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The History of the Future of Education Technology

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    Last week, The New York Times wrote about a new simulation program, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, that aims to teach teachers how to respond to an active shooter on school grounds – a simulation “that includes realistic details like gunfire, shattered glass and the screams of children,” one in which teachers can play the role of school staff, law enforcement, or the shooter her- or himself.

    It was not the first article on the program known as EDGE, the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment. There were a flurry of stories on the shooting simulation software at the beginning of the year – Gizmodo, Engadget, Rolling Stone, The Verge– several of which seemed to build on an AP story filed in the closing days of 2016.

    Sixteen school shootings occurred between the publication of that AP story and the one that appeared in The New York Times – about one every other day.

    From what I can tell, the story of the shooting simulation was not covered by any education publications – only by a handful of technology ones. This raises a number of interesting questions about coverage and about definitions. What counts as an education story? School shootings certainly do. But what counts as “ed-tech”?

    I tweeted something rather flippant about the story back in January when Gizmodo posted a video about the simulation, and I received an admonishment from one ed-tech evangelist that the software “has nothing to do with ed-tech.” I replied that metal detectors are ed-tech, that windows are ed-tech, and that one should consider how these technologies are distributed among various school buildings and communities. The individual sneered that my definition was uselessly broad, that this would mean that locks on school doors are ed-tech.

    Well, locks on school doors are ed-tech.

    When most ed-tech evangelists, like my interlocutor on Twitter, talk about ed-tech, they don’t mean “technologies used in education.” They don’t even always mean “computers in education” – or not all computers, at least. While they readily refer to the use of computers used for instructional purposes, computers used for administrative purposes are less likely to be touted, particularly with the recent focus on “personalization” or “learning outcomes,” particularly when education-related computations occur outside a school or district (as in the case of private student loan companies, for example).

    Perhaps due to education publications’ funding by education reform organizations and by venture capitalists, the coverage of “education technology” in much education media tends to coincide with these investors’ policies and portfolios. The definition of “ed-tech” is therefore incredibly narrow, often focused on products rather than practices. And that skews the ways in which we talk about “ed-tech” – how we might consider its politics and its purposes, how we might think about its origins and its implications.

    In her 1989 CBC Massey Lectures, the physicist Ursula Franklin offered a different definition of technology, one that I use in my own thinking and writing:

    Technology is not the sum of the artifacts, of the wheels and gears, of the rails and electronic transmitters. Technology is a system. It entails far more than its individual material components. Technology involves organization, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and, most of all, a mindset.

    If we recognize technology as practices, we can more readily see the connections to social relations, Franklin argued. We can then think about technology not just in terms of the introduction of a particular tool, but in terms of how technology might support or shift pre-existing values. Cultural values. Political values. Institutional values.

    To claim that a school shooting simulation isn’t “ed-tech” is remarkably unhelpful. It serves to bolster the ideological claims that technology is always bound up in “progress.” And importantly, this refusal to include certain technologies in “ed-tech” circumscribes much of the analysis one might undertake about systems, structures, histories.

    What is the history of military teaching machines, for example? What role has the military played in developing education technology (particularly training simulations) that have made their way into classrooms? How might the military’s values – overtly and subtly – permeate ed-tech? How do those coincide and how do they conflict with the values of the public school system?

    And what is the history of weapons used at school and of the machines used to detect and deter school violence? “Since the attack on Columbine High School in 1999, mitigating the damage of on-campus shootings has been an increasingly urgent priority,” The New York Times writes in that article about school shooting simulation software. “More than two-thirds of public schools nationwide practiced their response to a shooting in the 2013–14 academic year, according to the Department of Education; 10 years earlier, fewer than half of schools did so.”

    But of course, Columbine was hardly the first school shooting. And the practices (and products) adopted to “mitigate the damage” have a very different history in affluent, suburban schools than they have in high poverty, urban schools where metal detectors, for example, were introduced almost twenty years earlier.

    New York City. Boston. New Orleans. Washington DC. Detroit. These cities all experimented with metal detectors and mandatory searches of (some) students (in some schools) in the early 1980s. The adoption of these practices was a response, according to school officials, to fears of youth violence and weapons incidents in and around schools (but overwhelmingly the latter). Along with the introduction of drug-sniffing dogs, students increasingly found themselves exposed to surveillance and searches at school, the legality of the latter upheld in a number of Supreme Court decisions that decade.

    There were concerns at the outset about the effectiveness of metal detectors – not simply whether or not they reliably caught students bringing weapons to campus but whether their introduction changed school culture. “We’d be concerned about the impact psychologically on the climate of the schools,” Robert Rubel, the director of the National Alliance for Safe Schools told The Detroit Free Press in 1985 when the Detroit Public Schools introduced unannounced weapons sweeps using handheld metal detectors.

    Indeed, many other school districts that experimented with metal detectors admitted that they found them to be counterproductive. If nothing else, the screening process posed a logistical challenge, with students complaining they had to wait in line so long that they were often late to class. But some districts stuck with metal detectors nonetheless, often as part of a broader police presence in schools. As Carla Shedd writes in Unequal City, the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Public Safety boasted in 2013 that it supported a range of these types of technologies: “8,000+ cameras, 500+ alarm systems, 150+ X-ray machines, 300+ metal detectors, 400+ door entry systems, and 35 bus trackers.”

    Shedd argues that

    Contemporary urban youth are exposed to police contact more frequently and at earlier ages than their predecessors. Schools – and for those who live in public housing, even some homes – have begun to resemble correctional facilities. Metal detectors, surveillance cameras, and other mechanisms designed to monitor and control inhabitants are now standard equipment in American urban schools. Youth who must navigate these spaces are inevitably at high risk of police contact, which may lead to frustration, disengagement, and delinquency.

    “Standard equipment in American urban schools.” Education technologies, even.

    What happens if we refuse to talk about these as “ed-tech”, if we refuse to address the practices of surveillance and control as well as products of surveillance and control? If nothing else, this refusal stops us from having the necessary conversations about why some schools might get simulations that train teachers how to respond to a potential shooting, and some schools get metal detectors that interpolate all students as potential shooters.

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  • 02/09/18--03:55: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    “The New Tax Law’s Subtle Subversion of Public Schools,” by Clint Smith in The Atlantic.

    Via the US Department of Education press release: “Secretary DeVos Announces New Student-Centered Funding Pilot Program.” “Student-Centered,” eh?

    The Chronicle of Higher Education on the Higher Education Act: “Why an Update of Higher Ed’s Sweeping Framework Could Be Years Away.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Education Department to Propose Compromise in Borrower-Defense Negotiations.”

    There’s more Department of Education news in the for-profit higher ed and in the info sec sections below.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “NSF starts requiring that institutions report findings of harassment and suspensions in its funded labs and field sites, and reminds institutions that it can pull funding where necessary.”

    Via The New York Post: “Charter-school advocacy group to close up shop.” That’s the Families for Excellent Schools, whose CEO was fired last week amid sexual harassment allegations. Via Chalkbeat: “Before Families for Excellent Schools’ sudden implosion, waning influence and a series of stumbles.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via Education Week: “Puerto Rico’s Governor Seeks Charter Schools, Raises for Teachers.”

    Via The Indiana Gazette: “Parents and other school district residents reminded the Indiana Area school board on Monday that their dissent of the Summit Learning program hasn’t waned, even though the administration scaled back the program and put it on ‘opt-in’ status for the 2018–19 school year.” The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy has thoughts on the pushback, making the comparison between Zuckerberg’s corporate and philanthropic efforts and inBloom.

    The Salt Lake City school board has voted to rename Jackson Elementary. It will no longer be named after Andrew Jackson, but instead honor NASA engineer Mary Jackson.

    Via The Houston Chronicle: “Houston charter network bought Dallas condo for office, storage.” As one does…

    “What’s the matter with Oklahoma?” asks The Economist.

    Via The New York Times: “In Fight Over Science Education in Idaho, Lawmakers Move to Minimize Climate.”

    Via NPR: “With Thousands Of Homeless Students, This District Put Help Right In Its Schools.” The district in question: Dallas Public Schools.

    Immigration and Education

    Vox says this is an exclusive: “Trump’s draft plan to punish legal immigrants for sending US-born kids to Head Start.”

    This is a little old, but it just crossed my desk this week and it’s important enough to still include. Via the Law Librarian Blog: “LexisNexis’s Role in ICE Surveillance and Librarian Ethics.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via the AFP: “Court affirms $25 million Trump University settlement.”

    Via the Argus Leader: “A former official with National American University has accused the South Dakota based for-profit system of defrauding the United States government out of millions of dollars in a student aid program, a lawsuit unsealed Thursday in federal court alleges.”

    Via Eater: “Students Will Receive Big Payout in Lawsuit Against Le Cordon Bleu.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Think tank sues Education Dept. over public records requests on college accrediting bodies.” The think tank in question: The Century Foundation.

    Via The New York Times: “Tariq Ramadan Charged With Rape After Accusations by Two Women.” Ramadan is on leave from his position at Oxford University.

    Via Education Week: “Student Retweets Snoop Dogg, Then Sues School District for ‘Retaliation’.”

    Rachel Cohen on the upcoming Supreme Court caseJanus v. AFSCME, Council 31: “The Eminent Libertarians Who Might Save Public Sector Unions.”

    There are more stories relating to court cases in the “business of ed-tech” section below.

    “Free College”

    UW Madison Unveils Free Tuition Program,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Free College, With a Catchby IHE’s John Warner.

    The Business of Financial Aid

    Via Buzzfeed: “The Government Is Forgiving More Student Loans, And It’s Costing Taxpayers.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    There’s more news about financial aid in the politics section above.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “DeVos’s Education Dept. Relaxed Rules for For-Profits Under Accreditor That Closed.”

    There are more details about a couple of for-profit court cases in the courts section above. And one for-profit story is in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section because of course.

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Via Class Central: “TU Delft Students Can Earn Credit For MOOCs From Other Universities.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    “I’m a Stanford professor accused of being a terrorist. McCarthyism is back,” writes David Palumbo-Liu.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As Protests Mount, U. of Chicago Plans for a Visit From Steve Bannon.”

    Via The New York Times: “An Addict Dies in a School Restroom. He Was a Teacher.”

    Via USA Today: “20 years in, shootings have changed schools in unexpected ways.”

    Via The New York Times: “Plans at Stanford Fall Apart for a Plaque at Site of Sexual Assault.”

    Via The Wichita Eagle: “Koch family to open new kind of private school at Wichita State University.”

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    There’s accreditation news in the courts section above.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via AZ Central: “Maricopa Community Colleges to eliminate football.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The contract of University of Montana women’s soccer coach Mark Plakorus won’t be renewed after he used a university cellphone to text escort services during at least five recruiting trips to Las Vegas.”

    Memos from HR

    Daniel Greenstein, who has overseen the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s work on postsecondary education since 2012, announced Monday that he would leave the foundation next month,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Elizabeth Alexander has been named the new president of the Mellon Foundation.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Astrophysicist Christian Ott Was Just Fired From His New Job In Finland After Harassment Scandal.”

    Note the ratio:

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Edsurge: “New Cybersecurity Course Teaches Teens the ABCs of (Ethical) Hacking.” The course is from CodeHS, which shares a number of investorswith Edsurge. No disclosure, no surprise.

    Contests and Awards

    There’s talk of changing the name of the ALA’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to an author who isn’t so racist.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    “Have We Decided What ‘Gainful Employment’ Means Yet?” asks Edsurge.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via The New York Times: “Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built.” This is the Center for Humane Technology, which had a big PR push this week, with articles in Edsurge and Education Week. Doesn’t seem like any journalists caught this, tho:

    Via The Guardian: “‘Fiction is outperforming reality’: how YouTube’s algorithm distorts truth.”

    Via Techcrunch: “YouTube’s CEO promises stronger enforcement in the wake of controversies.”

    Via CNN: “YouTube to start labeling videos posted by state-funded media.” State-funded media includes PBS, apparently.

    Via The New York Times: “School Shooting Simulation Trains Teachers for the Worst.”

    School Shooting Simulation Software (and the Problem with How People Define ‘Ed-Tech’)” by me.

    “A lecture-capture platform with a ‘confusion alert’ button is changing the way some instructors teach,” says Inside Higher Ed with an article that seems like an ad for Echo360.

    The Telegraph on TurnItIn: “New university plagiarism software to be launched in crackdown on ‘contract’ cheating.”

    Via Boing Boing: “Cloudflare terminate Sci-Hub domains, declining to challenge court order.”

    Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein on his company’s new event series, The Empirical Educator Project.

    Via Techcrunch: “The creator of Snoo, the $1200 high tech bassinet just came out with a baby swaddle.”

    Facebook’s app for kids should freak parents out,” says MIT Technology Review.

    Speaking of Facebook… According to The Verge, “Facebook hired a full-time pollster to monitor Zuckerberg’s approval ratings.”

    Speaking of Facebook again… Via CB Insights: “Facebook Patents Tech To Bucket Users Into Different Social Classes.” Well, this will be useful to “personalize learning,” won’t it.

    Via Techcrunch: “PS4 update lets parents control how long their kid can play.”

    From the Lenovo website: “Lenovo™ Introduces Lenovo Virtual Reality Classroom.” $3000 for three headsets. “Lenovo Virtual Reality Classroom headsets come pre-loaded with more than 700 available Google Expeditions VR field trips and exclusive Wild Immersion content, created with the support of Jane Goodall. Teachers can bring STEM lessons to life through this immersive learning and take students on biodiversity journeys through Africa, Asia, the Amazon, and more.” Pretty sure all this is on YouTube for free, but hey. When it’s strapped to your face, it’s Wild Immersion.

    “What We Should Worry About When We Worry About Virtual Reality” – a guest post by Eugene Stern on the Mathbabe blog.

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    Via eSchool News: “Why chatbots are not the future of student engagement.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    Via Buzzfeed: “The Koch Foundation Is Flooding Colleges With Money.”

    There’s more about what the Kochs are up to in the “meanwhile on campus” section above.

    Via Chalkbeat: “With new focus on curriculum, Gates Foundation wades into tricky territory.”

    The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced some new grants. Or rather, its education head Jim Shelton made a Facebook status update to that effect. There’s very little detail as to where CZI money is going. But according to what it revealed this week: $3 million for Woodrow Wilson Academy for Teaching and Learning; 1.5 million for California’s Ravenwood Elementary School District; $1 million to Stephanie Jones of the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and $75,000 to Matthew Biel of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Stories on the Facebook status update from Education Week and Edsurge.

    Good grief, Inside Philanthropy, could you pose at least one hard question here: “Teaching K–12 is Brutally Hard. Here’s How CZI Is Offering Support.”

    Details about several HR changes at foundations in the HR section above.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    Quizlet has raised $20 million in Series B funding from Union Square Ventures, Icon Ventures, Altos Ventures, Costanoa Ventures, and Owl Ventures. The digital flash card company has raised $32 million total.

    Smart Sparrow has raised $7.5 million from the testing company ACT. The “adaptive learning” company has raised $23.5 million total.

    Niche, which provides rankings for neighborhoods and schools, has raised $6.6 million from Grit Capital Partners and Allen & Company.

    AstrumU has raised $3 million from Ignition Partners and Correlation Ventures “to bring efficiency to higher education with machine learning.”

    AdmitHub has raised $100,000 from the Michelson 20MM Foundation. The chatbot-advisor company has raised $3.8 million total.

    Seesaw has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Jeff Weiner, Wayee Chu, and Bubba Murarka. It also claims that half of all U.S. schools have teachers using Seesaw. There’s no way to verify these sorts of claims – the data comes from the startups themselves. But that doesn’t stop the tech press from running with it anyway.

    New Mountain Learning’s subsidiary EMC School has acquiredZulama.

    PeopleAdmin has acquiredPerformance Matters.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Educause has submitted a $55,000 offer to acquire the assets of the now defunct New Media Consortium, court documents reveal.” More via Bryan Alexander.

    Via Reuters: “Coding boot camp General Assembly explores potential sale: CEO.” More via Edsurge.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    The FBI’s Cyber Division and the Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General have issued a warning to schools about cyber criminals.

    Edsurge on“Why Charter Networks Are Investing Heavily in Data Teams.”

    Not directly ed-tech related – except for the part where ed-tech evangelists keep trying to push for “smart classrooms” and “smart schools.” Gizmodo on “smart homes”: “The House That Spied on Me.”

    Again, not ed-tech related per se, but again, I saw y’all wearing your Google Glasses at ISTE and talking about how these would be the future of school. Via The WSJ: “Chinese Police Add Facial-Recognition Glasses to Surveillance Arsenal.”

    Via Bitdefender’s blog: “Security hole meant Grammarly would fix your typos, but let snoopers read your private writings.”

    There’s more surveillance news in the immigration section above.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    Via The Washington Post: “A flat-earther finally tried to fly away. His rocket didn’t even ignite.” (I think I’ll save most of my other commentary about rockets and marketing for tomorrow’s HEWN.)

    NPR’s Anya Kamenetz on “screen addiction” and teens. (She’s also written a new book on parenting and “screens.”)

    “The Implications of Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends of 2018 for Education– Part 2,” according to the Getting Smart blog.

    Via Chalkbeat: “How new evidence bolsters the case for California’s education policy rebellion.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “First-generation college students are less likely to persist and graduate than are children of college-educated parents, a national study finds.”

    How many made-up statistics can you put in a blog post introducing your company?

    Via The Atlantic: “The Origins of Diversity Data in Tech.”

    Via Mic: “Want to grow the US economy? Cancel student debt, new report shows.”

    Via George Veletsianos: “Educational Technology Magazine archive (1966–2017).”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study counters widely held views about how students’ political views change when they arrive in college.” But why let research get in the way of a good “liberal indoctrination” narrative…

    Via Times Higher Education: “University of Leeds study finds many undergraduates have never heard of term, or ‘trigger warnings’.” But why let research get in the way of a good “snowflake” narrative…

    According to Pacific Standard, “Meditation May Not Make You a Better Person After All.” Shocking. (But the hoopla over “social emotional learning” persists nonetheless.)

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 02/16/18--04:40: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    I’m sorta loathe to give a lot of attention to Trump’s budget proposal. What the President proposes and what Congress approves always looks very different. But I’ll dutifully link to some of the headlines from the week. That’s what I do here. Via Chalkbeat: “Trump’s proposed education budget: more for school choice, less for teacher training.” Via The Atlantic: “Does Trump’s Education Budget Even Matter?” Here’s the Department of Education Press Office fanfare.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Here’s What the $400-Billion Federal Spending Deal Means for Higher Ed.”

    Hooray. “Learning styles” in the White House:

    Via Buzzfeed: “The Education Department Officially Says It Will Reject Transgender Student Bathroom Complaints.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Betsy DeVos made a covert visit to Indianapolis last week. Here’s why.” Spoiler alert: she was making a TV special and probably didn’t want to have jeering crowds in the background.

    Via The New York Times: “In Her Words: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Assesses a Year on the Job.”

    From CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington): “FOIA Request – U.S. Department of Education – Office of Government EthicsDeVos.” Has she divested and/or disclosed all her financial interests?

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Bill Would Hold College Presidents Accountable for Sexual Abuse by Employees.”

    There’s more on Department of Education efforts to help the for-profit higher ed industry in the for-profit higher ed section below. And there are several stories related to immigration and education in the immigration and education section below.

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via The New York Times: “Months of Searching Still Hasn’t Found New Schools Chancellor.” That’d be the replace for Carmen Fariña, who’s leaving her position as the chancellor for the New York City schools.

    Via E-Literate: “Hawai’i Senate Bill: Would mandate OER material for all U Hawai’i system courses.” And later in the week, an update: “Hawai’i Senate OER Bill Update: Amended language saves the day.”

    Via the Tennessean: “One of Nashville’s Achievement School District schools to close months after opening.”

    The Texas Monthly on the future of the Texas Republican Party (with implications for education policy).

    Via ELearning Inside: “An Emirati City Is Giving Tablets to Every K–2 Learner As Part of its Lughati Initiative.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via the AP: “Appeals court declares Trump travel ban unconstitutional.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Second Judge Orders DACA to Continue.”

    Via The Intercept: “From School Suspension to Immigration Detention.” The school-to-deportation pipeline.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “FBI director Christopher Wray tells Senate panel that American academe is naïve about the intelligence risks posed by Chinese students and scholars. Some worry his testimony risks tarring a big group of students as a security threat.”

    There’s some research related to immigration in the research section below.

    Education in the Courts

    Via Mother Jones: “A Federal Appeals Court Just Dealt a Blow to School Segregation.” That is, “A majority-white Alabama town can’t split from its majority-black county school district.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As** U. of Washington** Braces for Right-Wing Rally, Judge Bars It From Charging Security Fee.”

    Via “ECOT goes to Ohio Supreme Court with $80 million, its survival and state’s control of charter schools on the line.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “$1.5 Million to Get Into an Ivy.” “Lawsuit reveals just how much a college consulting service will charge for its services.”

    More legal action in the immigration in the section above.

    “Free College”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Bard College opens its second ‘microcollege’ in Brooklyn Public Library. The free program, which selects ambitious applicants from underprivileged backgrounds, culminates in an associate’s degree.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Portland State University announced a plan to offer free tuition to prospective transfer students from low-income backgrounds starting this fall.”

    The Business of Financial Aid

    Via Marketwatch: “One company will now handle close to half of all student-loan payments.” That’s Nelnet, which recently merged with Great Lakes Educational Loan Services.

    “What if the United States decided to cancel all student debt?” asks Bryan Alexander.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “After Borrower Defense Negotiation Fails, Department to Craft New Rule.”

    From Bloomberg: “Silicon Valley’s Singularity University Has Some Serious Reality Problems.” There’s more on Singularity University, which announced it has raised over $30 million in venture capital, in the venture capital section below.

    There’s more research on how students at for-profits fare (spoiler alert: not well) in the research section below.

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Via NPR: “Inside The Virtual Schools Lobby: ‘I Trust Parents’.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “As Online Schools Expand, So Do Questions About Their Performance.”

    Via The New York Times: “Berklee College Expands Online, to Graduate Degrees.”

    There’s more news about virtual schools in the courts section above and in the HR section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via Education Week: “17 Dead After Expelled Student Opens Fire at Fla. High School.”

    “Another School Shooting– But Who’s Counting?” asks The Atlantic.

    “No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong,” says The Washington Post. I’m not so sure we should dismiss Everytown’s calculations quite so quickly. I think we should count suicides as school shootings. I think we should recognize that schools are situated within neighborhoods, and when there is violence in the neighborhood, it affects the school, the students.

    Related, via Wired: “Pro-GunRussian Bots Flood Twitter After Parkland Shooting.”

    Via The 74: “Schools in Texas, Massachusetts, Oklahoma& Tennessee Mourn Educators Who Have Died Due to the Flu.”

    There are many departments at many universities where the ethics of technology is not just an add-on to an existing program. (There are, of course, many departments at many universities where it is.) But The New York Times wants you to know that Harvard and Stanford“are hustling to bring a more medicine-like morality to computer science.”

    Via The Portland Press Herald: “Head of UMaine System has financial stake in firm seeking multimillion-dollar contract for Orono campus.”

    Via the Lansing State Journal: “MSU Faculty Senate votes no confidence in Board of Trustees.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Southern New Hampshire U. Apologizes for Professor Who Said Australia Is ‘Not a Country’.”

    Inside Higher Ed on“The Complications of Free Speech” at Stanford.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How One Campus Is Dealing With Its Ties to a 20th-Century White Supremacist.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Princeton Professor Cancels Course After His Use of a Racial Slur Angered Students.”

    Via the Sacramento Bee: “High school science fair project questioning African American intelligence sparks outrage.”

    Via The Outline: “How historically black colleges transformed America.”

    “What’s So Different About High Tech High Anyway?” asks KQED’s Mindshift.

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    The 74 interviewed Sal Khan on personalized learning and his goal to create a “global diploma,” which he says his company can “uniquely” do. Which is… um… a bold claim.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The American Bar Association panel that accredits law schools has proposed loosening its restrictions on online education.”


    ACT/SAT for all: A cheap, effective way to narrow income gaps in college,” writes Susan Dynarski in a Brookings report.

    Memos from HR

    Harvard has a new president, Lawrence Bacow: “Another ‘White Male Economist Named Larry’,” as The Chronicle of Higher Education put it.

    Via The Miami Herald: “This teacher married her girlfriend. Then she was fired by a Miami Catholic school.” (The school, incidentally, is a participant in Florida’s voucher program, where tax dollars are used to send students to private schools – a program that Betsy DeVos and others have touted.)

    K12 Inc’s CEO Stuart Udell has resigned.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “In a blow to the graduate student union movement on private campuses, three would-be unions withdraw their petitions from the National Labor Relations Board, saying they’ll instead return to seeking voluntary recognition.” That is, would-be-unions at Yale, Boston College, and the University of Chicago.

    Erin Bartram on leaving higher ed.

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Techcrunch: “WeWork Labs, startup-focused co-working space, relaunches.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Lyft partners with Black Girls Code to help develop a more diverse tech industry.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Will Augmented and Virtual Reality Replace Textbooks?asks The Center for Digital Education.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Facebook Funded Most of the Experts Who Vetted Messenger Kids,” Wired’s Nitasha Tiku reports.

    From the press release: “ISTE Launches New Professional Learning Partnership with; Announces Plans to Update Standards for Computer Science Educators.”

    The Verge profiles Digital Ally, a company that makes police body cameras and soon, a new “conducted electrical weapon.” I’m including this news here not just because TASER holds the monopoly on the market for these weapons. But because the head of sits on the board of directors of the company that makes TASER, Axon. And perhaps folks should think about who they want to have directing their efforts for “everyone to learn to code” and if we want weapons manufacturers to be leading that charge.

    Via Fast Company: “How Software Is Taking On School Shootings.”

    I like to track on “baby tech” because I think it underscores how much of Silicon Valley is building a future for the wealthy. Like this example, from Techcrunch: “Cybex starts selling its $330, app-enabled car seat made for safety geeks.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Why Startups Fail: Lessons for Education Companies.”

    Via Education Week: “Virtual Reality for Learning Raises High Hopes and Serious Concerns.”

    Uber wants to be public transportation, and I have some serious concerns,” writes Andrew Hawkins in The Verge. Okay. It’s not ed-tech. Except for the part in which ed-tech might be redefining public education too.

    Via Gizmodo: “Tech History Group Dedicated to Preserving Information Busted Deleting Apology Tweets [Updated].” Related: Safiya Umoja Noble’s new book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism is out soon, and it seems like a “must read” for teachers, particularly those who tout their special “Google Certified Educator” badges.

    There are always a bunch of stories each week on how one school or one district is implementing “personalized learning” in some one-off way. It’s never clear to me why these are “a story” – except for the part in which publications funded by the Gates Foundation and CZI are being subsidized to write these articles, I guess.

    “Higher Education Joins the Blockchain Party,” says Edsurge. No mention of how any of this connects to alt-right politics, but hey. It’s Silicon Valley. What do you expect.

    Via Techcrunch: “Need a post on about your ICO? $500, please.”

    It’s boom times for the “regret industry.” This week, Rick Hess posted on his Ed Week blog“A Confession and a Question on Personalized Learning” from Amplify CEO Larry Berger.

    Two articles by Maya Ganesh in Cyborgology on the newly announced Center for Humane Technology: “The Center for Humane Technology Doesn't Want Your Attention” and “The Center Does Not Want Your Attention II. On Time Well Spent and Ethics.”

    “Thoughts about Technology Then and Now” from Larry Cuban, who has a new book on education technology coming out soon.

