Remote Work May Transform Higher Education. But Will Printers and Alexa Undermine Its Privacy?

An “uber trend” of remote work for higher education information security is coming, at a time when more connections are being forged between higher ed and other state data. Plus: printers, smart speakers and privacy (oh my!) — all in this Edtech Reports Recap. That Horizon Seems to Be … Closer “Higher education may never … Read more

Remote Learning Is Here to Stay, Raising Concerns About Teacher Training and Data Privacy

Online learning efforts may remain even when the pandemic fades away. Teachers’ confidence wavers in using edtech for instruction. Perhaps (not) coincidentally, there is more spending forecast for education technology. All in this Edtech Reports Recap. More Remote Possibilities It’s clear that emergency remote instruction over the past year hasn’t been a pleasant experience for … Read more

Pandemic Spurs Changes in the Edtech Schools Use, From the Classroom to the Admin Office

Top reported teachers’ apps have adapted to meet pandemic purposes. Home may be the new classroom, but instructional approaches are slower to change. And if you think the college IT department seems a bit stressed out … well, yeah. All in this Edtech Reports Recap. Changing App-etites How a pandemic can change things. Market data … Read more

Surveys Find Districts Are Using More Edtech Tools — and Teachers Are Bearing the Costs

“Virtual” learning may be on the upswing—corporate VR learning, that is. Teachers are paying out of pocket for edtech tools while using more of them. And educators want to know what actually worked in remote instruction. All in this Edtech Reports Recap. Is That Avatar Annoyed or Are You Just Unhappy to See Me? A … Read more

Learning Loss Is Everywhere. But How Do the Reports Compare?

