SIC Scholarship

I can’t read everything, even in the subfields of my particular interests. If someone asks me if I’ve read a particular piece, chances are the answer is either “no” or “I have no idea.” In other words, it’s very hard for a piece to stick in my memory because there are so, so many. I say this because this essay here is entirely subjective, and intentionally so.

When I think about what articles stick to my ribs, so to speak, and the type of scholarship and public engagement in which I hope to participate and that I would like to encourage in my colleagues and compatriots, I have begun to codify (though not quantify) my interests along three different scales.

I hope to read, share, and create, SIC scholarship.

S(trong), I(mportant), and C(ompelling).

Strong is the most traditional aspect of it, the scholarly rigor. Basically, peer-reviewed, though I know this excludes some valuable work. This is what I need to continue to learn about in my methods classes and my other coursework. I don’t know that I agree with the way rigor is defined, and it’s surely used as a gatekeeping tool, but if I’m going to cite something and it’s going to be criticized for relying on something not considered rigorous, then I should be aware ahead of time. For my own reading, I don’t care as much, but especially while I’m in school and soon after, I am mostly reading articles so I can turn around and write. So, yeah, it needs to be strong for me to rely on it, even though I think the journal system is a mess and so are conferences. I can’t exist fully outside of the system just yet.

Important is purely subjective, of course, but to me, it means two main things. It’s important to me if it’s related to my subfields, sure, because I can use it, but it’s also important to me if it seeks to challenge oppression, dominance, white supremacy, etc. This is mostly about the goal of the study or the article. Articles that reify power structures just aren’t important to me, aside from their roles as counterexamples of what I would not like to consume or produce.

And for me, I hope to consume and create work that is Compelling. This is purely about the way people write (or otherwise express themselves). This is what journals really stifle, and if an author can force precise prose into their published piece, it can totally sing. I will cite a piece that’s important and/or strong, usually looking at the findings, but when the introduction or “discussion” sections are particularly compelling, that’s when I hold articles close to my chest.

I think if more of us strove for these qualities, our work would be much better. Imagine if it wasn’t unusual to challenge oppression in our work. Imagine if reading most journals wasn’t dull. Imagine!

This is just a silly idea, but I think it’s a fun concept, and I’m going to hold onto it.

Just Deserts

In some research I am doing, I have been looking at studies on “implicit bias,” which I’m sure you’ve heard of if you’re the type of person who reads what I write. Through all my searching, I only found two studies (really two parts of the same study) where a version of the Implicit Association Test was used with regard to the field of English Language Teaching, and in this case it was performed on students. So in my research methods class, I am proposing that we use this instrument on ELT professionals.

Yet that’s not very compelling to me. Will it show that, like every other group of people, ELT professionals also have implicit bias towards white people? Of course. And the evidence is weak that implicit bias can really be altered, as it seems to descend from a life of being influenced by a world that reifies the message that people of color are worth less than whites.

Accordingly, I’ve looked at a few studies on system justification and meritocracy, not so much on whether the system is truly just or meritocratic (it’s not!), but whether or not the participants believe they exist within a meritocracy. I have no particular justification for the claim I am about to make, but there is a thread I am trying to draw through the literature review I just submitted to my professor that suggests that there is a chance a person’s external beliefs can be changed, and even if not, their behavior might be malleable.

I say all this to say that I doubt it’s possible to erase implicit bias, regardless of the nonsense the NYC DOE is trying to do. So I spent some time thinking more deeply about what meritocracy really means, and I did the corny thing and straight up found the definition. There’s a curious word in there, and that word is “deserve.” Basically, in a meritocracy, people are to be rewarded according to what they deserve.

Most Americans believe their country is meritocratic, despite all evidence to the contrary. 

So what does it mean that they can see the system for what it is – and, similarly, they tend to believe things are rigged – yet also see it as meritocratic? It goes back to that word, “deserve.”

Simply put, we have, for centuries, taught that the status quo, which prioritizes the few over the many, is the only way, and though some have always pointed out how wrong this is, we tend to accept it at face value. Why? Because a part of us, without realizing it, believes that the people who have fewer rights deserve their station in life.

This could apply to all sorts of discrimination, but ultimately, when it comes to racism, my point is simple: people believe, simultaneously, that they are not racist but that racism is deserved, even though they would never express it as such.

