Curriculum

7 Good Ed-Tech Stories You Might Have Missed

By Benjamin Herold — June 05, 2017 3 min read

When the nation’s education journalists gathered in Washington last week, educational technology was a big part of the conversation.

Of course, Education Week was thrilled to be recognized by the Education Writers Association with a first-place award in investigative reporting, for our coverage of the cyber charter industry.

But there was lots more: The Washington Post’s Jessica Contrera and Caitlin Gibson won first prize in feature writing, for their “Screen Age” series. Francesca Berardi and the Teacher Project team were on hand to talk about their recent Slate series on online learning. And in panels and conversations throughout the week, I was reminded of the difficulty of keeping up with all the great ed-tech reporting coming from all corners of the country.

Here are seven recent stories you might have missed, but shouldn’t have:

1. The Screen Age: This is the Post’s six-part examination of Generation Z and its penchant for flirting, learning and socializing online. From sexting to the digital divide to video games to the social-media-ification of childhood, the series has it all. Contrera and Gibson took home EWA’s first place prize for single-topic news or feature writing among large newsrooms.

2. The Big Shortcut: And here is the Teacher Project’s massive eight-part look at online schooling in K-12, with a focus on online credit recovery, the heart of what one story dubbed the “New Diploma Mills.” Don’t miss the first-person look at what it’s like to take one of these online courses, tips on which online course providers are particularly worrisome, and an example of online learning done right in the Bronx.

3. Online Public Schools Raising Questions in Alabama: Online education is getting a lot of scrutiny at the local and state level, as well. In this recent piece, reporter Trisha Powell Crain of AL.com recaps the concerns being raised by Alabama state superintendent Michael Sentance.

4. Pruning Dead-End Pathways in Career and Technical Education: Even though I work at Education Week, sometimes it’s hard for me to keep up with all the great content my colleagues produce. But EWA was a great opportunity to go back to Catherine Gewertz’s important three-part look at the changing world of CTE, including this stellar piece on Tennessee’s efforts to overhaul its offerings to focus less on career tracks that leave young adults trapped in low-paying jobs, and more on expanding industries, such as advanced manufacturing and information technology.

5. STEM, afterschool programs, and the Trump budget: Nichole Dobo of the Hechinger Report took a good look last month at the contradication between the Trump administration’s stated commitment to encouraging more women and girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education—while also presenting a budget that would slash the afterschool initiatives that have proven most helpful in generating interest in such fields among underrepresented students.

6. Cybersecurity, Rising. In February, Paul Basken of the Chronicle of Higher Education took a deep look at how colleges are responding to the growing demand and need for cybersecurity professionals, as well as the ongoing debate over what the heart of the cybersecurity field should be. It’s a great higher-ed complement to Education Week’s K-12 focused look at similar topics earlier this year.

7. Did Media Literacy Backfire? This wasn’t a news story, but a blog post from Danah Boyd, the founder and president of New York City think-tank Data & Society. Boyd raises the provocative question of whether media literacy isn’t actually the be-all, end-all antidote for fake news and students’ problems consuming online content that some have made it out to be. The post made for some interesting discussion in a panel I moderated at EWA, and I suspect we’ll be hearing more along these lines in the near future.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.