(Looking Back and Looking Forward takes look at the articles and posts I found interesting from the previous week, along with reflections about how the trends they point to might shape my thinking about education and technology.)

We’re celebrating Black History Month in February and people all over the Web have been sharing different lists of resources for use in the classroom. with some resources. We can always count on Larry Ferlazzo for a great list of resources, and I also recommend this educator’s toolkit from SmartBrief.

Higher Education

Back in November, Scott Galloway wrote a piece talking about the out-of-control cost of higher education in the U.S. While Galloway made a number of valid, broader points about the economics of higher ed, Bryan Alexander suggests that we need more comprehensive analyses that take into account both the complexities and the diversity of this market. I agree with Bryan that it is both tempting and dangerous to oversimplify the many forces that contribute to the costs of higher ed. As is suggested in this post, I think that broader inflation trends will inevitably lead to the continued rise in operational costs for colleges and universities, meaning the sticker price is for attending those institutions is likely to continue rising.

Indirectly related, there was also interest this week in the future of higher education. This article from Inside Higher Ed, for example, points to five new realities that higher ed institutions need to prepare for.

  1. New content producers and distributors will continue to enter the marketplace, driving up competition and consumer choice while driving down prices.
  2. Institutional control of higher education will decrease, and the power of higher education consumers will increase.
  3. With near-universal access to digital devices and the internet, students will seek from colleges the same things they are getting from the music, movie, and newspaper industries.
  4. A knowledge economy model based on outcomes will eclipse the industrial era model of higher education based on the process. 
  5. The dominance of time-bound degrees and “just-in-case” education will diminish.

The article’s assertion that “non-degree certifications and “just-in-time” education will increase in status and value” is reinforced by the many articles and projects of late tied to non-degree credentials. On a similar note, in an interview with The Evolllution, Kristin Mulligan of Athabasca University discusses how reflects on how the microcredential model is “forcing changes to higher education’s status quo—both in terms of programming and operational management.”

Another suggestion for those looking to innovate higher education’s products and business models is to take some lessons from startup cultures.

Of course, as this article points out, college isn’t for everyone. Keeping that in mind, education innovation also needs to focus on alternative education experiences for high school students, such as workplace internships.


I’m sure it comes as no surprise to those of you paying attention that disruptions caused by Covid-19 over the last two years have also led to a sharp increase in homeschooling.

…homeschooling was 4 percent in spring 2020 and 6 percent in fall 2020. The 6 percent estimate is twice the percentage estimated by the U.S. Department of Education in 2019 but only about half that estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau during the pandemic. Clearly, homeschooling is on the rise. Even cautious estimates indicate a doubling of the practice during the pandemic, and the actual shift could be greater.

The big question is whether or not this is a temporary trend or a harbinger of systemic change. And, while some are also touting homeschooling a more diverse population or homeschool families, Stephen Downes suggests that we’re missing the real point for all the hype.

The main question I would pose of the statisticians is this: how many homeschoolers are in homes where both parents work? I venture to say it’s very few. I would also ask about the relative cost per student (including unpaid parental labour) of homeschooling compared to public schooling.

Also of note, more than half the teachers participating in a recent poll said they will leave teaching sooner than they had originally planned. On the brighter side of things, I see that Google is launching a Chromebook repair program for schools.

Educational Technology

Phil Hill has released his year-end report on the LMS market for the U.S. and Canada, and it will come as no surprise that Canvas remains securely in the top spot. If you’re tired of pretty much “the same old thing” in the LMS market for education, you’ll likely enjoy exploring the Craig WeissTop 10 Learning Systems for 2022 report. These are the Learning Experience Platforms (LXP) and Talent Expericence Platforms (TXP) that are making a splash in the workforce space. And yes, if you look through the details (and you’re in education), you’ll wonder why you can’t have some of these fun toys to play with.

There’s certainly growing interest among educators regarding crypto technologies like blockchain and NFTs. I think this post by Chris Kennedy is one of the better takes on the topic. He admits to not being an expert (important) but, based on his understanding and real expertise (as an educator), points to four possible uses for NFT technology in education: (1) Transcripts and Credentials, (2) A Unique Grad NFT, (3) Producing NFTs in art and other classes, (4) Modern Portfolios.