Can this be changed? Probably not just through a debate or a conversation, hard though one might try. Maybe through an entire educational program that has yet to be developed. I think there is some real unexplored value in developing a theory about people’s opinions on who deserves what kind of treatment. I think that, ultimately, people really do give people exactly the amount of respect, consideration, and kindness that they feel they deserve, whether or not they realize this or are willing to express it. And I think if this could developed and analyzed, real change could occur.

People really do give people what they feel are their just deserts, within the confines of social obligations (eg, professional hierarchy), and it absolutely applies to racial discrimination. It’s something I’m going to think about and gather research on, and perhaps make it the focus of my conceptual work in early 2020. To paraphrase a well-known movie, deserve’s got everything to do with it, much as we might pretend otherwise.

 

Technical Problems

Reading an article for school (which doesn’t start for a few weeks, and this article isn’t due until Mid-September, but I gotta be me), and came across an interesting re-definition of the term “technical.”

I’m paraphrasing, but the piece (in a book for which we don’t have the full citation, my apologies, but the chapter is called “The Heart of Danger”) makes the point that there are two types of changes, technical and adaptive. Adaptive change is the riskier, more uncomfortable sort, the type that makes people feel their competence is being questioned as their habits are examined. Whenever I posit some theory related to race and education, I’m mostly talking about what these authors call adaptive changes. Case in point, one article to which I continue to refer describes poor attendance at a community education program and interviews both students and teachers. The students say, explicitly, that the program underestimated and ignored them, while the teachers and administrators insisted that people stopped attending due to logistical issues (eg scheduling). In other words, the people in charge needed to make adaptive changes but dismissed this notion to focus on ineffective technical changes.

I think about this in my current job. I can’t get too much into it, but suffice it to say that a large portion of my job is developing training courses on a governement database and its many features. We are told, by our clients, that we need to focus on what this piece I’m reading would call technical changes, in this case steps and processes that the workers need to learn and adapt to in order to succeed at their jobs.

But when it comes down to it, a lot of these scenarios require adaptive changes. Organizations and the people within them need the ability and willingness (and I think the latter is the key) to question their assumed competence and their ingrained habits. Maybe they don’t actually need to change very much once they take a good look. But they need to be willing to consider the possibility, and self-analysis by management is itself a necessary adaptive change.

For as long as we try to assume all issues are caused by technical problems rather than adaptive ones, we will fail to effect lasting change. But for the folks in charge, maybe that’s a feature and not a bug.

Checklists

I’ve been going back and forth on what my ultimate goal is. And I still haven’t figured it out.

One thing I’ve become sure of is that if I were to create a model, even a well-researched and resonant one, it would become commodified and diluted almost as soon as it became popular.

I think about what I’ve fallen into and out of love with. Grit Test, Growth Mindset. Even the Best Plus test I administered several hundred times I once actually thought was pretty good. And although there is obviously unexamined oppressive reasoning behind all of them, the creators surely wanted to help. If I assume everyone is a mustache-twirling villain I do myself and them a disservice.

When you create a measurement tool, it so often just ends up a test people teach towards. If you condense it into a checklist, it’s easily digestible, but most people don’t or won’t or can’t take the time to place it in the context of the arguments supporting it, so it becomes a decontextualized CliffsNotes version of its original intent, and it loses much of its power.

On the other hand, if you refuse to checklist, how much reach can you really have?

I completed a project for school recently where I used Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies to envision changes I would make in my professional context. That book and its related articles resists checklisting, and I believe it’s better for it. But then I wonder if it automatically becomes limited to educators who are already interested in deepening their praxis.

It seems to me that the most impactful path is to create some sort of list to keep educators focused on central tenets. If people are interested in a model, they are going to need to remember some important facets thereof, and lists are an effective way to convey this information. But as soon as a list is created, it blocks out the sun for the people who merely want to seem they’ve deepened their praxis. And any truly great model is going to be complex because our students are.

How do you creat something that is complex but not convoluted, accessible but not diluted? I have no idea. But finding that tightrope and walking it is my goal over these final three years of school.

Using New Tools for New Things

EdTech is definitely a thing. It’s very much a thing.

Any educator who tries to pretend they can have a full career without using some form of EdTech is just being foolish, although I know a few like that.

The tragedy, of course, is that the tech giants got involved and turned it into an “efficiency” machine, which really just means “profit.” But I don’t really fault them for it, because corporations will corporation.

Yet, unless you can find one and show it to me, there hasn’t been a single study proving that even with all the tools in the world, marginalized students still struggle relative to those in dominant groups. Of course, this just means they are problematized, their cultures, languages, and races become pathologized, and deeply concerned people fret about various “gaps,” be it language, achievement, or what have you.

