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The History of the Future of Education Technology
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  • 11/02/18--13:45: 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. I’m starting on that project soon, and my god, this all looks so grim.

    (National) Education Politics


    Via Vox: “Brazilian media report that police are entering university classrooms to interrogate professors.” And this was before the far- right politician Jair Bolsonaro was elected the new president of Brazil.

    Via ThinkProgress: “Bolsonaro‘s party launches campaign against ’indoctrinator teachers’.” That’s all you lovers of Paolo Freire, to be sure.

    In related news: “Right-wing groups are recruiting students to target teachers,” says Reveal.

    Via Education Week: “Reorganization of U.S. Ed. Department’s Privacy Office to Take Effect in Early 2019.”

    Via the Center for American Progress: “How the DeVos Family Is Buying Political Sway Ahead of the Midterm Elections.”

    “Who’s Meeting With DeVos? Lots of Republicans, Few Democrats,” says Education Week.

    There’s another story on DeVos and virtual schools down in the “online education” section below.

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Buzzfeed on a campaign in Massachusetts: “Transgender Teens Could Destroy The Bathroom Predator Myth Once And For All.”

    Via The New York Times: “After Teacher Walkouts, Arizona Republicans Jostle Onto Education Platform.”

    Via Chalkbeat: NYC schools Chancellor Richard “Carranza unveils capital plan with $750 million in fixes for disability access.”

    There’s more NYC school news in the testing section below.

    Via Chalkbeat: “After 120 days on the job, Newark’s new superintendent is asked: Where’s your plan?”

    Education in the Courts


    The Harvard admissions trial is wrapping up – coverage in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Appeals court ruling continues decade-long legal battle between Georgia State University and three publishers over what constitutes ”fair use“ of course materials.”

    Via The Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah Valley University paid $45,000 to settle former Title IX director’s whistleblower lawsuit.”

    The Business of Financial Aid


    News from the most well-funded ed-tech company, student loan provider SoFi:

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Economic Boom Isn’t Helping Some Student-Loan Debtors, Advocacy Group Says.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Via The Seattle Times: “Art Institute of Seattle lays off all but 3 full-time teachers amid fears for school’s future.”

    There’s an update on the potential sale of for-profit operator Navitas down in “the business of education” section.

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


    “Life Is Complicated: Distance Learning Helps,” says The New York Times.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Here’s what Betsy DeVos has to say about Indiana’s failing virtual schools.”

    Via Edsurge: “The Beginning of a New Era in the Online Degree Market.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    The ongoing saga at the University of Maryland: Via The Washington Post (on Tuesday): “U-Md. president to retire in wake of football death.” Then, “A Day Later, Football Coach Out at Maryland,” Inside Higher Ed reported. “Board Chairman Resigns in Fallout Over a Maryland Football Player’s Death,” The New York Times reported on Thursday. “University of Maryland’s accreditation under review in wake of football death,” The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

    University of Nebraska political science professor Ari Kohen “liked” a photo on Facebook depicting a defaced campaign sign for Congressman Jeff Fortenberry. One of Fortenberry’s staffers apparently called Kohen and his department chair and the school chancellor to complain about the professor’s support for “political vandalism.” The Lincoln Journal Star has the story. But remember, kids, the biggest threat to free speech on campus comes from liberal students.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Virginia Bans Richard Spencer and Other Leaders of Violent ‘Unite the Right’ Rally.”

    Buzzfeed on complaints about a special education teacher at Redlands High School in California: “‘He Betrayed My Trust’: How Students With Special Needs Finally Stopped Their Abusive Teacher.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “With Student Interest Soaring, Berkeley Creates New Data-Sciences Division.”

    Writing in The Atlantic, Jeffrey Selingo argues, “As Humanities Majors Decline, Colleges Try to Hype Up Their Programs.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Valparaiso Law School announced its plans to close less than a month after the Tennessee Higher Education Commission rejected its plan to transfer to a public university in that state.”

    Yes, Guns Are Ed-Tech (and It’s So F*cked Up that I Had to Make This a Category)


    Via The New York Magazine: “The Class of 1946–2018 Twenty-seven school-shooting survivors bear their scars, and bear witness.”

    Via The New York Times: “At Butler High School in N.C., Bullying Led to Fatal Shooting of Student, Police Say.” Via WSOCTV: “Matthews police to add officers at schools after deadly shooting at Butler HS.”

    On the heels of a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Inside Higher Ed writes, “For Hillel, Community and Safety.”

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies


    There are some accreditation rumblings at the University of Maryland – I’ve gathered all the stories related to the death of a football player there in the “meanwhile on campus” section above.

    Via The New York Times: “A High School Education and College Degree All in One.” I swear, IBM gets its marketing money’s worth with this P-TECH stuff, doesn’t it.

    Something about the “blockchain-powered future.”

    Testing


    Via Chalkbeat: “NYC is offering the SHSAT during school hours to boost diversity, but it’s mostly benefitting white and Asian students.”

    Edsurge profiles Imbellus: “A Test Worth Teaching To? How a College Dropout Plans to Replace the SAT and ACT.” My most favorite lines simply must be these: “One of the early adopters of Imbellus was McKinsey & Company, the management consulting firm, which uses the scenario assessments to find job candidates. McKinsey employees, after all, solve problems for a living.” LOL, they do?! And wait, wait, wait… wasn’t McKinsey in the news recently? Ah yes. “McKinsey’s Work for Saudi Arabia Highlights its History of Unsavory Entanglements,” as The New Yorker writes. Imbellus raised a round of funding – hence the profile – and there are more details in the venture capital section below. One of the investors, I feel like I should mention here since we’re on the topic of Saudi Arabia now suddenly, is Thrive Capital, which is the VC firm run by Joshua Kushner, brother to a certain Jared, who, funnily enough, has some deep ties to Saudi Arabia too. Really looking forward to this new testing company though! Seems like it’s got only the best connections to folks with all of our very best futures in mind.

    There’s more testing news from Tennessee down in the “labor and management” section.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    There’s more about the fallout from the death of a football player at the University of Maryland in the “meanwhile on campus” section above."

    ASU’s Michael Crow is one of the new members of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

    Video Games Are a Waste of Time? Not for Those With E-sports Scholarships,” says The New York Times.

    Via NJ.com: “Rutgers football player charged in attempted double-murder plot.”

    Labor and Management


    Via The New York Times: “Alphabet Executive Resigns After Harassment Accusation.” Also via The New York Times: “Google Faces Internal Backlash Over Handling of Sexual Harassment.” Also via The New York Times: “Google Employees Stage Worldwide Walkout.”

    Instructure Announces a New CEO” – Michael Feldstein onDan Goldsmith.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Questar hires tech guru amid TNReady testing cleanup.” The “guru” is Brendan Kealey, formerly with Pearson.

    There’s more hiring/firing news in the for-profit higher ed section above.

    The Business of Job Training (and the Business of Jobs Giving Educational Benefits for Employees)


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Arizona State Will Give Uber Drivers in 8 Cities Free Tuition in Its Online Program.”

    Via the AP: “Amazon’s new goal: Teach 10 million kids a year to code.”

    Perhaps the problem isn’t “skills.” Perhaps, just perhaps, there are other factors at play in the labor market, eh?

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Is Open Content Enough?asks Edsurge.

    Are ‘Smart’ Classrooms the Future?asks Campus Technology.

    (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 Buzzfeed: “Juul Offered To Pay Schools As Much As $20,000 To Blame Vaping On Peer Pressure.” Social emotional learning! Mindfulness! My god, it’s all too perfect.

    Via Getting Smart: “Extending Social Emotional Learning into the Home.”

    Via The New York Times: “Your Kid’s Apps Are Crammed With Ads.” (The Atlantic and Vox also wrote up this study.)

    Flickr, which was acquired from Yahoo by SmugMug, is changing how it handles free accounts – that is, it will limit those to 1000 photos (and delete any photos over that number if you don’t pay up). What’s going to happen to that huge collection of openly licensed content on the site? Creative Commons seems to think it’s not a problem. Shrug.

    “Young Makers Take Action and Tackle Problems,” says The New York Times in a puff piece about the Maker Faire. And speaking of utterly uncritical reporting, here’s another story in The NYT that does very little to demonstrate the claims made in the headline: “How ‘Makers’ Make the Classroom More Inclusive.”

    In other “maker” news, “Apple investigates report that Chinese students were forced to make its watches,” says CNN.

    “The Moodle/Blackboard Breakup: The Long and the Short of It” by e-Literate’s Michael Feldstein.

    Via Common Dreams: “Downplaying Deportations: How Textbooks Hide the Mass Expulsion of Mexican Americans During the Great Depression.”

    Not directly education-related, I suppose, but I think still relevant for thinking about the ideology of software (and software makers and software funders) is this story from The Washington Post: “From Silicon Valley elite to social media hate: The radicalization that led to Gab.”

    Stop acting like “self-directed learning” is a new thing. Thanks in advance.

    Shocking, I know, but according to The Outline, education is not a silver bullet.

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction


    Via The New York Times: “Colleges Grapple With Teaching the Technology and Ethics of A.I.

    Speaking of ethics, “Google offers money to universities to use artificial intelligence to scale up research,” The Washington Post reports.

    Via Edsurge: “Robots Won’t Replace Instructors, 2 Penn State Educators Argue. Instead, They’ll Help Them Be ‘More Human.’”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform


    “The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged $3.3 million to four organizations focusing on helping students develop critical life skills,” says Politico. $750,000 to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning; $685,000 to Roses in Concrete Community School; $700,000 to Peer Health Exchange; and the rest to GripTape.

