly rely upon, are indisputable, even if the report language tends to the attention-getting.

As the EFF warns, “Student laptops and educational services are often available for a steeply reduced price, and are sometimes even free. However, they come with real costs and unresolved ethical questions. Throughout EFF’s investigation over the past two years, we have found that educational technology services often collect far more information on kids than is necessary and store this information indefinitely.”

Not specifically about edtech — but with strong implications for the continued rush to computer-based, personalized learning — is a new report from the RAND Corporation, “An Intelligence in Our Image: The Risks of Bias and Errors in Artificial Intelligence.”

Yes, algorithms (or sets of rules for machine problem solving and learning) power personalization. But these software-embedded instructions are created by people. And people are, well, flawed. Science-fiction fans might remember Colossus: The Forbin Project and many other cautionary tales of that be-careful-what-you-wish-for-in-tech sub-genre.

Less dramatic than that 1970 film, but perhaps more realistic, is Benjamin Herold’s take on the report’s implications for education technology with the RAND authors in Education Week.

And one more thing:

Yes, we have no flying cars or personal jet packs. But we also have no books being ground using hand-crank power to flow knowledge through wires into students’ heads.

Back to the Future of Edtech: A Meditation” is a deeply interesting piece in EDUCAUSE Review, by Educause President and CEO John O’Brien, about how visions of the application of technology to education have changed over the decades — and what it says about us and our aspirations at the time.

There are also claims about what tech could do immediately, too. Did you know Royal’s manual portable typewriter promised to raise grades up to 38% … in 1958?

It’s a long, fun, and thoughtful read. A bonus: there are lots of pictures and video examples.

TWIEtR: District priorities, security progress, & jobs

This Week in Edtech Reports (TWIEtR), a lightning round of reports — ranging from district priorities to sought-after industry jobs — as I return from a week without education technology of any kind.

Remember these highlights also appear (without my scintillating commentary) on Twitter at @FrankCatalano.

The annual Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) “K-12 IT Leadership Survey” is always a welcome snapshot into the priorities (and pain points) of district tech leadership. This year’s free report is no different.

Significantly, “mobile learning” has made it to the top of the priority list for the first time since MDR began conducting the survey on CoSN’s behalf five years ago. Conversely, a one-time top priority — “bring your own device (BYOD)” — had its lowest ranking ever.

Not surprisingly “broadband and network capacity” remains in the top three, where it (or a closely worded relative) has lived since the first report in 2013.

Common Sense Education has stepped up its privacy game over the past year, and now twice has surveyed web sites aimed at kids and schools for a very basic security measure: encryption of log-in credentials.

The latest “Login Encryption Survey” from its Privacy Initiative finds the needle has moved. Somewhat. As of March, 56% of the surveyed sites required encryption, up from 52% in October 2016. Still, 23% of sites do not support encrypted log-ins at all.

Freely licensed open educational resources (OER) have, for years, been held up for their potential to reduce textbook costs and increase the use of digital content in the classroom.

Now RAND Corporation has released a study supporting at least some of that promise. The case study, “Use of Open Educational Resources in an Era of Common Standards,” looks at how teachers have been using one particularly rich OER repository, New York State’s EngageNY.

Most fascinating is the number of other states’ teachers who are required to use EngageNY resources. The report summary concludes, “Early evidence suggests that EngageNY is among the most commonly used curriculum materials for mathematics and ELA in kindergarten through twelfth grade.”

EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin — who has long highlighted cyber security issues at schools, districts, and states — has taken his observations a step further by creating the K-12 Cyber Incident Map.  It’s worth a regular visit if data security and privacy is of interest, and promises to be updated regularly. Doug’s other writing and tweets have a thoughtful policy tinge to them, and are likewise recommended.

Market research firm Futuresource has released a bit more public detail from its paid “Digital Platforms and Tools in Education” report. This time, it’s the school “enterprise communications” space that’s covered, and how classroom-to-parent communications tools are challenging district-level providers while being challenged themselves. (Disclosure: This touches on my day job, but I found it both even-handed and well-reasoned.)

Finally, I can’t quite get over this neat job market analysis from EdSurge. The edtech resource site sliced and diced its own jobs board to see what positions appeared to be the most popular from those looking to work in the edtech industry. It wasn’t sales. Perhaps owing to the large number of teachers visiting EdSurge, the top spot went to “curriculum writer.”

And one more thing:

Yes, I really was on vacation. And yes, NPR’s Sam Sanders did do an awesome dramatic reading of “Green Eggs & Ham” in honor of what would have been Dr. Seuss’ 113th birthday. Check it out, and smile.

TWIEtR: Library tech, family engagement, & ranking startups

This week in edtech reports, a look forward to technology affecting libraries, home for satisfaction with family engagement, and at startups for tracking how “hot” they are.

