Recommended Reading: With or Without EdTech

A few weeks ago, I recommended an EdSurge piece by the Clayton Christensen Institute’s Julia Freeland Fisher. It featured this graph of refrigerator vs. washing machine diffusion:


I saw this same image featured last week in a main stage talk at the IMS conference, so it is making the rounds.

Audrey Watters pointed me to this blog post responding to Freeland Fisher by CSU Pueblo history professor Jonathan Rees. Jonathan has made several appearances here on e-Literate. I would describe him as an open-minded and engaged ed tech skeptic. He teaches using tech but is suspicious of narratives such as Christensen’s “disruptive innovatation” that tend to displace educators in favor of tech. He also happens to be a scholar of the history of refrigeration.

Ruh roh.

Jonathan takes apart the graph using a number of tools of scholarship:

  • He notes the lack of sourcing for Freeland Fisher’s data. (This is a problem that’s common in ed tech blogging and reporting—as opposed to scholarship. The less formal style of writing and different audience invites a certain sloppiness in sourcing at times. We’ve occasionally been guilty of this sin on e-Literate.)
  • He surveys alternative scholarship, finding a difference in diffusion rates for the washing machine than the figure Freeland Fisher cites.
  • He looks at differences in the analyses to explain differences in the data. “Perhaps this [difference] can be explained by the difference between owning a washing machine and ‘accessing’ a washing machine in the basement of your apartment building or taking your dirty laundry down the street to a laundromat.”
  • He looks at differences in context to explain differences in the data: “French or English people in 1957 still had easy access to fresh meat and produce at large markets.  Many still choose to live that way today because fresh perishable food tastes better. Americans, on the other hand, tend to preference convenience over taste. That’s why the refrigerator industry was one of only three in the whole United States to grow during the Great Depression.”

These are all solid analysis techniques that are common in scholarship across many disciplines. But we rarely see them applied directly to claims of “efficacy” in ed tech, particularly in mainstream outlets where academics who are not education scholars can read them and evaluate the arguments.

Whether Rees is correct in his takedown of Freeland Fisher is almost beside the point to me. His casual demonstration of scholarly analysis is a stark reminder that we are missing something critical in our academic conversations about ed tech.

Read it here.

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State of Higher Ed LMS Market for US and Canada: Spring 2017 Edition

This is the ninth year I have shared the LMS market share graphic, commonly known as the squid graphic, for US and Canadian higher education. The original idea remains – to give a picture of the LMS market in one page, highlighting the story of the market over time. The key to the graphic is that the width of each band represents the percentage of institutions using a particular LMS as its primary system.

Last year we made a big shift based on our LMS market analysis service – we are working with LISTedTECH to provide market data and visualizations. This data source provides historical and current measures of institutional adoptions, allowing new insights into how the market has worked and current trends. Our spring report for subscribers will be released this month. Data for 2017 goes through April 1 of this year.

Continue reading

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Movement of Canvas LMS to Global Markets

We’re coming up on our one-year anniversary of the e-Literate Big Picture: LMS market analysis service and getting our Spring 2017 report ready. One of the things that I love about working with LISTedTECH as our partners for this service is that their data goes beyond a snapshot in time and well beyond the North American market. Not to mention their skills with visualization of data.

During a session today at the ASU/GSV Summit, Instructure CEO Josh Coates described how the company tests out new ideas – making bets and getting rapid feedback – and one example used was seeing if they could sell the Canvas LMS into a new country, Spain in this case. Continue reading

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Do For-profit Institutions Converting to Non-profit Affect Distance Education Enrollment Numbers?

In a comment to my post on the new Digital Learning Compass report covering distance education enrollment trends for US higher education, Richard Garrett, Chief Research Officer at Eduventures and Director at The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, asked an interesting question.

I’d welcome your view on a related issue I’ve been wrestling with, namely how to treat for-profit institutions with significant numbers of online students that are now nonprofit. A number made such a conversion in the fall 2012-15 period, and more are to come (e.g. the EDMC and Kaplan announcements). In your study, did you use institutional control for the year concerned or continue to treat former for-profits as such? If the former, then I think it is worth pointing out that some of the private nonprofit growth, and for-profit decline, is due to control conversion.

With all of the news around for-profit changes, include Corinthian Colleges, ITT, Kaplan University, DeVry rebranding, I thought it would be worth addressing this question in a new post instead of just in the comments as I suspect others may have the same question.

tl;dr – There has been no material effect of these institutional control changes for the periods covered in the DL Compass report (Fall 2012 through Fall 2015). Continue reading

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Digital Learning Compass: New report on distance education higher ed enrollments

The next generation of the long-running Online Learning Survey is here, and it is now called Digital Learning Compass. Originally known as the Sloan Survey of Online Learning, then known as the Online Learning Survey, this study led by Jeff Seaman and Elaine Allen from the Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG) has been the definitive source for understanding the state of online learning for higher education in the United States since 2003.

Three years ago the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS) started releasing census-based data on online enrollments, starting with the Fall 2012 term. The most recent data set is from Fall 2015, and today’s release of the Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report covers this new data. Download the full report for free here. Continue reading

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