    Via Kotaku: “Sex, Pong, And Pioneers: What Atari Was Really Like, According To Women Who Were There.”

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    Teaching assistant robots will reinvent academia,” Times Higher Education claims. Fortunately, I hit the paywall so I couldn’t hate-read this

    AI Will Give Rise to ’Superhuman Workers,’ Says Google X Co-Founder,” writes (That’s Sebastian Thrun with yet another prediction about the future.)

    “How Russian Bots Spread Fear at University in the U.S.” – Inside Higher Ed covers a new journal article that explores how Russian bots were used to spread misinformation about BLM protests at the University of Missouri. (There is another bot story in the campus section above about Russian bots and the school shooting this week in Florida.)

    Via Techcrunch: “Sony now has a Koov robotics learning kit for US classrooms.” It’s $520. Because the future of robots and ed-tech is a future for affluent classrooms.

    Via Fast Company: “How Misty Plans To Build The Most Personable, Programmable Robot Ever.”

    “The Ghost(writer) Busters: Can machine learning help in the fight against contract cheating?” asks Claire Hardaker, in an article on Turnitin’s claims that it can identify when students have submitted work that isn’t their own.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    It’s “Annual Letter” time for the Gates Foundation, which means lots of press about the organization’s philanthropic efforts. Via The New York Times: “Bill and Melinda Gates Tackle ‘Tough Questions’ and Trump.” Via Chalkbeat: “To fight poverty in U.S., Bill and Melinda Gates say they may move beyond education.” Via The Washington Post: “Bill, Melinda Gates turn attention toward poverty in America.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    Varsity Tutors has raised $50 million in Series C funding from Learn Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and TCV. The tutoring company has raised $107 million total.

    Bullshit peddlers Singularity University has raised $32 million in funding from Silicon Valley Bank, PeopleFund, TAL Education Group, WestRiver Capital, and Boeing Ventures. It’s not the first round of venture funding, but the company has never previously disclosed how much it’s raised.

    Kuali has raised $10 million from Owl Ventures. Once upon a time, the LMS maker was a non-profit.

    CollegeDekho has raised $2 million from Man Capital. The college marketing company has raised $5 million total.

    Kaleidoscope Group has raised $1.3 million in seed funding from Gopher Angels, Yonoventures, and gener8tor. The “scholarship platform” company has raised $1.7 million total.

    Emmersion Learning has raised $600,000 from Zylun Global and Access to Education.

    TurnItIn has acquiredVericite.

    Microsoft has acquiredChalkup. Or acqui-hired some of the team at least.

    More news on Educause’s acquisition of NMC assets. From Bryan Alexander: “Updates on the New Media Consortium bankruptcy: a purchase, an intervention, and possibilities.” More from Edsurge.

    I didn’t catch this news last year, but I’ll make note of it here so I can update my list of education spinoffs: Misty spun out of the robotics company Sphero. (And there’s a story on Misty in the robots section above.)

    An education IPO! ReadCloud has gone public on the Australian stock exchange.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    “This smartwatch for kids is adorable but probably not a great idea,” says The Verge.

    More “kid tech,” this time from MIT Technology Review: “A phone that says ‘no’ to little kid fingers.”

    Via The New York Times: “Facial Recognition Is Accurate, if You’re a White Guy.”

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    A new report from Brookings: “Gainfully employed? New evidence on the earnings, employment, and debt of for-profit certificate students.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Study finds DACA encourages undocumented kids to stay in school, as Congress ponders their future.”

    Via NPR: “The Gap Between The Science On Kids And Reading, And How It Is Taught.”

    Via Motherboard: “‘Minecraft’ Data Mining Reveals Players’ Darkest Secrets.”

    “Californians Gain Confidence in (Misinformed) Understanding of Charter Schools,” according to the results from the latest PACE/USC Rossier poll.

    Via Edsurge: “​Report: Advising Attendance Is Up, but More ‘In-Depth’ Student Support Is Still Needed.”

    Educational Attainment Is Up, but Gaps Remain,” says Inside Higher Ed. That’s based on data from the Lumina Foundation.

    “Giving CC Students Home Computers Won’t Set Them up for Greater Success,” according to research written up by Campus Technology.

    “Shifting to a personalized-learning model requires that schools make a six-figure upfront investment, more than 40 percent of which is likely to go to technology, according to a new analysis of six ‘breakthrough’ Chicago district and charter schools,” EdWeek’s Ben Herold writes.

    “Did Flint’s Water Crisis Damage Kids’ Brains?” asks The New Republic. (I’m not putting this in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section because I think the answer is “yes.”)

    Via National Geographic: “Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks? New ‘Brain Games’ May Help Them Stay Young.”

    Via Nesta: “What is the evidence for edtech?” Shrug. Enough evidence, I guess, that folks will try to sell you brain training for your dog…

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 02/23/18--04:15: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    There are stories about the school shooting in Florida and its ramifications in several sections below (and I will be the first to admit I have not gathered even close to all the links that are in circulation this week). Although the shooting is a local story, I am putting many of the articles here in the national section because, over a week later, it is still very much in the national headlines.

    Via NPR: “After Florida Shooting, Students Are Lobbying For New Gun Regulations.”

    “Courageous Grieving and The Tragedy In Parklandby Virginia Heffernan in Wired.

    President Trump has tried to blame the school shooting in Florida on everything but guns. On video games, for example – yes, that old canard. He has made a number of proposals: banning bump stocks, “hardening” schools.

    Via NPR: “Trump Backs Arming Teachers During Emotional White House Listening Session.”

    Trump’s ideas seem to be a reprise of a proposal the NRA put forward back in 2013.

    Via NPR: “How School Shootings Have Changed The Teaching Profession.”

    “I’m a Florida Teacher in the Era of School Shootings. What Happens in My Classroom During a Lockdown Drill Should Horrify Americans,” writes K. T. Katzmann in The Trace.

    The Absurdity of Armed Educatorsby Vann R. Newkirk II in The Atlantic.

    “The backwards logic of putting guns in schoolsby Gaby Del Valle in The Outline.

    “What Decades Of Covering School Shootings Has Taught Me” by NPR’s longtime education reporter, Claudio Sanchez.

    Via Education Week: “Students Spoke Out After Fla. School Shooting. Then Internet Trolls Attacked.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s What It’s Like At The Headquarters Of The Teens Working To Stop Mass Shootings.”

    I’m putting this local story in this section because it too has national implications. Via the Houston Chronicle: “KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg fired following allegations of sexual misconduct.” Via The New York Times: “Michael Feinberg, a Founder of KIPP Schools, Is Fired After Misconduct Claims.” [More via Chalkbeat](Mike Feinberg, KIPP co-founder, fired after misconduct investigation).

    More federal stuff: Inside Higher Ed on restructuring at the US Department of Education: “Proposed reorganization would eliminate office of under secretary, which oversaw higher ed policy for much of the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, and combine postsecondary and career and technical education into a single office.”

    There are stories about teachers unions and national politics in the HR section below. There are stories about the Department of Education and for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below. Stories about the Department of Education and its policies regarding student loans are in “the business of financial aid” section below.

    Via Wired: “Ajit Pai’s Plan Will Take Broadband Away From Poor People.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via The Houston Chronicle: “Houston-area school district threatens to suspend students who protest after Florida shooting.”

    Via NPR: “Kentucky Moves To Add Guns To Schools After School Shooting.”

    Schools across West Virginia were closed this week as teachers in the state staged a walk-out. Via NPR: “Why West Virginia Teachers Are Demanding Higher Pay and Improved Benefits.”

    Via The New York Times: “D.C. Schools Chancellor Resigns Amid Outcry Over Daughter’s School Transfer.”

    Via The Washington Post: “‘We serve the top 100 percent’: California community college chief responds to Trump.”

    Education in the Courts

    From The Century Foundation’s website: “Federal Judge Grants Century Foundation’s Temporary Restraining Order Against DeVos’ Department of Education.” Several other articles about this case are strewn around other sections here – in the for-profit higher ed section as well as the accreditation section.

    Via Wired: “Ex-Google Employee Claims Wrongful Firing For Criticizing James Damore’s Memo.” More Damore news in the HR section below.

    Via The San Jose Mercury News: “In a direct challenge to California’s landmark law guaranteeing public access to beaches, Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla on Thursday filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that he should not be required to allow public access to Martins Beach in San Mateo County.” Oh sure sure, this isn’t exactly education technology news, except for the part where Khosla invests in education technology companies and his wife founded the open education organization CK–12. “Open.”

    “Free College”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Tuition-Free, With Strings.”

    The Business of Financial Aid

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education signaled Monday that it is interested in tweaking the standards used for determining whether student loan debt can be discharged in bankruptcy.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Borrowers With High Debt Levels Struggle to Repay Loans.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Education Dept. Knew of Whistle-Blower Complaint Before Easing Restrictions on For-Profit College.” The college in question: Northwest Suburban College. There’s still more on this story in the accreditation section below.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As Kaplan Sale Faces Final Hurdle, Purdue President Criticizes Faculty Opponents.” Of course.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Ashford U. Faces New Setback in Battle Over GI Bill Funds.”

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Imperial College London will teach a class on artificial intelligence on the Coursera platform.

    There is some exciting Udacity news in the job training section below too.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    “The Real Threat To Campuses Isn’t ‘PC Culture.’ It’s Racismby Tressie McMillan Cottom.

    Via ProPublica: “Inside Atomwaffen As It Celebrates a Member for Allegedly Killing a Gay Jewish College Student.”

    Via Knox News: “White nationalist talk at UT draws about 45 and 250 protesters for peaceful event.” UT here is the University of Tennessee.

    News from one of my alma maters: “White supremacist flyers found on Casper College bulletin boards.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Turning Point USA Is Accused of Abandoning Kent State Chapter Following Diaper Fiasco.” Diaper fiasco.

    “A University of, by and for the People” – Sarah Vowell on Montana State University.

    “Why Is the Manhattan DA Looking at Newsweek’s Ties to a Christian University?” asks Newseek. “What in the World Is Going On Between Olivet U. and Newsweek?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The New York Times: “Rhodes Scholarships Go Global as Students From Anywhere Now Qualify.”

    Atlantic Union College will close its doors this year.

    Via Standard Digital: “School abandons computer lessons as tablets remains unpowered.” That’s the Nalekat Primary School in Kenya which has government issued tablets but no power to charge them.

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    Via The Washington Post: “Education Dept. releases records at center of a lawsuit over accrediting panels.” More from The Century Foundation.


    Edsurge reprints the College Board’s graphs about the latest AP results.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    “The NCAA Says Student-Athletes Shouldn’t Be Paid Because the 13th Amendment Allows Unpaid Prison Labor,” says Shaun King writing for The Intercept.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Inside Auburn’s Secret Effort to Advance an Athlete-Friendly Curriculum.”

    Memos from HR (and from the Labor Union)

    Via Buzzfeed: “Teachers Unions Think 2020 Is When They Will Defeat The Charter School Democrats.”

    “The AR Isn’t The Real Florida Teacher Pension Scandal,” Andrew Rotherham contends.

    Via The Verge: “James Damore’s labor complaint against Google was completely shut down.” More via Wired.

    There’s more news about lawsuit termination lawsuits in the courts section above. And there’s data about pay in the research and reports section below.

    The Business of Job Training

    “The Future of AI, Data, and Education,” says Udacity, as it announces a new advisory board…

    Udacity has updated its blog post, removing the photo of the 12 men and replacing it with a picture of a server rack. The advisory board itself remains unchanged.


    The New York Times profiles WeWork, including its plans to launch a private K–12 school to teach “entrepreneurship” or some such thing.

    Via Education Week: “Computer Science for All and Silicon Valley: Generous Support or Corporate Takeover?”

    In other learn-to-code news, the press release says thatMattel Expands Partnership With Tynker, Setting Goal To Introduce 10 Million Kids To Coding By 2020.”

    Via The Verge: “Dancing dinosaurs will teach your kid to code.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Computer Science for All: Can Schools Pull It Off?” asks Education Week.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Among those companies trying to capitalize on the recent school shooting in Florida, the College Board, whose president David Coleman sent out an email praising the student protestors not for the content of their protests but for the skills he said they obviously learned in AP class. More via Inside Higher Ed.

    Via Edsurge: “Jefferson Education Accelerator Winds Down, Rebrands to Focus on Edtech Reviews and Procurement.” More via EdWeek’s Market Brief.

    Wikispaces Classroom (and free wikis from the company, now owned by TES) joins the ed-tech dead pool.

    “What Happens When You Combine Blockchain and Education?” asks Hackernoon. Nothing good, I’m gonna go ahead and guess. Oh wait, I don’t even have to guess…

    “Globalizing education standards with ISO 21001by Ben Williamson.

    “For the third time this month, scholars are questioning the integrity of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest professional organization for the advancement of technology,” writes Inside Higher Ed. “IEEE Removes Article Over Allegations of Plagiarism,” Inside Higher Ed notes later in the week, updating its earlier story.

    Reclaim Hosting’s Jim Groom explains“Why a Domain of One’s Own?”

    Via The Spoon: “Goodbye Lunchables: New School Lunch Delivery Services Offer Healthier Food Choices.”

    “How Augmented Reality Is Shaping the Future of Play,” according to Wired.

    “Ads for text therapy are everywhere, but people who have tried it say it’s surprisingly unhelpful and expensive,” says The Outline. Which means it’s probably going to be proposed for schools who cannot afford counseling services. Just you wait…

    Inside Higher Ed profiles ClassPulse, a(nother) classroom feedback tool.

    Speaking of feedback, Inside Higher Ed also profiles a sentiment analysis surveillance tool, developed at the University of St. Thomas, that claims it can tell how students are feeling and if they understand. Because god forbid you actually ask them.

    Via the blog: “Elsevier Collaborates with Hypothesis to Integrate Open Annotation.” I don’t often include partnership announcements in the “Hack Education Weekly News” but when a company that wraps itself in the rhetoric of “open” partners with one of the giants in the education publishing industry, one in the process of trying to become a data platform (and a former weapons dealer to boot), I figure one should take note.

    Via Campus Technology: “McGraw-Hill Education Launches Textbook and E-Book Rental Program.”

    It’s like that old Reese’s Peanut Butter ad… Mike Caulfield draws on the work of Dan Meyer: “The Three Acts of Online Media Literacy Lessons: A First Pass.”

    “The Purgatory of Ed Tech Transformation Initiativesby Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill. I guess we’re not calling them “pilots” any more?

    Ah, it must be time, once again, for one of these stories, this time from Business Insider: “Silicon Valley parents are raising their kids tech-free – and it should be a red flag.” Silicon Valley parents are not raising their kids tech-free. Don’t be ridiculous.

    I’ve got all the “learn-to-code” news in the job training section, because let’s be honest…

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    Artificial Intelligence Is Coming. What Should We Teach?” asks the CEO of Schoolrunner in an article in EdWeek’s Market Brief. I’m gonna go with ethics, sociology, history, and critical race and gender theory. Thanks.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    How much money does the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative spent in order to place advertorials about personalized learning in ed-tech publications like Edsurge?

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Departures at Gates Foundation Stir Speculation About Its Plans for Higher Ed.”

    Bill Gates has no idea how much Rice-a-Roni costs. Rapidly expanding economic inequality and the cluelessness of one of the world’s richest men is so hilarious!

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    Kidaptive has raised $19.1million in Series C funding from Formation 8 and Woongjin Thinkbig. The “invisible” “adaptive learning” company has raised $38.7 million total.

    IMAX Corporation has raised $13.5 million from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, LGT Impact, and Aspada. The textbook maker has previously raised $30 million.

    Sofatutor has raised $3.6 million from Frog Capital, Acton Capital, and JCMB. The test prep company has raised ~$8 million total.

    The Graide Network has raised $1 million from Network Ventures and other undisclosed investors. The writing assignment company had previously raised $40,000.

    I included Singularity University’s fundraise in last week’s“Hack Education Weekly News,” but I just want to note here that GeekWire’s Frank Catalano did get this detail from the company that I previously didn’t have: the for-profit school has raised $54 million to date.

    If there was one good thing that came out of Katrina, [it’s that] it wiped out the K–12 education system in New Orleans” –if there was one good thing that came out of this Edsurge article, it’s that you can see how much people in the ed-tech industry truly loathe public education and the people who work in it.

    “A peek inside Alphabet’s investing universe” via Crunchbase. Alphabet is, of course, the parent company of Google.

    “Kidtech startup SuperAwesome is now valued at $100+ million and profitable,” Techcrunch informs us.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    “This MIT Startup Is Developing A Fitness Tracker For Your Brain,” says Fast Company. Do note all the stories this week that are intertwined with predicting and assessing people’s “moods” – that is, some sort of “social emotional” thingy.

    Algorithmic zoning could be the answer to cheaper housing and more equitable cities,” Techcrunch claims. Read some history, Techcrunch. OK?

    “An Algorithm Knows When Your Kid Is Using Your Phone,” says Futurism.

    Via “Concerns raised about digital billboards on HS campuses.” Because when people try to tell you that there’s no advertising in ed-tech, you really must remind them that they are dead wrong.

    Via the AP: “Las Vegas school partners with company to ban cellphones.” The company in question is Yondr which provides locked pouches so phones are not accessible.

    There’s a surveillance story in the “upgrade/downgrade” section above.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    There’s data about testing in the testing section above. There’s data about student loan repayment in “the business of financial aid” section above.

    Inside Higher Ed on professor pay: “Faculty members earn 15 percent less than others with advanced degrees, study finds. They work equally long hours.”

    Via Edsurge: “What Researchers Want Teachers to Know About Virtual Reality’s Health Risks.”

    Via The Telegraph: “ Teaching children with iPads means they struggle to concentrate without technology, study finds.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “After 2016 Election, Campus Hate Crimes Seemed to Jump. Here’s What the Data Tell Us.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “College students may believe they’re ready for a job, but employers think otherwise. At least, that’s according to data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which surveyed graduating college seniors and employers and found a significant difference in the groups’ perceptions.” The key word here: perceptions.

    “Students are zapping their brains to get ahead in school – but evidence for the practice is limited,” says The Hechinger Report. I wonder where they get dumb ideas like this? Oh.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “World Bank’s ’Global Dataset’ Offers New Way for Comparing Countries’ Educational Performance.”

    Via Politico: “Facebook’s next project: American inequality.” A Stanford economist is using the company’s vast store of personal data to study why so many in the U.S. are stuck in place economically.“ That economist: Raj Chetty, ”a favorite among tech elites," so that’s special.

    A new report from Data & Society: “The Promises, Challenges, and Futures of Media Literacy.”

    “No one is teaching kids how to spot fake news,” says The Outline, with a look at the history of media literacy programs.

    But honestly it’s not just “the kids,” let’s be fair. I count at least 10 inaccurate or misleading claims in this article about the future of education / future of work. How can anyone expect ed-tech to be a “solution” to “media literacy” struggles when ed-tech proponents gleefully and purposefully spreads the bullshit so darn thick?

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 03/02/18--04:45: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    Via The New York Times: “Trump Wants to Arm Teachers. These Schools Already Do.”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Betsy DeVos’s school choice ideas are a reality in Sweden, where student performance has suffered.”

    Via The Washington Post: “DeVos moves to delay Obama-era rule on minority special-education students.”

    Via The New York Times: “Kushner’s Family Business Received Loans After White House Meetings.” (I’m including this here because all of these entities – Kushner’s family, the companies he received loans from – have education investments too.)

    Speaking of loans, there’s more about the Department of Education and the business of student loans in the “business of financial aid” section below.

    Via Motherboard: “The FCC’s New Broadband Map Paints an Irresponsibly Inaccurate Picture of American Broadband.”

    Via the BBC: “Learners let down by Learndirect, say MPs.” (Learndirect is a job training company that has a major contract with the UK government.)

    From The Express Tribune in Pakistan: “Around 500,000 laptops are likely to be distributed among talented and deserving students by the year 2020, according to Prime Minister Youth Programme Chairwoman Leila Khan.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Yesterday was high drama in Miami and NYC as the former’s school superintendent was supposed to be named the superintendent of the latter. The headlines tell the story of how all this unfolded instead: Via Chalkbeat: “Carvalho’s first New York City controversy: his salary, which would be 50 percent higher than Fariña’s.” Via The New York Times: “Alberto Carvalho Backs Out of New York City Schools Job.” Via Chalkbeat: “What happened when: Inside the circus that was the Carvalho pick and sudden rejection.”

    The New York Times reported on Tuesday that “West Virginia Teachers’ Strike Ends With a Promise to Raise Pay.” Nope. West Virginia’s teachers are still on strike. Via The Atlantic: “West Virginia’s Teachers Are Not Satisfied.” Still more via The New York Times.

    Via The Tampa Bay Times: “Despite Parkland’s opposition, Florida House panel votes to arm teachers.”

    Via TPM: “In Oath Keepers Webinar, Student Gun Control Activists Are ‘The Enemy’.”

    Via The Washington Post: “D.C. Public Schoolsgraduation rate on track to decline this year” – that is, from 73% down to 49%, based on high school seniors’ current progress.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Indiana still has the nation’s largest voucher program. But growth is slowing down.”

    Via The New York Times: “Arizona Republicans Inject Schools of Conservative Thought Into State Universities.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Southern New Hampshire University and several donors want to guarantee an education for 1,000 DACA students.”

    Via WaPo’s Jay Mathews: “Born in the U.S.A. and still hassled about the immigration status of their parents” on their college applications.

    Education in the Courts

    The US Supreme Court heard arguments in Janus v AFSCME this week – its decision “likely to permanently weaken public unions,” says NBC News. Via The Intercept: “The Right Is Trying to Take Down Public Sector Unions. It May Bring Much More Down With It.”

    Via Gizmodo: “‘Bro Culture’ Led to Repeated Sexual Harassment, Former Google Engineer’s Lawsuit Says.”

    Another Google lawsuit, as reported by Ars Technica: “Ex-Google recruiter: I was fired because I resisted ‘illegal’ diversity efforts.”

    Here’s some of the latest on the Dallas Dance, the former head of the Baltimore County Public Schools, who’s set to go to trial soon on perjury charges.

    The Business of Financial Aid

    Via NPR: “Education Department Wants To Protect Student Loan Debt Collectors.”

    Via Bloomberg: “Student-Debt Firms Protected From State Probes Under Trump Plan.”

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    MOOC news is now much more often “job training” news, so there’s more on MOOCs in that section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    The New York Times profiles a new private school startup called Luminaria (and cites me in the process): “Why This Tech Executive Says Her Plan to Disrupt Education Is Different.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Richard Spencer Will Speak at Michigan State– Way Out on a Farm.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Shadowy ‘Group of 17 Faculty’ Adds Confusion to Chapel Hill’s Silent Sam Debate.” The headline really doesn’t do justice to this story, which involves a Confederate statue and a faculty group’s threat to remove it if UNC does not.

    Via The Washington Post: “In a prestigious high school math and science program, alumni say #MeToo.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “How KIPP’s observers and allies are reacting to co-founder Mike Feinberg’s firing” for sexual misconduct.

    Chalkbeat on how a Denver school uses yoga as a disciplinary tool.

    Business Schools Have No Business in the University,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why Admissions Leaders Have – or Haven’t – Spoken Up for Prospective Protesters.”

    “How the student activists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High demonstrate the power of a comprehensive education,” by Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick.

    Via the Detroit Free Press: “Central Michigan University shooting: 2 dead, gunman at large.”

    Mount Ida College and Lasell College are in talks to possibly merge, The Boston Globe reports.

    Concordia College will close its doors.

    Via Wisconsin Public Radio: “UW-Stevens Point Provost: Program Cuts, Faculty Layoffs ‘Unavoidable’.”

    “Another queen sacrifice,” says Bryan Alexander. “Castleton University in Vermont.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Lessons Learned From a $75 Million Failed Experiment.” That is, the closure of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning.

    University staff are on strike at some 60+ universities in the UK over plans to cut their pensions.

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    Via The New York Times: “Hungary’s Soros-Backed University Is Reaccredited.”

    Via Campus Technology: “ACE and Credly Building Transcript for Digital Credentials.”


    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Iowa Lawmakers Wade Into Disputed Award of $31 Million State Testing Contract.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Education Dept. Opens New Investigation Into Michigan State’s Handling of Nassar Scandal.”

    “Black Labor, White Profits, and How the NCAA Weaponized the Thirteenth Amendment” by Kevin Gannon.

    Via The Washington Post: “Transgender wrestler Mack Beggs wins second Texas state girls’ championship.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Purdue University’s president harshly critiques the current system that allows college athletes to drop out and go pro after a single season.”

    ESPN has more on the ongoing federal investigation into college basketball recruitment.

    Memos from HR

    Bloomberg discovers Taylorism: “Amazon’s Labor-Tracking Wristband Has a History.”

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Techcrunch: “Udacity grew its revenue over 100% year-over-year in 2017.”

    Speaking of Udacity, the company has responded to the outcry about its all-male, mostly-white advisory board by dissolving it.

    Chalkbeat on CZI’s grant to the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning: “‘Personalized learning’ comes to teacher training, bringing big ambitions and big questions.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Amazon will now pay Alexa developers for top-performing skills for kids.”

    Via the Google blog: “Learn with Google AI: Making ML education available to everyone.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Is School Desegregation Coming to an End?asks The Atlantic.

    Can sending public money to private schools improve equity?asks The Hechinger Report.

    “School Shootings Have Declined Dramatically Since the 1990s. Does It Really Make Sense to Militarize Schools?asks The Intercept.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades boasts that “Minecraft has inspired 85 million on” That is, “more than 85 million learners around the world have been introduced to some of the basic concepts of coding and computer science through the organization’s Minecraft activities.” I guess I’m a little skeptical about that number. That would mean more than one out of every ten school age children on the planet have undertaken one of’s Minecraft lessons. Even if every school age kid in the US public school system was introduced to Minecraft through, that’s still only about 51 million students. might see itself as the go-to site for the future of computer science education, time and time again it’s shown it needs help with basic math and statistics.

    It’s likeUber, but for Getting to the Hospital.” Actually, it is Uber for getting to doctors’ visits. I mean, what could go wrong?! (Including this here because a) people keep using the Uber analogy for education and b) I’m waiting for when the “ride-sharing” company launches its school-bus replacement plan. Meanwhile, “Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Joins Health Startup’s Board,” says Bloomberg. Because that’s how Silicon Valley punishes a failed CEO who, among other disastrous decisions, peeped at the medical records of a woman who was suing his company after she was raped by one of its contract workers.

    Via The New York Times: “Tech Envisions the Ultimate Start-Up: An Entire City.” Privatize everything.

    Via the Southern Poverty Law Center: “How Tech Supports Hate.”

    Via The Digital Reader: “ Kobo to Retire Kobo Kids Accounts on 3 April.”

    Edsurge’s partnership with Elsevier.

    Ethereum’s smart contracts are full of holes,” says The MIT Technology Review. Good thing no one in education is silly enough to be promoting blockchain as a solution for anything.

    Oh wait. Via the press release: “World’s Largest Pilot of Blockchain Technology in Education Launched Affecting Over 400,000 Students.”

    Amazon Tries Its Hand in School Procurement,” says Edsurge, with a story that totally doesn’t sound like it come from Amazon PR.

    Via NPR: “Dolly Parton’s Nonprofit Reaches Milestone With 100 Million Books Sent To Children.”

    Educators sure do seem to discover a lot of new “mindsets.”

    Techcrunch on the latest in “parent-tech”: “Peanut, the matchmaking app for moms, launches a community feature called Peanut Pages.”