Before we get too excited about the future, however, it’s always helpful to take a quick look back at our different uses of technology in education. And we have Audrey Watters, with her history of educational technology to help us do just that, In her latest piece, Audrey explores the history of the school bell.

Technology and Media

You can check out all my links in the Further Reading section below, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about the big tech company news from last week: Meta’s (Facebook’s) plummet in stock value. The reasons for the decline? An unprecedented quarter-over-quester drop in active daily users, competition headwinds from other social media companies such as TikTok, a forecast revenue loss due to changes in Apple’s iOS, and Meta’s heavy investment in its VR and Metaverse technologies, which some suggest (see here and here) may not pay off.

Further Reading

NFTs and Schools – Could There be a Connection?

The History of the School Bell


February Is Black History Month – Here Are Teaching & Learning Resources

Black History Month 2022: An educator’s toolkit

Higher Education

New Reports Shine a Light on Rural Colleges

Mapping Rural Colleges and Their Communities

Introducing Our Nation’s Rural-Serving Postsecondary Institutions: Moving Toward Greater 

How not to write about the costs of higher ed: another example

Why the Cost of Higher Education Has Spiraled Out of Control

Inflation, wage pressure is forcing colleges to increase tuition

College Isn’t For Everyone

College completion rates inch up to 62.2%, their highest level yet

Higher education should prepare for five new realities

Leveraging Microcredentials to Drive Responsiveness and Engagement

Adapting to Win: What Higher Ed Can Learn from Startup Culture

Public higher ed could see a windfall in fiscal 2023

DIY Economic Impact Studies


Homeschooling Skyrocketed During the Pandemic, but What Does the Future Hold?

The new homeschooling: More diverse, just as committed

Stephen’s Web ~ The new homeschoolers: More diverse, very committed

More than half of teachers are looking for the exits, a poll says

Nancy Bailey’s Education Website: Charters and Vouchers to Destroy Virginia’s Public Schools

LEAP from the Era of Accountability to the Age of Personalization

Stephen’s Web ~ LEAP from the Era of Accountability to the Age of Personalization

Google launches a Chromebook repair program for schools

Educational Technology

State of Higher Ed LMS Market for US and Canada: Year-End 2021 Edition

By Craig WeissTop 10 Learning Systems for 2022

Digital credential company Credly acquired by Pearson

NFTs and Schools – Could There be a Connection?

The History of the School Bell

What Role Does Speech Recognition Technology Play in Advanced Learning?

Edtech’s lasting value as the pandemic continues


Macy’s Department Store Eyes Online Shopping and Smaller Neighborhood Locations

Will digital currencies and fintech shape the financial system of tomorrow?

The understanding debate

AI’s J-curve and upcoming productivity boom

Satya Nadella: Microsoft has “permission to build the next Internet”

Cloud infrastructure market soared to $178B in 2021, growing $49B in one year

AI, the brain, and cognitive plausibility

We need to decouple AI from human brains and biases


Looking inward and beyond the industry’s fixation with ‘skills mapping’

College Isn’t For Everyone

Jobs for the Future Acquires Quality Assurance Framework for Education and Training Programs

How microcredentials can solve the skills gap

Decentralising the description of skills with OSMT

Cengage Group to Add Cybersecurity Education Company to Workforce Training Portfolio

Don’t make the mistake of assuming essential frontline workers are unskilled


the retrieval quadrant

Snap finally did it, y’all

Facebook suffers $230bn wipeout in biggest one-day US stock plunge

Zuckerberg Tells Staff to Focus on Reels Due to Keen Competition from TikTok

Behind the numbers: Meta’s nightmare on Wall Street

6 Reasons Meta Is in Trouble

Meta’s Metaverse Is ‘Old Idea’ That’s ‘Never Worked,’ Tech CEO Says

Famous Marketing Professor Calls Facebook’s Metaverse a “Flaming Bag of S**t”