    Sponsored content on Edsurge, paid for by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in order to promote personalized learning, promotes "personalized learning,“ among other things.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education


    Peilian.com has raised $150 million from Tiger Global Management, Tencent Holdings, Orchid Asia Group Management, Long Capital, Lanchi Venture Capital, Jinshajiang Venture Capital, GSR Ventures, and BHG Long Hills Capital. This is a Series C round of funding for the Chinese online music education company, but I’m not sure how much it’s raised previously.

    Handshake has raised $40 million from True Ventures, Spark Capital, Reach Capital, Omidyar Network, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins, KPCB Edge, EQT Ventures, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The career services company – which has been covered many times by Inside Higher Ed for its questionable privacy practices– has raised $74 million total. I know. I too am shocked that these investors, particularly CZI, would back a company with questionable privacy practices.

    Imbellus has raised $14 million from Upfront Ventures, Thrive Capital, Rethink Education, and Owl Ventures. The testing company (profiled by Edsurge in the “testing” section above) has raised $22.5 million total.

    IXL Learning has acquiredABCya.

    The Financial Review, tracking on the potential sale of the Australian for-profit college company: “Navitas gives in to shareholders, agrees to meeting but says BGH offer ‘does not reflect value’.”

    Via The New York Times: “Apple Raises Prices, and Profits Keep Booming.”

    Not education-related (unless, of course, you’re in the camp that likes to tout the politics of “open,” I guess), but The New York Times reports that “IBM to Buy Red Hat, the Top Linux Distributor, for $34 Billion.”

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security


    “Programmed for Success” – The New York Times onhow community colleges surveil their students in order to identify ones who are struggling (academically).

    Via Motherboard: “Facing Tomorrow’s High-Tech School Surveillance.”

    Via Futurism.com: “Schools Are Installing Bathroom Surveillance Systems to Bust Vapers.”

    Via Fast Company: “Alexa will soon order you around at home–politely, of course.” Some asshole is going to brand this as “social emotional learning,” I guarantee it.

    More toddler surveillance, from Google: “Google and Disney launch interactive Little Golden Books that work with Google Home,” says Techcrunch.

    Still more surveillance: “Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids,” says The New York Times.

    Via Motherboard: “‘Remini’ App Used by Schools Left Personal Info Open to the World.”

    There’s news about how the Department of Education will reorganize its privacy office in the “national education politics” section at the top.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    Here are my latest calculations about the venture capital flowing into education businesses – as well as acquisitions, mergers, and spinoffs – during the past month. (I’ve also updated the web pages where I track where the Gates Foundation and CZI dollars are going.)

    Techcrunch touts Angela Duckworth touting “grit.

    Inside Higher Ed on new data about adjuncts from the TIAA Institute: “The majority of adjunct instructors are over 40 and primarily teach at a single college or university, ‘countering common perceptions that faculty is younger and teach at multiple colleges while pursuing a tenure-track position,’ according to TIAA.”

    George Veletsianos on the “ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2018.”

    NPR on“How Americans Feel About Affirmative Action In Higher Education.”

    The Hechinger Report on a study on “personalized learning” and the cultural relevance of curriculum.

    There’s more “research” (or at least a write-up of a survey) on student loan debt in “the business of financial aid” section above.

    Via Edsurge: “Campus Support for OER is Growing, Survey Finds.”

    The Atlantic on recent Pew Research data about families lacking high-speed Internet access at home: “Why Millions of Teens Can’t Finish Their Homework.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Two new reports find public universities less affordable for low-income students and less accessible for members of minority groups.”

    “Just how polarized are we about reading instruction?” asks Daniel Willingham.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new study shows few student achievements from an innovative initiative in Tennessee that moved college math remediation back to high school.”

    ProPublica on its “trove of education data”: “Reporting Recipe: How to Investigate Racial Disparities at Your School.”

    Paging that ridiculous trio who wanted to hoax us about the dangers of “grievance studies” – perhaps this is a bigger problem? Via The New York Times: “He Promised to Restore Damaged Hearts. Harvard Says His Lab Fabricated Research.”

    Via The New York Times: “Study of Cellphone Risks Finds ‘Some Evidence’ of Link to Cancer, at Least in Male Rats.” No evidence yet that mobile computing harms pigeons so your children are safe, I’m sure.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 11/09/18--10:15: 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. It’s a bit tricky to do some weeks – because some weeks I’m traveling and some weeks a major event happens in the middle of the week making some of the “before” reporting seem a little odd.

    (National) Education Politics


    “Buckle Up, Betsy DeVos: Democrats Have Won the House,” Education Week warns.

    I haven’t included updates to all the education races or education-related races here. I’m sorry. I’m tired.

    “Midterms test the durability of the teacher uprising,” says The Washington Post.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What the Midterm Elections Mean for Higher Ed.” Inside Higher Ed writes“What a Divided Congress Means for Higher Education.”

    Young and College-Educated Voters Played Key Roles in Democratic Wins on Tuesday,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    From the Department of Education press release: “U.S. Department of Education Fulfills Administration Promise to Invest $200 Million in STEM Education.” (These are grant funds, many of them already in existence. But nice PR.)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Feds Prod Universities to Address Website Accessibility Complaints.” The subhead asks if “fully accessible” is possible, which… sucks.

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Paul.

    The race between Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond for California State Superintendent has still not been called.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Election results: Newark opts for elected board, NJ voters approve $500M for schools.”

    Via AZ Central: “Arizona voters said ‘Hell no’ to Prop. 305, Ducey’s school voucher plan. But will he listen?”

    (Speaking of vouchers in Arizona, AZ Central reported– pre-Tuesday’s election – that, “Parents spent $700K in school voucher money on beauty supplies, apparel; attempted cash withdrawals.”)

    Good news in Wisconsin. Via Education Week: “Democrat Tony Evers, Wis. Schools Chief, Narrowly Defeats Gov. Walker.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The Candidates Embracing Their Black-College Roots.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “In New York City schools, 40,000 students aren’t getting required special education services, report finds.”

    Immigration and Education


    Casey Parks is such a great journalist and I am thrilled she is working for The Hechinger Report. Here’s her latest: “Immigrant students find hope in soccer, but some states won’t let them play.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Trump can’t immediately end DACA, appeals court panel says, setting up Supreme Court fight.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via ACLU: “Children Cruelly Handcuffed Win Big Settlement Against the Police in Kentucky.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Supreme Court refuses to block young people’s climate lawsuit against U.S. government.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Harvard’s Admissions Process Was Just Dissected in Federal Court. How Did It Hold Up?”

    There’s more legal news in the “immigration and education” section above. And there’s more legal news in the “for-profit higher ed” section and in the “business of financial aid” section below.

    The Business of Financial Aid


    Via Politico: “Navient is mounting a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s plans to overhaul how the federal government collects student loans. The company alleges in a lawsuit, which became public on Monday, that the Education Department’s process for selecting companies for its new loan servicing platform has been unfair and violated federal procurement rules.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a for-profit college chain seeking to assure access to Title IV federal student aid money while it undertakes a financial restructuring.”

    Inside Higher Ed reports that “Laureate Mulling Sale of Walden University.”

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


    Via the Edmonton Journal: “Athabasca University reaches deal with cloud-computing giant Amazon.”

    In the first phase of the project, all staff will be brought up to speed on cloud computing. The university will then begin augmenting its online offerings using machine learning and artificial intelligence products from Amazon.


    Over time, students will be able to customize their learning experiences using Amazon products such as Kindle and Echo’s Alexa assistant.

    So basically, Athabasca is making it possible for AWS to learn a lot about higher ed and, should it chose, launch new products to compete in the higher ed industry. Well done, team.

    Via Techcrunch: “LinkedIn Learning now includes 3rd party content and Q&A interactive features.” Here’s how Edsurge puts it: “LinkedIn Learning Opens Its Platform (Slightly).”

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via Slate: “Tech-Bro Culture Was Written in the Code” – “How computing pioneers at Dartmouth in the 1960s gave rise to the macho tech culture we see today.”

    Via the Idaho Statesman: “Middleton Heights staff placed on administrative leave over controversial Halloween outfits.” Their racist Halloween costumes involved dressing up as the “border wall.”

    Via Texas Monthly: “Meet the Women Whose Persistence Made Texas A&M Change Its Sexual Assault Policies.”

    Via NPR: “Legacy Admissions Offer An Advantage – And Not Just At Schools Like Harvard.”

    Yes, Guns Are Ed-Tech (and It’s So F*cked Up that I Had to Make This a Category)


    Via Ocala Star Banner: “High school students now required to wear ID” – either clipped to their clothes or on a lanyard around their neck. This is following a school shooting at Forest High School in Florida.

    Via Education Week: “Beware the Unintended Consequences of the School Safety Movement.”

    Via the Las Vegas Review: “For some, random school searches are small price to pay for safety.”

    Via The LA Times: “Thousand Oaks shooting leaves 13 people dead, including gunman, and 18 injured.” I’m including this story as the bar was “packed with college students.”

    And same goes for the story about a shooting in Tallahassee– it’s loosely connected to the local campus. As Tallahassee.com reported, “Scott Beierle, gunman in Tallahassee yoga studio shooting, remembered as ‘really creepy’.” That is, he “had a history of arrests for grabbing young women around the campus of Florida State University.”

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Maryland’s student government organized a rally to encourage backing the football team. Many minority students and others said it was time to focus on the abuse of athletes and the death of a black player.”

    Via USA Today: “Analysis shows 147 college football programs had at least one player diagnosed with CTE.”

    There’s another sports-related story in the “immigration and education” section above.