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    Alex Usher reviewsRobot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

    From the Edmodo blog: “AI, Algorithms and What Should We All Be Thinking About?”

    Via Campus Technology: “Survey: In an AI World, Retraining Will Come from Employers, Not Higher Ed.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    Via the Harvard Crimson: “Koch Foundation Donations Spur Debate at HKS.” HKS is Harvard Kennedy School for you heathens who don’t know the school’s acronyms.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    Meritize has raised $6.8 million from Colchis Capital, Chicago Ventures, Cube Financial Holdings, ECMC, College Loan Corporation, University Ventures, City Light Capital, PC Squared, and Meritize management. The company makes student loans based on students’ “academic data.”

    Sales bootcamp Strive Talent has raised $3.8 million from Upfront Ventures, Kapor Capital, Webb Investment Network, NextView Ventures, University Ventures, and Graph Ventures.

    The scholarship platform has raised $3 million in Series A from CBA Capital.

    The Graide Network– a platform for outsourcing grading – has raised $1 million from Network Ventures.

    Discovery Education has been acquired by the private equity firm Francisco Partners.

    Lightsail Education has been acquired by the private equity firm Agile Investment Group.

    Reports that Pearson is looking to sell its K–12 courseware business in EdWeek’s Market Brief, Inside Higher Ed, and Edsurge.

    From the press release: “Campus Technology Conference to Merge with UBTech.”

    Via China Money Network: “China’s Sunlands Online Education Files For $300M IPO In New York.”

    Reuters reports that SpringerNature is planning to IPO too.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via Edsurge: “Cheating on Chegg? Maybe Not on Its Tutoring Platform.” So Chegg’s algorithms declare you’re a cheater, and you don’t get a tutor. JFC. Silicon Valley continues its obsession with cheating as an excuse to violate students’ privacy and their agency.

    Sponsored content on Edsurge– sponsored by Salesforce, that is, a company that seems quite keen on expanding its reach in education – on how predictive analytics systems work or don’t work: “‘Faculty Told Me They Hated It.’ When an Academic-Alert System Backfires – Twice.” My comments above about Silicon Valley’s obsession with cheating are also applicable here.

    Via The Verge: “Palantir has secretly been using New Orleans to test its predictive policing technology.”

    Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick writes about“Charting my kids’ development through targeted advertising on our family computer.”

    There are more privacy horrors in the “upgrades/downgrades” section above.

    Via Campus Technology: “Amazon Releases New Guidance on AWS and FERPA.”

    A report from Deloitte: “Elevating cybersecurity on the higher education leadership agenda.”

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    I’ve run the numbers on how much venture capital was funneled into education in the month of February.

    EdWeek’s Market Brief with data from the Association of American Publishers: “K–12 Publishers’ Sales Slip, But States’ Buying Cycles May Be to Blame.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Gallup survey finds that Americans believe more in ‘higher education’ than in ‘colleges and universities.’ Poll also drives home that skepticism is deepest among white men without degrees.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new study from the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness has found that an increasing number of public, two-year colleges are using multiple measurements beyond standardized tests to place students in college-level math and reading courses.”

    Politico with research on school safety: “ Why hardening schools hasn’t stopped school shootings.”

    Via The Intercept: “Children of Color Already Face Violent Discipline in Schools. Arming Teachers Will Get Them Killed.”

    Via The New York Times: “Anti-Semitic Incidents Surged 57 Percent in 2017, Report Finds.” Inside Higher Ed notes, based on the same ADL report, that “Anti-Semitic Incidents on Campus Up 89%.”

    The Pew Research Center is out with its latest report on “Social Media Use in 2018.”

    “How to Protect Your College’s Research From Undue Corporate Influence” – according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Buzzfeed: “The Inside Story Of How An Ivy League Food Scientist Turned Shoddy Data Into Viral Studies.”

    An op-ed in The New York Times: “The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’.”

    Via NPR: “From Little Rock to Parkland: A Brief History of Youth Activism.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 03/03/18--07:45: Guns and Ed-Tech (Again)
  • It’s become commonplace for people to respond to President Trump by urging others not to take his statements seriously – not to give them attention or credence because “it’s a distraction.” Or “it’ll never happen.” No doubt, as a rule, Trump’s ideas are rarely well-thought-out. His policy proposals often seem to have been invented entirely off-the-cuff – as he speaks or as he tweets – and as such are hardly policy proposals at all.

    Trump’s notion of arming teachers in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida might be a perfect example of this. “It’s a distraction.” “It’ll never happen.”

    His call to “harden schools” does echo, some have suggested, a proposal the NRA made back in 2013 following the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. That proposal recommended hiring more school security officers and arming select teachers. There aren’t a lot of details in Trump’s plan – and so many unanswered questions about how it could possibly work – but that hasn’t stopped other politicians from making similar statements, from unveiling similar proposals.

    They’re not simply demanding more weapons in schools. They’re demanding more weapons and anti-weapons technology, along with more surveillance capabilities. “We’ve got to invest in metal detectors,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said yesterday. “We’ve got to invest in bulletproof glass. We’ve got to invest in steel doors. We’ve got to invest in upgraded locks.”

    This is the second time I’ve written this year about guns and schools, something that I’d much rather not have to do – not because the topic strays from my focus here on this site on education technology. Rather, because all of this is ed-tech, but it’s rarely addressed as such.

    To reiterate what I wrote in that other essay: we need to expand what is too often a narrow definition of education technology – one that obsesses with gadgetry but fails to consider the context into which gadgets are introduced; one that lauds “innovation” but fails to understand systems, structures, histories; one that champions products but ignores practices; one that readily embraces “what’s new” and readily ignores “what’s just”; one that insists that “technology” means “computers in the classroom” and “technology” means “progress.” This narrow definition circumscribes what we think of as ed-tech, how we talk about ed-tech, how we imagine its development and its usage, and how we address the technological systems and practices that are already deeply embedded in any educational setting.

    “Hardening schools” is an education technology endeavor, whether or not we take seriously anyone’s suggestions about giving teachers guns. For now, “hardening schools” explicitly calls for hardware like those items listed by Governor Scott: metal detectors and bulletproof windows, as well as surveillance cameras and various sensors that can detect gunfire. It also implies software– social media monitoring and predictive analytics tools, for example, that claim they can identify students “at risk” of violence or political extremism.

    The hardware and software already exist in schools – although we know that these technologies are not implemented evenly across all demographics or across all schools. Perhaps the emphasis should be placed less on insisting that arming teachers will never happen and more on recognizing the ways in which these disciplinary regimes are already in place, the ways in which data and assessments are so readily and efficiently weaponized, and the ways in which education technologies facilitate a culture of surveillance and compliance and control.

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  • 03/09/18--03:30: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    Via The LA Times: “Betsy DeVos’ visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School prompts complaints from some students.” Here’s the readout from the Department of Education. “Why DeVos’s Parkland Visit Failed,” according to The Atlantic.

    There’s lots more from Betsy DeVos’s talk at SXSWedu in the conferences section below.

    No mention of DeVos in this WaPo story about her brother though.

    Via Politico: “The Trump administration has removed documents from an Education Department website aimed at transgender students, including those intended to help students fight for access to bathrooms of their choice.”

    Via The Washington Post: “The U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general is cautioning Congress against provisions in the House Republican higher education bill that would repeal regulations holding colleges and universities accountable for the use of federal student aid.”

    And there’s more about the Department of Education and financial aid in the financial aid section below.

    Via Buzzfeed: “A Top Trump Administration Civil Rights Official Says Peter Thiel Backed Her For The Job.” That would be Candice Jackson. In addition to the anti-First Amendment supporter Thiel, Jackson also name-dropped her connections to David Horowitz, a long-time advocate for silencing left-learning professors on campus, in order to get her job.

    “What If America Didn’t Have Public Schools?” asks Julie Halpert in The Atlantic.

    Via Edsurge: “Office of Edtech Wants Help Making Sense of All Those Higher Ed Providers.”

    Via The Daily Beast: “The Silicon Valley Giant Bankrolling Devin Nunes.” That would be Oracle, who also bankrolls plenty in education and ed-tech too.

    Via Education Week: “After Parkland Shooting, Sen. Rubio Questions Obama-Era Guidance on School Arrests.” And I am not even linking to the National Review article promoting this racist crap. But it is the worst “take” on school shootings.

    Via the AP: “The National Rifle Association has given more than $7 million in grants to hundreds of U.S. schools in recent years, according to an Associated Press analysis, but few have shown any indication that they’ll follow the lead of businesses that are cutting ties with the group following last month’s massacre at a Florida high school.”

    Via Apple Insider: “Jamf’s ‘innovation pod’ aims to offer iPad-based education to students in Haiti.” An “innovation pod” is actually a private classroom in a shipping container. Excellent re-branding.

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via The Atlantic: “The Ripple Effect of the West Virginia Teachers’ Victory.” More on West Virginia’s teachers via NPR. Via The New York Times: “‘I Live Paycheck to Paycheck’: A West Virginia Teacher Explains Why She’s on Strike.” (Note how teachers have their physical activity tracked as part of their health insurance benefits package.)

    Via The LA Times: “Oklahoma comes closer to joining West Virginia in a major teacher strike.” More from KTUL in Tulsa.

    Elsewhere in OK: “Oklahoma police department fires guns into textbooks to see if they can stop bullets. Really.”

    Via The New York Times: “Anatomy of a School Lockdown: A Threat, Then the Anxious Wait.”

    Via The Boston Globe: “For charter schools across the state, the news has been relentlessly bad in recent months: A Western Massachusetts principal fired after a drug arrest. A Dorchester school placed on probation amid allegations of financial mismanagement. Multiple unionization efforts. A record-breaking campaign finance penalty. Black students in Malden punished simply for wearing braided-hair extensions.”

    I’m just gonna come right out and say it. I am sorry. But Wakanda would not have charter schools.

    Via The Washington Post: “Florida legislature backs new gun restrictions after Parkland school shooting.” Governor Rick Scott has still not said whether he will sign the legislation.

    NYC has a new schools chancellor: Richard Carranza, who currently heads the Houston school district. Chalkbeat, on last week’s superintendent brouhaha– : “The big loser in the Carvalho chaos, according to New York City papers: Bill de Blasio.” Also via Chalkbeat: “NYC knew about discrimination lawsuit involving Carranza, but say accusations are ‘completely false’.”

    “N.Y. drama takes two big prospects out of discussion for L.A. schools job,” says The LA Times.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Top school choice group advising Puerto Rico on controversial efforts to expand charters and vouchers.”

    Via NPR: “Charity Honoring Philando Castile Pays All Lunch Debts In St. Paul School System.”

    Via Wired: “Washington State Enacts Net Neutrality Law, in Clash With FCC.”

    Via The Oregonian: “Oregon won’t allow 529 tax breaks for K–12 private school.”

    Ball State University will take over control of the public school district in Muncie, Indiana.

    Via WSBT: “Indiana teen becomes superintendent of fake school corporation.” The 13-year-old created a fake school district and successfully registered it with the state department of education. Think of the money he could make soliciting ed-tech deals!

    Education in the Courts

    Via The New York Times: “Ex-Leader of Baltimore County Schools, a Tech Booster, Pleads Guilty to Perjury.” That’s Dallas Dance.

    Via The Verge: “Lawsuit against VC says he ‘groped and fondled multiple women’ for over a decade.” That’s Lucio Lanza.

    Via The New York Times: “Top Volleyball Coach Raped Teenage Athletes, Lawsuit Alleges.” That’s Rick Butler, who coached for USA Volleyball.

    Via The Register Guard: “Academy of Arts and Academics Principal Mike Fisher, who committed suicide Feb. 1, had sexually abused a student starting when she was 14 years old and continued having sex with her into adulthood, according to documents received by The Register-Guard.”

    “The Trump administration just failed to stop a climate lawsuit brought by 21 kids,” The Chicago Tribune reports.

    Via Ars Technica: “Judge bars student from violent games after alleged shooting threat.”

    Via The Chicago Tribune: “Pearson Family Members Foundation sues University of Chicago, aiming to revoke $100M gift.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A federal district judge in Maryland on Monday upheld the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers temporary protection against deportation and provides the right to work to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, known as Dreamers. The ruling has no immediate practical effect, as federal judges in California and New York previously ordered nationwide temporary injunctions barring the Trump administration from ending the program as planned.”

    DACA Lives, but for How Long?asks Inside Higher Ed.

    The Business of Financial Aid

    Via Washington Post: “Education Dept.’s mishandling of student debt relief claims creating headaches for applicants.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Bloomberg: “Conflicts of Interest Seen as For-Profit Schools Eye Nonprofit Status.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “On Its 2nd Try, Grand Canyon U. Gets the Green Light to Become a Nonprofit.”

    Via The Conversation: “Purdue-Kaplan deal blurs lines between for-profit and public colleges.” There’s more on the new Kaplan in the accreditation section below.

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Via Edsurge: “​In Move Towards More Online Degrees, Coursera Introduces Its First Bachelor’s.” “Coursera and other purveyors of massive open online courses supposedly signaled the end of traditional credentials and, as some told it, universities. Now the company is betting big on both,” says Inside Higher Ed. Vive la MOOC révolution.

    Coursera More than Doubles Number of Degrees on Its Platform,” says Campus Technology.

    Via Chalkbeat: “A tiny Indiana district is banking on virtual education to survive. But at what cost?”

    Inside Higher Ed reports that there’s “confusion over distance education rules”: “Colleges seek guidance about looming federal requirement for online colleges to tell students whether academic programs meet licensing requirements in their home states.”

    “Orphan MOOCs and the Digital Dark Ages” by Jeffrey Pomerantz in Hybrid Pedagogy.

    There’s more research on race and gender discrimination in online ed in the research section below.

    Speaking of online education, this from earlier in the year. Via The New York Times Magazine: “What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “ How PragerU Is Winning The Right-Wing Culture War Without Donald Trump.” It’s a “university” not a university, but hey. When has that ever stopped anyone?

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    The New York Times on“How the Parkland Students Got So Good at Social Media” – a really important corrective, I’d argue, to that “digital native” silliness.

    Lisa Miller in New York Magazine: “War Room” – “The teenage strategy sessions that built an anti-gun movement out of the trauma of Parkland in one week.”

    The New York Times on school resource officers.

    A Stanford student group, Stanford Students Against Addictive Devices, is protesting Apple for its role in “smartphone addiction.” Perhaps protest Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab?

    Via The Huffington Post: “Florida Public School Teacher Has A White Nationalist Podcast.” One white supremacist Florida public school teacher now no longer has a job.

    Via The Washington Post: “‘Nazis go home!’ Fights break out at Michigan State as protesters, white supremacists converge for Richard Spencer speech.”

    Christina Hoff Sommers’ speech was briefly interrupted at Lewis & Clark College, prompting at least one NYT op-ed writer to write something ridiculous (and wrong) in response.

    University of California president Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday that she wants the system to explore ways to guarantee admission to academically eligible students in the state’s community colleges,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Via Buzzfeed: “University Puts Physicist Lawrence Krauss On Paid Leave While It Investigates Sexual Harassment Allegations.” That’s Arizona State University.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In a Fight Against Depression, UCLA Relies on Technology.”

    Whose University Is It Anyway?asks Ron Srigley in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    Via Pacific Standard: “Purdue University Gets the Final Approval on Its Plan to Convert Kaplan Into a Non-Profit College.” More via Inside Higher Ed,

    George Mason University’s Tyler Cowen offers“A Radical Solution to the Overuse of Occupational Licensing.”

    There’s more licensing and certification news in the MOOC section above.


    Via Chalkbeat: “Indiana’s new ILEARN test is expected to be shorter than ISTEP.”

    “One Standardized Tests Provider Looks to Gaming and Personalized Learning to Innovate Exams” – Edsurge on ETS.

    Memos from HR

    Diane Auer Jones will join the Department of Education as senior adviser to the assistant secretary for postsecondary education, a post she held under George W. Bush.

    Katrina Stevens, formerly of Edsurge and the Department of Education, will join the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as its new director of Learning Sciences.

    Via The Iowa City Press-Citizen: “ACT to cut 100 jobs companywide.” Right after making some big VC investments too.

    Via The New York Times: “Harvard Professor Resigns Amid Allegations of Sexual Harassment.” That’s government professor Jorge I. Domínguez.

    There are sexual harassment allegations in several sections. Because education is certainly not immune from power and exploitation and violence.

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Richard Buery, a New York City deputy mayor who tried to build bridges between the district and charter schools, will leave to take a senior post this month at KIPP, a national charter-school network.”

    The Business of Job Training

    Watch how the narratives about “the future of education” are crafted. Via The Wall Street Journal: “Why an Honors Student Wants to Skip College and Go to Trade School.”

    Conferences and Events

    Lots of marketing and PR from SXSWedu: Edsurge on nudges and behavioral economics. Edsurge on teachers leaving the classroom to join tech companies. Edsurge on mindfulness in public schools. Edsurge on the business of OER. Edsurge on "reality-based education.“ Edsurge on the ethics of ed-tech companies paying teachers. Edsurge on”Words to Never Use If You Want to Build a Diverse Edtech Company."

    Highlights from some of the featured speakers:

    Via Edsurge: “Betsy DeVos at SXSW EDU: ‘What Students Really Need Won’t Originate in Washington’.”

    Via WaPo’s Valerie Strauss: “Betsy DeVos used Shutterstock picture to attack U.S. schools. Teachers aren’t having it.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: danah boyd on the Dangers of Weaponized Critical Thinking.“ Edsurge also weighs in on boyd’s SXSWedu keynote: ”danah boyd: How Critical Thinking and Media Literacy Efforts Are ‘Backfiring’ Today."

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Are AI-Powered Chatbot Tutors the Future of Textbooks?asks Edsurge.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Not pigeons, but hey… Via The Washington Post: “The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens.”

    “‘Blockchain’ is meaningless,” says The Verge’s Adrianne Jeffries. Which means it’s perfect for marketers to use in promoting their various education technology projects.

    Via The Guardian: “Facebook asks users: should we allow men to ask children for sexual images?” Thank goodness neither Facebook nor its founder have expressed any interest in bringing these questionable ethics and business practices to education. PHEW, RIGHT?

    “To get rural kids online, Microsoft wants to put Internet access on school buses,” The Washington Post reports.

    Via The Verge: “Lego will sell its first sustainable pieces later this year.”

    Via Laughing Squid: “Text-to-Teach Children’s Book Responds With Demonic Screeching When Battery Is Low.”

    Your Kid’s Phone Is Not Like a Cigarette,” Anya Kamenetz writes in a NYT op-ed.

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    “Assessing the dangers of AI applications in education” by Tony Bates.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    Via The 74: “Harvard-MITPersonalized Learning Program to Help Early Readers Gets $30M From Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.” More via Education Dive.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Walton gives Indianapolis Public Schools$1.7 million to increase principal power.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    Degreed has raised $42 million from Jump Capital, Founders Circle Capital, and Owl Ventures. The skills identification company has raised $76.2 million total.

    The language learning app ELSA has raised $3.2 million from Monk’s Hill Ventures. The company has raised $3.3 million total.

    GradTouch has raised ~$1.3 million from NPIF Maven Equity Finance to help “18–24 year olds transition from university life into a young professional.”

    Tarena International has acquired the K–12 robotics company Wuhan Haoxiaozi Robot Technology (a.k.a. Rtec).

    Springboard Education has acquiredKids’ Adventures.

    Asteria Education has acquired the test prep company ECS Learning Systems.

    The Stepping Stones Group has acquiredCobb Pediatric Therapy Services.

    The Verge reports thatFormer Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announces new investment fund focused on job creation.” And, yup, he’s going to focus on education. FML.

    In other education VC news, Edsurge points to“The Newest U.S. Education Technology Venture Fund? Look to Japan.” That would be Edulab Capital Partners.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    From the University of Arizona press office: Sudha Ram’s Smart Campus research tracks students’ social interactions and daily routines via their CatCard usage– and leverages that information to make predictions about freshman retention.“ This one’s for all those who whine that liberal colleges are the biggest threat to free speech on campus. I’d say that ”smart campus" projects are much much more dangerous.

    Via Willamette Week: “Portland State University Researchers May Have Violated Federal Law by Using the Personal Data of Thousands of Portland-Area K–12 Students.”

    According to Education Dive, “App shows how Internet of Things benefits colleges, students.” I’d say that “app shows how little colleges and the companies they partner with for various education technologies respect student privacy or sovereignty.”

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The 2018 Trends Report.”

    Research from ProPublica: the “Trump Town” project – “Tracking White House Staffers, Cabinet Members and Political Appointees Across the Government.” Look up the Department of Education folks. It’s fun.

    “There Is No ‘Epidemic of Mass School Shootings’” says Eric Levitz in the New York Magazine.

    Via NPR: “Here’s How To Prevent The Next School Shooting, Experts Say.”

    “The screen time debate is pitting parents against each other,” says The Verge.

    Via NPR: “More Than Half Of Transgender Teachers Surveyed Tell NPR They Are Harassed At Work.”

    Via CItyLab: “The Problem With America’s New National Broadband Map.”

    Via Times Higher Ed (republished in Inside Higher Ed): “One in three students globally is enrolled in private higher education institutions, according to research that reveals the huge growth and wide reach of private providers.”

    Inside Higher Ed reports on a Foreign Policy report: “China Intensifying Oversight of U.S. Student Groups.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Survey Finds Girls’ Isolation, Vulnerability Rise With Heavy Social Media Use.”

    Inside Higher Ed reports on a new study from the Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University, finding “Race and Gender Bias in Online Courses.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    “To What Extent and Under Which Circumstances Are Growth Mind-Sets Important to Academic Achievement? Two Meta-Analyses” from researchers Victoria F. Sisk, Alexander P. Burgoyne, Jingze Sun, Jennifer L. Butler, and Brooke N. Macnamara. Spoiler alert: weak effects.

    Via Edsurge: “Why Professors Doubt Education Research.” Perhaps because education (technology) journalists write up some pretty silly stories based on the so-called findings? I’m just spitballing here…

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 03/16/18--05:15: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    Via The New York Times: “National School Walkout: Thousands Protest Against Gun Violence Across the U.S.” From The Atlantic: “The Student Walkout Against Gun Violence, in Photos.” NPR on the students who protested on Capitol Hill. ESPN turns to a real expert here: “Shaquille O’Neal says more cops is answer to school shootings.” WaPo’s Valerie Strauss asks, “ What legal rights do students really have to protest during the school day?” Robert Pondiscio writes in The 74 that “Civil Disobedience Means Facing Consequences. School-Sanctioned Walkouts Rob Students of That Lesson.” I am not sure that’s not what civil disobedience means, and the students most likely to experience gun violence are probably those least in a position to protest it (or at least, they are quite likely to suffer the most from “consequences”). But damn, the authoritarian streak in education reform is sure alive and well when it comes to the topic of school discipline, isn’t it.

    There are more stories about how individual schools responded to the students’ walkout in the “meanwhile on campus” section below.

    Via The New York Times: “Trump Finds Unlikely Culprit in School Shootings: Obama Discipline Policies.” I don’t think blaming Obama is “unlikely” at all with this administration or its racist supporters.

    Via NPR: “Trump’s Plan To Secure Schools Calls For Arming Teachers, Improving Background Checks.”

    The US Secretary of Education appeared on 60 Minutes this past weekend. And… well… I’m sure you’ve heard by now.

    The Department of Education tried to clarify some of the gaffs DeVos made in the interview, and wow, the media loved this story: Buzzfeed. Chalkbeat. NPR. “DeVos Digs Herself Deeper,” says The Atlantic’s Alia Wong. Rolling Stone’s Jamil Smith on DeVos: “The Worst Government Possible, on Purpose.”

    From the Department of Education’s press office: Betsy DeVos’s remarks to the American Enterprise Institute World Forum. Sound the “factory model of education” klaxon!

    Via The Intercept’s Rachel Cohen: “Betsy DeVos Is Now Fighting the Union at the Education Department.”

    Via Politico: “DeVos defies White House in dismantling Education budget office.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Education Dept. Stops Providing Details on Resolved Title IX Cases.”

    More on the Department of Education and for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    The Department of Education’s Chief Privacy Officer Kathleen Styles has been “reassigned,” Education Week reports. Although the news initially suggested the position would remain unfilled, it appears as though Angela Arrington will be the interim CPO at the department.

    From the Department of Education press release: “Secretary DeVos Issues Full Forgiveness of HBCU Hurricane Relief Loans.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A bipartisan group of 30 attorneys general signed on to a letter Thursday opposing House legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act over a provision that would bar states from regulating student loan servicers.”

    More on the politics of student loans in the financial aid section below.

    The** Department of Education** has selected the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education to manage its #GoOpen campaign.

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via NPR: “Oklahoma Teachers Consider Strike.”

    Lots more labor-related news in the HR section below.

    Via The Washington Post: “ Why Florida school superintendents oppose new gun law Gov. Scott just signed.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Time Runs Out on Ball State School Takeover Plan.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ It was hailed as the national model for school reform. Then the scandals hit.” “It” in the headline is the DC Public Schools.

    Immigration and Education

    Via The Outline: “ICE is detaining teenagers when they turn 18.”

    The Wall Street Journal reports that the Trump Administration might limit the number of visas available to Chinese students. More via Inside Higher Ed.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “‘Please Don’t Deport Our Professor’: Augsburg U. Frets Over One of Its Own.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Visas Issued to Foreign Students Fall, Partly Due to Trump Immigration Policy.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via The Pacific Standard: “Prosecutors Will Seek the Death Penalty for the Accused Florida High School Shooter.”

    The Business of Financial Aid

    Via The Washington Post: “Education Dept. opens door for student loan companies to ignore state authority.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the real reason that students do not complete the FAFSA is that it is too complicated:

    This isn’t really financial aid per se, but it’s part of the larger suite of financial products that schools (and the companies they partner with) push. Via Inside Higher Ed: “Wells Fargo’s deals with colleges are scrutinized for being costly to account holders. A senator wants answers, but the bank’s backers on campus say it’s sometimes the best option to help students – and institutional budgets.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    “Negotiators appointed to revise the federal gainful-employment rule failed to reach consensus Thursday, leaving it up to the Department of Education to issue its own version of regulations for career education programs,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    From the Department of Education press release: “Secretary DeVos Extends Closed School Discharge to More Charlotte School of Law Students.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Ashford Seeks to Become a Nonprofit.” Ashford is a for-profit university run by Bridgepoint Education.

    Via KSLA: “Delta Tech students searching for answers after graduation canceled.” The school recently announced that it would end its attempts to regain accreditation after the Department of Education withdrew recognition for the for-profit in 2016.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Sector in Flux: How For-Profit Higher Ed Has Shifted.”

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Via Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try To Be An OPM: Conversion of for-profits and MOOCs.”

    There’s some Udacity-related MOOC news in the job training section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    There are more details about Tuesday’s school walkout protesting gun violence in the national politics section above.

    Via The San Jose Mercury News: “Students at Concord’s Mt. Diablo High break through gate in gun protest.” Concord, California, that is, where the front gates were locked in order to keep students on campus.

    There was also a lockout at all the schools in my hometown of Casper, Wyoming following a threat made by a student. The lockout prevented students from leaving schools to participate in the National Walkout Day protest.

    Via MLive: “Grand Blanc school locks doors to avoid student walkout over gun violence.” That’s Grand Blanc High School in Grand Blanc, Michigan.

    Via The New York Times: “Teacher’s Gun Is Accidentally Fired During Public Safety Class, Injuring 3.” The incident occurred at Seaside High School in Seaside, California.

    NPR visits Aztec High School in New Mexico where a school shooting occurred in December: “After A Deadly Shooting, School Moves On But The Trauma Remains.”

