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Why Most Edtech Fails


Remember InBloom, the $100 million initiative, largely funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to aggregate student data and learning tools and allow teachers to individualize instruction?

Or how about Purdue’s Course Signals or Austin Peay’s Degree Compass, which were course recommendation tools?

And whatever happened to math emporiums, Knewton, Google Glass, Coding for All, or the Year of the MOOC?

This history of educational technology is littered with failure.

Technology fads have come and gone with remarkable regularity. Mobile learning, personalized adaptive courseware, and clickers all had their vogue. Then their 15 minutes of fame faded and new tech fads came and went, just like the teaching machines and Skinner boxes of earlier years.

Educational technologies aren’t new. In the early 19th century, the blackboard was a novel educational technology. But it was the 20th century that brought a profusion of edtech innovations along with the expectation that they’d upend education.

Indeed, the introduction of every new communication technology prompted dreams of revolutionizing education. Radio, the movies, film strips, television, and computers all held out the promise of expanding access, reducing costs, and improving the quality of teaching and learning.

Yet even though we were told that the technologies were disruptive, transformational, and […]

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