    Labor and Management


    I have an idea. Let’s make sure educators can all earn a living wage.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Here’s the letter announcing Michael Milkie’s departure from Noble Network.”

    Via The New York Times: “Google Workers Reject Silicon Valley Individualism in Walkout.”

    (I missed this news last week.) Via Chalkbeat: “Chicago’s Acero teachers vote 98% to authorize first-ever charter school strike.”

    The Business of Job Training (and Educational Benefits for Employees)


    Writing in Edsurge, Entangled Solutions’ Lauren Dibble, Michael B. Horn, and Rob Urstein all say they agree with venture capitalist Ryan Craig and his new book A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College: “The Rise of Early-Career Enhancers in Education.” It’s not the last mile of education. It’s the first mile on the next leg. Or something.

    Via Campus Technology: “The University of North Dakota has teamed up with for-profit training company Woz U to provide short-term technology education programs.” No mention of any of the recent controversy about Woz U and the for-profit it’s affiliated with, Southern Career Institute.

    Contests and Conferences


    Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill with“Notes on EDUCAUSE 2018.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Has ‘Shift’ Happened?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


    Products like this remain one of the most terrifying ideas in education technology.

    Via The Atlantic: “The Backlash Against Screen Time at School.”

    Via The Verge: “Instagram might be working on school Stories.” All those teachers promoting their personal brandzzz on Insta will be thrilled!

    Via Techcrunch: “Flickr says it won’t delete Creative Commons photos.”

    Via Edsurge CEO Betsy Corcoran: “Edtech Incubators are Fading. Here’s What Will Replace Them.” This is a profile of Bobbi Kurshan, Senior Fellow and Innovation Advisor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (and an advisor to Edsurge– which certainly explains a lot about this article). This is largely a promotional piece for Penn and for the workshops that Penn GSE offers entrepreneurs, which I guess is what we’re supposed to think is replacing incubators – although certainly weekend workshops don’t offer the ever-important VC funding that many incubators have done.

    EdWeek’s Market Brief published a story on incubators in Africa this week but the link now 404s. So perhaps incubators are fading after all.

    Ed Week’s Ben Herold is a sly one because here is a headline in the form of a question that most assuredly can be answered “yes”: “Are Companies Overselling Personalized Learning?

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Pearson Unveils Immersive History Curriculum, Even as Potential Sale of K–12 Products Looms.” From what I can glean, “immersive” means there are photos and recordings available with the curriculum.

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction


    From Pearson: “AI-based tutoring: A new kind of personalized learning.” “New” since, oh, the 1960s.

    Via Edsurge: “What Robots Can Teach Us About Being Human.”

    Via Wired: “What the Boston School Bus Schedule Can Teach Us About AI.”

    Via Edsurge: “Cat Ears and Robot Friends: What Japan’s Educational Future Could Include.” Based on what one sees at an education conference.

    “Don’t let a robot stalk your babysittersays The Outline.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform


    From Capital and Main: “Reed Hastings: Netflix CEO Goes Nuclear on Public Schools.” (I don’t know that this really goes best under the “philanthropy” header here.)

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education


    Yuanfudao has raised $250 million from Tencent. The tutoring company has $494.2 million total.

    Photomath has raised $6 million from Learn Capital and Goodwater Capital. The math-problem-solving app has previously raised funding but did not disclose the amount.

    Kinvolved has raised $1.54 million from Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, the Twilio.org Impact Fund, New York Ventures, Excell Technology Ventures, GingerBread Capital, and u2i. The absentee monitoring software has raised $3.3 million total.

    Tutoring company GuruQ has raised $300,000 from an unnamed investors.

    Via Crunchbase: “China’s Education Startups Continue To Pull In Massive Funding Rounds.”

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via The New York Times: “At China’s Internet Conference, a Darker Side of Tech Emerges.” (This is worth thinking about in light of the massive amount of funding pouring into Chinese education companies right now.)

    There are plenty of surveillance-related stories in the “guns are ed-tech” section above.

    Via Education Week: “They Hacked Their School District When They Were 12. The Adults Are Still Trying to Catch Up.”

    Via The News & Advance: “LU makes email addresses available to campaigns for a fee as candidates grow increasingly savvy with big data.” LU here is Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. (FERPA is such a joke.)

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    I’m only including this here because I like to remind folks that many marketers are futurists and many futurists are marketers and they’re often all wrong. Via Apple Insider: “Gartner, IDC were both wildly wrong in guessing Apple’s Q4 Mac shipments.”

    Via Education Week: “Computers + Collaboration = Student Learning, According to New Meta-Analysis.”

    “The EDUCAUSE 2019 Top 10 IT Issuesfrom Educause.

    Via The Washington Post: “Major depression in American youth rising, new report says.”

    “Nobody Knows How Well Certificates Are Doing Against Degrees,” says Campus Technology, writing up a report by Eduventures.

    Why Aren’t Schools Using the Apps They Pay For?asks Edsurge, writing up the results of a Brightbytes study of data from schools using the Brightbytes’ analytics platform. So perhaps the problem isn’t that schools aren’t using the apps that they pay for. Perhaps the problem is that schools who pay for Brightbytes are the kinds of places happy to throw their money at any sort of ed-tech.

    The app store for higher educationby Ben Williamson.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 11/16/18--11:10: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the series I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education. (That series isn’t going to be much of one this year… And frankly, this Friday thing is going to be paused for the duration of Teaching Machines book-writing, starting quite soon. So enjoy all this educational doom while you can.)

    (National) Education Politics


    Via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos Wants New Regulations That Protect Students Accused Of Sexual Assault And Their Schools.” More from the National Women’s Law Center.

    There’s more DeVos-related news in “the business of financial aid” section below.

    From the press release: “FBI Releases 2017 Hate Crime Statistics.” Or as The New York Times puts it: “Hate Crimes Increase for the Third Consecutive Year, F.B.I. Reports.” More on the report from Pacific Standard.

    Via Techcrunch: “Senators urge FTC to look into shady ad practices in apps for kids.”

    Rural Kids Face an Internet ‘Homework Gap.’ The FCC Could Help,” says Wired. The New York Times notes it’s not just rural students who struggle with broadband access: “Why San Jose Kids Do Homework in Parking Lots.”

    The Fordham Institute’s Michael Petrelli has declaredThe End of Educational Policy.” (Well, in fairness, there’s a question mark at the end of the headline. So maybe “has posited” is a better verb here.) He’s drawing on Francis Fukuyama’s famous (and wildly incorrect) pronouncement about “The End of History,” so make of this what you will. Fukuyama was wrong. Liberal democracy was not triumphant. Arguably it is no longer even ascendant. So similarly, let’s not tout this moment as one where recent changes to education can never be undone. Good grief. Take a look at school segregation and surveillance before you start touting some fabricated moment of satisfactory “homeostasis.”

    Turkey has reacted angrily to suggestions that it might tone down its attack on Saudi Arabia over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi if the United States agrees to extradite an opponent of President Erdogan,” The Times reports. The opponent in question is Fethullah Gulen who currently lives in Pennsylvania (and who I’m including in this list of education-related stories because of the chain of charter schools he operates.)

    Via The Atlantic: “Why Young Pakistanis Are Learning Chinese.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Election results are still coming in…

    Voters Widely Support Public Schools. So Why Is It So Hard to Pay for Them?” asks The NYT’s Dana Goldstein.

    Via The New York Times’ Eliza Shapiro: “With Democratic Wins, Charter Schools Face a Backlash in N.Y. and Other States.”

    Via Chalkbeat: (in New Jersey): “In Newark, how did most voters respond to ballot questions about schools? They didn’t.”

    Via Chalkbeat (in Colorado): “Late votes deliver a narrow win for Jeffco school bond measure.”

    The race for the California State Superintendent is still undecided– at least as I type up this article, it is.

    Education in the Courts


    Via WBEZ: “Chicago Charter Leader Investigated For Inappropriate Contact With Young Women.” That would be Mike Milkie, the head of the Noble Charter School chain.

    Via the AP: “Florida charter school operator gets 20 years for fraud.”

    There’s more DeVos-related legal news in “the business of financial aid” section below.

    “Free College”


    Via The Tennesseean: “Kris Tugman was Tennessee Promise’s poster boy – until he dropped out.”

    The Business of Financial Aid


    Via NPR: “Betsy DeVos Sued For Failing To Implement Automatic Student Loan Forgiveness.”

    Also via NPR: “The Benefits Of Taking Out Loans For College.”

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


    From the Coursera blog: “Announcing ‘AI for Everyone’: a new course from deeplearning.ai on Coursera.” (deeplearning.ai is the new company of Andrew Ng, Coursera’s co-founder.) More from Edsurge.

    There’s more data about online education down in the “research” section at the bottom.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    (Correction: This is the Class of 2019.)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Hundreds of Drake University students, faculty members, alumni and others held a rally on campus Wednesday to denounce racist robocalls, full of white supremacist propaganda, that students have been receiving.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Chapel Hill students are being harassed by a white nationalist online commentator with ties to the alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Texas at San Antonio Investigates After Students Say Lecturer Called Police on Black Classmate.”

    Michelle Obama’s College Experience Is All Too Familiar for Minority Students,” writes Adam Harris (one of many stories this week about the First Lady’s memoir Becoming).

    Via The New York Times: “For University of Minnesota, Chinese Tycoon’s Arrest Shines Light, Again, on Sexual Assault.”

    Via The Verge: “An academic reported sexual harassment. Her university allegedly retaliated.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Hottest New Place for University Satellite Campuses: Los Angeles.” Literally on fire, one might say.