    Damn. “Strange” is an understatement in this subhead. Via “A strange message that went out over the loudspeakers at Woodland Primary School Tuesday scared kids and confused parents.”

    Via Mic: “Richard Spencer suspending the rest of his college tour because ‘antifa is winning’.”

    At least six people died on Thursday when a new pedestrian bridge at Florida International Universitycollapsed.

    Cooper Union unveils plan to cut undergraduate tuition back down to zero in 10 years,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    NPR on “risk” and playgrounds.

    I thought that teens weren’t into driving, but according to The New York Times, there’s “A Problem for High Schools: More Cars, and Nowhere to Park Them.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    “New report calls out NCAA for saying that black athletes graduate at higher rates than other black students, when that’s not true at the top conferences,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Memos from HR

    Former Secretary of Education (and now, venture capitalist) Arne Duncan has joinedTurnItIn’s board of directors.

    David Harris is stepping down from his role at The Mind Trust. More from Chalkbeat on the organization’s role in charter schools and education reform in Indianapolis.

    USA Today’s education reporter Greg Toppo is moving toInside Higher Ed, where he will become its senior editor.

    “Why America’s Teachers Haven’t Been Getting Raises,” according to The Atlantic.

    University staff strikes continue in the UK. Via the BBC: “University strikers reject pension deal.”

    There’s more labor union-related news in the national politics and in the state and local politics sections above.

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Online education provider Udacity quietly drops money-back pledge for those who can’t find a job after finishing their studies.”

    Via Techcrunch: “WeWork expands its Flatiron School education business fo London with £1M in scholarships.”

    Via Wired: “Tech Companies Try to Retrain the Workers They’re Displacing.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Perhaps this should go in the “reports” section. Perhaps it should go in the “robots” section. But when you give it a title like this, CoSN, I feel I have no choice but to stick it here. “Artificial Intelligence: Could emerging technologies ‘humanize’ teaching & learning?asks CoSN.

    Will these four technology trends change education in India?asks Livemint.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    YouTube, the Great Radicalizer” by Zeynep Tufekci. (This is so important to consider, as Tufekci noted on Twitter, in light of Google’s domination of the K–12 computing market.)

    At SXSW, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that it would start adding Wikipedia content to conspiracy-theory videos. Apparently Wikipedia received no “heads up” about this plan. Because relying on the free labor of others is precisely how this whole game works, I guess.

    Via The MIT Technology Review: “A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is ‘100 percent fatal’.” It’s called Nectome, just so you have a little heads-up when the YC-backed company pivots to “job training” or something.

    Techcrunch has details on another new YC Startup: “YC-backed Playbook wants students to make plans online, hang out offline.”

    “America is about to become a Toys ‘R’ Us graveyard,” says The Outline.

    UC Berkeley plans to shut down the server that runs the Chronozoom Big History project.

    Edsurge on Degress Compass, a course recommendation engine from Austin Peay University: “How a ‘Netflix’ Model For Advising Lost Its Luster.” Sponsored by Salesforce“which had no influence on the thoughts and opinions expressed in this story.”

    Edsurge on the “Five Dangers of Data-Informed Student Nudging.” Just five! Sponsored by Salesforce“which had no influence on the thoughts and opinions expressed in this story.”

    Edsurge onReagan Early College High School in Austin, Texas: “With Limited Options, a Struggling Campus Prepares Students for Life After High School.” Sponsored by Salesforce“which had no influence on the thoughts and opinions expressed in this story.”

    More sponsored content on Edsurge – this one, on “middle school obsessions,” sponsored by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. And this one too, also sponsored by CZI, on a science research program. “Personalized learning” – it’s simply the best idea that money can buy (that isn’t already being paid for by Salesforce, I guess).

    Via Edsurge: “VR Could Bring a New Era of Immersive Learning. But Ethical and Technical Challenges Remain.”

    More on VR from Edsurge: “The 10 Best VR Apps for Classrooms Using Merge VR’s New Merge Cube.” Not sponsored content? Really?

    Mindwires Consulting’s MIchael Feldstein offers an update on his company’s “Empirical Educator Project.”

    “How to Ungradeby UMW’s Jesse Stommel.

    Lisa Petrides, Douglas Levin, and Eddie Watson introduce The CARE Framework for OER. (Lumen Learning's David Wiley responds, with more words than the original post.)

    You can now learn Klingon on Duolingo, Techcrunch reports.

    More Techcrunch churnalism: “This eQuoo app games you into learning useful psychological skills.”

    The Wall Street Journal weighs in on laptop bans.

    Fitbit Ace is the company’s first fitness band for kids,” says The Verge. The tracker comes in purple or blue. No mention of privacy issues, because you won’t get invited to the next launch event if you’re too critical.

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    Via Wired: “Med Students Are Getting Terrible Training in Robotic Surgery.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Education ‘Moonshot’ on Horizon From Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    17zuoye has raised $200 million in Series E funding from Toutiao. The “homework help” company has now raised some $335 million, making it one of the most well-funded, privately held education companies in the world.

    Yogome has raised $26.9 million in Series B funding from Exceed Capital Partners, Seaya Ventures, Insight Venture Partners, and Variv Capital. The educational game-maker has raised $36.5 million total.

    Kiddom has raised $15 million from Owl Ventures and Khosla Ventures. The K–12 learning management company has raised $21.5 million total.

    Ponddy Education has raised $6 million for its language learning software from Chenco Holding Company, Osnaburge Ventures LLC, and the MIC Ponddy AR Fund.

    Saturday Kids, a coding bootcamp for children, has raised $1 million from Potato Productions.

    Will UdacityIPO?

    Edsurge’s Tony Wan interviewsTed Dintersmith, a partner at Charles River Ventures, at “what school could be.” (Here’s a look at CRV’s investment portfolio for a glimpse at what the firm imagines school should be.)

    Edtech Digest’s Victor Rivero interviewsTory Patteron, a partner at Owl Ventures on how the firm is “Betting 185 Million Dollars on EdTech.” (Here’s a look at Owl Ventures’ investment portfolio for a glimpse at where the money’s going.)

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    “There Are No Guardrails on Our Privacy Dystopiawrite David Golumbia and Chris Gilliard (and this section of the Hack Education Weekly News is here to prove it).

    Via the Magnolia Reporter: “Magnolia School District buying advanced camera surveillance technology for MHS, MJHS.” Local law enforcement will be able to “tap into the system.”

    Via The Intercept: “Amazon Partnership with British Police Alarms Privacy Advocates.” Enjoy those Alexa in the classroom!

    Via The Verge: “University of Arizonatracks student ID cards to detect who might drop out.”

    Via The Register: “Privacy activists have called for more transparency and parental control over web monitoring in British schools after a survey indicated that almost half track their students online.”

    Here’s how Snapchat surveilled the students who walked out of school on Tuesday.

    Via Willamette Week: “Portland State University Researchers Cancel Presentation of a Research Project That May Have Used Federally-Protected Student Data Without Permission.” More via OPB.

    Via The Verge: “Peter Thiel’s data company Palantir will develop a new intelligence platform for the US Army.”

    Via the Tallahassee Democrat: “50,000 Leon students, teachers may be impacted by Virtual School data breach.” That’s the Florida Virtual School, to be clear.

    Via Remaking the University: “The Outsourcing of Payroll Data by the University of California and Why We Should Worry.” I’m not going to spoil it by telling you who has the contract for this project. But OMFG.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    A new report from the Network for Public Education: “Online Learning: What Every Parent Should Know.”

    “Where did venture capitalists go to college?” asks Techcrunch. You’ll never guess…

    The UK Higher Education Policy Institute predicts, “University place demand to grow by 300,000 by 2030.”

    From the NCES: “Changes in Bullying Victimization and Hate-Related Words at School Since 2007.” The data says bullying is down, but do note: the data comes from the years 2007 through 2015.

    Via Pacific Standard: “College Students Report Decreased Confidence in Free Speech Protections in a New Poll.”

    Stanford University professor Larry Cuban asks, “Whatever Happened to Direct Instruction? (Part 1)”

    NPR on“Rethinking How Students With Dyslexia Are Taught To Read.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “When Chicago cut down on suspensions, students saw test scores and attendance rise, study finds.”

    “How the ‘industrial era schools’ myth is a barrier to helping education today” by Sherman Dorn.

    School Segregation Is Not a Myth,” writes Will Stancil in The Atlantic.


    From Cambridge University: “Professor Stephen Hawking 1942 - 2018.”

    (A reminder, from Teen Vogue: “Saying Stephen Hawking Is ‘Free’ From His Wheelchair Is Ableist.”)

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 03/23/18--04:00: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was on Capitol Hill this week, making the case for her department’s budget. (Her remarks.) Lawmakers had questions on “guns, schools and money.” Via The Washington Post: “Congress rejects much of Betsy DeVos’s agenda in spending bill.”

    “These Programs Would See Funding Increases in the New Congressional Spending Deal,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Adam Harris. Soon to be The Atlantic’s Adam Harris. (Congrats on the new gig.)

    From the SPARC press release: “Congress Funds $5 Million Open Textbook Grant Program in 2018 Spending Bill.” It’s being positioned here as the first time Congress has funded open textbooks, but it’s not the federal government’s first commitment to OER.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “First Ed-Tech Trade Mission by U.S. Government Will Travel to Latin America.” To Peru and Colombia, specifically.

    University strikes continue in the UK. “Embracing the Dinosaur of Solidarity” by Liz Morrish.

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via The NYT’s Dana Goldstein: “Their Pay Has Stood Still. Now Oklahoma Teachers Could Be the Next to Walk.”

    Via The New York Times: “Jersey City Teachers Go on Strike Over Health Insurance.”

    Via The Intercept: “Chinese Corporation Alibaba Joins Group Ghostwriting American Laws.” That’s ALEC.

    Via The Guardian: “‘Not welcome here’: Amazon faces growing resistance to its second home.”

    Via Edsurge: “#MontessoriSoWhite? Why the Diverse Charter School Model Is Being Gentrified.” Sponsored by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. (Wait. What? A lot of people would say that charter schools represent segregation not “diversity.”)

    For example, this story from the School Library Journal: “Charter Schools, Segregation, and School Library Access.”

    Via The New York Times: “Why Are Black Students Punished So Often? Minnesota Confronts a National Quandary.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Most immigrants outpace Americans when it comes to education – with one big exception.” Spoiler alert: Latinos.

    Education in the Courts

    Via the Pensacola News Journal: “An Ohio businessman convicted of defrauding Newpoint charter schools out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds is scheduled for sentencing Friday, according to court records.”

    There’s more on legal battles involving student loan companies in the business of financial aid section below. And there’s more on legal battles involving student athletes in the “sports team” section below.

    The Business of Financial Aid

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Four plaintiffs who attended Corinthian Colleges programs are suing Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education in U.S. district court over a plan to award partial relief of student loan debt to borrowers defrauded or misled by their institutions.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Student loan servicing group sues D.C. over licensing and disclosure law.” That is, The Student Loan Servicing Alliance.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    “The Mysterious Deal to Take DeVry University Private” by David Halperin.

    There’s more legal wrangling regarding for-profits and student loans in the financial aid section above.

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    Online education is an engine of racial inequality,” Christopher Newfield and Cameron Sublett argue in Inside Higher Ed.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Analysis of Georgia Tech’s MOOC-inspired online master’s in computer science suggests that institutions can successfully deliver high-quality, low-cost degrees to students at scale.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    “More than 187,000 students have been exposed to gun violence at school since Columbine,” The Washington Post finds. “Many are never the same.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “What It’s Like For School Shooting Survivors To Watch The Parkland Protests.”

    Via Education Week: “Two Students Injured, Teen Shooter Dead in Maryland High School.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Austin Bombing Suspect’s Former College Is Aiding Investigation.” And folks are looking at blog posts the student wrote for class.

    Via The Atlantic: “An Inside Look at Juvenile Detention.”

    “This university doesn’t want any more History or English majors,” writes The Outline. “This university” is the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.

    Via The New York Times: “Stanford History Event Was ‘Too White and Too Male,’ Organizer Admits.”

    After some hand-wringing from the usual suspects, historian Sherman Dorn reminds us that “Christina Sommers is not the typical target of attempts to suppress speech on campuses.”

    Via the Journal & Courier: “Breaking the university’s weeks-long silence after being hit by fake news – breathless and jabbing reports that Purdue was pushing writing standards that banned the word ‘man’ on campus – Purdue’s provost on Monday finally publicly defended a university resource used by millions nationwide each year.” But “changes are coming” to the university’s writing center, the administration has threatened.

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    From the press release: “IMS Global Learning Consortium Announces Open Badges 2.0 Certifications.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    “The NCAA Is Facing a Crossroads,” says The Atlantic.

    “A Fair Wage for Elite Athletes? How About $750,000?” suggests The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Donald De La Haye started making YouTube videos long before he joined the University of Central Florida’s football team. His online antics, like poking fun at Colin Kaepernick and chucking a football on a makeshift Slip-n-Slide, eventually earned him more than a half a million followers – but they also cost him a full athletic scholarship.”

    Memos from HR

    Ramona Pierson, the founder of Declara, is now the head of learning products at Amazon (according to LinkedIn, at least).

    Thomas Bailey, founding director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, has been selected as president of Teachers College,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via NPR: “The Fight Over Teacher Salaries: A Look At The Numbers.”

    There’s more news about labor issues in the local/state/national politics sections above.

    ProPublica looks at age discrimination at IBM, worth considering I think as part of a larger industry worship of youth and “innovation”: “Cutting ‘Old Heads’ at IBM.”

    The Business of Job Training

    Via CNBC: “Amazon’s cloud is looking at building a corporate training service.” (Perhaps this is what Candace Thille is up to at Amazon? See also the HR section above for news of another prominent ed-tech figure who’s joined Amazon.)

    Via The New York Times: “Karlie Kloss Teaches Teenage Girls How to Code.”

    “Rethinking the Goal of Childhood Education” – a Q&A with WeWork co-founder Rebekah Neumann in Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop (the magazine, not the goop) on how we need to make kindergarteners into entrepreneurs. (Apparently, Neumann and Paltrow are cousins?)

    Contests and Awards

    Andrea Zafirakou has won the 2018 Global Teacher Prize.

    Via Campus Technology: “Recipients of 2018 McGraw Prize in Education Revealed.” I’ll save you a click: Arthur Graesser, a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Institute of Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis; Timothy Renick, a senior vice president for student success at Georgia State University; and Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code.

    Via Devex: “New $75,000 prize boosts tech solutions to education challenges.” Winners will get to pilot their “solutions” in schools in South Africa. Because technology imperialism.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Does tech designed to personalize learning actually benefit students?asks Marketplace.

    Is US on verge of a higher education trade deficit?asks Education Dive.

    Can a New Approach to Information Literacy Reduce Digital Polarization?asks Edsurge. (Sorry, Caulfield. It’s the law.)

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Lots of news this week about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. I’ll save most of the links for my newsletter tomorrow. But here are some education-related stories:

    Via Education Week: “Privacy Experts Assess Potential K–12 Fallout From Facebook’s Crisis of Trust.”

    “For Some Students, #DeleteFacebook Is Not Really an Option,” says Edsurge. I’m sure Edsurge’s sponsor, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, will be pleased with this angle.

    Via The Outline: “David Carroll was fighting Cambridge Analytica before it was cool.” Carroll is a at professor Parsons School of Design. More on Carroll’s work in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    “It’s Time to Regulate the Internet,” says Franklin Foer in The Atlantic.

    Apple is holding an education-themed press event next week and The Verge tells readers“What to expect from Apple’s education event.”

    “How Should Colleges Approach Student Success When Different Definitions Abound?” asks Edsurge– part of its new guide on student success. “The guide is sponsored by, which had no influence on this story.” “Collaborative Higher Ed Partnerships Are the Key to Student Success,” says Edsurge– part of its new guide on student success. “The guide is sponsored by, which had no influence on this story.”

    Via Edsurge: “Sir Ken Robinson’s Next Act: You Are the System and You Can Change Education.”

    It’s the “The Third Education Revolution,” according to Jeffrey Selingo in The Atlantic. The first: high school for everyone. The second: college for everyone. The third: lifelong learning. Hope y’all love school.

    Techcrunch says that “EdTech is having a renaissance, powered by the emerging world.” My favorite part of this article, I think, is where it boasts about how stable Ethiopia is these days. It’s almost as if technology writers never really think about imperialism and pay no attention to global news, only to PR.

    Via Edsurge: “The 8 Education Technology Startups From Y Combinator’s Latest Batch.”

    OER, CARE, Stewardship, and the Commons” by “Econproph” Jim Luke. (David Wiley also writes again about the CARE Framework.)

    Via Business Insider: “The YouTube Kids app has been suggesting a load of conspiracy videos to children.”

    No, YouTube is not a library– and why it matters” by Sarah T. Roberts.

    According to NPR, OK Go is getting into the education curriculum business, with lessons based on their popular videos.

    Via Gizmodo: “Child Pornography That Researchers Found in the Blockchain Could Threaten Bitcoin’s Very Existence.”

    NPR asks whose bones made up those old classroom skeletons.

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    Via Techcrunch: “This tortoise shows kids that robot abuse is bad.” “Robot abuse”?!

    Via VOA News: “New AI Technology Lets Students Evaluate Professors by ‘Chatting’.” Oh excellent. Take something that’s incredibly biasedstudents’ evaluations of instructors – and add AI. What could go wrong?

    Via Campus Technology: “AI Hive Mind Chooses Clean Water Over Education as Top World Priority.”

    “Hey, Alexa, What Are You Teaching Our Kids?” asks Mindshift.

    Via Bryan Alexander: “Robots, buyouts, and spinoffs: four short stories for the future of education and technology.”

    “How Real-World Learning Could Help People Compete With Machines” – The Chronicle of Higher Education on Joseph E. Aoun’s new book Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    Via The Nation: “How Charles Koch Is Helping Neo-Confederates Teach College Students.”

    Via The Washington Post: “George Mason lands $5 million Koch Foundation donation for Department of Economics.”

    Via The New York Times: “Google Pledges $300 Million to Clean Up False News.”

    Via Poynter: “Poynter receives $3 million from Google to lead program teaching teens to tell fact from fiction online.”

    Via Scholastic: “James Patterson will personally donate $2 million to teachers to build classroom libraries this year.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    CommonBond has raised $50 million in Series D funding from August Capital, Thomas Glocer, Nyca Partners, Vikram Pandit, Fifth Third Capital, Neuberger Berman Group, First Republic Bank, and Columbia Seligman Investments. The student loan company has raised $803.6 million total.

    Kahoot has raised $17 million in Series B funding from Northzone, Creandum, Microsoft Ventures, Eilert Giertsen Hanoa, and Date Invest AS. The quiz app has raised $43.5 million total.

    Technology Will Save Us has raised $4.2 million in Series A funding from Initial Capital, Backed VC, SaatchInvest, All Bright, Unltd-inc, Leaf VC, Chris Lee, Martin McCourt, and Jonathan Howell. The company, which makes programmable toys, has raised $7.8 million total.

    Admissions company INTCAS has raised $2.8 million from unnamed investors.

    Developing Experts has raised $467,000 from Anglia Capital Group. The tutoring training company has raised about $1 million total.

    Language learning app Extempore has raised $420,000 from Syndicate Fund.

    Renaissance Learning has acquiredMyON from the private equity firm Francisco Partners.

    Via Edsurge: “Global Investors Launch New Edtech Funds: Exceed Capital and HighGrade Ventures.”

    Chinese Companies Are Buying Up Cash-Strapped U.S. Colleges,” according to Bloomberg.

    Responses to venture capitalist Ted Dintersmith’s new book from WaPo’s Valerie Strauss, Wrench in the Gears’ Alison McDowell.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via Gizmodo: “Schools Are Spending Millions on High-Tech Surveillance of Kids.”

    Via “Parent raises privacy concerns about Mathletics.”

    Via ProPublica: “How Health and Education Journalists Can Turn Privacy Laws to Their Advantage.”

    Commentary from Frank LoMonte in Education Week: “Student Privacy Laws Have Been Distorted (And That’s a Problem).”

    “10 definitions of datafication (in education)” by Ben Williamson.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    Via Chalkbeat: “An integration dilemma: School choice is pushing wealthy families to gentrify neighborhoods but avoid local schools.”

    From the American Enterprise Institute: “Do Impacts on Test Scores Even Matter? Lessons from Long-Run Outcomes in School Choice Research.”

    “Americans are rejecting the ‘homeschool myth’,” according to Business Insider, “and experts say the misunderstood education might be better than public or charter schools.” “Experts” here is really just Benjamin Bloom’s research on tutoring from the 1980s.

    How Teachers Taught: Patterns of Instruction, 1890–2010by historian Larry Cuban.

    Via The New York Times: “Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “MLA data show foreign language study is on the decline, but it’s unclear what comes first: institutional disinvestment in language programs or waning student interest. In any case, some campuses – generally those making investments in programs – are bucking the trend.”

    The latest report from the Pew Research Center: “The Science People See on Social Media.”

    Via The Atlantic’s Ed Yong: “What We Learn From 50 Years of Kids Drawing Scientists.”

    Via Wired: “Sociologists Examine Hackathons and See Exploitation.”

    Former FB advertising exec Antonio García Martínez writes in Wired about “The Noisy Fallacies of Psychographic Targeting.” I’m hoping to find some time in the next day or so to write more about ed-tech psychographic targeting, behaviorism, “social emotional learning,” and learning analytics. Stay tuned…

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 03/30/18--04:40: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National and Global) Education Politics

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The budget bill President Trump signed Friday fixes a technical problem for private scholarship providers that rely on federal student aid data to help students pay for college.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “$1.1 Billion Federal Block Grant Makes Ed-Tech Training Higher Priority Than Software, Devices.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Professors Targeted in Iranian Cyberattack.” Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U.S. Discovery of Iranian Cyberattack Doesn’t Seem to Alarm Universities.”

    There’s more on student loans in the “financial aid” section below.

    Florida Senator Marco Rubio says he has changed his mind about philosophers, he tweeted. Amazing what reading a book will do for you.

    This, on school shootings, absolutely gutted me.

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via Chalkbeat: “Memphis school segregation worse than 50 years ago.”

    Via The Deseret News: “Utah governor signs law legalizing ‘free-range parenting’.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Over 40 percent of Newark students could attend charter schools within five years. Here’s how.”

    Via The Miami Herald: “Teachers can’t afford Miamirents. The county has a plan: Let them live at school.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “New York City students can now pass Spanish exam on path to graduation.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Obama administration’s Education Department failed to consider key evidence when it reviewed and ultimately terminated its recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools in 2016, a federal judge ruled late Friday.” That’s late last Friday, for what it’s worth.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Case challenging teacher tenure in New York will go on, despite union’s objections.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “California Supreme Court has determined public colleges in the state must warn and shield their students from potential violent acts. Experts say the ruling could have nationwide implications.”

    There’s more about Larry Nassar, Michigan State, and sexual harassment and assault in the “sports team” section below.

    The Business of Financial Aid

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “High Default Rates at New York For-Profit Colleges.”

    Via NPR: “Dept. Of Education Fail: Teachers Lose Grants, Forced To Repay Thousands In Loans.”

    Via Bloomberg: “Student Debt Is a Harsh Math Lesson for U.S. Graduates.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Strayer is “bucking the trend,” says Inside Higher Ed. “Strayer restarts its campus expansion amid growing enrollment, federal deregulation and increased demand for skilled workers.”

    There’s more for-profit news in the “financial aid” section below and in the “courts” section above.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Edsurge profilesWayfinding Academy, a new non-profit 2-year (and as of now, unaccredited) college in Oregon.

    “This Silicon Valley High School Is the Ultimate Incubator,” says Wired. That’s

    Via The Guardian: “Open University plans major cuts to number of staff and courses.”

    Via The Washington Post: “After backlash over plan to cut 13 humanities majors, U-Wisconsin campus drawing up second proposal.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Hobart and William Smith Investigates Claims That Its President Plagiarized Dissertation.”

    The Chronicle of Higher Education onMississippi Valley State University: “They Wanted Desegregation. They Settled for Money, and It’s About to Run Out.”

    Via Wired: “An Alternate Reality Game That Takes Freshman Orientation to a New Level.” That’s at the University of Chicago.

    Via The New York Times: “At Columbia, Revisiting the Revolutionary Students of 1968.”

    The Wall Street Journal saysU.S. Colleges Are Separating Into Winners and Losers.”

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    There’s some research on credentialing in the “research” section below. And there’s news about legal challenges around accreditation in the “courts” section above.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Former Dean Who Oversaw Nassar at Michigan State Is Arrested.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The Problems at Michigan State Went Far Beyond Larry Nassar.”

    Via NPR: “Report: Michigan State Spent $500,000 To Keep Tabs On Nassar Victims, Journalists.”

    Memos from HR

    Patrick Methvin will head the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s postsecondary work.

    Via The Washington Post: “Howard University fires six employees after investigation into misappropriated funding.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Edinboro President, Who Boasted of His Ability to Circumvent Faculty Resistance, Will Resign.”

    Via The Guardian: “Toby Young quits New Schools Network, citing media pressure.”

    Edsurge offers“A Word of Caution Before Hiring a Director of Personalized Learning.” The story was “made publicly available with support from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which had no influence over the content in this story.”

    There are labor-related court cases in the “courts” section above.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    From the Google blog: “Chromebook tablets for versatile learning.” Repeating the PR, Edsurge and Techcrunch.

    Speaking of Google, Wired reports that “Children’s YouTube is still churning out blood, suicide and cannibalism.”

    Also via Wired: “Companies Are Cashing in on Reality TV for Tots.”

    Apple held one of its big media events this week, this one focused on education. Cue the “hot takes.” Cue the repetition of corporate messaging. Via Wired: “How Apple Lost Its Place in the Classroom.” Via The New York Times: “Apple Unveils New iPad to Catch Google in the Classroom.” Via The Verge: “Apple is ready to fight Google’s Chromebooks with cheaper iPads.” Also via The Verge: “Apple’s new iPad with Pencil support is just $299 for schools.” Via Edsurge: “Apple’s Strongest Case to Reclaim the Education Market Is Not the New iPad.” No one mentioned privacy as a key selling point of Apple versus Google. Weird. It’s almost like those in ed-tech don’t ever think about that issue.

    Via Wired: “Why Some Schools Pay More Than Others When Buying From Apple.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Comparing Apple, Google and Microsoft’s education plays.”

    From the press release: “Microsoft Education and Open Up Resources announce partnership to deliver top rated math curriculum.”

    The Hechinger Report profiles Siembra, an app that encourages first generation students to go to college.

    Via Mindshift: “Why It’s Time to Rethink School Science Fairs.”

    Via the AP: “Self-taught rocket scientist blasts off into California sky.”

    Via The Verge: “The Oregon Trail handheld game is a really fun nostalgia gadget.” I mean, I guess…

    Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Bonanza for schools as SF crypto king Ripple gives $29M to” Via Edsurge: “Inside the $29M DonorsChoose Gift That’s Making Teachers Very Happy.” More via Chalkbeat. Disappointingly little mention in any of these stories about the shady history of cryptocurrency, including Ripple’s own history.

    Speaking of blockchain scamminess, David Gerard writes about the latest application of blockchain to education: “Woolf University: college courses literally on the Ethereum blockchain.”

    The Business of Job Training

    Udacity held a big PR event this week. These sorts of things are great – the tech press shows up and writes your marketing copy for you. Here’s Edsurge: “Udacity VP of Learning: ‘We Never Start Anything Out of Academic Interest’.” Here’s Techcrunch: “Udacity introduces real robots and virtual words to help students build skills.” Here’s Techcrunch again: “Udacity debuts a dedicated School of AI with three new nanodegrees.”

