EdTech 10: 2015 News Stories Worth Remembering in 2016

Blog Series, EdTech, EdTech10, Startups

Well, well, well… It’s that time of year again to look back on the progress made and say “that’s right!”

With 2016 just around the corner, this edition of EdTech 10 is all about looking back at the 10 biggest stories that crossed our desktops in 2015. But before we do that, here are six blogs that look back at 2015 in a mini #YearInReview series:

End of an era. In October, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced his intent to step down. With Arne leaving office, his service will go down in history as one the most active for the Feds in U.S. education. Consider this news the beginning of the end of standards-based reform.

Signed into law. For education policy this was a HUGE year. President Obama signed into law the bill that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaces No Child Left Behind and holds significant implications for the field of K-12 education.

EdVestments. U.S. EdTech investment hit a record $1.9 billion, up from $1.4 billion last year. International EdTech venture investments added another $1 billion to the global total. The highlight reel:

  • Professional learning: Lynda ($186M), General Assembly ($70M), Udemy ($65M)
  • Platforms: Duolingo ($40M), Udacity ($105M)
  • School/program management: AltSchool ($100M), Hotchalk ($230M)

Going public. Alongside investments in EdTech, two big news stories emerged when it came to IPOs. Instructure, creators of Canvas, debuted on with a double-digit gain while McGraw-Hill Education readied for its IPO.

Secondary version 3.0. The Regional Next-Gen School Design blog series and culminating Getting Smart on Regional Next-Gen School Design shared the stories of NGLC’s Regional Funds for Breakthrough Schools. XQ Super School applications opened this fall, and 2015 also saw the launch of NewSchools Catapult.

Listify. In 2015 we witnessed the work of over 1,500 leaders, organizations and companies who made a positive impact for learners. After two months of publishing about 20 ‘Best of’ lists, the Smart Lists series was the most widely viewed and shared series on GettingSmart.com.

Now boarding. This year was big for the education conference circuit. The big four were ISTE (Wade), ASU+GSV (Chalmers), iNACOL Symposium (Lebron), and SXSWedu (Bosh). Here are 23 can’t miss education conferences to add to your calendar for next year.

Generation Do-It-Yourself. The close of 2015 brought the re-release of GenDIY. In partnership with The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation and eduInnovation, the GenDIY blog series on The Huffington Post and GettingSmart.com is cataloging their stories and generating a field guide for the new learning landscape.

Smart Parents. Just in time for back to school, Smart Parent: Parenting for Powerful Learning hit the shelves. The book features 60+ inspiring parent stories and and advice for parents on navigating educational options in the digital era.

Too much testing. The testing backlash that began in 2014 continued into and throughout 2015 with even Obama calling for limits. With the testing frustration news, the real news that the world is waiting for is better use of formative data. Good schools already know how their students are doing, and the news on testing this year echoed the fact that they don’t need a big test to tell them what they already know.

For more EdTech 10’s, check out:


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Tyler Nakatsu

Tyler Nakatsu

Tyler Nakatsu is passionate about storytelling. Follow Tyler on Twitter, @post_west.

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