The usual reminder, too, that updates are available in real time on Twitter at @FrankCatalano and via email by entering an email address under ‘SUBSCRIBE’ in the left navigation.

New Media Consortium, perhaps best known for its Horizon Reports forecasting important technology trends and challenges in K-12 and higher education, has released its third annual (skipping 2016) briefing for libraries, NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Library Edition. The free 60-page report, like its K-12 and higher ed siblings, uses a modified Delphi method that polls experts to look ahead five years.

“Library” in this context means not public, but academic and research libraries. That is, the kind you’re likely to find on college campuses.

That’s why one tech trend and one tech challenge stand out. “Patrons as Creators” is not something you normally tie to scholarly libraries, and “Improving Digital Literacy” is a general societal need. As an accompanying announcement points out, this shed lights on library professionals’ roles, “as deeper learning guides. Libraries are well-positioned to lead efforts that develop patrons’ digital citizenship and content creation skills, ensuring mastery of responsible and creative technology use.”

The concepts of parent and family engagement are, if you will, engaging topics in education technology right now. Family Engagement Lab, a new initiative and subsidiary of non-profit GreatSchools, has released a survey to help quantify the need.

In a blog post and infographic, the national survey of parents with kids ages 3 to 18 found only 68% of parents were “highly satisfied” with the information they were getting from their child’s teacher or school.

“This leaves nearly a third of families who are looking for more, better, or different information,” the researchers note. “Furthermore, we uncovered a relationship between household income and satisfaction, with higher income associated with higher levels of satisfaction, suggesting that there is additional work to be done to meet the needs of families from lower income backgrounds.”

Trying to figure out which edtech startups are on the rise? Tech news site GeekWire (full disclosure: I was a founding columnist and still am a contributor) has a useful tool, at least for startups based in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the GeekWire 200 monthly ranked index.

You can filter by category (e.g. Education) and/or B2B/B2C (e.g., All) to get to strictly edtech startups, albeit it’s “edtech” broadly defined. The rankings, based on publicly available info such as number of Twitter followers, employees on LinkedIn, and Facebook likes, can be fascinating proxies for popularity.

And one more thing:

Or, as one commentator noted, it may now be science fiction again. Perhaps post-apocalyptic steampunk. Maybe we’ll find out when I speak at Hawaiicon in September.

Speaking of breaks, I’ll be taking time off to hike in the desert. So expect TWIEtR to resume the weekend of April 15th. Or earlier. Who knows what prickly observations cacti might motivate?

TWIEtR: Global markets, German compsci

This week in edtech reports has been a quiet one. It’s had me flipping through my photos of SXSWedu while I think of noteworthy non-US reports in my @FrankCatalano feed that have not yet appeared in a TWIEtR. (And robots.)

Don’t forget that subscribing to TWIEtR by email is easy if you just put an email address above “NOTIFY ME” on the left.

There has been a lot written about the dearth of venture funding for edtech startups in the U.S. in 2016. But looking just at venture investment, just K-12 — and just the U.S. — provides a partial picture.

Seattle-based market research consultancy Metaari (formerly Ambient Insight) released a full, free report on its global tally for last year, “The 2016 Global Learning Technology Investment Patterns,” and a rather comprehensive summary news release.

One unexpected observation: “Education robots have been on the market for at least a decade, but the early products were very expensive and relatively primitive. That changed in the last 2-3 years with very sophisticated and relatively inexpensive robotic tutors hitting the market. Investments made to Robotic Tutor companies more than doubled in 2016 to $450 million, up from the $204 million invested in 2015 and up ten times from $45 million in 2014.”

Neither education technology nor coding as a gateway activity to computer science are purely U.S. phenomena. But some countries are better equipped than others, and those that appear not to be may surprise.

A survey by the publication WirtschaftsWoche of schools in Germany — known for its engineering prowess — found that taking computer science is mandatory in only nine of 14 German states. While that may sound pretty darned good to those of us in the U.S., the article notes that Estonia requires programming classes from the first grade, and the U.K. has mandatory computer classes for ages 5 and older.

And one more thing:

TWIEtR: SXSWedu, Platforms, News & Kids

I don’t want to bury the lead (as I used to critique journalism and executive memos): This Week in Edtech Reports (TWIEtR) includes my observations on SXSWedu 2017. But first we get through the latest on K-12 market stats and how kids view online news.

As always, you can subscribe to these summaries by email by looking for the SUBSCRIBE box in the left navigation. Or get updates in real time by following @FrankCatalano on Twitter.

Futuresource continues its parade of new data by walking out its latest, the Digital Platforms in the K-12 Education Market report. Among the tidbits revealed are that the mobile device management category in K-12, “is high growth, especially in the US, where the penetration of student devices is over 45%.”