The problem is schools are cruel to them and they’re not given the support needed that would foster healthy motivation. But it would require school leaders, and teachers, to admit culpability to change this, and this is the biggest battle.

(Before someone jumps in with, “Teachers work hard!” Of course they do. We still do things in a way that’s harmful for the marginalized and we need to do better.)

EdTech doesn’t really have any solutions for this, yet. It can provide lesson plans and help with assessment and grading. It can help students prepare for exams and do research more easily. For all its faults, EdTech has the ability to be of great use. But if our educational institutions are meant to push our society forward by training future generations – and I believe, ultimately, that that is the purpose of schooling – then it needs to turn its focus to improving the way educators support the marginalized. I suppose there isn’t really any money in that sort of thing just yet. But it won’t meet its potential as a subfield until it addresses this need.

The 4 Groups of Teachers for Learners of Color

Reading more of the handful of responses to my survey on race in English Language Teaching (you can take it if you are an ELT, let me know if you want to…), I’m getting the strong impression that there are basically four groups of teachers with respect to how they treat learners of color. I am investigating this with respect to ELT, of course, and more specifically with adult educators, but I wouldn’t expect this to be any different for K-12 environments or outside of language teaching.

I’m going to work on this and add to it, but this is my initial sketch of the four types of teachers for students of color. I will need to do research to come back and fill this in with data, and some of that research will be my own.

These groups will go from worst to best.

A quick note: this isn’t really about teaching ability per se, since I’m not sure that’s fully quantifiable. That said, if you’re in the first or second group, it’s unlikely you’re all that effective an educator for the students who might just need the most support, and it’s their experience I am most focused on.

Group 1: The Susans

That would be Susan as in Susan Smith. Apologies to kind people out there named Susan.

These teachers are actively antagonistic to the progress of students of color. They may or may not have voted for the current president, but at the very least they think he might have some points about “sh*thole countries” and Puerto Rico.

A student of color who excels is a fluke, a student of color who is deeply engaged in the classroom is disruptive, and every other standard stereotype you can think of.

I am enough of an optimist to believe that these teachers are few and far between in most educational institutions, although I am and many other students of color have encountered them. They are the foot soldiers of racism rather than the mere beneficiaries.

What do they need?

To leave the profession and go someplace where they don’t have to interact with people of color. So, Vermont, maybe. Or Finland. But those places are probably too “socialist” for them, so maybe they can go to Wyoming.

Group 2: The Beckies and Brads

I actually believe, though I will have to do considerable work to prove it, that this is the largest group of teachers in this country, and even in racially-mixed cities like the one I call home.

These are the teachers who are both “colorblind” and “colormute,” who, in an ELT context, talk about culture but never color, and, crucially, consider their decision to teacher students of color to be somewhere between inherently altruistic and heroic.

Whereas the Susans are most likely white, these teachers could be people of color themselves, as neither internalized racism nor a desire to avoid conflict are exclusive to Caucasians.

These teachers will say they treat all of their students the same, which may or may not be true, but considering that all students are different, this hereby erases students’ full humanity, be it racism, sexism, or what have you (though I’m focusing on the first of these).

Because these teachers feel they’re owed thanks from their students by virtue of their presence, this group is probably the hardest to change and the most resistant. The Susans wouldn’t even bother to read this article (or whatever I do with my opinions within it), and are sort of a lost cause. The Beckies and Brads give the Susans cover when the Susans wear blackface to the Halloween party, because it’s not that bad if they’re dressing up as someone they admire.

The Beckies and Brads are honestly why I decided to write this. They are aware of racism and will condemn a Charlottesville, and they might nominally agree that some institutional educational policies are unfair, but will find it difficult to ever acknowledge their role and complicity in the system and its outcomes.

They are the people who, when they learned I was merely asking about race (not even racism) in ELT, told me that discussing race was, itself, the cause of ongoing prejudice, or the otherwise “smart” people I’ve spoken to who think their own discomfort with race is reason enough to avoid the topic entirely.

I could go on and on about the Beckies and Brads forever (and I might, some day). They are the biggest problem, in my view. They are Dr. King’s “white moderate” (even if they’re not actually white or politically moderate), yet they are never going to admit to their membership in this group. And they’re tragic, to me, because many of them could be good teachers for learners of color, if only they engaged in some deep introspection.