Learning loss is everywhere—and so are reports detailing the setbacks. As some schools reopen, edtech product use declines. And “non-traditional” students appear more okay with remote online learning than their “traditional” peers. All in this Edtech Reports Recap. Learning Loss in Math Exceeds Reading By Any MeasureLet’s get this out of the way up front: there is no shortage of surveys, analyses and other reports on pandemic learning loss among K-12 students who have suffered shuttered schools and unplanned days of remote online instruction. What differs is how those reports measure, how many are measured and what exactly they found.Take Illuminate Education. In November, it released a brief on math and reading losses in grades K-8. Its measurement gathered up “more than one million” fall screenings given using its FastBridge adaptive assessments going back to fall 2016. It then compared annual growth from fall 2019 to fall 2020 to average annual fall-to-fall growth rates in previous years.Source: Illuminate EducationIlluminate found what it called statistically significant declines in reading in several grades, leading to “modest” reading losses across grades K-8. In mathematics, declines in achievement were “substantial” in grades 5-8. What does that mean? Reading losses varied from one to three months depending on grade, but math losses in grades 5-8 were the largest, accounting for three to four months of progress. Renaissance Learning, maker of the Star Early Literacy, Star Reading and Star Math assessments, released its own analysis in November shortly after Illuminate’s report. It covered reading and math in grades 1-8. But its comparison was both more constrained in time—comparing results of students who took assessments in fall 2019 and fall 2020—as well as more expansive in absolute numbers, citing “5.3 million assessments” from 50 states and the District of Columbia.Source: Renaissance LearningOverall trends, though, were similar. Math achievement and growth was hit harder than reading, with the negative effects characterized as “small” for reading and “moderate” for math. Renaissance looked at learning loss in terms of weeks behind, not months. For reading, the most behind were students in grades 4-7, needing four to seven weeks of instruction to catch up. In math, grades 5-6 were hardest hit at more than 12 weeks behind beginning-of-year expectations.Perhaps the most widely reported of the edtech industry’s learning loss reports came from nonprofit NWEA early this month. Its study covered fewer grades but a lot of students, nearly 4.4 million in grades 3-8 across more than 8,000 U.S. schools who took NWEA’s MAP Growth in fall 2020, with a comparison of the results to fall 2019.Source: NWEANWEA, too, found comparative student achievement in math was worse than in reading. But it might be the most optimistic of the three studies for reading, noting “students in grades 3-8 performed similarly” to same-grade students the previous fall. However, unlike Illuminate and Renaissance, NWEA didn’t estimate weeks or months of learning loss.Some organizations, like McKinsey and Company, have done a meta-analysis of various reports. (McKinsey’s includes a study based on Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready assessment data.) Individual studies and other syntheses of findings also go into detail on subgroups and have found troubling and disparate impacts on students of color, students from lower-income families, or those in other underserved groups. But all the conclusions seem to agree that K-8 student math achievement took a body blow far worse than that of reading. And they appear to acknowledge a common limitation of these reports: that the data comes largely from those students who were actually available to take an assessment in fall 2020—likely delivered online as part of remote instruction—so performance could be compared to fall 2019. As the authors of the NWEA study put it when sharing concerns about the “missing” students in the data, “students may have opted out of testing because they lack reliable technology or because they have disengaged from school due to economic, health, or other factors.” That, in itself, is a learning loss.Inequity Back to … Normal?LearnPlatform has extended its usage research for more than 8,000 edtech products through the pandemic. It’s now found that product use declined in October from a 2020 peak in September in all schools regardless of family income. The company’s data comes from tracking daily product use by 2.5 million students and teachers in 17 states.Source: LearnPlatformThere still were usage gaps between the higher family income districts (defined as those with less than 25% free or reduced-price lunch eligible students) and the lower-income districts, even though that gap narrowed. Districts serving more affluent families saw a steeper drop in product use throughout October, while use “declined only slightly” in lower-income districts—a gap LearnPlatform says “appears to be trending back to pre-COVID levels after significant widening immediately after school closures.” Unstated by LearnPlatform, but a possible contributing factor? Anecdotal news stories that more-affluent parents were more likely to send their students back to in-person classes where schools reopened rather than keep them home for continued remote learning.Bucking Tradition in Distance LearningGet older, and online learning gets better. That’s one tech-related conclusion that could be drawn from a more general but thorough report titled, “The Pandemic’s Impact on Higher Education Marketing in 2020 and Beyond.” Pulled together by higher ed marketing and ad agency LaneTerralever (clearly not a disinterested party), the survey questioned 528 current and prospective students across the U.S. in September, ages 18 and older. One interesting nugget: non-traditional students, ages 26-40, are somewhat more okay with distance learning than “traditional” students, ages 18-25. The survey finds 47 percent of non-traditional students agree that “distance learning is extremely effective,” compared to 35 percent of traditional students. That gives schools what the agency says is “an opportunity to position their distance learning properly.”Source: LaneTerraleverThe report also tucks in an insight about “microlearning platforms” that students have considered during the pandemic. Topping the list is LinkedIn Learning, at 35 percent, followed by Khan Academy, at 34 percent. LaneTerralever notes: “While in the short term they might not post a direct threat to 4-year programs, they in many ways can compete for students seeking certificates or other continued education.”

