Education Posts

What the EdTech Landscape Looks Like to Students and Users [Infographic]

A link to for IT career planningAs a new and growing member of the education technology industry, Skillset has always been interested in our own industry. The “EdTech” industry is new, diverse, and growing extremely quickly.

In fact, according to a BMO economic report, EdTech has been the fastest and most consistently growing segment of the entire multi-billion dollar education industry, and shows no signs of slowing down.

But where is all of this growth going? Who is it benefitting — students? Teachers? Or the companies themselves.

We decided to take a closer look at the data (and the key players in the industry) to see how it’s impacting actual users and students. The result is the infographic below — with a breakdown of the information after the graphic. Please feel free to comment, share, and repost this infographic!


Click to enlarge:

An infographic showing the growth and key companies in the education technology industry


Announcing a New Certification Resource: Skillset Facebook Groups!

We’re big on practice questions at Skillset. That’s why each of our certification practice tests has several thousand questions within it: Because practice, you may have heard, makes perfect.

But if there’s one thing we’re as enthusiastic about as practice questions, it’s discussion, feedback, and back-and-forth learning. The topic we spend the most time on, beyond writing more questions, is how to give our users more options to connect with one another, provide insights and feedback, and learn from one another.

That’s exactly why we’ve created a series of Facebook Groups specifically designed to provide motivation and discussion around certification.

For every certification practice test we provide on Skillset, we’ve created a group (and we’ll keep adding them as we add certification tests). And in each group, we’ll post one question every day. The objective being: Find your daily motivation, learn something new, and find a resource and a community to rally around as you prepare for your own big test (or as you simply stay fresh and knowledgable).

Check out (and join!) each of our groups as they relate to specific tests:

Let us know what you think, and keep an eye out for our first questions, coming up today — and every day — for you to pick over and discuss.

Happy testing!


Why You Need a Security+ Certification in 2015

In the Information Technology (IT) industry, acquiring certifications in certain disciplines is just as essential as acquiring a traditional degree.

There are numerous benefits that come from acquiring an IT certification, so whether you are an active or aspiring IT professional, it would behoove you to consider what IT certifications are available and what they can do for you. There are many different types of certifications depending on what type of IT professional you aspire to be. Choosing the right certifications is essential to furthering your career as a professional. One example of an IT certification that can allow you to further your career immediately is the Security+ certification.

Security+ (pronounced “Security-Plus”) is a certification provided by CompTIA which designates that a professional is knowledgeable in the field of security, which is becoming one of the fastest growing fields in the IT sector. This is a certification that you should update every three years through CompTIA in order to make sure that you are on the cutting edge of security technology.

Some of the most relevant job titles for this certification include IA Technician, IA Manager, Network Administrator, Security Consultant and Security Engineer. The CompTIA Security+ certification has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Defense, Hitachi Information Systems, CSC, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman as the ideal way to indicate that a professional is apt in the right areas of security IT.

Does Technology Actually Make Education Better? Hot EdTech Links for April

A good craftsman never blames his tools.

It’s an idiom that’s been around for as long as any of us can remember. Less commonly known is that the saying originated in a more negative light: A bad craftsman always blames his tools.

In either case, the true message is more subtle, and more powerful: The tools we use do not make (or break) the finished product, nor do they define our performance. It’s only how we use them that truly makes a difference. And defining the “how” involves planning, thoughtfulness, careful attention, and adjusting for inevitable setbacks and changes along the way.

This is becoming more true, not less, as technology continues to saturate every aspect of our lives, including education.

Some of this technology is incredibly powerful, like apps that allow students to examine, interact with, and truly explore subjects and stories — galaxies and physics experiments. Other types are simply about efficiency, like testing software. But no matter what the technology is, it’s not going to do the teaching for teachers — and it’s not going to do the learning for students. The other age-old saying that a student is only as good as his teacher remains more true now than ever.

That’s what Peg Tyre is arguing in her much-discussed post from earlier this month, non-subtly titled “iPad < Teacher,” in which she declares that too much attention is being given to EdTech, and not enough to the teachers who need to wield it. Technology is great, and it is undoubtedly transforming education, but only teachers, as it ever has been, can truly make the difference.

Speaking of making differences, here are the best EdTech links this month, all about using education technology in various fields:


  • In Part 8 of his STEM education resources series, Michael Gorman put together an unbelievable list of 80 sites, apps, and resources for STEM learning.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Ed Tech Teacher has a nice note about teaching visual learning with the Canva design school.
  • We’re all about personalized learning here at Skillset, so Renee Hill’s excellent EdSurge article about socially engaged contributors being key to the personalized learning process really struck a chord.
  • Richard Byrne always has simple, helpful tips for using technology in the classroom, and this week he recommends moving the classic “letter to myself 10 years later” assignment to a blog — a simple, technology-forward spin on a teacher favorite that will probably increase both engagement and eventual delivery of those letters to students 10 years down the road.
  • Hands-on learning usually means exactly that: Getting your hands dirty with real-life projects. But that doesn’t mean that technology or virtualization can’t play a role. Caitlin McLemore gives the broad strokes about how to enhance hands-on education with technology.
  • And in a post aptly named “Beyond Earth Day,” EdTech Ideas used this week’s celebration of Earth Day publish a handy checklist (and a rundown of quick ideas) for students to use both on the holiday and at any point in the future to help think more deeply and long-term about their environmental impact.

How Online Education Became Fun: A History of E-Learning Platforms

The Internet, since its inception, has been the ultimate store for a great wealth of human knowledge — limitless, indexed, interlinked. It’s no surprise, then, that self-education has become one of the ultimate killer apps for global digital interconnection.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of technology, where self-taught professionals continue to dominate the industry. With technological advances outpacing the ability of traditional curriculum-building to deliver courses to self-motivated geeks thirsty for knowledge, it’s only fitting that sites for IT professionals remain a hotbed for cutting-edge e-learning solutions.

We’ve come a long way from the early days of a bunch of random text files nestled in an FTP or Gopher directory, though. The industry has learned a lot about the potential of the e-learning environment, and some trends and best-practices in online education are becoming clear.


Universities Join the Internet

Colleges and universities, sticking with what they know, have been getting behind the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) concept. MOOC essentially opens the lecture hall and syllabus structure of traditional college courses to online learners. Video lectures, e-textbooks, and computer-scored tests are a staple of the format, sometimes served with a side-dish of group collaboration via forums or mailing lists. The multimedia aspect of these courses fills a niche for learners who get more from hearing and watching material than simply reading a textbook.

MOOCs also characterize one of the first, and strongest trends in e-learning: flexibility. You can take part from across the country or around the world, and to a greater or lesser extent timeshift to study whenever is most convenient.


Enter the E-Learning Platform

But many e-learning providers are going behind the traditional class structures and truly exploring the potential to deliver education tuned to more optimally engage individual learners.

These sites embrace the reality that each individual will have different requirements, from the beginning level of knowledge they bring to the subject, to the learning style which suits them best, to the degree of reinforcement required along the way.

These e-learning sites take flexibility to another level by offering content via apps that will work on any cell phone or tablet, further freeing students from a desk or office. uCertify, for example, offers a free app (although the courses themselves are not free) that allows users to take any of its more than 400 courses on their phone.