What do they need?

They need their defenses broken down. Of all the groups here, this is the largest and perhaps more intractable change that must be sought, and the main roadblock for true racial equity in education. I have a few pet theories on how this can be achieved (Transformative Education, for example), but denial is a hell of a drug, and I can’t say I really know the cure.

Group 3: The Nkechi Amare Diallos

Who is Nkechi Amare Diallo? That surely sounds like an authentic African name. And although I said it was entirely possible to be a Becky or Brad as a person of color, surely someone suffused in an African culture couldn’t be anywhere other than the final and best group, right?

Well, google the name (or click this link) and tell me who she is.

(waits)

Yeah, exactly.

So, back when she was Rachel, the thing about her is that, until she decided to act a fool very publicly (and one suspects there’s some serious mental and emotional stuff going on there), she was genuinely trying to do good work for the community. I don’t know how good her work actually was with her… unique mindset, but she wasn’t just talking. She was employed leading a local chapter of the NAACP from day to day. She seems to genuinely love black culture. It’s just that it’s not a really healthy kind of love.

Leaving her aside for a minute, the teachers in this group are people who have probably read some research and theory on deficit mindset and other such concepts, and they are Not Going To Let You Forget It, like any evangelist recently converted to the church of Scientology, LDS, or Crossfit.

They know their facts to an encyclopedic level and they take their work seriously, telling everyone in the Susans, Beckies, and Brads about how they could be doing better, and making at least the Beckies and Brads very uncomfortable.

But there’s something missing.

Ultimately, these teachers are on the right track, so as much as I am teasing them, I would only criticize them gently, since they’re a lot better than the previous groups.

The fact is, though, that there is often a humility missing, especially when these teachers aren’t members of racialized groups themselves (or even when they are).

Doing education work correctly requires a certain amount of pride. If you have no confidence in yourself in the classroom or while you’re researching or writing it will be readily evident to a student or observer. Yet, in my opinion, the people in this group need to take a step or two back and assess whether or not they’re positioning students and educators of color for leadership. In other words, are they centering the marginalized or centering themselves?

I freely admit I was this person in my early days of teaching, walking into my classrooms in South Korea being treated like a celebrity (I was the first black person they’d ever seen). I thought I could really help them in my own naive way. I’ve grown out of this mindset, but I really did care about the students and wanted to treat them with love and kindness. This group, while often incorrect, is not acting out of malice, and even the best of us (which I am not claiming to be) slip into this from time to time.

Think about it, though. If a performatively woke teacher takes the lead, it’s a better situation than being led by someone who out and out ignores the reality in front of them or being led by one that revels in the status quo.

And hey, careers in education are tough – I’m not saying turn down a promotion or a publication. But being an ally isn’t really about leading so much as it’s about supporting, or, more precisely, it’s about using your own privilege and platform to help others lift themselves.

What do they need?

Just some guidance, really. They’re trying, and most of them aren’t truly fetishizing other races or coming back wearing cornrows after vacation (although some of them are…).

I feel as though group 3 needs to take the reins of educating group 2 (who probably comprise most of their relatives), since that work usually falls to group 4 and group 4 has enough work to do.

Group 3 is doing good work, but just needs to ask themselves if they’re really listening to the marginalized or speaking on their behalf.

Group 4: The Taranas and Bayards

The people in this group don’t really have cute nicknames, though I chose names for the sake of symmetry. If there’s an example from another field, it might be someone like Tarana Burke, or a Bayard Rustin, people whom you probably need to Google, which is sort of the point.

Look, teaching, if you’re in front of the room, is a performance to some extent. You can’t really do it well if you don’t command attention. I certainly feel most at ease in front of a class or else I wouldn’t do it. And maybe the examples I cited here really wanted to be stars and it didn’t work out that way, though I doubt it.

The Taranas and Bayards are authentic and committed, and most likely the only group that leads to seismic change. You can be of any color and become a member of this group, but you have more (and different) work to do to join if you’re white.

These are the people that group 2 thinks they are, the actual heroes of the profession. And we need them.

What do they need?

More support, more money, and more group members if our education is ever to truly become equitable for students of color.

****

I plan to come back to this and flesh it out with some numbers and anecdotes. But this is my preliminary assessment of the groups of teachers out there with respect to how they teach learners of color. I expect to analyze how to move people from group 2 and 3 to group 4 in the future, and how group 1 can possibly be rooted out of the profession altogether. But for now, I’m happy to have offered my opinion on the state of things.