    Coding Bootcamps Cross the Chasm,” according to Edsurge, which applies the “Hype Cycle” to the future of the business.

    Apple event PR (and there’s much more in the “upgrade” section):

    Via The Verge: “Apple is creating a center in Chicago where teachers can train to code.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Apple’s learn-to-code app Swift Playgrounds adds AR lessons.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Can Big Data Change a Wicked School Truancy Problem?asks Edsurge.

    Can the Right Nudge Help Low-income Kids Go Beyond High School?asks Mindshift.

    Are K–12 data systems ready for AI?asks eSchool News.

    Are You Flipping the Wrong Way?asks Inside Higher Ed.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    There’s more robot news in the job training section above.

    “How Could Artificial Intelligence Shape the Future of Higher Education?” asks Edsurge.

    Drones help connect the dots on math, coding concepts,” says Education Dive.

    Via George Veletsianos: “Bots, AI, & Education” – updates 2 and 3 on his book project.

    Via Campus Technology: “Cornell Researchers Use AI to Understand Students’ Math Struggles.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    There’s some Gates Foundation HR news in the “HR” section above. And I guess the DonorsChoose news could be construed “philanthropy” (but I prefer to think of it as PR).

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    Job training company BetterUp has raised $26 million from Lightspeed Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Freestyle Capital, and DFJ Growth. It’s raised $38.9 million total.

    ClassWallet has raised $735,000 from Florida Founders. The company has raised $4.8 million total.

    Permission Click has raised an undisclosed amount of money from an undisclosed inventor. The company has raised about $1.4 million total.

    Eupheus Learning has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Sixth Sense Ventures.

    Watermark has raised an undisclosed amount of money from TCV (which will take a controlling stake in the company), Quad Partners, and Exceed Capital Partners. Watermark is the company made up from the merger of Tk20, Taskstream, and Livetext.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Ben Williamson on“Learning from psychographic personality profiling.”

    Via Edsurge: “Three Reasons Academic Advisors Should Be a Go-To Resource for Student Success Efforts.” “This article is part of a Guide exploring innovations in student success, which is sponsored by” Also via Edsurge: “How Data Can Highlight the Human Touch in Student Advising.” Unlike other recent stories sponsored by Salesforce, this one is clearly marked “sponsored content” on the home page. Perhaps because it was written by Salesforce.

    Apologies for linking to Reason: “University of Virginia Hires ‘Social Sentinel’ to Monitor Students’ Social Media Posts.”

    From Geek Dad: “Jiobit Follows the Kids When You Cannot.”

    Someone is watching you,” says Purdue President Mitch Daniels. Indeed.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    Via Wired: “A Brief History of Screen Panic.”

    According to a report from Quality Matters and Eduventures (as covered by Campus Technology), “Adaptive Learning, Learning Analytics Are Most Wanted Tech for Online Programs.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Attainment Increases With Nondegree Credentials.”

    “The University of Texas System releases a new breakdown of student earnings, an alternative – produced with U.S. Census Bureau – to a prohibited federal database,” Inside Higher Ed reports. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A New Tool Breaks Down Earnings Potential for Different Majors. Here’s What You Need to Know.”

    Via Education Week: “Personalized Learning Pilot Program Reports Gains in Literacy Scores.”

    Via Fortune: “1 in 5 University Students Used Loan Money for Cryptocurrency Investments.” I’m not sure that’s actually true, but it makes for a nice headline, I guess.

    Via Wired: “Teen Driving by the Numbers.”

    Via Futurism: “The Typical Hoverboard Injury Happens to Exactly Who You’d Think: 11-Year-Old White Boys.”

    As part of my research for my book (proposal), I’m looking for the papers – correspondences, letters, diaries, and so on – of Norman Crowder. Can you help?


    The New York Times obituary: “Linda Brown, Symbol of Landmark Desegregation Case, Dies at 75.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    As many of you know, I’m working on a book proposal for Teaching Machines, a project I’ve had on the back burner for far too long now that is finally starting to come to a boil.

    What do you think are the best existing works of history of the field of education technology?

    Here are some titles that quickly come to mind – because I can read their titles on my bookshelf. (It’s worth noting, I suppose, that these are mostly quite dated, and they’re all by men. And I am not endorsing these as “the best.”)

    • Larry Cuban, Teachers and Machines: The Classroom Use of Technology Since 1920 (1986)
    • Brian Dear, The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture (2017)
    • Bill Ferster, Teaching Machines (2014)
    • Bob Johnstone, Never Mind the Laptops: Kids, Computers, and the Transformation of Learning (2003)
    • David Noble, Digital Diploma Mills (2001)
    • Wilbur Schramm, Bold Experiment: The Story of Educational Television in American Samoa (1981)
    • Paul Saettler, The Evolution of American Educational Technology (1990)
    • ---, A History of Instructional Technology (1967)

    I must be missing a ton here, so if you have suggestions (particularly books by authors of color or white women and particularly histories of ed-tech outside the US), I’d love to hear them. (And I will try to keep this article updated with new titles.)

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  • 04/06/18--06:10: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    In the long list of things the POTUS doesn’t “get,” we can add this (via The Atlantic): “Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand Community Colleges.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asked whether leakers could be prosecuted, internal report shows.”

    New America on“The Department of Deregulation: DeVos’ New Regulatory Agenda to Roll Back Protections for Students.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “17 Colleges Fell Short On Campus Safety, But The Education Department Didn’t Tell The Schools.”

    There’s some accreditation news out of the Department of Education in the accreditation section below.

    Via Education Week: “FCC Chair Moves to Block E-Rate Funds for Companies Deemed ‘Security Risk’.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    From The New York Times’ Dana Goldstein: “Teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky Walk Out: ‘It Really Is a Wildfire’.”

    Via NPR: “Oklahoma’s Teachers Continue Walkout As Lawmakers Vote On More Education Funds.”

    There are a few more stories about teachers’ strikes in the HR section below.

    Via Chalkbeat: “In Betsy DeVos’ home state, a program that steers public dollars to private school students is under fire from the governor.” That’s Michigan, for what it’s worth. Add those are vouchers.

    Via Detroit Free Press: “More Michigan schools are failing: Most are charters.”

    Via The New York Times, a profile on the Indiana charter chain Excel Schools: “A Chance for Dropouts, Young and Old, to Go Back to School.”

    Via Edsurge: “Data is Good – But Not Enough – to Improve Education, Says Baltimore City Public Schools CEO.” This is my shocked face.

    Immigration and Education

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The State Department is proposing to ask additional questions of visa applicants regarding their social media usage.”

    There’s more visa-related news in the for-profit section below.

    “Free College”

    New Jersey Moves Toward Free Community College,” says The Wall Street Journal.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Missouri Has Free Tuition… for Its Legislators.”

    College Affordability and the Business of Financial Aid

    Via The New York Times: “Even With Scholarships, Students Often Need Extra Financial Help.”

    Via The New York Times: “Middle-Class Families Increasingly Look to Community Colleges.”

    Via The New York Times: “An International Final Four: Which Country Handles Student Debt Best?”

    There’s more data on debt in the data and research section below.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Republic Report: “Grassley Attacks ACICS-Approved For-Profit Colleges As ‘Visa Mills’.” That’s Senator Chuck Grassley.

    There’s some ACICS accreditation news in the accreditation section below.

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    “The MOOC is not dead, but maybe it should be,” says Rolin Moe.

    Via Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Online Program Management: Spring 2018 view of the market landscape.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    The first byline (I think) from The Atlantic’s Adam Harris: “How the Howard University Protests Hint at the Future of Campus Politics.” More on how the school is responding to student protests by Harris’s former employer, The Chronicle of Higher Education. And more in The New York Times.

    Via The Chicago Tribune: “Video captures University of Chicago police officer shooting student near campus; charges filed against student.”

    Via NPR: “Parkland Students Return To School Skeptical Of Clear Backpacks.”

    Via NPR: “Professors Are Targets In Online Culture Wars; Some Fight Back.”

    Inside Higher Ed looks at how the North Dakota University System is “Blocking Child Porn on Campus.”

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a signed order Tuesday that she was restoring the federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, the for-profit accreditor that had waged a fight for reinstatement since the Obama administration withdrew its recognition in 2016.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    “Students Want Faster Degrees,” The Chronicle of Higher Education argues. “Colleges Are Responding.”


    Chalkbeat on NAEP: “The national test of students’ progress has gone digital. A state leader is raising questions about what that means.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “GMAT Drops 30 Minutes From Test.”

    Via The New York Times: “For the ACT and the SAT, Pencils No Longer Required, but Sometimes Necessary.”

    A hate-read from Jacobin that claims it’s making “The Progressive Case for the SAT.” Trigger warning: FdB.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Here’s the list of Tennessee school districts choosing to test younger students online this year.” Sorry. You’re going to have to click for the list.

    Via The New York Times: “Law Schools Debate a Contentious Testing Alternative.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via ESPN: “The Arizona Board of Regents will vote this week whether to add language to men’s basketball coach Sean Miller’s contract that would require him to return $1 million if he’s charged with a crime or found guilty of major NCAA violations.” He’d still earn $3.1 million.

    Labor Issues and Other Memos from HR

    “Why is the media – including the liberal media – supporting these teachers’ strikes?” asks Corey Robin.

    Via The Atlantic: “The Larger Concerns Behind the Teachers’ Strikes.”

    Via Edsurge (which also ran a number of stories this week to promote an event in whichyou can get a “gig”): “The Data Tells All: Teacher Salaries Have Been Declining For Years.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Rochester Professor at Center of Harassment Controversy Will Return to Teaching.”

    Via The New York Times: “Homework Therapists’ Job: Help Solve Math Problems, and Emotional Ones.” “Homework therapist.” Well, I guess I need to keep an eye on how the tutoring industry rebrands itself what with all the investment dollars it’s receiving.

    The Business of Job Training

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Colleges Enter Competition With Coding Boot Camps.”

    Via Edsurge: “Leif, a fintech investment group, is giving $10 million to support future students at the online coding bootcamp Thinkful.” Warning: income sharing agreements.

    Via the AP: “Wyoming begins path to computer science courses in schools.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Does Ready Player One reveal the future of VR?asks Edsurge.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via Edsurge: “Padlet’s Price Update Riles Teachers, Raises Questions About Sustainability of Freemium Models.”

    TenMarks joins the ed-tech dead pool. Edsurge has the story. “After Amazon’s TenMarks shuts down, what then for K–12 schools and Amazon?” asks GeekWire’s Frank Catalano.

    Via Edsurge: “Still in the K–12 Jungle: Amazon Partners With Edhesive to Bring CS Education to Schools.”

    Via the Google blog: “Rolling Study Halls: turning bus time into learning time.” The Verge covers the blog post: “Google is equipping more rural school buses with Wi-Fi and Chromebooks.”

    Via Techcrunch: “What Apple’s education announcements mean for accessibility.”

    Via The Verge: “Teachers weigh in on Apple’s push for more iPads in school.”

    “Schools won’t like how difficult the new iPad is to repair,” says The Verge.

    “A Response to Larry Berger’s ‘Confession’ on Personalized Learning” by New Classrooms’ Joel Rose.

    Here’s a lede for you: “Once upon a time, the classrooms had four walls, dusty chalkboards and uncomfortable desks in straight little rows. Students were silent, repeated what they were told and limited by their past experiences.” I’m not sure when this was or where this was. And now there’s VR and I guess that changes everything.

    Via The MIT Technology Review: “MIT severs ties to company promoting fatal brain uploading.”

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    “Now you can use your Echo to call the kids for dinner,” Techcrunch wants you to know. Because nothing says “disruptive innovation” like not hollering at your children.

    Via The New York Times: “Schools Offering Drone Programs, but Learning to Fly Is Just the Start.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    Chan Zuckerberg Initiative sponsors content on Edsurge. This week, the sponsorship includes an article on self directed learning, an article on profiling students, an article on a “failing school” in Baltimore.

    Salesforce also sponsors content on Edsurge. This week’s sponsored stories include several articles on student success: 1, 2.

    Via Techcrunch: “Mission Bit, a nonprofit organization that teaches high school students computer science, has received a $1 million five-year grant from the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Their Families.”

    Via Education Week: “Tech Giants Announce New Funding for 1-to–1 Devices, Computer Science Education.” The giants in question – and to be clear these aren’t necessarily “philanthropic” efforts but I’m not sure where to put them – are Verizon Innovative Learning and Amazon.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    3DBear has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from LearnStart (Learn Capital) and Rethink Education. The 3D modeling company has raised $2.8 million total.

    New Mountain Learning has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the private equity firm CIP Capital.

    Really Good Stuff, a subsidiary of Excelligence Learning Corporation, has acquiredSteve Spangler Science.

    Corwin has acquiredCognition Education Group.

    Via Techcrunch: “Utah education technology unicorn Pluralsight files for IPO.” More from Edsurge.

    Pearson’s Annual Report (2017)– my favorite part is how the numbers that are showcased on this web page are all green, even though they’re downward trending. I guessing putting them in red would be too obvious.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via The New York Times: “Facebook Says Cambridge Analytica Harvested Data of Up to 87 Million Users.”

    “Protecting Student Privacy in a Time of Uncertainty” by Summit Public Schools’ Diane Tavenner. (Reminder that Facebook built the Summit Learning Platform.)

    Via The Washington Post: “Facebook and the very real problem of keeping student data private.”

    Via The Atlantic: “‘Free-Range’ Parenting’s Unfair Double Standard.”

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    My ongoing funding research: “The Business of Ed-Tech: March 2018 Funding Data.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Procuring digital learning tools and technology to help educate students with special needs are two of 10 ‘hotspots’ in government contracting for 2018, according to an analysis of bids and RFPs conducted by GovWin+Onvia from Deltek.”

    From the NCES, a look at “the homework gap”: “Student Access to Digital Learning Resources Outside of the Classroom.” Education Week talks about the study: “Students’ Home Internet, Computer Access: 10 Numbers to Know.”

    Edsurge writes a headline that almost goes in the Betteridge section: “Is Technology Bad for the Teenage Brain? (Yes, No and It’s Complicated.)”

    Inside Higher Ed on a new survey of KIPP alumni: “A new survey of thousands of college students – most of them low income, minority and first generation – suggests that colleges and universities should emulate historically black colleges and universities’ efforts to make students feel they belong on campus.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “How are Indiana charter schools doing? 9 things to know from the state’s first study.”

    A study finds it cannot reproduce the “reproducibility crisis.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Online Ed Leaders Agree Top 2 Indicators of Program Quality Are Student Success Rates, Student Evaluations.” Considering what we know about student evaluations and bias, this seems like a very very bad thing to agree on.

    Via The Outline: “So-called ‘intellectuals’ can’t let go of ‘The Bell Curve’.”

    From the Urban Institute: “Debt in America: An Interactive Map.”

    A new report from the WI Hope Lab: “Still hungry and homeless in college.” The amazing Sara Goldrick-Rab talked about the study on NPR.

    A hate-read from The Next Web: “Researchers are using VR to help teachers understand autism.”

    Via Education Week: “Virtual Reality and Children: ‘We Just Don’t Know That Much,’ Report Finds.”

    Some history from Stanford’s Larry Cuban: “Progressivism in Schools: the Field Trip.”

    From the GAO: “Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities.”

    Via The New York Times: “An Expert’s View: Sir Ken Robinson.” What makes Robinson an expert?

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 04/13/18--03:20: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress this week about privacy, data, monopoly power, and regulations. I’ll have more to say about this in my newsletter tomorrow. But for now, here are a couple of education-related stories: one from Education Week and from Edsurge.

    And there’s more Facebook-related news in several of the sections below.

    Via NPR: “Justice Dept. Investigating Early-Decision Admissions At Elite Colleges.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via People: “Oklahoma Mom ‘Embarrassed’ After Her Daughter Checks Out Textbook Once Used By Blake Shelton.” The singer was once a student in Ada, Oklahoma and checked out the reading textbook in 1982.

    Teacher strike stories are in the “labor and management” section below.

    Via Chalkbeat’s Colorado news desk: “$35 million for school safety will go toward training, but not hiring, of school resource officers.”

    Via The Verge: “Facebook-backed lawmakers are pushing to gut privacy law.” Privacy law in Illinois, that is.

    Via The Seattle Times: “Seattle School Board selects first Native American superintendent in city history.” Her name: Denise Juneau.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The governor of Virginia has approved a bill requiring all public higher education institutions in the state to take steps to adopt open educational resources– freely accessible and openly copyrighted educational materials.”

    Via NPR: “California’s Higher Ed Diversity Problem.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via ProPublica: “Teen Who Faced Deportation After He Informed on MS–13 Gets Temporary Reprieve.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ICE is moving to deport a veteran after Mattis assured that would not happen.” This part about a government-created “fake university” caught my eye:

    Xilong Zhu, 27, who came from China in 2009 to attend college in the United States, enlisted in the Army and was caught in an immigration dragnet involving a fake university set up by the Department of Homeland Security to catch brokers of fraudulent student visas.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday that immigrant students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status are not eligible for lower in-state tuition rates.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via The Washington Post: “Student loan servicer asks court to settle spat between Education Dept. and Connecticut over licensing dispute.” The servicer in question: the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.

    Via Splinter: “Stoneman Douglas Teacher Who Pushed for Guns in Schools Arrested for Leaving His Gun in a Bathroom.”

    Via KMOV, news from Montville High in Montville, Connecticut: “Substitute teacher arrested for starting ‘fight club’ in classroom.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “ A Lawsuit Says This Private Religious High School Protected An Accused Rapist.” The school: Holland Christian High School in Holland, Michigan, whose most famous alumnus is probably Betsy DeVos.

    “Publishers Wiley, Cengage, Pearson and McGraw-Hill Education have won a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against a seller of fake textbooks,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The seller: Book Dog Books.

    Via The Washington Post: “Howard student sues school amid financial aid scandal.” The student in question: Tyrone Hankerson Jr, of meme fame.

    There’s more legal news in the “immigration” section above.

    The Business of Financial Aid

    Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons this week announced that it would eliminate student loans with scholarships for all students who qualify for financial aid,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    There’s more financial aid news in the “research” section below and in the “courts” section above.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    More on the accreditation of for-profits in the accreditation section below.

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    The Chronicle of Higher Education looks atWestern Governors University and its “mentor-based model.”

    Via KPVI: “Idaho Department of Education Offering Online Pre-K.”

    From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “ Virtual charter high school serving 2000 students closing in June.” That’s Graduation Achievement Charter High School.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In Wake of Sit-In, Howard Faculty Members Vote No Confidence in President.” More on the protests via NPR.

    Still more Howard news, via The Washington Post: “Howard University reveals that fired employees misappropriated $369,000.”

    The Guardian looks at the relationship between the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and elite universities, including Harvard and MIT.

    Via the Times Higher Education (and reprinted by Inside Higher Ed): “China Tries Private University Model.” That’s at Westlake University in Hangzhou.

    Mount Ida will close, and its campus will be part of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

    Via The Atlantic: “When a College Employee Shoots a Student.”

    Via the BBC: “All 500 teachers of Millcreek School District near Erie got a 16in (41cm) bat in the wake of the Parkland, Florida high school attack in February.” A baseball bat, to be clear.

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    ACICS, a flashpoint for debate over accountability of the for-profit sector, has another chance at federal recognition. But some higher ed observers see tough odds for its long-term survival,” says Inside Higher Ed.



    Education Next on“Interpreting the 2017 NAEP Reading and Math Results.”

    Just remember: “interpretations” of “the nation’s report card” are often “confirmations” of people’s education politics.

    “Did computer testing muddle this year’s NAEP results?” asks Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum. “Testing group says no; others are unconvinced.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “A decade of stagnation: What you should know about today’s NAEP results.”

    The Secretary of Education issued a press statement on the NAEP results.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Two years after massive testing snafus, Tennessee will test more students online than ever.”

    Via MIT Technology Review: “DNA tests for IQ are coming, but it might not be smart to take one.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The faculty union at Eastern Michigan University is blasting administrators there for cutting four sports while football – a money- and game-losing program – remains intact.”

    Labor and Management

    Via Politico: “Teachers Are Going on Strike in Trump’s America.”

    This story– “Oklahoma Teachers Continue Strike” – is from last weekend, and as I type up these notes while listening to the radio, it sounds like the strike might be over.

    Via NPR: “Walkouts And Teacher Pay: How Did We Get Here?”

    Via NPR: “Arizona Teachers ‘Walk-In’ To Protest Low Pay And Low Funding.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Strike avoided: Teachers at California online charter schools reach landmark union agreement with K12 Inc.” More via The Atlantic and via NPR.

    The Guardian headline says, “Secret rightwing strategy to discredit teacher strikes,” but it’s not that secret. The State Policy Network has a plan to counter union activism with anti-union PR.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Union Organizer at Penn State’s Grad School Cites University’s ‘Veiled Threat’ to Foreign Students.”

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Chalkbeat: “Newark looks to build school-to-work ‘pipeline’ by boosting vocational education.”

    Via Campus Technology: “NYC Data Science Academy Launches Online Bootcamp.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Can AI Help Students – and Colleges – Determine the Best Fit?asks Edsurge.

    Apple and Microsoft Now Offer $100 Styluses. But Do Schools Need – or Want – Them?asks Edsurge.

    Can a For-Profit, Venture-Backed Company Keep OER Free – and Be Financially Sustainable?asks Edsurge.

    Can a ‘Family of Bots’ Reshape College Teaching?asks Edsurge.

    Do Online Courses Really Save Money?asks Edsurge.

    Can Artificial Intelligence Make Teaching More Personal?asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” And a big thank you for the editors who consistently run with this sort of ridiculous headline and make writing this section such a joy.)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Chris Gilliard onHow Ed Tech Is Exploiting Students.” (Note: there’s a response to this article by Georgia Tech professor Ashok Goel, who builds teaching chat-bots, in the “robots” section below. Edsurge also interviewed Goel this week. That story’s in the “Betteridge’s Law” section.)

    Edsurge’s coverage of Top Hat’s OER news is also in the Betteridge’s Law section above.

    Via Techcrunch: “Tencent and education startup Age of Learning bring popular English-learning app ABCmouse to China.”

    Via The Verge: “YouTube will reportedly release a kids’ app curated by humans.”

    Via Reveal: “When virtual reality feels real, so does the sexual harassment.”

    The Chronicle of Higher Education lists“Pros and Cons of Virtual Reality in the Classroom.”

    Via US PIRG: “‘You might want to tell your instructors about this:’ students as sales reps?” “This” in this headline is a product from Cengage, which markets directly to students asking them to push the product to their teachers.

    Stanford’s Larry Cuban on“Whatever Happened to Ebonics?”

    Via The Verge: “Duolingo overhauled its fluency system to make it harder for advanced users.”

    From the Scratch Team’s Medium blog: “3 Things To Know About Scratch 3.0.”

    Via Edsurge: “Transcription and Accessibility – New Partnerships from Microsoft and Amazon.”

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    A letter to the editor in The Chronicle of Higher Editor asserts thatAI Project at Georgia Tech Does Not Exploit Students.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How A.I. Is Infiltrating Every Corner of the Campus.”

    The Chronicle of Higher Education also wants you to know that you can major in “drones.”

    Techcrunch says thatRobo Wunderkind wants to build the Lego Mindstorms for everyone.” (Why is Lego Mindstorms not the Lego Minstorms for everyone?)

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    Via The Washington Post: “Billionaire offered $25 million to high school alma mater. What he wanted in return was too much for the district.” The billionaire in question: Stephen A. Schwarzman. The school: Abington High School in Abington, Pennsylvania. Imagine that: strings attached when someone gives you money.

    “Philanthropic” sponsored content on Edsurge, paid for by and by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    School administration software-maker Connexeo has raised $110 million from Great Hill Partners.

    Edovo has raised $9 million from Kapor Capital, Ekistic Ventures, Lumina Foundation, SustainVC, Impact Engine, Evolve Foundation, IDP Foundation, and Series Change Investment. The company sells a tablet for use in prison. Here’s how Techcrunch describes it:

    Edovo works with facilities to bring in secure wireless networks and tablets that access Edovo’s educational platform. The incentive-based learning program covers a variety of areas, including literacy, college course work, cognitive behavioral therapy and vocational training. Upon completion of certain lessons, incarcerated individuals can receive certificates and entertainment options. They can also use Edovo to stay in touch with their loved ones.

    Ed-tech as surveillance and punishment and behavioral management. It’s not just for schools. Anyway. Edovo, which describes itself as “the most innovative carceral technology solution on the market,” has raised $12.3 million total.

    Holberton School has raised $8 million from daphni, Trinity Ventures, and the Omidyar Network. The coding bootcamp has raised $12.5 million total.

    BookNook has raised $2 million from Better Ventures, the Urban Innovation Fund, Reach Capital, Impact Engine, Kapor Capital, Redhouse Education, and Edovate Capital. The reading software-maker has raised $3.2 million total.

    The big “business of ed-tech” news of the week: Edmodo has been acquired by Chinese game-maker NetDragon. NetDragon will pay $137.5 million for the company – but of that just $15 million is cash; the rest is equity in NetDragon. Edmodo had raised some $77.5 million in venture capital according to Crunchbase ($100 million according to Edsurge). Either way, it’s not a good look, and not a good ending. As The Financial Times puts it, “EdTech fails to pay, again.”

    Coding bootcamp Thinkful has acquired coding bootcamp Bloc.

    Credly has acquiredPearson’s badge platform, Acclaim.

    Campus Labs has acquiredChalk & Wire.

    Reuters looks atSpringer Nature’s upcoming IPO.

    It’s not venture capital, but it’s funding news. I guess. Techcrunch reports that “Sesame Street turns to Kickstarter to fund autism book.”

    More business news from Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Moody’s Downgrades Blackboard Debt, Focuses On Learn Ultra Delivery.”

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via The Washington Post: “The new lesson plan for elementary school: Surviving the Internet.”

    Via Edscoop: “Personal information of 1 million potential college applicants ‘exposed inadvertently’.” The data in question was from Target Direct Marketing.

    Via the Windsor Star: “‘Personal and private’ info of Essex school students stolen from teacher’s home.”

    Via MIT Technology Review: “YouTube may be illegally collecting kids’ data.” Indeed. “Over 20 advocacy groups complain to FTC that YouTube is violating children’s privacy law,” Techcrunch reports.

    The Verge asks, “How much VR user data is Oculus giving to Facebook?”

    Via Education Week: “Schools Choose Not to Delete Facebook Despite Data-Privacy Worries.”

    Schools prove soft targets for hackers,” says The Hechinger Report.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    The Atlantic versus "learning styles."

    Via The New York Times: “Holocaust Is Fading From Memory, Survey Finds”: “Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million. Forty-one percent of Americans, and 66 percent of millennials, cannot say what Auschwitz was.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “For Students in Debt, Bitcoin on Their Minds.” The Chronicle of Higher Education responds, “No, Students Probably Aren’t Blowing Their Student Loans on Bitcoin.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “New Study on Income-Driven Repayment Plans.”

    “The U.S. could see a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030, according to a report published Wednesday by the Association of American Medical Colleges,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    From Science Alert: “ Evidence Shows Students Still Learn More Effectively From Print Textbooks Than Screens.”

    Edsurge looks at a report called “Making Digital Learning Work,” but as it’s gone – once again – with a headline in the form of a question, that story is in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section above. More on the report via Bryan Alexander.