    Edsurge profiles the founder of Alder College– “Rethinking the First Two Years of Higher Education.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Meet the New Mega-University.”

    “How One University Went From Proposing to Cut 13 Mostly Liberal-Arts Programs to Eliminating Only 6” – The Chronicle of Higher Education onThe University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.

    Yes, Guns Are Ed-Tech (and It’s So F*cked Up that I Had to Make This a Category)


    Surely a subheader ideally suited for the “Betteridge’s Law of Headlines” section – “Billions are being spent to protect children from school shootings. Does any of it work?” – but I’ll put this story here instead. Via The Washington Post: “Armored school doors, bulletproof whiteboards and secret snipers.”

    This story from The 74 is from Monday, and I am not sure if the numbers have changed since then: “1 Killed, 1 Injured in Shooting During SC College Homecoming Event; At Least 47 Killed and 88 Injured by Guns at Schools So Far This Year.”

    Testing


    Via Chalkbeat: “In a shift, more education reformers say they’re worried about schools’ focus on testing.” (So instead of “testing” we’ll have ubiquitous, non-stop surveillance / assessment via “personalized learning.” Winning.)

    Go, School Sports Team!


    The Chronicle of Higher Education on“How Financial Pressures Can Lead to Athletic Scandals.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Earlham Suspends Football Program.”

    Labor and Management


    Via The New York Times: “‘I Don’t Really Want to Work for Facebook.’ So Say Some Computer Science Students.” (Waiting for folks in education technology to respond similarly… but I won’t hold my breath.)

    Via Futurism: “Headmaster Fired for Stealing School’s Electricity to Mine Crypto.”

    The Scholarly Kitchen weighs in on layoffs at DPLA, the Digital Public Library of America.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Georgetown Grad Assistants Form Union.”

    The Business of Job Training (and Educational Benefits for Employees)


    Via Techcrunch: “Google partners with MotherCoders to bring tech training to moms in New York City.”

    Via Education Week: “FUNecole: Social-Emotional Learning Meets Computer Science and Digital Literacy.” Any piece of education software or curriculum that puts “fun” in its name is not.

    Define “liberal arts” for me, please and thank you. Because this makes no sense. (That is, “science” and “mathematics” are part of the liberal arts, no?)

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Amazon announced its two new HQ locations this week: Queens, NY and Crystal City, VA. So cue from the ed-tech crowd a flurry of storiestouting educational opportunities in the areas. “What Do East Coast Coding Bootcamps Think About Amazon HQ2?” asks Edsurge. The New York Times points out that “Amazon’s New Neighbor: The Nation’s Largest Housing Project.” From Fast Company: “Amazon’s HQ2 could eliminate 1,500 affordable housing units in NYC.”

    Via Edsurge: “ClassDojo Goes ‘Beyond School’ to Launch First Monetization Feature for Parents.” Oh sure, sure. Call it “mindfulness” if it makes you feel better. More like, surveillance at school, surveillance at home. Behavior modification at school, behavior modification at home.

    Speaking of products that promote "mindfulness“… The New York Times reports that ”Juul Suspends Selling Most E-Cigarette Flavors in Stores.“ ”Juul Labs reveals its plan to combat underage vape use,“ says Techcrunch. Via Wired: ”Juul Exhales After Dodging Full Ban on Flavored E-Cigs."

    I’ll have more to say about this in tomorrow’s HEWN, but this New York Times investigation is something else: “Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis.” Lovely use of fake news by the Facebook leadership team to combat Facebook critics. Good thing no one at Facebook is in the education or “digital literacy” business.

    Meanwhile… “Facebook Launches Courses to Help Adult Learners Skill Up,” Edsurge notes, neglecting to mention that its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, sponsors lots of articles on the site nor any of the controversies from just this week alone pertaining to the company’s ethics.

    Elsewhere in Facebook-land… Via The New York Post: “Brooklyn students hold walkout in protest of Facebook-designed online program.” Via Education Week: “Brooklyn Students Protest Use of Online Learning Platform Designed by Summit Learning.” Edsurge reprints a letter students at the Secondary School of Journalism sent to Mark Zuckerberg: “‘Dear Mr. Zuckerberg’: Students Take Summit Learning Protests Directly to Facebook Chief.” Via the NY Magazine: “Brooklyn Students Are Protesting Silicon Valley’s Favorite Education Program.” (Remember when journalists called AltSchool“Silicon Valley’s Favorite Education Program”? Good times. Good times.)

    Diane Ravitch notices that when it comes to stories about AltSchool, it’s always “one teacher’s perspective” – Paul France, who stars in almost all the coverage, pro- (early on) or (now) con.

    Via the YouTube blog: “Experimenting with science education on YouTube.”

    Via The Atlantic: “How YouTube’s Algorithm Really Works.” Does it work to boost science education? (Spoiler alert: no.)

    “What Does Personalized Learning Mean? Whatever People Want It To,” says Education Week. Perfect!

    Futurism.com writes about“Why a Blockchain Startup Bought This $9 Million Stradivarius Violin.” I think the answer is “money-laundering,” but you never know… Maybe they’re planning to revolutionize college transcripts with the instrument.

    “Enough With All the Innovation,” says John Patrick Leary. Amen.

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction


    Via MIT Technology Review: “Harvard researchers want to school Congress about AI.”

    AI can humanize teaching– if we let it” – or so says eCampus News.

    More robot news up in the MOOC section above.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Will Blockchain Revolutionize Scholarly Journal Publishing?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.”)

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform


    Sponsored content on Edsurge, paid for by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, this week includes this.

    Via Education Week: “The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Wants Teachers to Learn Brain Science.” That is, $1 million for the PD program Neuroteach Global. What could go wrong.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education


    I won’t include this in my calculations of ed-tech funding, but WeWork has raised $3 billion from SoftBank.

    UNICAF has raised $28 million from Goldman Sachs, University Ventures, EDEX, and CDC Group. The online education company has raised $40 million total.

    Game-based literacy/math app-maker Kukua has raised $2.5 million from Kima Ventures, Founders Factory, EchoVC Partners, Burda Principal Investments, and Firstminute Capital.

    Educative has raised $2.3 million from SK Ventures and Trilogy Equity Partners. The learn-to-code company has raised $2.6 million total.

    Edves has raised $120,000 from Chinook Capital and Co-creation Hub. The school management software maker has raised $191,500 total.

    Quad Learning has been acquired by Wellspring International Education.

    Catapult Learning has acquiredCapital Education Group.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    Via Chalkbeat: “A quietly edited report and dueling blog posts reveal a divide over the ‘portfolio model’.”

    Via e-Literate: “Fall 2017 IPEDS Data: New Profile of US Higher Ed Online Education.”

    There’s more vaping news in the upgrade/downgrade section above, but here are some numbers from the NEA: “Vaping in Schools: 3 Million Students and Counting.”

    Via The Washington Post: “The sneaky science behind your child’s tech obsession.” Not a story about Juul or vaping, FWIW.

    Ben Williamson in WonkHE: “Policy in numbers– what counts without counting?”

    Writing in the Educause Review, Laura Czerniewicz on “Unbundling and Rebundling Higher Education in an Age of Inequality.”

    Introducing the “Network of Concerned Academics.”

    It’s almost as if high profile “public scholars” from private universities do not read the public scholarship unless it’s in The New Yorker or something.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 11/23/18--11:10: 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. And wow, December is right around the corner, isn’t it?!

    (National) Education Politics


    Via NPR: “Education Department Announces New Rules For Sexual Assault Cases On College Campuses.” Via The New York Times: “Sex Assault Rules Under DeVos Bolster Defendants’ Rights and Ease College Liability.” Via The Atlantic: “Betsy DeVos’s Sexual-Assault Rules Would Let the Accused Cross-Examine Accusers.” “What You Need to Know About the Proposed Title IX Regulations,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via NBC News: “U.S. Marshals Service spending millions on DeVos security in unusual arrangement.” $19.8 million. JFC.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Ed. Dept. Pulls Plug on ‘Learning Registry,’ an Obama-Era Tech Initiative.” The reason given: the registry used “‘rapidly aging technologies’ that do not mesh with other systems” – which is odd for what I thought was largely a metadata project.

    There’s more news out of the Department of Education in the accreditation section below. There’s more news from a department audit of Navient in the financial aid section below.

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Via The Sacramento Bee: “Charter school backers spent millions on statewide races in 2018. They still lost twice.”

    Here, via Edsurge, is a great example of how, instead of investing in public infrastructure, schools wield ed-tech to outsource and privatize key resources for students and communities.

    Via The New York Times: “Texas Students Will Now Learn That Slavery Was ‘Central’ to the Civil War.”

    Via The Washington Post: “For universities in Virginia, Amazon’s HQ2 came at the perfect moment.” More likely, the “perfect moment” will be when all the corporate tax giveaways come back to bite Virginia’s education system in the ass.

    Immigration and Education


    I’m not sure what to make of this story in light of the changes (and threatened changes) to immigration under Trump, but Crunchbase wants to tell you“How Universities Are Leveraging H–1B Visas To Fuel Startup Hubs.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via Buzzfeed: “MSU’s Former President Has Been Charged With Lying To Police About The Larry Nassar Sex Abuse Investigation.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Washington Post.

    The Business of Financial Aid


    More on Michael Bloomberg’s donation to JHU in the “philanthropy” section below.

    Via the AP: “One of the nation’s largest student loan servicing companies may have driven tens of thousands of borrowers struggling with their debts into higher-cost repayment plans. That’s the finding of a Department of Education audit of practices at Navient Corp., the nation’s third-largest student loan servicing company.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    There’s more news about ACICS, the accreditor for most for-profit universities, in the accreditation section below.

