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EdTech News Roundup - Week of 4/5
Bootcamps, the College Experience, and Blackboard
I’m slowly opening up this email list as I try to find a writing voice. If you know someone who would enjoy engaging with the topics and won’t mind if/when I have a bad take on something, I’d love to add them. Blurb on the goal of the newsletter here.
On to the news!
If you have an interest in bootcamps, read the reports (DYOR!). The first is by Career Karma (CK) and provides a view of industry metrics and analysis as of EOY 2020. The second is by ThirtyTwoEdu (32), with a focus on Q1 2021 (also includes some OPM and other goodies).
If I had one gripe (I have to have a gripe, right?), it would be that it undersells the university < > bootcamp partnerships springing up all over the place. I suspect this data would be hard/impossible to get, but hope it’s included/broken out specifically in the future.
4 key stats from the reports:
44,254 (3,341): The total number of bootcamp grads in 2020 and the number of grads #2 producer of grads (Flatiron) produced.1
$11,727: The average cost of Bootcamp tuition in 2020, which is DOWN from $13,958). Early bootcamps struggled under the weight of high cohort costs. Going online may solve some of this, but downward pricing pressure this early in the market’s development feels ominous.
67%: # of bootcamp grads (44K) as compared to # of CS grads (65K) in the US. People will argue comparing the two is apples-to-oranges, but I like the way Career Karma defined it in their 2020 report: pathways to entry-level tech jobs.2
$300M vs. $1B: Funds raised for bootcamp providers in Q1 2021(!) relative to the total current size of the market. I don’t want to get into the semantics of market sizing/VCs make bets on growing the pie etc., I just find it fascinating that we’re on track to put more funding into the sector than it’s current estimated size.
As a last note, after which I will promptly run away to a new topic, see this tweet thread from Austen Allred (Lambda School CEO) on how challenging many bootcamps are finding it to stay solvent using an ISA model.
(asterisks mine) I have qualms with the way this survey was written and with the subsequent headline it produced, though it is attention-grabbing.
There is a story about partisanship here. 70% of Republican respondents said they would not want their kid to go to college immediately after high school compared to 46% of Democrats and 48% of Independents. This equals out to 54% of total respondents continuing to support the “straight” path to college.
There is also a story about Americans considering the viability of non-college options. 22% of respondents said they’d want their children to consider other options - including starting a business, joining the military, getting a job, or doing community service.
However, the most important word in the survey is “immediately” (which is the word the survey used, the headline softened it). There are so many ways you could interpret this! It is possible this means the parents are questioning Higher Ed. However, it is also quite possible they think their kids need an interlude between HS and HED. This survey was conducted in Nov/Dec 2020, ~6 months into a global pandemic. After 6 months of watching Zoom School, I might also want my kid to get a job or travel next year!
I’m glad Gallup did this survey. I hope they repeat it over the next few years so we can look for trends. I’m skeptical of conclusions drawn from this year’s data on its own.
Course Hero meets CourseVillain (really)
CourseVillain is an attempt by two professors to negate any gains their students might have by using Course Hero. In a nutshell, it alerts its users (other professors) when their homework/test answers appear on Course Hero.
Can we just acknowledge that students use the internet? It feels like the wrong use of energy to be playing whack-a-mole with study support resources (which existed long before Course Hero) when it could be being used to design a course experience that leverages student-to-student communication instead of attempting to strike it down.
I know faculty are under resourced and this may be doing the best they can with what they have. I’d just like to believe there is a better experience out there that could convince students to progress through courses as designed rather than seeking third-party resources.4
OK, not the whole school, but the public policy school, which is a significant contract. This is interesting to me for two reasons:
2U customer churn: USC was 2U’s first customer and concentration of revenue from USC has been cited as a risk factor in every single one of their 10K’s. It is striking to think about what set of circumstances might have torn this program apart.
Blackboard (Blackboard!) winning a new deal: I think it is fair to say the current Zeitgeist (both popular and LMS-specific) is against Blackboard. This feels like a significant step forward for them and, perhaps, an indicator of shifting winds in the OPX market.
I used Flatiron because the grad numbers were scraped from Linkedin and GA (#1 at 6,776 grads) has many programs outside of the core, 3-month bootcamp most folks think about in this space. CK may have accounted for this, but I couldn’t tell - shame on me if this is a bad assumption!
I’d love to see a bootcamp sell “skill-up” sessions to their alumni over time to help them advance in their career. I’d love to measure the opportunity cost of a 1-3 month bootcamp every few years (when you are statistically likely to be job-hopping anyways) relative to taking a full 4 years in HED. I bet it would be striking.
They may also dabble in other markets, but HED is their bread-and-butter