    Pew Research onBots in the Twittersphere.”

    Education Next on“Studying a Large-Scale Voucher Program in Colombia.”

    Via Gizmodo: “Teen Monitoring Apps Don’t Work and Just Make Teens Hate Their Parents, Study Finds.” I wonder what “studies” say about these apps at school and how they make teens feel about teachers and principals?

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why Researchers Shouldn’t Share All Their Data.”

    From the press release: “Facebook Launches New Initiative to Help Scholars Assess Social Media’s Impact on Elections.” Financial backers: the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

    Education Week on a new Gallup poll: “Teachers on Tech: Good for Student Learning, Bad for Student Health.”

    Via PBS News Hour: “Millions of U.S. adults live in education deserts, far from colleges and fast internet.”

    Survey finds more teachers are clicking on marketing emails. Congrats, everyone. Good work.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 04/16/18--02:40: AERA, In Absentia
  • Sadly, I'm not at AERA today, even though I was supposed to be part of a really excellent panel, "Whither Equity in the '21st-Century School'? Critical Perspectives on Education and Technology," with some of my favorite educators and scholars.

    The panel organizer, Ethan Chang, was nice enough to let me record a video of my 10 minute spiel, and I am embedding it below:

    Here is (roughly) what I had planned to say today. I am really sorry I am not there.

    My apologies for not being there in person today. I’m on a reporting trip for a story I’m currently working on. It’s actually a story associated with the paper I proposed for this panel – so I do have a good excuse for my absence. Also I’ll get paid for that story. Lines on my CV don’t pay the bills.

    I’m recording this a few days early but by the time of this panel, I’ll be at the ASU-GSV Summit. It’s an event I’ve never attended before – one that I’ve been quite loathe to go to, in part because of the reports I hear back about some of the shadiest and most destructive elements in education business and politics. Here’s how the event’s sponsor GSV, the venture capital firm Global Silicon Valley, describes it:

    The Summit continues to bring together the most impactful people from diverse constituencies – entrepreneurs, business leaders, educators, policymakers, philanthropists, and university and district leaders – to create partnerships, explore solutions, and shape the future of learning.

    I can’t help but notice that students and parents and communities are not mentioned among those constituencies. Also absent from that list (and relevant to our purposes here, no doubt): “education researchers.” Indeed, every year (and this is its ninth), the ASU-GSV Summit seems to coincide with AERA. I don’t think this is an insignificant or even an unintentional scheduling gaffe. If nothing else, it taps into a powerful cultural trope, one that’s particularly resonant among Silicon Valley and education reform types: that education experts and expertise aren’t to be trusted, that research is less important than politics, that the “peer review” that matters isn’t the academic version. Rather that “review” in the ASU-GSV framework is a kind of networking or power brokering – it’s who you know, not what you know; it’s not how you wield your research as much as it’s how you wield your relationships. That’s not to say relationships don’t matter in academia. They do. But these networks are significantly less powerful.

    But as people in Silicon Valley like to say, venture capitalists don’t invest in ideas, they invest in people.

    Now, I believe that that saying overstates its case a lot. Clearly, ideas do matter. Ideology matters. Metaphors matter. The way in which one talks about education matters – the notion that it’s broken, for example, or that it needs to be fixed through market-based mechanisms. Ideas shape the products that entrepreneurs build and the policies that reformers promote. Investors might select certain people as entrepreneurs or back certain officials as reformers, but that’s because they share ideas. More importantly, I’d argue, they share networks.

    I am currently wrapping up my year as a Spencer Fellow at the Columbia School of Journalism, and my proposed project involves an exploration how these networks work, how education technology investors work in particular – where and how they come up with their ideas, how their influence spreads. I’m interested in the shape of the network (who’s in it), the money (where’s the funding going), the power (how do investors and investments influence policy), and the associated narratives about the future. “The Ed-Tech Mafia,” I sometimes call this – a nod to “The PayPal Mafia,” those early employees and executives at PayPal who’ve gone on to shape recent Silicon Valley history and business and politics (as investors or entrepreneurs). Reid Hoffman (the founder of LinkedIn). Elon Musk (the founder of Tesla and SpaceX). Peter Thiel (vampire and enemy of the free press). Chad Hurley (the founder of YouTube). Pierre Omidyar (the founder of eBay) and so on.

    Venture capitalists are important, increasingly so as Silicon Valley technologies play a more and more powerful role in our personal lives and in our political (and education) system. But when I use the word “investors,” I also mean the influence of philanthropists. And it’s worth pointing out that several of the philanthropies founded by tech executives are not the classic “family foundation,” they’re venture capital firms – some are non-profit and some are for-profit. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, for example – founded by Facebook’s founder – is a venture capital firm. It’s often talked about like it’s a philanthropy. But it’s a company. The Emerson Collective – founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple’s co-founder – is a venture capital firm. As LLCs, they have fewer requirements for transparency than do foundations about where their money goes. You can see, for example, on the Gates Foundation website, who’s received its education grants, dating all the way back to 1994. (I’m guessing that includes many many people in the room right now.) But we don’t really know where CZIs dollars are going. The organization has promised to spend billions in the coming decade on “personalized learning.” Last time I checked, “personalized learning” is an idea, and not a person; but who gets that money is still worth considering. How that idea takes shape and takes hold in people and in policies is important.

    So, here’s an example of how these investor networks operate – and this is what I’m trying to investigate in more detail while I’m at the ASU-GSV Summit. One of GSV’s co-founders is Deborah Quazzo. She is one of the most active investors in ed-tech. She was briefly on the Chicago Public Schools board – that is, until a Chicago Tribune story found that since her appointment, the district had tripled its spending on companies in her investment portfolio. GSV’s investments include Dreambox Learning, Coursera, ClassDojo, and Edsurge. (Edsurge is a really important node here as its investors include almost every firm who’s actively investing in ed-tech in Silicon Valley, as well as the major philanthropies and venture philanthropies like Gates and CZI. And as such, it is clear the publication promotes certain narratives about the future of schools. Ideas do matter.) Another co-founder of GSV is, of course, Michael Moe. Moe has a long, long history in education financing. When he worked at Merrill Lynch in the 1990s, for example, he helped the school management company Edison Schools prepare for its initial public offering.

    Edison Schools is another one of those interesting nodes in the ed-tech network. And I mention this one because the privatization and financialization of education – an idea – has a lengthy history. These networks are well established, even as Silicon Valley prefers to associate itself with “the new.” Edison was co-founded by Chris Whittle, whose other companies include Channel One, the advertising-filled TV news provider for schools. Edison Schools’ founding partners include Chester Finn and John Chubb. The President of its LearnNow division was Jim Shelton, who from Edison went on to work as a Program Director at the Gates Foundation. He then worked as Assistant Secretary of Education at the Obama Department of Ed. (An aside: Arne Duncan is also a venture capitalist now; he works for the Emerson Collective.) After the Department of Education, Shelton went to work at 2U, an online program management company co-founded by John Katzman who previously founded the Princeton Review – another key node, another investor (surprise, surprise) in Edsurge. Shelton is now the head of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s education program.

    CZI has also hired Bror Saxburg, formerly the chief learning officer at Kaplan (owned by Graham Holdings, once the owner of The Washington Post and – yup – an investor in Edsurge) as its Chief Learning Officer. It’s also hired Katrina Stevens, who worked at the Department of Education under Jim Shelton and who worked at Edsurge, as its director of learning sciences. I believe these folks are all at ASU-GSV and not at AERA.

    A “director of learning sciences” in the business of ed-tech needn’t be interested in the research as much as she need navigate and perhaps even propitiate the investor network.

    And that’s where one future – a dystopian one, I’d argue – of education technology lies: in a place where scholarship and research can be ignored unless it explicitly endorses the ideas and the politics and the “impactful people” and the networks of capital.

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  • 04/20/18--04:55: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Education has approved the first program under its Educational Quality Through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) initiative.”

    StraighterLine, an unaccredited online course provider, will partner with Brookhaven College in Texas to offer a joint associate degree to students this August. Students will complete more than 50 percent of their course work online through the StraighterLine platform.

    The US Senate confirmed Carlos G. Muñiz as the Education Department’s General Counsel. Here’s the official statement from Betsy DeVos.

    More news from the Department of Education in the student loan section below.

    FCC Delays Are Keeping Broadband From Rural School Kids,” says Wired.

    Via Education Week: “Democratic FCC Commissioner, Advocate For Net Neutrality and Lifeline, Resigns.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via The New York Times: “Maryland Schools May Tell Children When It’s Time to Log Off.”

    Via NPR: “Kentucky Governor Claims Kids Were Assaulted While Teachers Absent From Classroom.” Later…: “Kentucky Governor Apologizes For Comments On Teachers’ Strike.” (It wasn’t really much of an apology.)

    Via NPR: “Arizona Governor Agrees To 20 Percent Raise For Protesting Teachers.”

    There’s a lot more about teachers and labor issues in the “labor and management” section below.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Colorado Democrats overwhelmingly reject Democrats for Education Reform at state assembly.”

    Via NPR: “Wyoming District To Decide On Teachers Carrying Guns.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Antwan Wilson being paid $60,000 to consult for Denver Public Schools.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Internal memo offers candid postmortem of charter fight in Massachusetts.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Tennessee lawmakers call for McQueen’s resignation, scrapping TNReady over more testing failures.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via The Journal Sentinel: “Marquette’s discipline of conservative professor gains national spotlight as it hits high court.”

    Via The AP: “Georgia’s Top Court Won’t Hear Appeals for 2 Convicted in Cheating Case.”

    Via The New York Times: “Sandy Hook Parents Sue Alex Jones for Defamation.”

    “Free College”

    Apple should open a university that’s free for everyone,” says Wired. Nope. We should demand corporations pay more taxes so that public education is adequately funded.

    The Business of Financial Aid

    From the Department of Education press release: “U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Team Up to Simplify Student Loan Discharge Process for Disabled Veterans.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    There’s coding bootcamp news in the venture capital section below.

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    “How Liberty University Built a Billion-Dollar Empire Online” by Alec MacGillis. (And some follow-up from Tressie McMillan Cottom.)

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via The New York Times: “25-Year-Old Textbooks and Holes in the Ceiling: Inside America’s Public Schools.”

    Via inside Higher Ed: “The Pros and Cons of Purdue‘s 7-Year Freeze.“ In other Purdue news, ”Purdue University President Mitch Daniels weighed in the PROSPER Act – House Republicans’ plan to reauthorize the Higher Education Act – Tuesday, offering praise for several of the bill’s reforms,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Via The Washington Post: “‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman to speak at Howard’s commencement.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Thanks to Beyoncé, All Eyes Are on Black Colleges. A Historian Says They Should Capitalize on the Hype.”

    The New York Times looks atschool dress codes (and gender).

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Maryland Removes ‘Misogynistic’ Guidelines for TAs.”

    The New York Times on a fire at Cornell in 1967: “Never Solved, a College Dorm Fire Has Become One Man’s Obsession.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Swedish University Ordered to Refund Tuition Over Quality Concerns.” The university in question: Mälardalen University.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Nassar Victim Says Michigan State’s Interim President Pressured Her to Accept a Cash Payoff.”

    “When Disadvantaged Students Overlook Elite Collegesby The Atlantic’s Adam Harris.

    Via NPR: “100 Top Colleges Vow To Enroll More Low-Income Students.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Chinese Communist Party Cells Pop Up at U.S. Universities.”


    Via Chalkbeat: “TNReady is back online, and technical problems are back too.”

    There’s more about testing in Tennessee in the state politics section above.

    Via Jacobin: “The Socialist Case Against the SAT.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “ABA Panel Seeks to End LSAT Requirement.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Teacher in trouble for making pancakes for kids taking standardized test.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    There’s more on Nassar and Michigan State in the “meanwhile on campus” section above.

    Labor and Management

    Via The Intercept: “Politicized by Trump, Teachers Threaten to Shake Up Red-State Politics.”

    Via The Denver Post: “Colorado teachers stage rally at statehouse to lobby for higher pay.”

    Via NBC Los Angeles: “LAUSD School Workers Vote to Authorize Strike.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Who Doesn’t Get Overtime Pay? Online Instructors, for One.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Furor Over Professor Who Called Barbara Bush Racist.”

    “5 Thoughts on the Teacher Strikesfrom Rick Hess.

    Via NPR: “Why More Than A Million Teachers Can’t Use Social Security.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Former DreamWorks exec Shawn Dennis joins GoldieBlox as president.”

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Techcrunch: “Grasshopper, a learn-to-code app from Google’s Area 120 incubator, goes live.”

    Via Edsurge: “Google and Udacity Offering 5,000 Scholarships for Nanodegree Programs.”

    Contests and Conferences

    Here are some of the dispatches from the ASU+GSV Summit. (And I should have my write-up done by today or tomorrow). From Edsurge: “This Year’s ASU+GSV Summit Is Hard to Describe. Here’s Our Best Attempt.” Also from Edsurge: “Angela Duckworth Says Grit Is Not Enough. She’s Building Tools to Boost Student Character.” From GeekWire: “For investors, the future of education technology is now the workplace.” From the ASU website: “Panelists discuss future of personalized learning.” Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “ACT, Arizona State University Partner on Ed-Tech Research, Product Development Institute.” Via EdScoop: “Edtech and industry leaders say they’re stuck if they can’t scale.” Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Ed-Tech Vendors Asked to ‘Pledge’ Efforts Around Interoperability.” Via Edsurge: “What’s Next for Pearson? (Not Buying Your Education Startup.)” Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “George W. Bush Defends Legacy of No Child Left Behind at Education Business Conference.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Do you need a blockchain?asks Techcrunch.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via The Verge: “OLPC’s $100 laptop was going to change the world – then it all went wrong.” (A good thread on Twitter in response.)

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “ISTE Unveils Plans to Match Ed-Tech Companies With Educators for Feedback on Apps.” Teachers will not be compensated for this work.

    Via Edsurge: “Amazon’s Recent Account Closures Have Affected College Students Too.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Battle over college course material is a textbook example of technological change.”

    Via Technode: “Tsinghua University is using the cloud to make it rain in the classroom.” “Make it rain” here is a reference to an analytics app. I guess it could also be a reference to the money to be made off of collecting, analyzing, and selling student data.

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    Via Wired: “Ex-Google Executive Opens a School for AI, With China’s Help.”

    From the Amazon press release: “Now Anyone Can Create Their Own Personalized Alexa Skill in Just Minutes.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    The New Schools Venture Fund announces the latest cohort of “new, innovative [charter] schools.”

    Via Variety: “Beyonce Follows Coachella Triumph by Announcing $100,000 in Scholarships for Historically Black Colleges.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Walton memo recommends charter advocates do more to persuade Democrats and appease unions.”

    Content, sponsored by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, on Edsurge: this and this and this and this.

    Content, sponsored by the Gates Foundation, on Edsurge: this.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    Embibe has raised $180 million from Reliance. The company “provides personalized educational feedback services for students,” and according to Crunchbase has raised $184 million total.

    Edmentum has raised $25 million in debt financing from New Mountain Finance Corporation and Tennenbaum Capital Partners. The company, formerly known as PLATO Learning, is owned by Thomas Bravo.

    Aula, which Edsurge says is “akin to Slack,” has raised $4.2 million from Project A, Brighteye Ventures, Sunstone, and Nordic Makers.

    Teachable has raised $4 million from Accomplice Ventures and Naval Ravikant. The online education company has raised $12.5 million total.

    Language-learning startup Lingumi has raised $1.7 million from ADV.

    General Assembly has been acquired by the Adecco Group for $412.5 million. (Some thoughts from Anil Dash.)

    Key Data Systems has acquiredProgress Testing.

    Paxen Publishing has bought the adult education assets of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    PowerSchool and PeopleAdmin will merge.

    Pluralsight files for an IPO. More via Crunchbase.

    Related, via The New York Times: “Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists Prepare for an I.P.O. Wave.”

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via Education Week: “Thousands of Android Mobile Apps Improperly Track Children, Study Says.” Via The Verge: “Report finds more than half of Android apps for children are in violation of COPPA.”

    Via Bloomberg: “Palantir Knows Everything About You.” (Related: the Peter Thiel Ed-Tech Network.)

    Via Wired: “The Young and the Reckless – A gang of teen hackers snatched the keys to Microsoft’s videogame empire. Then they went too far.”

    Via Motherboard: “Students Are Using VPNs to Play ‘Fortnite’ on School Wi-Fi.”

    Via The MIT Technology Review: “Bill Gates and Masayoshi Son are backing a plan to have video cameras watch every inch of Earth from space.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Login With Facebook data hijacked by JavaScript trackers.” Good thing no one in education uses … Oh.

    Via The Verge: “Verizon‘s new parental control app lets parents track their kids’ locations.”

    Precision education

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “College Consultants’ Client Information Was Exposed on Web Servers.” That’s CollegePlannerPro.

    Via Education Week: “Teens Worry About Online Privacy: Q&A With Researcher Claire Fontaine.”

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    “The Future of College Looks Like the Future of Retail,” says Jeff Selingo. Gonna be so great for Black students if it looks like Starbucks, eh? Gonna be so great for teaching and research if it’s staffed with low-paid, precarious workers.

    Education Week’s latest survey on what principals believe about the future of technology prompts a series of stories: one arguing that“Principals Warm Up to Computer Science, Despite Obstacles,” one on“Why Principals Are Embracing Personalized Learning,” one pointing out that“School Principals Overwhelmingly Concerned About Children’s Screen Time.” In other words, principals have pretty incoherent beliefs about ed-tech.

    Via Pew Research: “The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World.”

    Wrench in the Gears’ Allison McDowell traces the business and politics of ed-tech in North Dakota.

    Techcrunch examines what venture capitalists studied in college.

    Via Edsurge: “New Report Sheds Light on Higher Ed’s Innovation Challenges.”

    Via Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Comparing the First Ten Years of Blackboard and Instructure in LMS Market.” (Psst. Phil. I’d love to see a comparison between Pluralsight and

    Via Campus Technology: “Report: It’s Time for Ed Tech to Tackle the Adult Learner.” The report comes from the Department of Education and Luminary Labs. Ed-tech has always addressed this, particularly since so much of its roots are in military training, but hey.

    “The NYT Says We’re Forgetting About the Holocaust. History suggests otherwise,” says Slate’s Rebecca Onion.

    Via Chalkbeat: “One big upside of career and tech programs? They push more kids to graduate.”

    “Why collective action is the wrong approach for developing personalized learning teachers,” says the Clayton Christensen Institute. It’s interesting that the phrase “collective action” was used here, which in my mind implies teachers’ unions; this article actually says that teachers shouldn’t even collaborate.

    Research from S. Trenholm, B. Hajek, C.L. Robinson, M. Chinnappan, A. Albrecht, and H. Ashman: “Investigating undergraduate mathematics learners’ cognitive engagement with recorded lecture videos.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Study Finds Flipped Classroom Model Does Not Improve Grades in Health Science Course.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How Are Black Colleges Doing? Better Than You Think, Study Finds.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Facebook Says It Will Help Academics Use Its Data. Here’s How That’s Supposed to Work.”

    Via Education Week: “Pearson Tested ‘Social-Psychological’ Messages in Learning Software, With Mixed Results.” Gizmodo also picked up the story: “Pearson Embedded a ‘Social-Psychological’ Experiment in Students’ Educational Software [Updated].” From MIT’s Justin Reich: “Five Answers About EdTech Experiments: A Response to Benjamin Herold.”

    Via Education Dive: “America ‘still a nation at risk,’ education experts say.” Honestly, you’re not much of an expert if you think A Nation at Risk was much more than a highly politicized narrative criticizing the state of public education to make a specific political point – that is, a “study” with a predetermined outcome and one based on flawed statistics. And we wonder why no one trusts “experts.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    Yes, I went to ASU+GSV – my first time at the event in the event’s nine year history. It was everything y’all said it would be. Truly.

    I was there on a reporting trip, as part of the research I’m doing as a Spencer Fellow. I’m also working on a magazine article that’ll come out this fall on education technology and venture capital. Some of the questions I’ve wanted answered: how do VCs “know things” about ed-tech? Who do they listen to, what stories do they hear, and what stories do they tell in turn? VCs often speak of having an “investment thesis” – a strategy for why they fund certain companies. But I’m curious how one forms that thesis in education.

    I don’t want to write too much that will take away from the article I’m writing, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t make a couple of observations about the theses that get formed at a place like ASU+GSV.

    The agenda of the Summit was certainly designed so that some sessions appealed to investors and entrepreneurs while others were aimed at the educators in attendance. (And those were mostly administrators and administrative staff, I’d say, rather than classroom teachers.) Many people told me beforehand that “investors don’t go to sessions.” Investors go to the event for private meetings. They go to play golf. “All the buzz is outside,” I overheard one entrepreneur say to another. Fair enough. There were a couple of sessions that were well-attended by investors, which I duly noted (including one lead by “one of the all time great entrepreneurs in the education space,” as GSV’s Michael Moe described him – someone who has, by my calculations, lost investors millions and millions of dollars).

    As I listened to the stories told from the various stages – in sessions and in keynotes – I also started to think about the ways in which educators (particularly administrators) and not just VCs were being prompted by the event to develop a certain “investment thesis.”

    This happens all the time, of course, and not just at “business of education” conferences. Remember, if you will, the insistence from the University of Virginia Board of Visitors that school was missing the “coming MOOC tsunami” based on columns they’d read in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Stories about the future of education – particularly a future that is a more market-oriented, technological endeavor – are ubiquitous. They are relayed by influential storytellers.

    And they are full of inaccuracies and misinformation.

    At ASU+GSV, I heard plenty of invocations about “digital natives” and “learning styles.” “Society is evolving at a faster and faster rate.” “Technology is moving faster than it’s ever moved before.” There was all the usual talk of job-stealing robots and the “jobs that don’t exist yet.”

    Lest you think the speakers just repeat sorts of these made-up stories and statistics, I suppose it’s worth noting that Angela Duckworth did point out in her keynote that the “10,000 rule,” popularized by Malcolm Gladwell, is not quite true. But by and large, the kinds of pithy claims you find in the kind of non-fiction books that Gladwell writes and the kind that they sell at airports seems to have been accepted as Scripture. When it comes to education research, unassailable truth is to be found in Benjamin Bloom’s decades-old work – taxonomies and two sigmas. “We know it works.” “We know it matters.” Bloom says so.

    I heard someone say that learning math is different than any other subject because math is made of “building blocks.” I heard someone claim that kids learn everything from YouTube these days so they don’t need what’s taught in school.

    I heard the CEO of edX claim the phrase “data science” didn’t exist a decade ago. (Wikipedia actually traces it back to 1997.)

    I heard the former CEO of Kaplan say “hundreds if not thousands of colleges will close in the coming years.”

    I heard three different people repeat that old Arthur C. Clarke adage that “any teacher who can be replaced by a machine should be.”

    I heard someone from Facebook relay the ol’ “founded in a Harvard dorm room” tale and then contend that “education is at our core. It’s at the true foundation of what the platform was invented for.”

    I heard an Australian entrepreneur tell a packed room that “up ‘til two years ago, Australia didn’t do anything related to ed-tech.“ I couldn’t decide if I wanted to scream at him ”Have you ever heard of the Methodist Ladies’ College?” (The Melbourne school was the site, over 25 years ago, of the first one-to-one laptop program ever.) Or “Guess which country the most popular LMS in the world, first developed in the late 1990s, came from?

    I wanted to do a lot of screaming at the event, I confess.

    But I didn’t want to just scream at the investors and entrepreneurs about the misinformation they heard and they spread. I wanted to scream at all those reporters and all those pundits who uncritically repeat these stories too and at all those educators who readily take it all in.

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    This is the transcript of the talk I gave this evening at the CUNY Graduate Center

    Thank you very much for inviting me to speak to you. We’re nearing the end of the semester, I think, and so we’re all exhausted. (Or I should speak for myself: I’m exhausted.) For me, the end of the school year also means the end of a year-long fellowship I’ve had at the Columbia School of Journalism. I’ve decided to stick around New York for a while longer, so I hope this is just the first of many opportunities to interact with you all here. (Indeed, I’ll be speaking again in CUNY next week.)

    I do want to talk a little bit this evening about the work I’ve been doing as a Spencer Fellow. That’s not what it says in my title and abstract, I recognize. And that’s the curse of making up titles and abstracts in advance: sometimes you sit down to prepare a talk and realize you really want to say something else entirely, and so your task becomes trying to thread things all together so that no one who shows up expressly to hear you expand on the ideas advertised on the flyer is too frustrated or disappointed.

    And the flyer for this talk, I do want to note, was really great. So I’ll start there and see if I can weave all these advertised and unadvertised end-of-semester ideas together somewhat satisfactorily.

    (Including an obligatory reference to pigeons.)

    I love old teaching machines, yes even BF Skinner’s teaching machines, despite their deeply problematic usage. I love them, in part, because they are objects. These objects carry a history. They reflect an ideology. They have substance. They have weight – literally, culturally, intellectually, politically. They are material artifacts, and we can talk about how they were made, how they were manufactured. And that seems particularly important, that materiality. It helps us see design and functionality and production and history and even ideology in ways that I think today’s digital teaching machines and teaching machine-makers are more than happy to obscure.

    Chris Gilliard recently wrote an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education in which he invoked the story of “the Mechanical Turk,” designed by Wolfgang von Kempelen in the late 1700s – an automaton that purported to play chess, but in truth, was a hoax. Hidden inside the mechanical device was a human chess master who actually operated it, “his invisible labor controlling the Mechanical Turk’s movements.” Gilliard contends that the invisible labor of students powers today’s teaching machines. We are repeatedly told these (ostensibly) delightful stories of the magical powers of artificial intelligence and learning analytics and instructional software. But maybe all this is just another parlor trick, another hoax – an exploitation that is obscured, Gilliard argues as I’d argue, because it’s much harder now than it was with von Kempelen’s automaton, to pull back the curtain, to follow the wires and levers, to comprehend the engineering, and to see the “ruse” of the teaching machine.

    “Personalization” – that’s the illusion created by the teaching machine. It has been the illusion, the intent for a very, very long time.

    I’m really interested in that history. And I think, in some ways, we can point to the history easier than we can point to the code that runs the thing.

    I’m also interested in the contemporary stories we hear about “personalization,” partly out of a frustration that the tech sector always seems to want to obscure and ignore history.

    But ah, the tech sector does love stories – grand narratives and make-believe and mythologies about “revolution” and “disruption” and ’innovation." I’m deeply curious (and quite suspicious) about where these narratives come from and how they’re spread among education technology entrepreneurs and investors (and – this is so key – among politicians and school administrators).

    That’s been the focus of my Spencer Fellowship work this year. I proposed a project that would investigate how the investor networks operate in education technology – who is doing the funding, what they’re funding, of course, but also how investors know about what and who to fund. That is, how do investors get their ideas about education technology (and of course, about education reform)? What are the stories they hear and they tell about the future (and the past)? How do they use their networks to spread ideas (and, of course, to build businesses and to change policies and to sway markets and to shape public opinion)?

    Now, Silicon Valley famously insists, “we don’t invest in ideas; we invest in people.” But it’s ridiculous to assert that ideas – and ideology – are irrelevant in investors’ calculations. Ideas matter. Ideas matter, as do the networks they’re embodied in.