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


    Via Class Central: “Udacity Increases Prices for Nanodegrees.” (I got an email from Udacity this morning offering me Black Friday deals, incidentally. Tis the season, I guess: the desperation from a “unicorn” that is struggling.)

    Hamad Bin Khalifa University has joined edX.

    “Congratulations to the 2018 edX Prize Winners!” from the edX blog.

    There’s more data about online education enrollments in the research section at the bottom.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “To Juul or Not to Juul? Colleges Weigh the Breadth of Their Tobacco Bans.”

    Via NPR: “Chickenpox Outbreak Hits N.C. Private School With Low Vaccination Rates.”

    More, via The Washington Post, on the protests at Brooklyn’s Secondary School for Journalism about having to use the Summit Learning Program, the LMS built for the Summit chain of charter schools by Facebook and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: “Students protest Zuckerberg-backed digital learning program and ask him: ‘What gives you this right?’”

    More on Michael Bloomberg’s donation to JHU in the “philanthropy” section below.

    Yes, Guns Are Ed-Tech (and It’s So F*cked Up that I Had to Make This a Category)


    Via NBC News: “Program prepares students for mass shooting by teaching combat medicine.”

    Via NPR: “Inside The Business Of School Security To Stop Active Shooters.”

    Via NPR: “Parkland School Shooting Commission Calls For Code Red Alarms And Bleeding Control Kits.”

    Not a school shooting, but there is a school angle here nonetheless as Sandra Parks won third place in her district’s Martin Luther King Jr essay contest a couple of years ago. Via The New York Times: “Girl, 13, Who Wrote Essay on Gun Violence Is Killed by Stray Bullet.”

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “DeVos Restores Recognition for Troubled For-Profit Accreditor​.”

    Go, School Sports Team!


    There’s more news from Michigan State in the legal section above.

    Via The Atlantic: “In the New College Football, Alabama Is Still Out Front.”

    There was a big investment in esports this week – details down in the venture capital section.

    Labor and Management


    Columbia Bends on Grad Union Issue,” says Inside Higher Ed. That is, the administration says it’s open to collective bargaining with the graduate student union.

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Is this an ad?

    Techcrunch weighs in on this important topic: “LinkedIn launches its own Snapchat Stories. Here’s why it shouldn’t have.”

    Via The Verge: “A Facebook patent would use your family photos to target ads.”

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction


    Via The New York Times: “Meet Zora, the Robot Caregiver.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform


    Michael Bloomberg in The New York Times: “Why I’m Giving $1.8 Billion for College Financial Aid.” The headline is a bit off, I think. He’s not giving it for college financial aid broadly. Rather, he’s making a donation to The Johns Hopkins University. Via The Atlantic: “The Limits of a Billion-Dollar Donation to Johns Hopkins.” Sara Goldrick-Rab shared her thoughts on Twitter.

    Sponsored content on Edsurge, paid for by the Gates Foundation, this week wants to tell you“How Faculty Can ‘Click’ Their Way to a More Inclusive Classroom.”

    Sponsored content on Edsurge, paid for by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative this week includes this piece on surveillance-as-personalized-learning at a Montessori chain of schools.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Charles Koch Foundation’s 2017 Giving Neared $90M.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education


    PlayVS has raised $30.5 million from WndrCo LLC, Sean Combs (yes that Sean Combs), Science Inc., Samsung NEXT, Crosscut Ventures, Coatue Management, Adidas, Rahul Mehta, Plexo Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Michael Dubin, Elysian Park Ventures, and David Drummond. The company, which plans to expand “esports” in high schools, has raised $46 million total.

    Tutoring company Knack has raised $1.5 million from TiE Angels, Thomas DiBenedetto, Precursor Ventures, Jeffrey Vinik, Gries Investment Funds, Elysium Venture Capital, Douglas Feirstein, DCS Capital Partners, Bisk Ventures, and Arizona State University.

    Catapult Learning has acquiredCapital Education Group.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    Via YLE: “Finland’s digital-based curriculum impedes learning, researcher finds.”

    Teens are trying marijuana before alcohol and tobacco,” says The Verge.

    “Mean Reading Level of Freshman Summer Books Is Suited to 9th Graders,” The Chronicle of Higher Education frets. I don’t subscribe, so I can’t see if the article actually explains how flawed the idea of “reading levels” actually are.

    Via Chalkbeat: “In most U.S. cities, neighborhoods have grown more integrated. Their schools haven’t.”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Non-white teachers have increased 162 percent over the past 30 years, but they are also more likely to quit.”

    Via e-Literate: “Fall 2017 Top 30 Largest Online Enrollments In US– With LMS Usage and Trends Since 2012.”

    The latest from Pew Research Center: “Public Attitudes Toward Computer Algorithms.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Historians: What kids should be learning in school right now.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 11/30/18--13:50: 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. But I’m putting that project on pause while I write my book. So you can start counting down the number of times you’ll have to wade through this depressing list of education- and tech-related stories.

    (National) Education Politics


    “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her husband took in at least $59.4 million in 2017,” says Politico, making her the wealthiest of Trump’s Cabinet members. Good thing taxpayers are on the hook for millions of dollars to pay for her private security detail.

    Via Education Week: “Inspector General Blasts U.S. Ed. Department’s Handling of FERPA Complaints.”

    Via ProPublica: “DeVos’ Inspector General to Audit Dismissals of Civil Rights Complaints.”

    There’s more DeVos news in “the business of financial aid” section below

    I don’t know if this is national politics or state politics, but as she’s a US Senator, I’ll put this story about Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith here. Via the Jackson Free Press: “Hyde-Smith Attended All-White ‘Seg Academy’ to Avoid Integration.”

    Via The Verge: “Microsoft secures $480 million HoloLens contract from US Army.”

    Brazilian academics vow to resist threats to freedom,” says Times Higher Education.

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Ivanka Trump, Apple’s Tim Cook Push STEM, Computer Science Education,” says Education Week. The two were visiting a rural school in Idaho that has a 1-to–1 iPad program. The Idaho Statesman was there to watch the visit, but as it noted, “The Statesman could not ask questions of or talk to Trump and Cook. It could only observe. The only other media attending the event would be a national crew from ABC.” Idaho Ed News quotes local high school students who protested the visit and their school’s reliance on technology.

    Chalkbeat reports thatSuccess Academy illegally changes special education services without parent input, complaint claims.”

    Via Truthout: “Bake Sales Can’t Fix This: Corporate Tax Cuts Leave Public Schools Desperate.”

    Immigration and Education


    Via ProPublica: “Families Are Still Being Separated at the Border, Months After ‘Zero Tolerance’ Was Reversed.”

    Via NPR: “Meet Jin Park, The First DACA Recipient Awarded A Rhodes Scholarship.”

    DACA Has Not Been Saved – and It May Be in Its Last Days,” Pacific Standard claims.

    Education in the Courts


    Via The New York Times: “Are Civics Lessons a Constitutional Right? This Student Is Suing for Them.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A federal judge approved a settlement Wednesday that erases more than $500 million in student debt held by former ITT Technical Institute students.” More via The Washington Post.

    Via the BBC: “Matthew Hedges: British academic pardoned by UAE.”

    The Business of Financial Aid


    Via The Washington Post: “DeVos decries student-loan program as a ‘looming crisis’.” Maybe get on board with some debt forgiveness then, Betsy.

    There’s more student loan news up in the “legal” section above.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    There’s more for-profit higher ed news up in the “legal” section above.

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


    Via Chalkbeat: “After flying under the radar, school districts’ online programs attract attention – and scrutiny.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Amazon opens its internal machine learning courses to all for free.”

    “Stop Asking About Completion Rates: Better Questions to Ask About MOOCs in 2019,” says Edsurge.

    There’s more MOOC news down in the “labor and management” section below, perhaps prompting another question that Edsurge doesn’t think to ask: “How viable are these companies that are being used to outsource and privatize online higher education?”

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Louisiana School Made Headlines for Sending Black Kids to Elite Colleges. Here’s the Reality,” says The New York Times. The reality at T. M. Landry College Prep looks like this:

    …the school falsified transcripts, made up student accomplishments and mined the worst stereotypes of black America to manufacture up-from-hardship tales that it sold to Ivy League schools hungry for diversity. The Landrys also fostered a culture of fear with physical and emotional abuse, students and teachers said. Students were forced to kneel on rice, rocks and hot pavement, and were choked, yelled at and berated.

    “Students Who Made Apparent Nazi Salute in Photo Won’t Be Punished,” says The New York Times. Because “free speech” is only for white boys it seems.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Wisconsin System President Reprimands La Crosse Chancellor for Bringing Porn Star to Campus.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Georgia Tech moves forward with plans to create storefronts for its online education programs, joining a growing number of institutions offering hybrid online learning experiences.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Rice U. Will Investigate Professor Who Says He Worked on First Genetically Altered Babies.”

    “The wife of independent Sen. Bernie Sanders says she expected to be cleared by a federal investigation into her role as president of the now-defunct Burlington College, but she doesn’t want to say anything more,” says the AP.

    Via The Atlantic: “Where America’s College Kids Stay Up All Night.”

    Yes, Guns Are Ed-Tech (and It’s So F*cked Up that I Had to Make This a Category)


    Buzzfeed on the Parkland school shooting survivors: “‘It was like a war in the classroom. It was a nightmare.’”

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies


    Via Techcrunch: “YC alum Make School gains rare accreditation for 2-year applied CS bachelor’s degree.” Wow, the sneering derision with which these people write about education.