 

The System

Of course we need to change the education system. I don’t think anyone who pursues a degree beyond undergrad in the field thinks it needs to remain exactly the same.

But for a moment, let’s think about how many things need to change. Let’s start from the very top.

Ultimately, all the prestige and pomp and circumstance is about power, right?

Schools want to be able to say they helped create wealthy people (who then donate to the schools), and wealthy people are powerful, either literally because of their money or because they have prominent roles (in politics, say).

So, at the very top, we need to change who is allowed to get lucrative jobs, change the fact that people hire (and vote for) people who resemble them, change what jobs earn the money in our society. I offer no solution to this, but if this part doesn’t change, nothing else will, because it all leads to this.

But IF we change who gets to have the power – that “if” is doing a lot of work – then we might be able to change post-graduate education.

Not every powerful person has extra degrees, but many of them do, and the fact is that, even though many are pushing for free or affordable undergrad tuition at public schools, graduate school remains either very expensive or has an extremely high opportunity cost in preventing many such students from working.

But IF we change who gets to have the power and IF graduate school were more accessible, then maybe people wouldn’t be as competitive during undergraduate programs. And then maybe there would be less of a gap in outcomes for students from different backgrounds.

And then if everyone really did have the same chance at success once they got to college – any college – maybe getting into the “right” college wouldn’t dominate childrens’ lives for the decade beforehand.

I’m not even really going to talk about the scandal in detail. I’ve said enough about it. Suffice it to say that it’s a hell of a lot of work to do instead of helping your kids achieve the grades and scores required for acceptance.

But maybe this sort of nonsense wouldn’t happen if getting a college education itself was more important than the name of the school.

And in order to change that, though, what do we need to change? We need to change people. We need to change the conversations people have in certain circles, where pride is tied only to achievement. Because we could change the entire system, but if we don’t change the pressure people feel to make sure their children are good enough to be bragged about, then nothing will matter, and we’ll stay in the same position forever.

Some folks try to change the entire system, and I commend their idealism. It would be much better if we had a different system, one where education really did matter but wasn’t so tied to “prestige” or lack thereof, but the best our current students can hope for is to be allowed a chance at accessing the system that exists.

And that’s a shame.

Thoughts on School 1/30/19

Second semester of doctoral program has begun. A few thoughts hence.

  1. So I am going to have to force myself not to rush through work in statistics, because it’s not that complex, and it’s frankly not difficult math. (I didn’t say the CLASS was easy! I just mean I’m not doing things more challenging than multiplication/division/square roots, and we worked on the order of operations last night.) It’s not theoretical at all, and there are no shapes (aside from a bell curve, but nothing truly geometric), which is what became a challenge for me in high school. With that said, it’s remarkable, even from just an hour of work, how sloppily statistical terms are thrown around in popular culture. We all know people who confuse correlation with causation – it’s rare any onething can be conclusively proven to cause another – but even basic terms like “samples,” “populations,” and even “statistics” itself are used poorly. Not that calculus is useless, but I strongly believe that a basic literacy (well, numeracy) in statistics would be more useful for a young learner than most of the arcane and dense math that is foisted on high schoolers. It’s much, much easier to connect statistics to daily life, yet it’s not part of the regular program, and that doesn’t help anyone.
  2. On the other hand, I was lucky I almost always had enthusiastic math teachers, even up until the time when I struggled in higher calculus. You might laugh, but “math trauma” is a real thing, and I’m fortunate not to have suffered through it. Many tense up when even performing basic arithmetic, and I can certainly see how that might have a deleterious impact on anyone’s personal stability. We all need math – just like we all need writing – and the way it is delivered makes a massive difference.
  3. I’m also taking a course on Multilingual Learners, a phrase that is new to me but a concept with which I am deeply familiar. I don’t want to shame my MA program, which was great, but I hesitated going for another degree for many years because I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle reading scholarly writing. That was my own immaturity speaking, of course, but a lot of what I have read in these few months would have been invaluable eight years ago. I suspect I would have sought different professional experiences at the time. But I also know I lacked confidence, and probably wouldn’t have been accepted into a program.
  4. My broader point, though, is that liberal arts education is structured, generally, such that undergraduate education is for a broad base of knowledge with some direction and choice, a professional degree for specialization, and a terminal degree for scholarship. I understand the system, but I’m not sure the students who are interested in scholarship should be as separate from other learners as they are. On the other hand, there is a fierce engagement during my classes I have never encountered before, even at all my elite schools, so maybe I’m an example of a person for whom the system actually works. It certainly wasn’t an easy process for me to figure out, though, so I can imagine, and empathize with, the reasons why many students struggle, and I hope, in some small way, my future work can be of use to them.