    So, I’ve been looking for “The Ed-Tech Mafia,” I have sometimes called this – a nod to “The PayPal Mafia,” a phrase coined to describe those early employees and executives at PayPal who’ve gone on to shape recent Silicon Valley history and politics and business (and tech industry culture – “brotopia” as journalist Emily Chang has called it), as investors and as entrepreneurs. Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX. Peter Thiel, Facebook board member, founder of Palantir, and enemy of the free press who famously paid a handful of young people – mostly men – $100,000 to drop out of college. Chad Hurley, the founder of YouTube. Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. And so on. Men – and it is all men, in this case – men of ideas, libertarian ideas, ideas about “innovation” but also about public institutions and public space and governmental regulation and private finance and data and surveillance and control.

    My question (or one of my questions): is there an organization or a company in education that has had similar clout – launching the careers of entrepreneurs and investors, obviously, but also setting the agenda for what “the future of education” (and the future of education as a market, the future of education as “the business of education”) looks like. Last week, I was at the particularly dreadful ASU+GSV Summit where these people all gather every year to build networks, make deals, shape policy, and tell stories. Tell tall tales, I’d even say, about the coming revolution in education.

    That “revolution” has been associated with many buzzwords over the years. “MOOCs” for a while. “Social learning.” Social emotional learning. Behavior management and behavior modification. Personalization.

    All of these are positioned and invoked in opposition to some imagined or invented version of learning in the present or in the past. Education technologists and futurists (and pundits and politicians) like to provide these thumbnail sketches about what schooling has been like– unchanged for hundreds or thousands of years, some people (who are clearly not education historians) will try to convince you. They do so in order to make a particular point about their vision for what learning should be like. “The factory model of education” – this is the most common one – serves as a rhetorical and political foil against which reforms and technological interventions can be positioned. These sorts of sketches and catchphrases never capture the complex history of educational practices or institutions. (They’re not meant to. They’re slogans, not scholarship.) Nevertheless these imagined histories are often quite central to the premise that education technology is different and disruptive and new and, above all, necessary.

    There is no readily agreed upon meaning of the phrase “personalized learning,” which probably helps its proponents wield these popularized tales about the history of education and then in turn laud it – “personalized learning,” whatever that is – as an exciting, new corrective to the ways they claim education has “traditionally” functioned (and in their estimation, of course, has failed).

    “Personalized learning” most often means that students “move at their own pace” through lessons and assignments – unlike those classrooms where everyone is expected to move through material together, like the students in a certain Pink Floyd movie. (In an invented history of education, this has been the instructional arrangement for all of human history.) Or “personalized learning” can mean that students have a say in what they learn – students determine topics they study and activities they undertake. “Personalized learning,” according to some definitions, is driven by students’ own interests and inquiry rather than by the demands or standards imposed by the instructor, the school, the state. “Personalized learning,” according to other definitions, is driven by students’ varied abilities or needs; it’s a way of navigating the requirements of school bureaucracies and requesting appropriate accommodations – “individualized education plans” and the like. Or “personalized learning” is the latest and greatest – some new endeavor that will be achieved, not through human attention or agency or through paperwork or policy but through computing technologies. That is, through monitoring and feedback, through automated assessment, through data mining, and through the programmatic or algorithmic selection and presentation of new or next materials to study.

    “Personalized learning,” depending on how you define it, dates back to Rousseau. Or it dates back further still – to Alexander the Great’s tutor, some guy named Aristotle. It dates to the nineteenth century. Or to the twentieth century. It dates to the rise of progressive education theorists and practitioners. To John Dewey. Or to Maria Montessori (often the only woman ever mentioned in any of these tales). Or it dates to the rise of educational psychology. To B. F. Skinner. To Benjamin Bloom. It dates to special education-related legislation passed in the 1970s or to the laws passed the 1990s. Or it dates to computer scientist Alan Kay’s 1972 essay “A Personal Computer for Children of All Ages.” Or it dates to the Gates Foundation’s funding grants and political advocacy in the early 2000s. Take your pick. (And when you take your pick, know that it likely reveals your education politics and, I’d argue, your education networks.)

    According to the flyer, I’m supposed to talk to you today about the history of personalized learning and how “automation” became “personalization.” And I want to do so. I want to do so because I want us to remember the Mechanical Turk. I want to do so because “personalized learning” has taken on such political and financial and rhetorical significance. Personalized learning has become incredibly bound up in Silicon Valley’s philanthro-venture-capitalism and in its plans for shaping the future of education (and shaping it with machines). Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, for example, are plowing billions of dollars into “personalized learning” products and school reforms. That seems significant – not only if we don’t agree on what the phrase actually means, but also if it means something along the lines of Facebook, knowing what Facebook has done to information sharing and to civic understanding.

    In some ways, this is the challenge of tracing the history of ed-tech. There are multiple histories, origins, and trajectories – in no small part because so many of today’s ed-tech business folks believe in invented histories, in part because some of this taps into cultural and pedagogical practices that are so familiar we just don’t see them. The Mechanical Turk – we prefer the parlor trick.

    The OED dates the word “personalization” in print to the 1860s, but the definition that’s commonly used today – “The action of making something personal, or focused on or concerned with a certain individual or individuals; emphasis on or attention to individual persons or personal details” – dates to the turn of the twentieth century, to 1903 to be precise. “Individualization,” according to the OED, is much older; its first appearance in print was in 1746.

    The Google Ngram Viewer, which is also based on material in print, suggests the frequency of these two terms’ usage – “individualization” and “personalization” – looks something like this:

    In the late twentieth century, talk of “individualization” gave way to “personalization.” Why did our language shift? What happened circa 1995? (I wonder.)

    Now, no doubt, individualism has been a core tenet of the modern era. It’s deeply enmeshed in Western history (and in American culture and identity in particular). I always find myself apologizing at some point that my talks are so deeply US-centric. But I contend you cannot analyze digital technologies and the business and politics of networks and computers without discussing how deeply embedded they are in what I’ve called the “Silicon Valley narrative” and in what others have labeled the “California ideology” – and that’s an ideology that draws heavily on radical individualism and on libertarianism.

    It’s also an ideology – this “Silicon Valley narrative” – that is deeply intertwined with capitalism – contemporary capitalism, late-stage capitalism, global capitalism, venture capitalism, surveillance capitalism, whatever you prefer to call it.

    Indeed, we can see “personalization” as both a product (and I mean quite literally a product) of and a response to the rise of post-war consumer capitalism. Monograms on mass-produced objects. Millions of towels and t-shirts and trucks and tchotchkes that are all identical except you can buy one with your name or your initials printed on it. “Personalization” acts as some sort of psychological balm, perhaps, to standardization.

    A salve. Not a solution.

    But “personalization” is not simply how we cope with our desire for individuality in an age of mass production, of course. It’s increasingly how we’re sold things. It’s how we are profiled, how we are segmented, how we are advertised to.

    Here’s Wikipedia’s introduction to its entry on “personalization,” which I offer not because it’s definitive in any way but because it’s such a perfect encapsulation of how Internet culture sees itself, sees its history, tells its story, rationalizes its existence, frames its future:

    Personalization, sometimes known as customization, consists of tailoring a service or product to accommodate specific individuals, sometimes tied to groups or segments of individuals. A wide variety of organizations use personalization to improve customer satisfaction, digital sales conversion, marketing results, branding, and improved website metrics, as well as for advertising.

    How much of “personalized learning” as imagined and built and sold by tech companies is precisely this: metrics, marketing, conversion rates, customer satisfaction? (They just use different words, of course: “outcomes-based learning,” “learning analytics.”)

    Online, “personalization” is how we – we the user and we the consumer – are convinced to take certain actions, buy certain products, click on certain buttons, see certain information (that is to say, learn certain things). “Personalization” is facilitated by the pervasive collection of data, which is used to profile and segment us. We enable this both by creating so much data (often unwittingly) and surrendering so much data (often voluntarily) when we use new, digital technologies.

    “The personal computer” and such. (You know it’s “personal.” You get to change the background image. It’s “personalized,” just like that Coke bottle.)

    The personal computer first emerged as a consumer product in the 1970s – decades after educational technologists and educational psychologists had argued that machines could “personalize” (or at the time, “individualize”) education.

    And let me pause here to return briefly to that topic of “the ed-tech mafia.” Because education technology – and the business of education technology – is not a new phenomenon. And those who have developed that business – that network of entrepreneurs and investors – were not simply those in Silicon Valley. And they weren’t just in business. They were academics. The field of education technology emerged from the field of educational psychology. It emerged from the work of scholars at Harvard, Columbia, Stanford. That network.

    Efforts to personalize education through technology are, in fact, about a century old. And this history matters. It matters in the materiality of the machine. It matters in the networks of men – yup, mostly men – propagating the idea. It matters in the beliefs and practices that the technologies have encouraged and embedded in schools.

    Over Spring Break, I took a trip to Columbus, Ohio where I visited the archives of Sidney Pressey, a psychology professor at Ohio State University from 1921 to 1959 (he continued to publish papers until his death in 1979). (I should note here that Ohio State in the 1920s was seen as one of the leaders in psychology, alongside Columbia and Stanford.) Pressey studied at Harvard under Robert Yerkes, who of course helped design the Army Alpha tests to millions of military recruits in World War I – the first large-scale administration of intelligence testing (standardized testing) in the US. Another Harvard figure, BF Skinner, is often credited with inventing the teaching machine. But it was Sidney Pressey who, decades before, assembled a prototype out of typewriter parts and demo-ed it at the 1924 meeting of the American Psychological Association.

    Pressey’s machine administered a multiple-choice test: “What does perjury mean?” read one question. “(1) Lying (2) Swearing (3) Slander (4) Gossip.” The test was fed into the machine on a sheet of paper just as one would load a piece of paper into a typewriter. The test-taker had four keys with which to respond, and after selecting her answer, the machine would advance automatically to the next question, calculating the number of correct responses along the way. Alternately, a lever in the back could change its operation slightly, and the machine would not move on to the next question until the test-taker got it right, tabulating the number of tries on each question. Pressey’s prototype also included an optional feature in which the teaching machine would dispense a candy when the student got the question right.

    The “Automatic Teacher” wasn’t Pressey’s first commercial endeavor. In 1922 he and his wife published Introduction to the Use of Standard Tests, a “practical” and “non-technical” guide meant “as an introductory handbook in the use of tests” aimed to meet the needs of “the busy teacher, principal or superintendent.” By the mid–1920s, the two had over a dozen different proprietary standardized tests on the market, selling a couple of hundred thousand copies a year, along with some two million test blanks.

    But convincing a publishing house to print your standardized tests or textbook is a different thing altogether than convincing a factory to build your teaching machine.

    Pressey wrote letter after letter after letter to potential manufacturers – typewriter manufacturers, adding machine manufacturers, coin-operated machine makers, makers of scientific equipment, explaining to them this new apparatus he’d built that he believed would automate teaching and testing, invoking the coming “industrial revolution” in education. He didn’t really flash his own academic credentials – unlike today’s ed-tech entrepreneurs he never once mentioned that he’d gone to Harvard. He didn’t talk too much about the commercial successes he and his wife had already had selling standardized tests to schools. He really rested his pitch to potential investors and business partners on this growing faith in American politics and American culture that education could and should be “scientized” – and psychologists were just the men to do it.

    Pressey was rejected again and again and again and again.

    In 1929, after three years of inquiries and rejections, Pressey finally found a company that seemed willing to manufacture his machine, the M. W. Welch Manufacturing Company, based out of Chicago, Illinois. The company had a thriving business selling furniture and laboratory supplies to schools, so it had a solid base of education customers and a good reputation.

    Pressey insisted that it would be incredibly simple and cheap to build his machine. “You can just stamp out the parts,” he insisted in some of his letters. But producing even the simplest machines requires a rather elaborate process. Before you can manufacture it, you have to manufacture the tooling required for production. You have to design and manufacture the molds, that is, before you can manufacture what’s built from them. And Pressey could not stop tweaking the design. He wrote frequent and lengthy letters to Welch Manufacturing – sometimes several a week – peppering them with suggestions. “Please focus on the marketing,” the company would plead – although not in so many words. Pressey insisted that if the machines worked flawlessly, they’d sell themselves.

    The machines did not work flawlessly. Welch needed to sell 250 in order to break even. They sold 127. Of course, the Great Depression didn’t help. Arguments for labor-saving devices – and that was really the crux of Pressey’s reasoning – didn’t go over well when so many people, including teachers, were out-of-work. The machines cost $15 each – more than what was spent per pupil on education at the time. (Roughly $275 in today’s dollars – so, the price of a Chromebook, I guess, but to be clear that’s now about 2% of what we spend, on average, per pupil in K–12 education in the US.)

    It’s too easy, I think, to look at Pressey’s technologies and only see these as a way to speed up the grading of multiple choice assessments – only as a matter of instructional or administrative efficiency, that is. Automation as standardization – that’s the version or the implications of automation, I think, we think we know.

    But automation, Pressey believed, was essential for individualizing education. In many ways, it’s an argument that should be very familiar to us today: teaching machines allow students to move at their own pace; they give students immediate feedback; they free up a teacher’s time “for her most important work,” as Pressey put it, “for developing in her pupils’ fine enthusiasms, clear thinking, and high ideals.” Pressey imagined his machine to be a technology of individualization, one that he and others since have insisted was necessitated by the practices and systems of standardization in schools, by the practices and systems of mass education itself.

    This is why it’s so significant that early teaching machines were developed by psychologists and justified by psychology – very much a science of the twentieth century. After all, psychology – as a practice, as a system – helped to define and theorize our conceptualization of individual, “the self.” Self-management. Self-reflection. Self-help. Self-control.

    Individualization through teaching machines is therefore a therapeutic and an ideological intervention, one that’s supposed to act as a salve in a system of mass education. And this has been the project of education technology ever since.

    But Pressey’s first teaching machine didn’t sell, and publicly admitted defeat in 1932. “The writer is regretfully dropping further work on these problems,” he wrote in a School and Society journal article on teaching machines. “But he hopes that enough has been done to stimulate other workers.”

    And the work continued.

    Indeed, Pressey himself continued to invent other technologies (and promote other technologies) he believed would “personalize” or in his words “individualize” education. (His later research interest included something he called “adjunct auto-instruction” – self-instruction, that is, facilitated by a technology, again so that students could move at their own pace.)

    Let me show you some of these (but apologies for the not-so-great photos):

    One of Pressey’s students first came up with the “chemo card,” a multiple choice test sheet that would immediately reveal if the student got the answer right or wrong. The student would use water in lieu of ink – a bit like those children’s water-activated coloring books.

    A multiple choice test sheet in which the student erased the answer they thought correct, revealing a T if the answer was correct.

    There was a “pluck card” in which a student would scratch off an answer, and again see right away if the answer was right or wrong.

    There was a punchboard that would slide underneath the test sheet and if the student had the answer correct, the pen would go all the way through the paper to puncture a hole.

    Lest you think “machines” weren’t involved, there was an electronic version of this in which a board would light up to indicate a right or wrong answer. The Navy worked with Pressey on a number of teaching machines in the 1960s, including a key pad installed into classroom chairs so that students could respond to quizzes and the instructor could see the results. (I love it that a certain Harvard professor thinks he invented “classroom response technologies” and practices in the 1990s.)

    The US military is an important node in ed-tech’s historical network. So is another company, IBM, which despite Pressey’s failure to commercialize his teaching machine in the 1930s first brought its automatic test scoring machine on the market in 1937.

    Here’s another interesting node: Science Research Associates, which manufactured a punchboard like Pressey’s. Perhaps you’re familiar with this company, better known as SRA. Here is the piece of personalized learning tech I used as a kid, the SRA Reading Cards. Does anyone know who founded Science Research Associates? Lyle Spencer. (Who also founded the Spencer Foundation, that’s paying for my fellowship at Columbia. Small world.)

    I want to end here with a couple more thoughts on “personalization” and education technology. If we recognize that “technology” is much more than computers, much more than machines – that technology involves practices and systems and language and beliefs – then we can see that there is a long history of “individualization,” particularly as it’s been intertwined with psychology, particularly as it’s been intertwined with intelligence and aptitude testing.

    There’s also been a privileging of self-instruction, particularly as these individualizing technologies were implemented to train men – and again, this is mostly a story about men – in science and technology in a post-Sputnik world. Tressie McMillan Cottom has spoken of the “roaming autodidact” as the imagined ideal student – imagined and idealized, that is, by the ed-tech industry, by the promoters of MOOCs and the like. It’s a student unconstrained by materiality, by the body, by place – by race, gender, geography. But I think this autodidact has been the imagined ideal for a long time. The atomized individual moving through atomized content modules filling out little circles and pressing little buttons.

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  • 04/27/18--06:20: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    Via Chalkbeat: “Robotics is bringing Betsy DeVos to Detroit for the first time as education secretary.” (“…She’s unlikely to encounter local students when she’s there.”)

    From the department’s press office: “U.S. Department of Education Announces STEM, Computer Science Education Grant Opportunities.”

    Via ProPublica: “Shutdown of Texas Schools Probe Shows Trump Administration Pullback on Civil Rights.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “As Republicans seek support for their controversial legislation to update the Higher Education Act, a Pentagon document gives ammo to critics over the bill’s plan to end Public Service Loan Forgiveness.”

    Remember when Mark Zuckerberg kept repeating “I’ll have someone on my team get back to you on that?” when he appeared before Congress? Yeah… Via The Verge: “Reps say ‘we have yet to receive any responses’ to questions from Zuckerberg testimony.”

    Wait. Why is the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Bror Saxberg posting on the Department of Education’s Medium blog?

    Via NPR: “19 Years After Columbine, Students Walk Out To Stop Gun Violence.”

    “The FDA is coming for teens’ Juul vapes,” says The Verge.

    Politico profilesTurning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk: “Trump’s Man on Campus.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via the Dallas News: “‘Merit or on quota?’ Former Texas official questions biracial teen’s Harvard acceptance.”

    Via the Washington City Paper: “The DC Public Charter School Board Knew One of D.C.’s Oldest Charters Was Financially Troubled and Didn’t Intervene.”

    The New York Times onNYC education news: “Announcing $125 Million for Schools, de Blasio Stumbles Over #MeToo.”

    The New York Times profilesNYC’s new schools chancellor Richard Carranza.

    More on NYC, from NY1: “Student diversity push upsets some parents at UWS school.” White middle class parents, that is, don’t want diversity.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Average salary: $50,481. Doctorates: 21. First year educators: 241. We have the numbers on Indianapolis Public Schools teachers.”

    Via Education Dive: “West Virginia considers shutting down public colleges.” That’ll definitely bring back the coal jobs.

    There’s more on teachers’ strikes and teachers’ protests in the “labor and management” section below.

    Immigration and Education

    Via The New York Times: “Key Justices Seem Skeptical of Challenge to Trump’s Travel Ban.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Third Judge Blocks Trump’s Bid to End DACA.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via Education Week: “Ex Baltimore County Superintendent Gets Six Months Prison Sentence in Perjury Case.” That’s Dallas Dance.

    For your “yes, Microsoft is still horrible files,” this from The Washington Post: “E-waste recycler Eric Lundgren loses appeal on computer restore disks, must serve 15-month prison term.”

    Richard Spencer, the white nationalist, has dropped his lawsuit against the University of Cincinnati,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    There’s more legal news in the accreditation section below and in the immigration section above.

    The Business of Financial Aid

    This is truly the greatest story of the week – and kudos to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Dan Bauman and Chris Quintana for this work: “Drew Cloud Is a Well-Known Expert on Student Loans. One Problem: He’s Not Real.”

    More on Drew Cloudfrom The Atlantic’s Adam Harris.

    (This story has me thinking a lot about “fake news” and education technology PR as misinformation. I know a lot of journalists had received story pitches from Drew Cloud. Some cited him. I wonder if his words appeared in any pitches that student loan startups made to investors. I also wonder how pervasive this sort of thing is in education.)

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Some Colleges Try to Burnish Student-Loan Default Rates.” And from The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Some Colleges Push Students to Delay Loan Repayments. They’ll Pay More in Interest Later.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A California institution that a U.S. senator recently characterized as a suspected ‘visa mill’ has shut down after state authorities revoked its certificate to operate. A notice on Silicon Valley University’s website says it has been notified by California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education ‘not to conduct any classes or exams at this time, effective immediately.’”

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    The AP on the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow: “Education regulators are reviewing a whistleblower’s claim that Ohio’s then-largest online charter school intentionally inflated attendance figures tied to its state funding using software it purchased after previous allegations of attendance inflation.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Phoenix’s online enrollment plummets while Western Governors and Southern New Hampshire near 100,000 students as they vie to rule the roost.”

    “A federal requirement for online colleges to tell students whether their academic programs meet state licensing requirements may be postponed,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Reminder: a lot of MOOC news is now job training news, so you’ll find some updates in that section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Florida State Cancels Bundled Journal Deal With Elsevier.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Kent State bans a professor after he is charged with lying to the FBI.” That’s history professor Julio Pino.

    Via The Washington Post: “Temple University suspends fraternity and increases police presence as it investigates allegations including sexual assault.”

    Pacific Standard onrecovery high schools.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why a Public Flagship’s Acquisition of a Private College Made So Many Upset in Massachusetts.” That is, University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s decision to buy Mount Ida College.

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    Via The Coloradoan: “12 students sue CSU for not accrediting master’s degree program.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The New England Association of Schools & Colleges, the accrediting agency for the Connecticut State College and University system, rejected a proposal Tuesday that would have merged the state’s 12 community colleges.”

    Via Edsurge: “Bringing Order to ‘Badges’: Nonprofit Works With Colleges on Framework to Measure Soft Skills.”

    Blockchain for education and skills? A big maybe,” says New America.


    Via EdScoop: “‘Deliberate cyberattack’ delays online assessments in five states.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Four reasons Tennessee likely won’t go back to paper testing.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “New study finds that ending SAT and ACT requirements results in more applications and more diversity – without any decline in graduation rates.”

    “Don’t Take Personality Tests Personally,” says Pacific Standard. Hell, don’t take them at all would be my advice.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via NPR: “NBA Should Open Draft To High Schoolers, NCAA Commission On College Basketball Says.”

    Via Techcrunch: “A university is giving scholarships to top Fortnite players.” That’s Ashland University in Ohio.

    Labor and Management

    Via The New York Times: “Columbia Graduate Students Walk Out Over Union Fight.” Solidarity. I won’t be crossing this picket line for anything to do with the last weeks of my Spencer Fellowship.

    Via The Harvard Crimson: “In Historic Move, HarvardTeaching and Research Assistants Vote to Unionize.”

    John Warner on a proposal from SIU to have alumni work for free: “Volunteer Faculty: The Death Knell for Public Higher Ed.” The school has responded to the outcry. But good grief, there had to be an outcry before someone stopped to say “this is just a ridiculously awful and exploitative idea”?!

    Via NPR: “‘We Simply Can’t Take It Any Longer’: Teacher Protests Sweep Arizona, Colorado.”

    Paul Krugman on teacher pay and education funding.

    Via The Phoenix New Times: “Arizona Schools Chief Diane Douglas Threatens Teachers Over Strike, Says It’s ‘Not Legal’.”

    Via NPR: “Professor Who Called Barbara Bush An ‘Amazing Racist’ Will Keep Her Job.” That’s CSU Fresno’s Randa Jarrar.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “McGraw-Hill Education Picks New CEO From World of Data Analytics.” That’s Nana Banerjee, formerly of Verisk Analytics.

    New hires at the Department of Education include Mark Schneider, director of the Institute of Education Sciences, and James Woodworth, commissioner of NCES.

    Stuart Udell, formerly the CEO of K12 Inc, will now headAchieve3000.

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Techcrunch: “Udacity tackles cybersecurity with its latest nanodegree.”

    Via The Texas Observer: “Women in Texas Prisons Denied Same Academic, Job Training Opportunities as Incarcerated Men.”

    Via NPR: “High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Bloomberg on“The Numbers Behind WeWork’s Growing Empire.” WeWork, an eight-year-old company that has raised almost $7 billion in funding, has committed to pay some $18 billion in rent. Sounds totally sustainable. (WeWork acquired the coding bootcamp Flatiron School last year and has plans to launch a private, K–12 “microschool.”)

    (And some related humor from McSweeney’s: “Quick Facts About the Silicon Valley Microschool That’s Disrupting Education.”)

    Edsurge on Education Elements: “Million-Dollar Advice: The High Cost and Limited Return on Personalized Learning Consulting.” (I guess this is some sort of follow-up to this 2016 story in Edsurge touting Education Element’s work helping districts implement personalized learning.)

    “There’s an Echo Dot for Kids Now,” says Techcrunch.

    “Amazon Alexa to reward kids who say: ‘Please’,” the BBC reports. Ah yes, a giant technology company deciding what “good manners” sounds like. Wonderful.

    There are more stories about this Amazon news in the privacy and surveillance section below.

    Via TNW: “Facebook trials ‘High School Networks’ for Messenger– what could go wrong there?”

    I’m including this here because of her role in education reform and education journalism. Via The New York Times: “Is Facebook’s Campbell Brown a Force to Be Reckoned With? Or Is She Fake News?”

    Via The New York Times: “YouTube Kids, Criticized for Content, Introduces New Parental Controls.”

    Via Edsurge: “In Move to ‘Unlimited’ Pricing Model, Cengage Hopes for a Comeback.”

    iPads part of trend addressing diversity, inclusion in learning,” Education Dive claims, and my god the bullshit people write about ed-tech never ceases to amaze me.

    Speaking of ridiculous statements, here’s a claim from venture capitalist Jennifer Carolan in Techcrunch: “Empathy technologies like VR, AR and social media can transform education.”

    The Chronicle of Higher Education on the ASU+GSV Summit: “Goodbye Disruption, Hello Collaboration: Ed Tech Changes Gears.” Me on ASU+GSV: “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The Perks of a Play-in-the-Mud Educational Philosophy.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    Sponsored storytelling on Edsurge. Sponsored by the Gates Foundation: this. Sponsored by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: this. Sponsored by this.

    Sponsored storytelling from the Koch Brothers. Via The Washington Post reprints an essay from Arizona State University’s Matthew J. Garcia: “A disturbing story about the influence of the Koch network in higher education.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    Homework help company Knowbox has raised $100 million from YF Capital and TAL Education Group. It’s raised $155.8 million total.

    CampusLogic has raised $55 million in private equity from JMI Equity. The financial aid startup has raised $72.8 million total.

    I won’t be including this in my calculations of money going into ed-tech, but I do want to note how silly “personalization” sounds – unless you’re an investor, I guess, and then you fund something like this: “Kidbox raises $15.3 million for its personalized children’s clothing box.” Personalized clothing.

    Enuma, which is one letter away from the worst startup name ever, has raised $4 million from YellowDog, HG Initiative, C Program, NX Venture Partners, and DSC Investment. The educational game-maker, formerly known as Locomotive Labs, has raised $8.6 million total.

    Allovue has raised $2 million from Kapor Capital, Rethink Education, and Serious Change. The financial services company has raised $8.9 million total.

    Techtonic Group has raised $2 million from University Ventures and Zoma Capital. “A spokesperson for the Boulder, CO-based company tells EdSurge this is the first time the company has ever gotten venture capital funding in its 12- year history.” Whyyyyyyyy.

    Skillup Tutors has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Knife Capital.

    Strada Education (formerly USA Funds) has acquiredEconomic Modeling LLC (also known as Emsi).

    Examity has acquiredBVirtual.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    The New Republic onChina’s social credit score: “How Do You Control 1.4 Billion People?”

    “What Happens to Student Data Privacy When Chinese Firms Acquire U.S. Edtech Companies?” asks Edsurge. I mean, what happens to it when US companies acquire US ed-tech companies?

    Via the AP: “A Detroit trade school has become the first educational partner in a city program that allows police to monitor surveillance cameras to reduce crime.”