    Labor and Management


    Udacity Lays Off 125 Employees,” says Inside Higher Ed. Sometimes it’s fun to look back at old stories that the tech press dutifully pumped out about this company. This one is probably my favorite: “How California’s New Online Education Pilot Will Change Higher Ed Forever.” Or maybe this one: “The Stanford Education Experiment Could Change Higher Learning Forever.”

    Joy Lisi Rankin has terminated her employment with Michigan State University– “firing” the university, in her words – following allegations of harassment and retaliation. She wrote a blog post on Medium. The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed have picked up the story.

    The Business of Job Training (and Educational Benefits for Employees)


    Via Techcrunch: “Apple to host free coding sessions at stores, rolls out new material for teachers.”

    Via Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce: “The Good Jobs Project.” That is, good jobs that don’t require a BA. (I have some questions about this, particularly as Wyoming as touted as the best state for this. What are these jobs? Are they in the oil industry? Are these jobs open to women?)

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    The stories out of Facebook just keep getting worse. My god. I mean, I’m just glad that no one from Facebook is involved in education, ed-tech, ed reform, or education journalism.

    Via Techcrunch: “AWS makes Amazon.com personalization service available to all.” Stellar news for everyone who thinks the future of education is just like shopping at a mall.

    Via The Washington Post: “After Springsteen and ‘The Sopranos,’ Steven Van Zandt has a new mission: Getting every school to teach kids about America through rock music history.”

    “In an effort help educators make smart choices amid the deluge of ed-tech tools marketed to them, ISTE has partnered with a private company to create an online hub for teachers to review and post information on the quality of those products,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief. Its partner is LearnPlatform, formerly known as LearnTrials, has investors who include the Emerson Collective where the head of ISTE’s (Richard Culatta) former boss (Arne Duncan) is now a venture capitalist. Such a small world.

    Via Mashable: “The e-waste nightmare lurking in your kid’s toy box.” Many of them, I’d wager, were promoted elsewhere on the pages of Mashable, but whatever.

    The Not-So-Hidden Curriculum


    Via Vox: “The biggest lie we still teach in American history classes.”

    Meanwhile, in history workshops in Quebec… “Quebec Neo-Fascists are Teaching School Kids About Vikings,” says Vice.

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction


    Via The Washington Post: “Wanted: The ‘perfect babysitter.’ Must pass AI scan for respect and attitude.”

    Perfect.

    “Computer science students at the University of California, Berkeley, are frustrated with a malfunctioning autograding system,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform


    Sponsored content on Edsurge, paid for by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, this week includes this.

    This new version of Sesame Street is sad and terrible and brought to you by the letter F and U. (Tune in to tomorrow’s HEWN for more thoughts on this monstrosity.)

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education


    Tutoring company Topica Edtech Group has raised $50 million from Northstar Group.

    Tutoring company Vedantu has raised $11 million from the Omidyar Network and Accel Partners. The company has raised $16.6 million total.

    Educational fintech company LearnLux has raised $2 million from Adam Nash, Underscore VC, Sound Ventures, and Marc Benioff.

    Genius Corner has raised $278,000 from Ranbir Singh, Puneet Garg, Mahesh Mohta, Lakshmikantan Sundereswaran, and Dipak Varshney.

    Insight Venture Partners has acquiredInterfolio for $110 million.

    Cornerstone has acquiredGrovo for $24 million.

    Babbel has acquiredLingo Ventura.

    Sandbox has acquiredConstructive Media.

    “FTSE giant RELX plots £100m‎ bid for Times Higher Education,” SkyNews reports. RELX is the former weapons dealer known as Reed Elsevier.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Larry Cuban onTechnological Monitoring of Student Work in a Classroom.”

    Looking forward to this technological monitoring coming to education technology.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    Via Edsurge: “Report: Climate Change and Migration Will Impact the Future of Schools.”

    “The Suburbs Are Changing. But Not in All the Ways Liberals Hope,” says The New York Times. In part, that is, these suburban voters oppose desegregation of schools.

    Via The Hechinger Report: “The number of public school students could fall by more than 8% in a decade.”

    Survey data from Edweek’s Market Brief: “Teachers’ Use of Ed-Tech Tools Rises Across the Board, But Time Pressures Persist.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Students show up to school more often when they see ‘familiar faces,’ new study finds.”

    Via Education Week: “Majority of District Leaders Concerned About Cyber Threats, Project Tomorrow Report Finds.”

    Data from e-Literate: “Contrasting LMS Adoption Patterns in Four English-Speaking Countries.”

    The latest research from Pew: “Teens’ Social Media Habits and Experiences.”

    “Why Are Students Ditching the History Major?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    RIP


    The NYT obit: “Harold O. Levy, Progressive New York City Schools Chief, Dies at 65.” Another remembrance via NPR: “‘Harold Believed In Me’: Remembering A College Access Advocate And NYC Schools Leader.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 12/07/18--11:10: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. In the past, this all feeds the reviews I have written each December on the stories we are told about the future of education. I’m ending that series, I think, so I can focus on writing books. That means, after next week, I’m ending this particular series too. The moose diarrhea salesmen will keep selling you stories about that future though, don’t worry. You’re just going to have to get better at refusing to buy and drink their soda.

    (National) Education Politics


    “The U.S. Department of Education recently announced it would miss a key deadline to repeal an Obama administration rule that seeks to hold career-education programs accountable for producing graduates with unmanageable debt,” Inside Higher Ed reports on the latest on "gainful employment."

    Via The Intercept: “Pro-Charter School Democrats, Embattled in the Trump Era, Score a Win With Hakeem Jeffries.” The “update” to this story is something else.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In Unusual Letter, Democratic Senators Ask ‘U.S. News’ to Change Emphasis of College Rankings.”

    Betsy DeVos touts Swiss approach for apprenticeships, but such business-driven career education options remain limited in the U.S.,” says Inside Higher Ed. Sidenote: I need to do some research into how this Swiss model perpetuates gender and race-based stereotypes in the workplace.

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Via The New York Times: “Do Children Get a Subpar Education in Yeshivas? New York Says It Will Finally Find Out.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “New group will try to connect school board members pushing for ‘dramatic change’ in these 10 cities.” That change involves portfolios. That group is called School Board Partners.

    Desegregation is unraveling in this Texas town,” writes The Hechinger Report.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Texas, a Prized K–12 Market, Approves Wave of Instructional Materials.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Too few Michigan students are showing up to school. This study says fix unstable housing, not schools.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “New early learning initiative brings Sesame Street lessons into Memphis classrooms.”

    Lewis Ferebee named schools chief in Washington, D.C.,” Chalkbeat reports.

    A nice review in The Nation of Eve Ewing’s new book (and her work more broadly) on the closure of schools in Chicago.

    Immigration and Education


    “It will likely be easier for advanced degree holders from U.S. universities to get H–1B skilled worker visas under a rule change proposed by the Trump administration,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    “The Dream Act Remains a Distant Dream,” according to commentary in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Education in the Courts


    Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Conservative groups settle campus bias suit with UC Berkeley.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Lawsuits Say Harvard’s Anti-Sexism Policy Discriminates Against Women.”

    Via The Sun Sentinel: “Student made social media threat to kill FAU professor, cops say.” FAU is Florida Atlantic University. Apparently the student was angry that his final exam was scheduled for 7am.

    The Business of Financial Aid


    “The Trump administration wants to spur more innovation in higher education. But some question whether pursuing federal student aid is worth it for alternative providerswrites Inside Higher Ed. Let’s ask, while we’re at it, if alternative providers are worth it for students.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    “For-Profit College Chain, Education Corporation of America, Announces Shutdown,” NPR reports. “Collapse of For-Profit Chain Long in the Making,” says Inside Higher Ed. Via The New York Times: “For-Profit College Chain Closes, Shutting Out Nearly 20,000 Students.” “Fallout From For-Profit College Chain’s Closure Could Have Been Prevented,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Washington Post notes this means the closure of two “local” colleges, Virginia College and Brightwood College.

    There’s more for-profit higher ed news up in the “national education politics” section above.

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


    Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill analyzes a recent interview with Coursera’s CEO and argues the MOOC provider is “betting on OPM market and shift to low-cost masters degrees.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Saudi Partnerships Are Too Valuable to Give Up, MIT Report Concludes,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. War machines gonna war, I guess.

    Silent Sam Survives,” writes Adam Harris.

    AAUP Chapters Revive as Professors See Threats to Academic Freedom,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via The New York Times: “George Soros-Founded University Is Forced Out of Hungary.” Via NPR: “American University CEU Kicked Out Of Hungary, Says It Will Move To Vienna.”

    Chalkbeat on the Detroit Delta Preparatory Academy for Social Justice: “‘If we don’t learn from this one, shame on us’: Lessons from a Detroit charter school that was set up to fail.”

    Fallout continues from the NYT story last week on T.M. Landry College Preparatory School. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Disturbing Tale of Fraud and Abuse at a Prep School Rattles College Admissions.”

    Via Education Dive: “Case Western Reserve to launch blockchain think tank.” (See the upgrade/downgrade section below and have a good chuckle at the difference between a “think tank” and an actual product.)

    “Can Space Activate Learning?” asks Edsurge. “UC Irvine Seeks to Find Out With $67M Teaching Facility.”

    Prison Comics” from NPR: “Getting a College Education Behind Bars.”

    “Most Schools Don’t Have Clear Restroom Policies, and That’s a Public-Health Problem,” says Pacific Standard.

    Taylor Lorenz writes about “The Controversy Over Parents Who Eat Lunch With Their Children at School.” Then The New York Times gets in on the story too: “A Ban on Parents in the School Lunchroom? Everyone Seems to Have an Opinion.”

