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“The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade”

This is a list from Audrey Watters (link from Palko). 100! Wow—that’s a long list. But it is for a whole decade.

I doubt this’ll make it on to Bill Gates’s must-reads of the year, but I liked it.

Just to give you a sense, I’ll share the first and last items on Watters’s list:

100. The Horizon Report

In 2017, just a week before Christmas, the New Media Consortium abruptly announced its immediate closure “because of apparent errors and omissions by its former Controller and Chief Financial Officer.” The organization, which was founded in 1994, was best known for its annual Horizon Report, its list of predictions about the near-future of education technology. (Predictions that were consistently wrong.) But as the ed-tech sector is never willing to let a bad idea die, the report will live on. EDUCAUSE purchased many of NMC’s assets, and it says it will continue to publish the higher ed version of the Horizon Report. The Consortium for School Networking, CoSN, has taken up the mantle for the K-12 version.

1. Anti-School Shooter Software

The most awful education technology development of the decade wasn’t bankrolled by billionaire philanthropists. Rather it emerged from a much sicker impulse: capitalism’s comfort with making money off of tragedy. It emerged from this country’s inability to address gun violence in any meaningful way. And that is despite a decade that saw a steady rise in the number of school shootings. “10 years. 180 school shootings. 356 victims,” CNN reported this summer. That is despite, at the beginning of the decade, a shooting that left 20 second graders dead. instead of gun reform, we got anti-school shooter software, a culmination sadly of so many of the trends on this list: surveillance, personalization, data mining, profiling, Internet radicalization, predictive analytics.

For a while, many ed-tech evangelists would bristle when I tried to insist that school security systems and anti-school shooting software were ed-tech. But in the last year or so, it’s getting harder to deny that’s the case. Perhaps because there’s clearly a lot of money to be made in selling schools these products and services: shooting simulation software, facial recognition technology, metal detectors, cameras, social media surveillance software, panic buttons, clear backpacks, bulletproof backpacks, bulletproof doors, emergency lockdown notification apps, insurance policies, bleeding control training programs, armed guards, and of course armed teachers.

“Does It Make More Sense to Invest in School Security or SEL?” Edsurge asked in 2018. Those are the choices education technology now has for us apparently: surveillance or surveillance.

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