That leads Futuresource to forecast that the “digital management and platform tools” market (which includes student information systems, communications and data analytics platforms, learning management systems, classroom management and collaboration tools, and more — basically, edtech not used for student instruction and testing or teacher professional development) will grow a lot. Futuresource estimates a compound annual growth rate of 4.5%, for a US K-12 total of $1.83 billion by 2020.

One other fascinating observation has to do with differences in the student information system markets in the US and the UK. Essentially, the trend to consolidation is flip-flopping in each country. The UK is seeing its one dominant provider challenged by cloud-based startups. At the same time, the fragmented US market, with more than 120 providers, is consolidating: PowerSchool alone has purchased several competitors.

Kids these days … and news. The non-profit Common Sense has released a new report, “News and America’s Kids,”  that surveyed 853 children age 10–18 on how they feel about the news and where they get it — including online and social media sources.

Kids (and I use that word hesitantly for older teens) still value news, or so say 48% of them. But their primary source is family, teachers, and friends (63%) followed by the tech source of online and social media (49%). Perhaps surprising to some, traditional media is pretty high up there, too (46%).

For social media, the top two sources? Facebook and … YouTube.

And one more thing:

SXSWedu, in its seventh year in Austin, continued its somewhat-under-the-radar role as the start of the entire annual SXSW  festival series that runs through interactive and music to film and comedy. The focus is education technology, broadly writ, and the mutual impacts tech and human education have on each other.

Not only will you hear edtech cheer-leading, but there is also a balancing chorus of voices with provocative and thoughtful concerns about digital equity, student data privacy, and the role of government. Much of this willingness to deal with hard issues is a byproduct of the organizers’ conscious mix of K-12 and college educators, policy wonks, and industry execs.

But SXSWedu has evolved from its mainly conference start to incorporate many of the festival elements of the other South-by-Southwest events. There are films, a hands-on Playground, an open-to-the-public exhibitor Expo, and always, of course, parties.

I don’t have final figures, but attendance for the conference part of this year’s SXSWedu, held March 6-9, seemed flat or smaller than last year’s 7,500 or so. (One conference official felt international attendance was down and that would hurt totals.) That’s after years of explosive growth. The free Expo itself draws in the thousands, and isn’t included in the conference numbers.

I’ve attended SXSWedu for six of its seven years, and was on the Advisory Board for five of the six. So, if you’ll humor me, a few observations.

We are at peak coding startup. From the Expo to the Playground to various sessions, K-12 coding startups were everywhere. To quote nearly every Star Wars lead in every non-Jar Jar movie, I have a bad feeling about this.

The new bright/shiny is VR/AR. Several virtual reality or augmented reality sessions and startups were touting the wonderfulness of three-dimensional edtech hardware and educational content. While some of this is legit (I liked LlamaZoo’s veterinary simulations in the Launch competition), it’s still expensive and awkward for much of education and it will be a slow, long climb to viability.

The bloom is off the K-12 investment rose. We’ve seen it in declining funding for K-12 edtech startups, shifting editorial focus to higher education and adult learning in edtech news sites, and now in startup competitions — it’s a bad time to begin a me-too, indefinitely unprofitable K-12 edtech startup. Grant funding and unpaid pilots are not business models. Perhaps the final confirmation needed was when, in SXSWedu’s Launch competition, the top three startups were not for K-12 students.

Speaking of Launch, it was an odd-yet-refreshing mix of ten startups that made the finalist cut. The breakdown illustrated the shift from K-12 student-facing edtech: Eight of the ten had zero to do with tech for K-12 students.

My personal favorites in this competition that didn’t win — for concept and/or potential — included TeacherConnects (an app and service to help teacher candidates and new teachers succeed), Cell-Ed (using mobile audio and text messaging to teach job skills), and Quizling (interactive app and kiosk quizzes for museum and library education, institutions for which I admittedly have a soft spot). Tellingly, each of these has customers and revenue.

The ultimate winner was The Whether, an app to help college grads get internships and jobs.

The upshot for 2017’s SXSWedu? It still provides a pleasantly challenging meeting place for educators, wonks, and industry to mix and discuss the big issues of education and technology. Or — as I suspect many do — just network and party.

TWIEtR: Chromebooks vs Windows, TV, & texting

This week in edtech reports (yes, TWIEtR) the epic battle between Chromebooks and Windows has a decidedly geographic twist, plus studies on texting and television.

As always, you can subscribe to these summaries by choosing “SUBSCRIBE” in the left navigation.  And/or get these updates in real-time by following @FrankCatalano on Twitter.