    Via NPR: “School-Based Counselors Help Kids Cope With Fallout From** Drug Addiction**.”

    Yes, Guns Are Ed-Tech (and It’s So F*cked Up that I Had to Make This a Category)


    Via The Sun Sentinel: “Hide, deny, spin, threaten: How the school district tried to mask failures that led to Parkland shooting.”

    “As Schools Comb Social Media for Potential Threats, Has Mass Shooting Anxiety Turned Administrators Into the ‘Internet Police’?” asks The 74. This should probably go in the “Betteridge’s Law of Headlines” section because the answer is “No.” Schools readily surveilled students online long before this.

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies


    LinkedIn and the Future of New Credentials” by Alex Usher.

    “Why States Should Break the College-Degree Stranglehold and Make Jobs Available to All Qualified Applicants,” Entangled Solutions’ Michael Horn and Gunnar Counselman argue.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “U of Oregon Violated NCAA Rules in Multiple Programs.”

    Urban Meyer Retires From Ohio State,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Labor and Management


    Via The Atlantic: “The Charter-School Teachers’ Strike in Chicago Was ‘Inevitable’.” More on the strike at Acerofrom Chalkbeat.

    “What a Vision for Teaching the Whole Child Looks Like in Action,” according to one charter school principal featured by Edsurge: sparring with unions, so that’s fun.

    The highest paid star on YouTube: a 7 year old, hawking toys.

    There’s some hiring and retiring data in the local politics and in the sports sections above.

    The Business of Job Training (and Educational Benefits for Employees)


    The Inside Higher Ed headline saysHarvard Offers First Coding Boot Camp.” But it’s not Harvard. Rather Harvard has outsourced instruction to the for-profit company Trilogy Education.

    Count the misinformation in this piece in The 74 on the “entrepreneurial mindset” (in addition, of course, to the actual existence of something called an “entrepreneurial mindset.”)

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    "Many Online Education Marketplaces Have Sputtered. Will Quizlet’s Pass the Test?" 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


    “Out of 43 Blockchain Startups, Zero Have Delivered Products,” it seems. But that sure doesn’t stop ed-tech from continuing to hype the hype.

    YouTube deletes cheating videos after BBC investigation,” the BBC boasts.

    High Tech Innovations and School Reform Joined at the HipLarry Cuban argues.

    Good grief, another story on teachers using Instagram.

    Reality TV might’ve signaled the decline of western civilization, but sure sure[ use it for professional development for educators](Professional Development Based on Reality TV). What could go wrong.

    “The Promise and Peril of Personalizationfrom Stanford’s Center for the Internet and Society.

    Via e-Literate: “Experience Economy: Enterprise software view into persistence and future of LMS market.”

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction


    Martin Weller onAI in education – reality, uses, risks & ethics.”

    Peter Greene points to some “Real Stupid Artificial Intelligence.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform


    Via The New York Times: “Lego Foundation and Sesame Street Team Up to Help Refugee Children.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education


    Aceable has raised $47 million in Series B from Sageview Capital. It describes itself on Crunchbase as “an education startup that wants to revolutionize all those mind-numbingly boring online courses,” something that’s convinced investors to fund it to a tune of $55.7 million total.

    Edcast has raised $33.6 million in Series C funding from The London Fund, State Street Global Advisors, Stanford University, SoftBank Capital, REV Venture Capital, Crescent Enterprises, Cervin Ventures, and Mistletoe. “EdCast is an AI-powered knowledge cloud powers unified discovery, knowledge management and personalized learning,” according to its description on Crunchbase – something into which investors have dumped $66.2 million total.

    Short-term-jobs-for-students company Student Pop has raised $3.4 million from Partenaires and Educapital.

    Edsurge has raised $2.5 million from Golden Angels, and investors Deborah Quazzo and Jason Palmer. (It’s not clear from its self-reporting if it’s also raised money from the Chinese company TAL Education which it describes as a new partner “central to the deal.”) According to Crunchbase, Edsurge has now raised at least $8.2 million in venture capital funding (which does not include the millions it’s taken in from venture philanthropists).

    Google has acquired lesson-provider Workbench.

    TAL Education has acquiredCodeMonkey.

    Catapult Learning has acquiredLifeShare USA.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via The Verge: “Quora says hackers stole up to 100 million users’ data.” Andy Baio is here to remind you“Why You Should Never, Ever Use Quora.”

    Via The New York Times: “Facebook Used People’s Data to Favor Certain Partners and Punish Rivals, Documents Show.”

    Via The New York Times: “Oath Agrees to $5 Million Settlement Over Children’s Privacy Online.”

    Vox tries to shame its readers, pointing out that “Big tech has your kid’s data– and you probably gave it to them,” . But to be fair, your kids’ schools probably gave away your kids’ data too.

    “Staff Email Addresses Removed From District Websites to Improve Cybersecurity,” Education Week reports.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    Ed-tech funding data, gathered by yours truly, for the month of November.

    Via Edsurge: “In a New Survey, Teachers Say There’s a Disconnect in Computer Science Education.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Broader College Completion Data From the Feds.”

    “Update On Teacher Diversity Data: Good News, Bad News, And Strange News” from the Albert Shanker Institute.

    Edsurge on a report from CASEL: “Students Say Poor Social and Emotional Skills Are Leaving Them Unprepared.”

    Via The New York Times: “Digital Divide Is Wider Than We Think, Study Says.”

    The best thing about this article in Edsurge is that it’s tagged both “opinion” and “research,” which is truly corporate ed-tech in a nutshell.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    Each week for the past eight or so years, I have gathered a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this has fed the series of articles I have written each December, analyzing the stories we have been told about the future of education. This is the last Hack Education Weekly News of the year because next week I am publishing a very abbreviated review of 2018, and I won’t need to study in detail what happens each week anymore. I won’t write the series in 2019 either, so this is the very last Hack Education Weekly News. It’s time to make some changes to Hack Education and more importantly to my life.

    (National) Education Politics


    Via EdWeek Market Brief: “European Leaders Look to Ban Foreign Aid for Commercial Private Schools.”

    There’s more in the financial aid section below about the TEACH Grant program. And there’s more Education Department news in the for-profit higher ed section below too.

    (State and Local) Education Politics


    Adam Harris writes about the Wisconsin Idea, arguing that“The Liberal Arts May Not Survive the 21st Century.” Not so sure how folks plan to do their beloved STEM without the S or the E in this future, but hey.

    Via Chalkbeat: “How it feels to be Javion: 16 and struggling to read in Chicago Public Schools.”

    Via NPR: “Sleepless No More In SeattleLater School Start Time Pays Off For Teens.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Indiana education officials call for a crackdown on ‘too big to fail’ virtual schools.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Power to the kids: A preschool approach imported from Italy comes to public schools in Denver.” That approach: Reggio Emilia.

    There’s more local Chalkbeat reporting on the recent charter school strike in Chicago down in the “labor and management” section below.

    Immigration and Education


    Via The Washington Post: “7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via NPR: “Kentucky Supreme Court Strikes Down Pension Law That Sparked Teacher Protests.”

    Via The Washington Post: “A former Baylor frat president accused of rape got no jail time – but now is barred from graduation.” More via NPR.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Lawyers and Title IX practitioners have identified potential conflicts between the Trump administration’s new proposed regulations on the gender discrimination law and state policy.”

    “Free College”


    Via The Atlantic: “A Guarantee of Tuition-Free College Can Have Life-Changing Effects.”

    The Business of Financial Aid


    Via NPR: “Ed Department To Erase Debts Of Teachers, Fix Troubled Grant Program.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Guided by the Courts, DeVos Cancels $150 Million in Federal Student Loan Debt.” About $80 million of that will go to the debt owed by students who attended the defunct for-profit Corinthian Colleges.

    Via EdSource: “California community colleges reject state aid tied to allowing students to seek federal loans.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Via The Washington Post: “Education Department reaches out to students of defunct for-profit college chain.” “Reaching out” here includes hosting webinars.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Art Institutes and Other Former For-Profit Institutions Closing.”

    “What Do Students Do When a For-Profit College Closes?” asks The Atlantic.

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


    There’s news about sketchy virtual schools in the “state/local politics” section above and about K12 Inc specifically in the “job training” section below.

    With new Chinese investor/partners, it’s going to be interesting to watch how Edsurge’s storytelling changes. A glimpse: “In China’s Silicon Valley, Edtech Starts at the ‘MOOC Times Building’.”

    Via Class Central: “By The Numbers: MOOCs in 2018.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via The Washington Post: “UNC in turmoil over Silent Sam, the Confederate monument toppled by protesters.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Racist Rant Roils Columbia.”

    University of California System is playing hardball with Elsevier in negotiations that could transform the way it pays to read and publish research,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Yes, Guns Are Ed-Tech (and It’s So F*cked Up that I Had to Make This a Category)


    Via the BBC: “2018 ‘worst year for US school shootings’.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “A High School Descended Into Utter Chaos After Students Were Told A Fake Active Shooter Drill Was Real.”

    Via NPR: “‘It’s Preventable’: Sandy Hook Parents Promote App For Reporting School Threats.” Has technology solutionism ever been more heartbreaking?!

    Via The 74: “Teen Suspected of Planning Shooting Dead After Exchanging Gunfire With Police at Indiana Middle School; At Least 49 Killed, 88 Injured by Guns at Schools So Far This Year.”

    Via the Sun Sentinel: “Stoneman Douglas principal admonished for being uninformed on student threats.”

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Bennett College in Line to Lose Accreditation.”