    EdScoop on the Wildflower chain of schools: “What happens when student-tracking technology meets Montessori’s century-old teaching style?” Holy shit.

    Via Buzzfeed’s Mat Honan: “Amazon Created A Version Of Alexa Just For Kids.”

    And here’s the thing: Unless your parents purge it, your Alexa will hold on to every bit of data you have ever given it, all the way back to the first things you shouted at it as a 2-year-old.

    EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin has launched The K–12 Cybersecurity Resource Center

    Via Education Week: “Amid Privacy Changes, Facebook Will Still Treat U.S. Teens as Adults.”

    “Who Has More of Your Personal Data Than Facebook?” asks The Wall Street Journal. “Try Google.”

    Via ELearning Inside News: “In Light of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, Will Anyone Revisit Google’s Data Collection in G Suite for Education?”

    The Verge reports that “Pentagon-funded research aims to predict when crimes are gang-related.” Worth thinking about how predictive analytics work in education and the biases they might reinforce.

    Also from The Verge: “Axon launches AI ethics board to study the dangers of facial recognition.” Reminder, the head of sits on the board of Axon, which makes police technologies like tasers and police body cameras.

    Adam Croom onAnnotating EdTech Terms of Service.”

    “The Office for Students as the data scientist of the higher education sector” by Ben Williamson.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    There’s more “research” in the financial aid and testing sections above.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Value of Education Mergers and Acquisitions Soars, Though Number of K–12 Deals Dips.”

    Via The Globe and Mail: “Deals between public-private colleges pose unacceptable risks to students, Ontario report says.”

    Via Education Week: “Discipline Disparities Grow for Students of Color, New Federal Data Show.” Also via Education Week: “4 Things to Know About Ed. Dept.’s Massive Civil Rights Database.”

    “Do charter schools suspend students more? It depends on how you look at the data,” says Chalkbeat.

    Via NPR: “NPR/Ipsos Poll: Most Americans Support Teachers’ Right To Strike.”


    RIP Bob Dorough. Thank you for the music and the Schoolhouse Rock lessons.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 05/04/18--04:40: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

    (National) Education Politics

    Via Politico: “National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning delivered dozens of letters to President Donald Trump from her students on Wednesday afternoon, with one of the letters urging the president to ‘take care’ with his language about immigrant and refugee communities.”

    Some thoughts on the anniversary of “A Nation at Risk”:

    Via NPR’s Anya Kamenetz: “What ‘A Nation At Risk’ Got Wrong, And Right, About U.S. Schools.”

    “‘A Nation at Risk’ and the Re-Segregation of Schoolsby John Warner.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Betsy DeVos’s first Detroit visit featured Girl Scouts, robots, and talk of beluga whales.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    “Meet The New California Counterculture: College Republicansby the incredible Scaachi Koul.

    Via “Mystery pooper at N.J. high school’s track turned out to be superintendent, cops say.”

    The Los Angeles Unified School District has a new superintendent: former investment banker Austin Beutner.

    And speaking of LAUSD superintendents, John Deasy will now run the school district in Stockton, California.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Indiana education officials are taking another look at regulating virtual charter schools.”

    “American Higher Education Hits a Dangerous Milestone,” says The Atlantic. “As younger generations become more racially diverse, many states are allocating fewer tax dollars to public colleges and universities.”

    Why Are New York’s Schools Segregated? It’s Not as Simple as Housing,” says The New York Times.

    There’s more on labor issues in Arizona (and elsewhere) in the “labor and management” section below.

    Immigration and Education

    Via The Financial Times: “Home Office told thousands of foreign students to leave UK in error.” The story involves the Educational Testing Service (ETS) which used an algorithm to determine whether or not students had cheated on an English-language exam. Turns out the algorithm was only accurate in about 80% of cases, meaning some 7000 students had their visas revoked in error.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “New Student Visa Data Show Overall Declines.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “American U. Student Sues Neo-Nazi Website Over Online Harassment.” That’s Taylor Dumpson, “American University’s first female, black student-government president,” who’s filed a lawsuit against Andrew Anglin, who runs the website The Daily Stormer.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Several years after Mid-Continent University shut down and filed for bankruptcy, the institution is suing former students for unpaid student loans.”

    Via the East Valley Tribune: “ Goldwater Institute mulls suing districts over closures as walkout enters third day.” As the strike in Arizona has ended, I’m guessing this threat will dissipate … for the time being.

    The Business of Financial Aid

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Private Lenders Eye Graduate Loan Market.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education told a federal judge Thursday that it would terminate a January contract award to two debt collection firms as it reassesses its strategy for serving borrowers in default on their federal student loans.”

    There’s more financial aid news in the privacy section below – because, you guessed it, data breach.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    There’s for-profit news down in “the business of education” section below.

    Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

    EdX posted a blog post this week, announcing “Furthering the edX Mission, Forging a Future Path.” In the tenth paragraph, the organization says,

    We believe that we need to move toward a financial model that allows edX and our partners to achieve sustainability and we acknowledge that means moving away from our current model of offering virtually everything for free.

    So much MOOC news! (Or “news,” I suppose is more apt.)

    MOOCs Are Global. So Where Do They Stand With New European Privacy Laws?” asks Edsurge.

    Also via Edsurge: “How Harvard Is Trying to Update the Extension School for the MOOC Age.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Trump’s Lawyer Went to the Worst Law School in America,” says Politico. That is the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan.

    Holy shit – this story on the Noble Charter Schools in Chicago:

    One described an issue raised by others at some Noble campuses, regarding girls not having time to use the bathroom when they get their menstrual periods.

    “We have (bathroom) escorts, and they rarely come so we end up walking out (of class) and that gets us in trouble,” she texted. “But who wants to walk around knowing there’s blood on them? It can still stain the seats. They just need to be more understanding."

    At certain campuses, teachers said administrators offer an accommodation: They allow girls to tie a Noble sweater around their waist, to hide the blood stains. The administrator then sends an email to staff announcing the name of the girl who has permission to wear her sweater tied around her waist, so that she doesn’t receive demerits for violating dress code.

    Via The AP: “Mom Suspects Racism After Sons Are Pulled From College Tour.” The two were Native American teens from New Mexico; the school in question: Colorado State University.

    Steve Kolowich is such a great reporter. Here’s his latest on“How a tiny protest at the U. of Nebraska turned into a proxy war for the future of campus politics.”

    Via Politico: “UC Berkeley panel blasts motives of conservative speakers.”

    Here’s the real threat to “free speech” on campus: The AP on ties between the Koch Brothers and George Mason University. Via Inside Higher Ed: “Uncovering Koch Role in Faculty Hires.” Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “George Mason’s President Says Some Donor Agreements Fell ‘Short’ of Academic Standards.” Also via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why George Mason’s Agreements With the Koch Foundation Raised Red Flags.” “Some Thoughts on the Kochlings at GMU” by L. D. Burnett.

    Via The Atlantic: “Cosby’s Honorary Degree Is the First Yale Has Rescinded in 300-Plus Years.”

    The New York Times on allegations at Fordham University: “They Revealed Harassment Claims Against a Professor, and Were Disciplined.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Famed Cancer Researcher Placed on Leave After Sexual-Harassment Accusations.” That’s Inder Verma at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Meet the NYC principal in the spotlight for defending desegregation against angry parents.” That’s Henry Zymeck of the Computer School.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “4 Months Into His Tenure, a Flagship’s President Proposes 50 Faculty Layoffs.” That’s Seth Bodnar, age 38, the head of the University of Montana.

    Alex Usher onMay ’68 - May ’18?”

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools seeks a second chance. Over the years it’s accredited some questionable institutions that have been likened to visa mills.”

    “Why Competency-Based Education Stalled (But Isn’t Finished)” – according to Edsurge and SNHU’s Paul LeBlanc, that is.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Infractions committees in all three National College Athletic Association divisions have imposed punishments in recent weeks, on sports programs at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, the University of Southern Indiana and California State University at Sacramento.”

    Labor and Management

    Via NPR: “Arizona Teachers End Walkout But Vow To Keep Fighting: ‘Now We Must Win The War’.”

    Via The Harvard Crimson: “Harvard Will Bargain With Grad Union.” Your turn, Columbia.

    Via The New York Times: “Teacher Pay Is So Low in Some U.S. School Districts That They’re Recruiting Overseas.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Stunning Ouster in Tennessee Gets Ugly and Feels Like Political Payback.” That is, the firing of Beverly Davenport, the chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

    Via The New York Times: “Success Academy Chairman, Daniel Loeb, Is Stepping Down.”

    Scott Morgan is stepping down from his role as the head of Education Pioneers.

    The Business of Job Training

    Bloomberg on WeWork: “WeWork Accounts for Consciousness.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Is Liberty the Largest Christian University?asks Inside Higher Ed.

    Are Etextbooks Affordable Now?asks Inside Higher Ed.

    Amazon’s Alexa is about to get a lot smarter – could it help teach?asks Donald Clark.

    Are Edtech Companies Doing Enough to Protect Student Privacy?asks The Tech Edvocate.

    (Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Facebook had its big developer conference this week, and honestly I couldn’t bear to pay attention. I have no idea if there were education-related announcements. I did see this headline though: “Facebook’s Free Basics program ended quietly in Myanmar last year.”

    Via The Verge: “Amazon is launching a $23 subscription book box for kids.”

    Via The New York Times: “Boy Scouts Will Drop the ‘Boy’ in Its Namesake Program, as It Welcomes Girls Next Year.”

    “A Landslide of Classic Art Is About to Enter the Public Domain,” says The Atlantic.

    Via GeekWire: “Project Unicorn signs first companies to help schools handle the hairball of edtech data.”

    Speaking of unicorns, Martin Weller onSensible Ed Tech.”

    “More Growth for Handshake” (a career services company that’s had some privacy issues in the past), says Inside Higher Ed.

    Via Techcrunch: “Thousands of academics spurn Nature’s new paid-access Machine Learning journal.”

    The BBC on“The YouTube stars paid to promote cheating.”

    Edsurge columnist Gordon Freedman says“The Lone Ranger Rides Again at ASU+GSV.” Don’t be fooled by the headline; there isn’t really anything in the article recognizing imperialist nostalgia or racist TV tropes.

    Lots of suggestions this week for new academic disciplines where there may already be academic disciplines.

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

    AI will soon beat pupils taught knowledge-based curriculum,” Schools Week claims. “Soon.” repeats this old story: “Personalised learning with the help of Artificial Intelligence will change the Education System.”

    The Spoon on robot delivery vehicles: “Starship’s Robots are Headed for School and Corporate Campuses.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

    Leap Innovations has received $14 million from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to “introduce or expand personalized learning instructional models” in the Chicago Public Schools. “Personalized learning instructional models” is just chef finger kiss perfect.

    Sponsored content, paid for by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, on Edsurge includes this.

    Via The Seattle Times: “Gates Foundation pledges $158 million to fight poverty in U.S.” The story includes this nice little piece of historical revisionism:

    While the foundation tried to improve education by focusing on issues like class size, testing and curriculum, they kept bumping into barriers from outside the classroom – primarily persistent poverty….

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education

    Digital training company QuizRR has raised $1.3 million from Norrsken Founders Fund and Working Capital.

    EdMobile has raised $826,000 from Unitus Seed Fund. The tutoring app has raised $1.5 million total.

    Edwin has received an undisclosed amount of investment from Google for its tutoring app.

    It’s not venture capital, but Misty, a company spun out of the educational robot-maker Sphero is “crowdfunding its personal robot,” Techcrunch says.

    Activate Learning has acquired Conceptua Math.

    Bain Capital has acquired the for-profit Penn Foster.

    OOHLALA and DubLabs have merged.

    “Chinese Tutoring Startup VIPKID Could Be On Its Way To A $500 Million Raise,” says Edsurge. Here’s the lede:

    As teacher walkouts continue across the U.S. over low salaries, one edtech startup, VIPKID, is trying to get teachers to supplement their income by virtually tutoring students in China.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Facebook Has Fired Multiple Employees for Snooping on Users,” Motherboard reports. This includes an employee who just this week was fired for allegedly using his access to Facebook data to stalk women.

    Via ProPublica: “How to Wrestle Your Data From Data Brokers, Silicon Valley– and Cambridge Analytica.”

    Privacy Postcards, or Poison Pill Privacy” by Bill Fitzgerald.

    Via Consumer Reports: “What Parents Need to Know About the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition.”

    Ed-tech in the Daily Mail! That’s always fun. This on ClassDojo: “Parents fear app is storing private data in the US on how their children behave as it harvests photos and video footage of thousands of British pupils.” And this in The Times: “ClassDojo is harvesting data on how British schoolchildren behave.” Ben Williamson offers some commentary.

    Via The Outline: “ A pair of children’s smartwatch companies are in trouble for spying on kids.” The companies in question: Tinitell and Gator Group.

    Via Campus Technology: “When Learning Analytics Violate Student Privacy.”

    There’s a MOOC-related privacy story in the MOOC section above.

    Via The Hill: “Student loan company says 16,500 borrowers’ personal info may have been disclosed.” The vendor in question: Access Group.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    Via Wired: “The Most-Cited Authors on Wikipedia Had No Idea.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Research Guidance for Ed-Tech Industry Updated on Usage, Other Criteria for ESSA Evidence Levels.”

    Via Edsurge: “Pearson Efficacy Study Highlights the Challenge of Letting Students Retest.”

    Via Education Week: “Is Curiosity as Good at Predicting Children’s Reading, Math Success as Self-Control? Study Says Yes.”

    The Atlantic on a new report from the Third Way: “The University of California Stands Out Among Top Schools When It Comes to Serving Poor Students.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new report from EAB shows that part-time student success in community colleges is key to closing achievement gaps for minority students.”

    “Worried About Risky Teenage Behavior? Make School Tougher,” says The New York Times.

    Via the Pew Research Center: “Declining Majority of Online Adults Say the Internet Has Been Good for Society.”

    Via Edsurge: “Study: Why Some Children’s Apps Might Not Be as Safe as You Think.”

    The lede on this Edsurge article on a new survey from the University of Chicago is quite revealing about who the publication imagines its readers to be: “When you think about the industries driving innovation, startups are probably the first come to mind. But for most Americans, it turns out, education is leading the pack.” If you believe schools are sites of innovation, know that Edsurge does not see you as its audience.

    Hooray for bogus statistics getting cited in the media. Congrats to The Sydney Morning Herald for this doozy: “‘You don’t learn that at university’: 40 per cent of degrees will soon be obsolete, report finds.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    This is the transcript of the talk I gave this afternoon at a CUNY event on "The Labor of Open"

    Thank you very much for inviting me here to speak to you. I’m quite honored to get to kick off your event here, and I hope I can say some things that will be provocative and maybe generative for the kinds of discussions you’re having today.

    As I’ve thought about what I might say, I will admit, I had to do a lot of reflection about what my relationship is to “open.” Because it’s changed a lot in the last few years.

    I don’t want to make this talk about me. That would be profoundly unhelpful and presumptuous. But I also don’t want to make that word “open” do work politically (or professionally) that it hasn’t done for me personally (politically and professionally). And while I understand that for many people “open” is a key piece of an imagined digital utopia, it hasn’t been always so sunny for me.

    At the beginning of the year, I made a bunch of changes to my websites – that is, my personal website and Hack Education, the publication I created almost a decade ago. I changed the logo. I updated my author photo. And I got rid of the Creative Commons licensing at the footer of each article.

    My websites have always been CC-licensed – although admittedly, I’ve used different versions over the years, mostly going back and forth with whether or not I want that non-commercial feature. I guess, in some people’s eyes, that means my work was never really, truly “open.”

    I thought a lot about this change, about ditching the CC licensing – this is my work, after all, and as such, it’s deeply intertwined with my identity. It’s also my experience – my lived experience – as a woman who writes online about technology.

    Five years ago, I removed comments from my website. Lots of folks were not pleased. But dealing with comments was a kind of labor that I was no longer willing to do.

    I’d written a couple of articles that had ended up on the front page of Reddit and Hacker News – articles critical of Codecademy and Khan Academy, in particular – and my website was flooded with comments signed by Jack the Ripper and the like, chastising me, threatening me. “Just delete those comments,” some people told me. “Flag them as spam.” But see, that’s still work. Not very rewarding work. Emotionally exhausting work. Seeing an email appear in my inbox notifying me that I had a new comment on my site made me feel sick. So I removed comments altogether – that’s the beauty of running your own website. I felt then and I feel now that I have no obligation to host others’ ideas there, particularly when they’re hateful and violent, but even if they’re purportedly helpful – “there’s a comma splice in your last sentence.” Or “It’s a little off topic but anyone looking for a job should check out this website that is currently hiring people to work at home for $83 an hour.” You know. Helpful comments.

    Since then, annotation tools like and Genius have become popular. And even though I didn’t want comments on my website, these companies have built tools so that people could mark up my writing on my websites nonetheless. The comments weren’t literally on my website; they’re an additional layer, if you will, on top of my writing – hosted elsewhere, outside my control (and, I suppose, outside my responsibility, my “work”). So I added a script to my site that made it impossible for these tools to function on Hack Education and on my personal blog. As I wrote then to explain my decision,

    This isn’t simply about trolls and bigots threatening me (although yes, that is a huge part of it); it’s also about extracting value from my work and shifting it to another company which then gets to control (and even monetize) the conversation.

    (The response from the head of was “but we’re a non-profit.”)

    I also wrote on my site,

    Blocking annotation tools does not stop you from annotating my work. I’m a fan of marginalia; I am. I write all over the books I’ve bought, for example. Blocking annotations in this case merely stops you from writing in the margins here on this website.

    When I wrote this, my work was still CC-licensed, so as long as folks followed that – redistributing it with attribution for non-commercial purposes – they could post an article from Hack Education elsewhere and mark it up to their hearts’ content there. But as people responded with outrage at my decision to control what happened on my website, in my personal digital space, I confess: I became increasingly irritated. I was told that because I’d published something online, anyone could do what they wanted with my work. I was told that I was silencing dissent. I was told I was being irrational, controlling – “authoritarian” someone called me. All because I’d disabled some JavaScript on my website.

    Now, nothing can stop you from writing in the margins of my work. I can’t stop you. I have never tried to stop you. I’ve never hired lawyers to stop you. You can print it my essays and scribble all over them. You can buy a copy of my books – in digital or in print – and you can mark those up too. You can take an excerpt and add your own commentary. You can highlight the comma splices and point out the typos. You can call me names and tell me to get back in the kitchen.

    But because I’ve removed the Creative Commons licensing, you now do have to do one thing before you take an essay of mine and post it elsewhere: you have to ask my permission.

    As a woman who writes online about technology, I have grown far too tired of “permission-less-ness.” Because “open” doesn’t just mean using my work for free without asking. It actually often means demanding I do more work – justify my decisions, respond to accusations, and constantly rethink how and where I want to be and am able to be and work on the Internet.

    So I’ve been thinking a lot, as I said, about “permissions” and “openness.” I have increasingly come to wonder if “permission-less-ness” as many in “open” movements have theorized this, is built on some unexamined exploitation and extraction of labor – on invisible work, on unvalued work. Whose digital utopia does “openness” represent?

    Perhaps it’s worth looking at history of the idea that the Internet is utopian in its founding or in its intent – at “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” for example, at its claim that “Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications.” Transactions and relationships, the declaration notes, but it makes no mention of work or pay or labor or costs. “Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere,” the declaration proclaims – the “no place” of utopia, no doubt, “but it is not where bodies live.” You know, I felt every one of those death and rape threats in my body. I have had to fear for my body when I’ve shown up some places, in person, to speak.

    I like to remind people that with all this sweeping rhetoric about revolution and transformation, that John Perry Barlow wrote “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” in 1996 in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum. I don’t know about you, but that’s neither a site nor an institution I’ve never really associated with utopia. Indeed, perhaps much of this new technology was never meant to be a utopia for all of us after all.

    “On behalf of the future,” Barlow wrote, “I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.”

    Who does have sovereignty in this vision of the future? Who labors, who manages? Who is welcome? And if there are those who are unwelcome – and clearly there are – what does that mean when something like “open” gets invoked to talk about this digital space? What does it mean that some of the people and places and documents and diatribes that those in digital technology’s “open” movements point to as their inspiration, as their origin stories, as the past and the future of “cyberspace,” are deeply committed to misogyny, to racism. (It’s 2018, by the way, and if your slide-deck on “open” still contains pictures of Eric S. Raymond or Linus Torvalds then I’m just going to assume your idea of “open” has not thought about power relations at all. Your message, to echo Barlow, “you are not welcome among us.”)

    And I don’t mean here, how do we trace history through a different set of voices? I mean, how might “open” and “digital” be built on precisely these beliefs – on exploitation and exclusion and violence?

    When we think about “open” and labor, who do we imagine doing the work? What is the work we imagine being done? Who pays? Who benefits? (And how?)

    I talk a lot in my writing about “the history of the future” – that is, the ways in which we have, historically, imagined the future, the stories we have told about the future, and perhaps even the ways in which those narratives shape the direction the present and the future take.

    I’d like to turn to some of of these depictions of the future, a series of postcards that were created in 1899 in France to celebrate the turn of the century and to imagine what the world might be like in the year 2000.

    I’ve used one of these images many times in talks – it’s so perfect. It reveals so much about how we imagine (how we have long imagined) the future of education. This illustration depicts a classroom in which the schoolmaster stuffs textbooks, including L’Histoire de France, into a machine. A student turns the hand-crank, and the machine grinds the books into information, delivering it via electrical wire to the helmets – and we can assume into the minds – of the schoolboys, all sitting pensively with their hands crossed on their desks.

    (This is an illustration of school. This is an illustration of knowledge. This is an illustration of imperialism. This is an illustration of whiteness and maleness. This is an illustration of work.)

    Isaac Asimov published a book collecting and commenting on these illustrations in 1986 – so still over a decade before the year 2000 – and this is how he described this particular image:

    Presumably, the students hear the information in the books as it is automatically converted into sound, which, one gathers, impresses itself on the young minds more efficiently than would be the case if the teacher read the books aloud or if the students read to themselves. While this is not likely to happen, either now or in the future, we are indeed likely to have an education revolution by 2000 but it will, of course, involve the increasing use of computers as storehouses and deliverers of information."

    Computers, not books. Computers, not electrical wires and helmets.

    As Asimov’s interpretation should remind us, throughout the twentieth century (and on into the twenty-first), the future of education (and more broadly for your purposes as librarians, the future of scholarship, knowledge-building, and knowledge-sharing) has been imagined again and again as a highly technological endeavor where machines streamline the efficiency of teaching and learning.

    The efficiency of teaching and learning – that means we need to talk about labor, in this illustration, in our imagined futures, in our stories. Because it’s not just the machine (or it’s not the machine alone) – in this depiction or in our practices – that is doing “the work.” There is invisible labor here. Not depicted. Not imagined. Not theorized or commented upon by Asimov.

    Indeed, almost all the illustrations in this series – and there are 50 of these in all – involve “work” (or the outsourcing and obscuring of work). Let’s look at a few of these (and as we do so, think about how work is depicted – whose labor is valued, whose labor is mechanized, who works for whom, and so on. And if you’re familiar with these illustrations, think about those that are regularly used in talks like this and those that have you never seen before – why):

    (A sidenote: I included this illustration because I think it is a mistake to ignore the imperialism in this vision of the future. Ignoring racism in the technological imagination does not make it go away.)

    What do machines free us from? Not drudgery – not everyone’s drudgery, at least. Not war. Not imperialism. Not gendered expectations of beauty. Not gendered expectations of heroism. Not gendered divisions of labor. Not class-based expectations of servitude. Not class-based expectations of leisure.

    And so similarly, what is the digital supposed to liberate us from? What is rendered (further) invisible when we move from the mechanical to the digital, when we cannot see the levers and the wires and the pulleys.

    One note here about these illustrations – because I want to make it clear that the problems we face with digital labor and digital utopias are not necessarily simply about the digital but rather about systems and structures that have long been in place: These cards were commissioned by a novelty toy maker in Lyon, France called Armand Gervais. A freelance artist named Jean Marc Côté was hired to draw them. According to the Canadian science fiction writer Christopher Hyde, Côté finished the drawings in the summer of 1899, and then he “sank into obscurity.”

    Obscurity – there’s that process of erasure once again. Invisible labor. Labor obscured.

    Nothing else is known about Côté, says Hyde. In late 1899, the founder of Armand Gervais died, and the company went out of business. The cards were never distributed. Hyde bought the cards – this set of 50 – from an antiques dealer who, in the late 1920s, had sought to purchase the abandoned Armand Gervais factory. While touring it, that man had discovered a trap door – or so the story goes – that revealed a store room where all the items that had been manufactured for sale were placed when the factory closed its doors. Found among them was this one set – one complete and undamaged set – of illustrations. The antique dealer sold them to Hyde who showed them to Isaac Asimov who reprinted them in his book Futuredays. The illustrations were in the public domain – “open” and outside of copyright protection, that is. But we can see in the production of this book that there are layers of labor that are lost and obscured when Isaac Asimov’s name is listed as author. (Côté’s name does not appear on the cover.)

    And to be clear too, in his commentary that accompanies the illustrations, Asimov is no better at predicting the future – the shape of the year 2000 – than Jean Marc Côté was in the images he’d drawn one hundred years prior. Both are caught up in the same sort of imperialist and technological imaginations of manhood and “man’s work” and machine that Jules Verne, inspiration for the genre of science fiction and for these very illustrations, was more than a century ago.

    Chronicling the technological advances of the twentieth century – since Côté drew his illustrations – Asimov writes in the book’s introduction, “all these things mean change, change, change – one way change, progressive change.” “In fact, it is possible to argue,” he adds, “that not only is technological change progressive, but that any change that is progressive involves technology even when it doesn’t seem to.”

    I’ve got some significant quibbles with this. It does make for a nice story about human history – I think there’s a Harvard professor making the rounds peddling a new book that makes a similar sort of claim: we are becoming less violent and more altruistic. Things get better. Asimov’s statement makes for a powerful story about technology too: that technologies, not people, have historical agency; that new technologies are inevitable, necessary, and above all, good; that these advances are intertwined with Enlightenment ideals of reason and liberalism and science. That the machine is, as such, liberatory. That the machine is utopian even – or at the very least, that it pushes us in that direction.

    My theory for social change does not posit that technology is the (or even an) actor. That is, I do not believe, to borrow from the title of one of Kevin Kelly’s books, that social change (progressive or otherwise) is “what technology wants.” My theory for social change rests on the political struggle of people, on collective social action.

    And that’s work.

    And it’s work not often imagined in digital utopias. (Collective action hardly makes an appearance in Jean Marc Côté’s illustrations, with the exception of fire-fighting and war and wealthy people sitting around a radium “fire.”) We can speculate on why this might be. Perhaps it’s because machines are supposed to enhance productivity. Perhaps because we’re more eager to talk about people as consumers than as workers. Perhaps it’s the emphasis on leisure rather than labor. Perhaps it’s that today’s “platform capitalism,” as Nick Srnicek argues, extracts our data not just our labor. Perhaps because futurists rarely talk about reproductive or affective labor. Perhaps because we’re “knowledge workers” now and as John Perry Barlow argued in his “declaration of independence” that is “not where bodies live” – knowledge work is pure thought, pure mind, pure intellect.

    If digital utopia doesn’t see our bodies, it makes sense it cannot see our work. If digital utopia cannot imagine our existence, it makes sense it will not value our presence (or notice our absence).

    Of course, that also might mean it won’t expect our resistance. (Even if our resistance is as small as blocking some JavaScript on our personal websites… but I’m guessing this group will think and act bigger.)

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