(Looking Back and Looking Forward takes a 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.)

It’s always fun to roll up all of the articles and posts I’ve surveyed from the previous week and to look for interesting patterns and trends.

For example, one of the biggest pieces of news from last week, whether you were aware of it or not, was the announcement that the edtech software company Instructure has announced that they are acquiring Concentric Sky, a leading educational development group behind badging (Badgr) and microcredentials.

There’s plenty to unpack with regard to the acquisition but, at a high level, this move puts a resounding exclamation mark on the trend toward skills and employment readiness in higher education. Having said that, it’s also important to point out that meaningful and ubiquitous badging in higher ed is not easy. First, it requires rethinking programs and curricula, as badges are only meaningful if they are tied to clearly defined skills and demonstrable evidence of skill mastery. In addition, while having robust badging capabilities inside of a market-leading LMS is definitely a move in the right direction, it is also easy to see a future where students earn an abundance of microcredentials that are never transferred to a professional or other appropriate life learning platform after they graduate. Finally, I would also point out that adding a significant layer of badging into the traditional higher ed curriculum will require significant training and professional development at most universities.

So, this is probably a good time to bring up a brader concern that teachers aren’t getting enough training on technology, and it’s a global problem.

Back to higher ed for a moment, Moody’s released a couple of reports warning that colleges and universities are looking at difficult expense increases related to rising costs, wage inflation, and labor shortages. The increase in costs will almost certainly lead to higher prices for attending college. Possible solutions? Well, there is a growing movement to lower student investment by moving to three-year degree programs. These programs would eliminate a whole year of college costs and help students begin their employment journey earlier (further helping with ROI). This trend, coupled with the rising popularity of dual-credit programs allowing students to earn at least a year of college credit while in high school, can absolutely have an impact on the price of attending college: that is if higher education institutions don’t continue raising the price to where the cost of a three-year degree in the future is equivalent to what students and their families pay for a four-year degree today.

Going back to microcredentials and the increasing relevance of skills and demonstrable evidence of skill mastery for today’s workforce, we should note that this is also putting abundant pressure on companies’ internal learning and training teams.

There are now two unemployed people for every three open positions in the U.S. It doesn’t matter what you call this situation: the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle, the Great Reset. Companies can no longer rely on their ability to hire the talent they need. Instead, chief learning officers must collaborate across the workplace to reshape their learning ecosystems and accelerate internal skill development. However, if you want to close skill gaps by taking full advantage of your employees’ talents, you must first address a long-standing problem: Workplace learning is unfair.

Of course, I would likely be remiss if I didn’t mention the kerfuffle at Twitter last week. In some ways, the news that Elon Musk wants to take over Twitter or that Twitter is adopting a ‘poison pill’ plan to shield itself from an Elon Musk takeover is missing the point. There are other real and really big issues (technological, cultural, and societal) when it comes to the future of social media. And speaking of evolving technologies and social media, what would a weekly post be without at least some mention of Web 3.0?

Finally, a couple of fun “honorable mentions” for this week’s wrapup. First up, a strong shout-out to the participants in EDUC5103: Integration of Instructional Design and Technology, a graduate-level course at Cape Breton University, who have published Integration of Instructional Design and Technology: Volume 2. This is a good primer for those who are interested, with plenty of attention to integrating learning design within the constraints of our current global realities. Also, I will always be a sucker for a post on old or antiquated computer technology, and this post on the Epson PX8 laptop absolutely sent me down memory lane and more than a few tech history rabbit holes (does anyone remember the Honeywell Kitchen Computer, or H316 pedestal model, of 1969?).

Further Reading

Higher Education

Biden Still Won’t Release Memo on Student-Debt-Cancellation Authority

Inflation and labor shortages set to squeeze college budgets, Moody’s says

Is a College Degree the Worst Investment You Can Make — or the Best?

One way to lower the cost of college: Three-year degrees

Dollar General introduces no-cost degree program for employees

How a recent policy shift at the Ed Department could affect for-profits

K-12 Education

Cardona: “We are at the doorstep of a new chapter in American education”

A Major Textbook Publisher Has Gone Private. What Does That Mean For Its Transition to Digital?

Teachers Aren’t Getting Enough Training on Technology. It’s a Global Problem.

How do patterns help children learn language and social skills?

The Future of Education

Education, Educational Technology, and Learning Design

Emerging AI Technologies in Higher Education

Cardona: “We are at the doorstep of a new chapter in American education”

10 UX Design Trends to Follow in 2022

Do You Have the Skills to Succeed in the Online Learning Industry?

Integration of Instructional Design and Technology: Volume 2

Instructure Acquires Concentric Sky, Adds Badges to Learning Platform

The Future of Education

The Seven Stages of EdTech Data Analytics

Edtech Is Looking to Build Tools to Foster Student Engagement. Can That Scale? 


There’s no such thing as ‘unskilled labor’ in 2022

Best Practices for Tapping into the Pool of Lifelong Learners as the Education Process Evolves

Why Employers Should Fund Debt-Free Education Programs

JRC Publications Repository – DigComp 2.2: The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens

Technology and Culture

Epson PX8 Laptop with a CP/M OS and a Tape drive — when Laptops were fun

How Web 3.0 is Changing Social Media and the Online World As We Know It

Elon, Twitter, and the future of social media

Twitter adopts ‘poison pill’ plan to shield itself from Elon Musk takeover

Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover bid: A timeline

US uncovers “Swiss Army knife” for hacking industrial control systems

The corridor of uncertainty: My best friend is a robot

Language is a Physical Construct

The importance of targeting nonconsumption