We have a choice to make about the future of instructional materials in a digital age. As physical books are replaced by digital replicas and – increasingly – by interactive software, do we continue to believe that public school instructional materials should be subject to public inspection?

  • Absent transparency, how can we ensure digital tools are aligned to academic standards, that they are free from bias, or, that the software code treats data about student learning responsibly and securely?
  • Is it enough that some students appear to benefit from the use of software, even if we don’t know how the software works or why?
  • Does it make a difference if the primary reason for not disclosing how instructional software works is that it is not in the best interests of its creators?
  • Are ‘privacy policies’ and ‘terms of service’ sufficient safeguards for intentional obfuscation about how instructional software works?

By all means, let us continue to disrupt the ‘traditional’ textbook and our instructional materials adoption practices. At the same time, we should not abdicate our responsibility to ensure some guardrails exist about which instructional materials (purchased with taxpayer dollars) are used in public schools. My view is that there should be no room for instructional black boxes in public education.


Three notable K-12 cyber incidents this week: data breaches in TX (involving personal student information) and NJ (involving school staff and other employees), plus a big story about a Google Docs phishing attack. I break down the three lessons I think K-12 schools should take from the Google phishing story here.

Also this week: Education Week’s Ben Herold sheds light on the question of who we can expect to drive the educational technology leadership agenda for the foreseeable future. I’d love to be wrong on my take in the article, but my experience suggests otherwise.

Here’s what caught my eye this past week – news, tools, and reports about education, public policy, technology, and innovation – including a little bit about why. No endorsements; no sponsored content; no apologies for my eclectic tastes.

Strong opinions may be weakly held.

A Thinking Person’s Guide to EdTech News (2017 Week 18 Edition)

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