Edtech Reports Recap: Video Is Eating the World, Broadband Fails to Keep Up

The broadband gap isn’t only a problem for remote learning. “Early childhood” videos on YouTube nearly all have advertising. And as video dominates online instruction, more educators need easy-to-use resources for video creation. All in this Edtech Reports Recap. That Broadband Gap Bar? Raised.So maybe you thought internet connectivity to schools was a done deal. After all, in October 2019 the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway declared that nearly 99 percent of U.S. schools had high-speed broadband connections. Well, that was at the Federal Communications Commission’s 2014-15 short-term target of 100 Kbps per student for using tech in the classroom. But there’s still a ways to go to hit the FCC’s “longer-term” target of 1 Mbps, which was to kick in by now, for taking advantage of bandwidth-hungry edtech apps.A different nonprofit, Connected Nation, has picked up EducationSuperHighway’s broadband baton. In a new analysis, it finds that 47 percent of U.S. school districts—6,132, to be exact, representing about one-third of public K-12 students—do indeed meet the higher 1 Mbps standard. Of those, 1,508 districts upgraded their capability this year.Source: Connected NationStill, that means about two-thirds of students lack what Connected Nation calls “scalable broadband” in schools. It estimates another 4,300 districts could be upgraded in the 2020-21 academic year. Connected Nation bases the analysis in its “Connect K-12 2020 Executive Summary” on FCC E-Rate application data for the 2020 federal fiscal year. It has also created a nifty visual dashboard with state-by-state drill downs. The pandemic may have shifted the connectivity focus away from schools to homes. But when kids and their devices return to classrooms, school bandwidth will again be in the spotlight.On the home front, three organizations have released a “guidebook” to help schools and states close the internet access and device gap. “Connect All Students: How States and School Districts Can Close the Digital Divide” is a follow up to a June analysis by Boston Consulting Group and Common Sense. Source: “Connect All Students: How States and School Districts Can Close the Digital Divide”The original analysis estimated that 30 percent of K-12 public school students live in U.S. households that have no internet connection or lack a decent device for remote learning. The new report—adding EducationSuperHighway as a partner—spends its 33 pages focused on best practices to address this gap in a series of who-what-how steps: assessing needs, procuring solutions and accessing funds. The report is based on existing research plus 18 interviews with stakeholders. Think lots of nuts-and-bolts, this-should-go-into-a-checklist details punctuated with brief case studies. The report is designed to help not just schools and states, but also inspire businesses, philanthropies, nonprofits, and policymakers to take action on home needs for high-speed internet service and learning devices.Not-so-Educational Early Childhood VideosAt one point in its history, TV was decried as a “vast wasteland.” One of a pair of new reports about kids and early childhood videos may be updating that nearly 60-year-old critique for the YouTube era. Nonprofit Common Sense has released a new survey and companion analysis about the 0-8 year-old set. The first, “Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight,” provides a fascinating, almost mind-numbing array of details about how the youngest kids consume everything from online video to (yes) television.One takeaway since the last time the Census was done in 2017 is that for the first time, online video viewing dominates screen activity of kids ages 0-8. It’s more than doubled in three years, to an average now of 39 minutes a day. Plus, 34 percent of the kids watch online video every day, up from 24 percent three years ago.Source: “Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight, 2020”Childrens’ access to mobile devices may be part of it. The nationally representative survey of 1,440 parents conducted this February and March found 46 percent of 2-4 year olds and 67 percent of 5-8 year olds have their own tablet, smartphone or similar device. As to what they’re watching, the title of the companion analysis developed with C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital kind of says it all: “Young Kids and YouTube: How Ads, Toys, and Games Dominate Viewing.” Source: Common Sense Media report: “Young Kids and YouTube: How Ads, Toys, and Games Dominate Their Viewing”It’s a 46-page deep dive, concluding that 95 percent of “early childhood” videos on YouTube include some form of advertising. One in five videos viewed by kids 8 and under had ads with violent, sexual, political or other inappropriate content. And of the videos these youngest couch potatoes viewed, only 5 percent had “high educational value.”Video Creation Gaps for TeachersTeachers are all about videos, too. But they may not have the tools they need.Video platform provider Kaltura is out with its seventh annual report on the use of video in education. “The State of Video in Education 2020” is a global survey of more than 500 educators at all levels, K-12 through higher ed, though few conclusions are segmented by level or geography. But both timing and topic are of interest—the survey was done in August and September 2020, well into the pandemic and reliance on video-heavy remote learning.Source: Kaltura report: “The State of Video in Education 2020”The stat that really stands out is not the 83 percent who are using video for remote teaching and learning. It’s the 52 percent of educators who have full access to simple video creation tools, meaning nearly half don’t. Podcasts, anyone?