Student Reflections Vol. 1

I plan to occasionally comment on what I’ve discovered during my time as a doctoral student.

  1. I think it’s a shame when a published article (or book!) is ungrammatical or poorly composed, but I don’t find it any better when a piece is so stuffed with jargon that only the author (and the editors) can read it easily. I am not advocating for dumbing down anything – I remember my friends in Korea saying they spoke in broken English to their students – but the Venn diagram of “accessible writing” and “sophisticated writing” does indeed have an intersection. And to me my work will fall short if it doesn’t satisfy both requirements.
  2. I will someday become a researcher who cites his own previous work in his writing, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
  3. I am gratified that my program not only allows but encourages self-examination, and especially so that it seeks out students with an interest in equity.
  4. I think academia certainly does have a “liberal” bias, if only because, almost by definition, being conservative (not even just politically but in the denotation of the adjective itself) implies satisfaction with less change. That’s just what the word means. And being a doctoral student requires a ceaseless desire to grow. Those who don’t want to grow or just want to reinforce their own worldview are less likely to be accepted into such programs. Part of me would find it interesting to be in class with a more conservative group, though in a way I’m probably one of the more conservative people in my own cohort, and I’m really not very conservative at all.
  5. I expected it to be more conceptually complex, even out of my reach in some ways. That’s not an insult. I was always fearful of applying because I thought I’d be exposed as some sort of intellectual fraud. I think, now, that most people who have the energy and commitment to work nonstop for however many years can probably handle it if it makes sense for their lives, finances and careers.
  6. I am torn between focusing on qualitative studies, which I find, if done well, can be rich explorations of a small group of stories, and mixed methods. I doubt I’ll focus on purely quantitative studies as they haven’t grabbed me as strongly from what I’ve read, but it’s still early. And I know that numerical data gets the most funding.
  7. Academia is both more and less interesting than I thought. There are some really fascinating people and studies, and there are some of both that are extremely banal. I guess I was expecting X and have found it’s both 2x and .5x.
  8. I have no comment on the future job market. But there is always room for new voices, and I intend to be one. I am glad that my program is grading our writing on a strong (but coherent) voice in our work. I want my writing to always sound like me (or like me and a partner if the work is a collaboration).
  9. I’m glad to finally be a student at a public school, and a school where the student body is much more diverse than anywhere I’ve ever studied. I didn’t realize until I got my current job and then entered this program, but I have spent my entire life being the “only,” and it’s absolutely and utterly exhausting.
  10. I have learned enough about myself as a student now to say that, when I’m compelled by a topic, I need initial guidance, some scaffolding, and some support, and then I can hit the ground running. And without the immense weight that has always trailed me (re point #9), I can run faster than I ever have. The journey is just beginning but I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Some Updates on EdTech

People can argue back and forth over whether or not it’s a good thing, but companies are partnering with schools to essentially create certified employees. Take a look.

Now, however, employers are raising their stakes with courses designed to bolster the pipeline of new workers for their product or technology, specifically. Google, for example, is working with more than two dozen community colleges to offer credit for a five-course, online IT certification. It’s among several other companies, mostly in tech, doing so.

“Many of the employers who are doing credentialing are looking to have their credentials be part of pathways in education,” Jonathan Finkelstein, founder and CEO of digital credentialing platform Credly, told Education Dive. “Virtually every major tech company is thinking, ‘How do we reach people earlier in their career pathways so the credentials they offer become preparation for jobs?'”

We can debate the value of this, but there’s no debating its prominence if Google et al. are already on the path.

A word on Artificial Intelligence.

Where the technologies are being used for learning they are fundamentally changing the nature of instruction. Panelists discussed applications such as smart lecture-capture technology that gives students searchable video transcripts of lectures to study as well as simulated training in classroom interventions for aspiring teachers and virtual reality environments in which medical students can practice procedures.

As an outsider, that sounds cool and efficient. With any of this, I worry it will just increase inequity. We are rapidly reaching a point where all of this can be done. My question as always is how we can ensure that this development lifts the vulnerable instead of leaving them behind. But I don’t really know enough about the technology to say much more than that. Yet.