Market research firm Futuresource has released its full-year 2016 analysis of which mobile device operating systems (“mobile” includes laptops) are selling into K-12 schools. No surprise for those following trends: In the US, Google’s Chrome OS on Chromebooks made up more than half of the market in 2016, going from 38% in 2014 to 50% in 2015 and then 58% in 2016.

Less intuitively obvious may be what’s happening in the rest of the world: Microsoft’s Windows rules, increasing from 47% in 2014 to 56% in 2015 and 65% in 2016. Chromebooks are a mere 6% of the total non-US market. (Google does point out Chromebooks are #1 in Sweden.)

There’s some good commentary by Futuresource’s Mike Fisher in the news release.

But it’s safe to say the big loser is Apple. Apple’s iPad burst onto the scene in 2010 to rapturous response by everyone, including educators. However, it became clear after several implementations (including a disastrous one in LA Unified School District) that its high cost and lack of included keyboard made it a lesser option.

Conversely Chromebooks, many at under $200, were so cheap and easy to manage that I heard school district tech directors say they were able to afford more than they needed, just to have spares.

Apple’s iOS now has dropped from 26% share in 2014 to 14% in 2016 in the US, and has held steady for the last three years at about 9% in other countries.

An academic study about television (which, at its introduction, was considered a stunning form of “educational technology”) has sobering news for parents who park kindergarten-age kids in front of the tube. Children who spend more than two hours a day passively watching TV show decreases in math skills and “executive functioning” (a collection of cognitive skills). That’s bad for school readiness.

What is even more sobering is that this decrease is most pronounced in children in low-income households, less so in middle-income households, and isn’t measurable in high-income households.

Another academic study touts the benefits of texting. Not between students. From the school to parents. And these are automated texts.

The draft paper finds parents who get automated text messages are both more involved with their child’s school, and more informed about how the student is actually doing — even if parents don’t log into a school’s online parent portal to find out more. The kids, too, do better with fewer absences and course failures.

(Full disclosure: In my day job, I’m an exec at a company that makes school-to-home communications tools. But we weren’t involved in the study; I only found out about it due to my addiction to NPR.)

And one more thing:

Lego appears to have captured the zeitgeist of the nerd class with its latest mini-figure set, “Women of NASA.”

Now this particular nerd has played with Lego since he was five, and even still has the wooden-boxed set his grandfather, who lived in Berlin, gave him (er, me).

But that was when you could have any color Lego block you wanted, as long as it was red or white, and years before Lego introduced mini-figures of any kind. Especially this inspirational group, featuring (among others) Katherine Johnson, profiled in the warm and tensely accurate historical drama, Hidden Figures.

When Lego releases these mini-figures, there will be nothing hidden about them.

TWIEtR: IWBs, higher ed landscape

Interactive flat panel displays and edtech categories ripe for consolidation topped a relatively short pile this week in edtech reports (abbreviated: TWIEtR).

As always, this expands upon what I tweet, so you can also follow @FrankCatalano in real time, or get these updates by email by filling out the “Subscribe” field in the left margin.

To most parents, “educational technology” in the classroom has meant the near-ubiquitous interactive white board (IWB) at its front. Now Futuresource has released a report that implies interactive flat panels are well on their way to challenging that perception.

A key stat is that now more than two-thirds of US classrooms have an interactive display, yet in Q4 of last year, 68% of all display sales to education and corporate markets were interactive flat panels.

There’s a bit more detail in Futuresource’s news release.

Higher education edtech is getting more attention than it has since K-12 edtech seemed to suck all the hype out of the market after the iPad was introduced to ecstatic industry hopes in 2010.  That K-12 hype has diminished, in part, due to long customer sales cycles and reduced venture funding rounds in the past year. But to fill the gap, never fear: higher ed is here.

Not that Eduventure’s latest report is about hype. But its free infographic (behind a form, ‘natch) and news release on its 2017 Higher Education Technology Landscape Report at least outline the players and categories to watch.

Its take is that mainstream tech moving into higher ed includes social media, cloud-based student information systems, and software-as-a-service providers.  More interesting are its takes on five markets with the largest numbers of new entrants (e.g., student success and retention solutions) and five markets facing consolidation (e.g., learning management systems).

And one more thing:

My first essay for GeekWire (or anyone, for that matter) in nearly a year takes on bad tech’s personal impact, but — spoiler alert — there’s a positive outcome.

Yes, I was one of the many who purchased a VW diesel car based on promises of fuel-efficient, relatively clean performance. And I was one of the first to sell my Golf TDI back to Volkswagen after long months of following the emissions software cheating scandal.

I kept a journal of the first 60 days since the buyback and how it changed how I, and my wife, think about transportation in an era of new (Lyft, Uber, Wingz) and old (bus) alternatives.

Read “A Post-Diesel Journal: How the VW emissions software scandal sent one family down a new road” at GeekWire.