Category Archives: Education

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.

TWIEtR: Horizons, Gartner,

The week in edtech reports (or, abbreviated, “TWIEtR”) brought new analysis and research on the future of higher education, the effectiveness of Hours of Code, and the death of smartphone operating systems.

All summarized here from my Twitter feed, @FrankCatalano. (See the “Subscribe” box in the left column nav to get these by email.)

Top of the stack of reports was the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition.

NMC’s work has always simultaneously fascinated and frustrated me. It’s fascinating, because it uses a modified Delphi method to get experts to take a look at various time horizons, going out as far as five years, and estimate which technologies will gain widespread adoption in education.

It frustrates because the contents of the reports are released in dribs and drabs before the final is issued, and NMC provides no official scorecard of how their expert panels’ past predictions turned out. At least the 2017 higher ed report has a nifty chart showing which technologies have appeared as topics since 2012.

There have been lots of anecdotes (and hype) about the Hour of Code. But does it really change students’ perceptions about computer science?

Now an actual scientific study says yes. The report, issued by (the nonprofit behind the Hour of Code), has the daunting title of, “The Hour of Code: Impact on Attitudes Towards and Self-Efficacy with Computer Science.”

But its clear conclusion is that students gain more positive attitudes about compsci: “In other words, after just one Hour of Code activity, students report liking computer science more and report feeling that they are better able to learn computer science and are better at computer science than their peers.”

Strikingly, the increase is greatest among middle- and high-school girls with no earlier experience with computer science.

More implications for edtech developers in a mobile-first world (and districts thinking through student and teacher devices on their networks): If you’re working on apps for new smartphones, only Android and iOS really matter.

While this news from Gartner sort of confirms the obvious from a US-centric perspective, it’s eye-opening from a global perspective. Sorry, Windows Mobile and Blackberry.

And one more thing:

Geez, Intel. I realize the Maker movement is the hot, sexy trend in project-based K-12 education, and kudos to you for getting behind it. But no more high-school science fair sponsorships, after two decades?

This is the kind of thing that drives me crazy when it comes to STEM education (yeah, I’ve written about it). You don’t get the technology part without the science part. There’s a reason Thomas Dolby and Bill Nye exclaim: “Science!”


This Week in Edtech Reports (yes, that’s where “TWIEtR” comes from), some hardware info, an online evaluation guide, and an all-encompassing report on algorithms that goes way beyond education technology.

For those new to this exercise, including me, TWIEtR is where I coalesce my recent tweets about edtech analysis and reports so they don’t scroll away. You can also automatically get these posts by email by filling out the brief ‘Subscribe’ form on the left.

Every year this decade, MDR has issued an EdNET Insight “State of the K-12 Market” report — for a subscription fee. The 2016-17 report is a bit different. This year, it’s a series of individual reports, but each still requires payment to view: the new, 124-page K-12 Market: Educational Technology Trends is roughly $1,500.

However, it does have a wealth of useful information based on detailed surveys of school district technology and curriculum leaders. (Personal disclaimer: I helped analyze the data and write those reports for several years, so can attest to their depth.)

You can get an interesting view, though, by simply checking out the announcements about the content, including a news release and earlier article.  Most telling is the fact that school districts don’t seem to be relying on one kind of computing device for students, splitting purchases between laptops, Chromebooks (arguably a kind of laptop without local storage), and tablets. Plus, budgets for hardware and software seem to be recovering.

Still, the most widely used edtech in districts? Regular projectors (73%) and the oft-maligned interactive whiteboards (64%).

Not strictly a report, but SETDA’s new From Print to Digital: Guide to Quality Instructional Materials is a useful resource. The State Educational Technology Directors Association has come up with this online toolkit to help districts and states with a process to review and choose digital (and analog) curriculum materials.

Pew Research Center takes a very broad view of our tech-centric lives with its new report, Code-Dependent: Pros and Cons of the Algorithm Age.  While this fascinating report isn’t strictly about education technology (and only mentions “education” in passing, though it does quote edtech luminary Justin Reich of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab), it’s directly applicable because one of the darlings of edtech is computer- and algorithm-based “personalized learning.”

Pew has developed a thought-provoking report that’s worth a scan, or careful read, depending on your interest.

And one more thing:

I love art, both fine and pop. When I used to commute to Manhattan from Seattle for work, I’d take time at least once a month to wander the massive Metropolitan Museum of Art to see new exhibitions or just visit old art friends.

Now the Met has released 375,000 artwork images with an open license for use and re-use, a boon for educators and art lovers everywhere. It’s done so in partnership with Creative Commons for the open licensing, and is encouraging easier distribution through Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia, Pinterest, and more.

Art is good for the soul, and the Met’s move is good for art.

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.