    Testing


    Several “rethinking assessment” stories, sponsored by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, in Edsurge this week. I’ve listed those in the venture philanthropy section below.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Hugh Freeze, who resigned as the University of Mississippi’s head football coach following revelations he used his work phone to call escort services, has been hired to lead Liberty University’s team,” Inside Higher Ed reports. And Jesus wept.

    Labor and Management


    Charter teachers won big in nation’s first strike. What now?” asks Chalkbeat. More on the strike, also from Chalkbeat: “With tentative deal struck in Chicago charter school strike, Acero students set to return to class.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Tentative contract includes big raises for IPS teachers.” IPS here stands for the Indianapolis Public Schools.

    Via NPR: “Iowa College Becomes Battleground For Student Worker Unionization.” The Iowa school in question: Grinnell College.

    The Business of Job Training (and Educational Benefits for Employees)


    Via US News & World Report: “Controversial Virtual School Operator Pivots to Job Training.” That would be K12 Inc. I guess if you suck so bad at teaching K–12 students the basics, you can pivot to “career education” and folks will just shrug.

    Yale to Offer Coding Boot Campreads the Inside Higher Ed headline. But it’s not Yale. It’s the Flatiron School, a subsidiary of WeWork.

    Via Techcrunch: “Holberton brings its full-stack software engineering school to Colombia.”

    Via the Des Moines Register: “Silicon Valley is betting on one Iowa town’s efforts to bring tech jobs to rural America.”

    Via Real Clear Education: “Coding Bootcamps Provide High-Demand Tools for New Generation Workforce.” The GOP propaganda is spread pretty thick in this one.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Will 2019 Be the Year of Privacy?asks Edsurge.

    Can Online Learning Help Higher Ed Reverse Its Tuition Spiral?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


    This asshole.

    And this one, too. “Neil deGrasse Tyson and the Careers That Weren’t” by The Atlantic’s Megan Garber.

    Another one bites the dust. Via Edsurge: “GlassLab Set Out to Prove Games Could Assess Learning. Now It’s Shutting Down.”

    Via Education Week: “K–12 Interest Grows in ‘Physical Computing’ as Hands-On Approach to Computer Science and STEM.”

    Robots and Other Education Science Fiction


    Via Edsurge: “How Google’s Former China Chief Thinks AI Will Reshape Teaching.” Oh. My. God. Bullshitters are gonna bullshit, I guess, and the trade press won’t stop ’em. It’s like the MOOC crap all over again.

    Via Pew Research: “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humans.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform


    Lars Ulrich is still a terrible person, and I think the amount of money should be bigger all things considered, but Metallica does get some props for donating to community colleges, not the Ivy League. Via Inside Higher Ed: “Metallica Donates $1 Million to 10 Community Colleges.”

    From the AP: “Bezos’ Investment in Pre-K Reflects Education as Favored Cause for Rich.” Yup.

    Sponsored content on Edsurge this week, paid for by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, includes this and this and this.

    Salesforce.org has given a $2 million grant to education reform organization New Leaders.

    Via Chalkbeat: “The City Fund’s next steps: These 7 cities are the focus of the biggest new education player.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Education


    Medical education startup Osmosis has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Social Starts, Greg Coleman, and FundRx.

    Accelerate Learning has received an undisclosed amount of investment from The Carlyle Group and Quad Partners. The company has previously raised some $10 million for its science curriculum.

    Follett has acquiredNextTier Education.

    Verve has acquiredCampus Vacations for $7 million.

    Private equity firm Think3 has acquiredSchool Loop.

    Data, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via The New York Times: “Facebook Says Bug Opened Access to Private Photos.” Mark Zuckerberg is sorry. Again. Like I always say, THANK GOD he isn’t involved in any major education efforts or subsidizing media narratives about the future of learning.

    Via Techcrunch: “Google+ bug gave developers access to non-public data from 52.5M users.” Phew. Good thing this company isn’t involved in education either.

    Via The New York Times: “Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret.” A follow-up: “How to Stop Apps From Tracking Your Location.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Google’s parental control software Family Link now supports Chromebooks.”

    Research, “Research,” and Reports


    Via Edsurge: “Employment Outcomes Data Is All Over The Place. This Report Suggests Ways To Standardize It.” “This report” was written by The Institute for College Access and Success.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Digital Tools Are Everywhere – and Largely Unused – in Many Schools, New Analysis Shows.”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “New report underscores education problems in institutions for foster youth.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Inflation for U.S. colleges and universities tallied 2.8 percent for the fiscal year ending in June 2018, dipping slightly from the previous year but still coming in above a five-year average as institutions faced higher costs on all fronts.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Master’s degree programs have grown more popular, enroll more diverse students and are increasingly offered online, according to a new analysis from the Urban Institute.”

    “Research suggests that elite colleges don’t really help rich white guys. But they can have a big effect if you’re not rich, not white, or not a guy,” says The Atlantic.

    Via The 74: “The Age of Anxiety? Why More Educated Millennial Parents Are Telling Researchers They Want to Know How Their Kids Measure Up in School vs. Their Classmates.”

    Via Education Week: “Nap Time Boosts Learning, Studies Say.”

    Via Futurism.com: “Screen Time Is Literally Changing Children’s Brains.”

    Via eSchool News: “Teacher training does wonders for students’ emotional regulation.” Never forget: all the talk about “social emotional learning” is actually social emotional regulation.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    It’s been quite a year for education news, not that you’d know that by listening to much of the ed-tech industry (press). Subsidized by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, some publications have repeatedly run overtly and covertly sponsored articles that hawk the future of learning as “personalized,” as focused on “the whole child.” Some of these attempt to stretch a contemporary high-tech vision of social emotional surveillance so it can map onto a strange vision of progressive education, overlooking no doubt how the history of progressive education has so often been intertwined with race science and eugenics.

    Meanwhile this year, immigrant, refugee children at the United States border were separated from their parents and kept in cages, deprived of legal counsel, deprived of access to education, deprived in some cases of water.

    “Whole child” and cages – it’s hardly the only jarring juxtaposition I could point to.

    2018 was another year of #MeToo, when revelations about sexual assault and sexual harassment shook almost every section of societythe media and the tech industries, unsurprisingly, but the education sector as well – higher ed, K–12, and non-profits alike, as well school sports all saw major and devastating reports about cultures and patterns of sexual violence. These behaviors were, once again, part of the hearings and debates about a Supreme Court Justice nominee – a sickening deja vu not only for those of us that remember Anita Hill ’s testimony decades ago but for those of us who have experienced something similar at the hands of powerful people. And on and on and on.

    And yet the education/technology industry (press) kept up with its rosy repetition that social equality is surely its priority, a product feature even – that VR, for example, a technology it has for so long promised is “on the horizon,” is poised to help everyone, particularly teachers and students, become more empathetic. Meanwhile, the founder of Oculus Rift is now selling surveillance technology for a virtual border wall between the US and Mexico.

    2018 was a year in which public school teachers all over the US rose up in protest over pay, working conditions, and funding, striking in red states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma despite an anti-union ruling by the Supreme Court.

    And yet the education/technology industry (press) was wowed by teacher influencers and teacher PD on Instagram, touting the promise for more income via a side-hustle like tutoring rather by structural or institutional agitation. Don’t worry, teachers. Robots won’t replace you, the press repeatedly said. Unsaid: robots will just de-professionalize, outsource, or privatize the work. Or, as the AI makers like to say, robots will make us all work harder (and no doubt, with no unions, cheaper).

    2018 was a year of ongoing and increasedhate speech and bullying– racism and anti-Semitism – on campuses and online.

    And yet the education/technology industry (press) still maintained that blockchain would surely revolutionize the transcript and help insure that no one lies about who they are or what they know. Blockchain would enhance “smart spending” and teach financial literacy, the ed-tech industry (press) insisted, never once mentioning the deep entanglements between anti-Semitism and the alt-right and blockchain (specifically Bitcoin) backers.

    2018 was a year in which hate and misinformation, magnified and spread by technology giants, continued to plague the world. Their algorithmic recommendation engines peddled conspiracy theories (to kids, to teens, to adults). “YouTube, the Great Radicalizer” as sociologist Zeynep Tufekci put it in a NYT op-ed.

    And yet the education/technology industry (press) still talked about YouTube as the future of education, cheerfully highlighting (that is, spreading) its viral bullshit. Folks still retyped the press releases Google issued and retyped the press releases Facebook issued, lauding these companies’ (and their founders’) efforts to reshape the curriculum and reshape the classroom.

    This is the ninth year that I’ve reviewed the stories we’re being told about education technology. Typically, this has been a ten (or more) part series. But I just can’t do it any more. Some people think it’s hilarious that I’m ed-tech’s Cassandra, but it’s not funny at all. It’s depressing, and it’s painful. And no one fucking listens.

    If I look back at what I’ve written in previous years, I feel like I’ve already covered everything I could say about 2018. Hell, I’ve already written about the whole notion of the “zombie idea” in ed-tech– that bad ideas never seem to go away, that just get rebranded and repackaged. I’ve written about misinformation and ed-tech (and ed-tech as misinformation). I’ve written about the innovation gospel that makes people pitch dangerously bad ideas like “Uber for education” or “Alexa for babysitting.” I’ve written about the tech industry’s attempts to reshape the school system as its personal job training provider. I’ve written about the promise to “rethink the transcript” and to “revolutionize credentialing.” I’ve written about outsourcing and online education. I’ve written about coding bootcamps as the “new” for-profit higher ed, with all the exploitation that entails. I’ve written about the dangers of data collection and data analysis, about the loss of privacy and the lack of security.

    And yet here we are, with Mark Zuckerberg – education philanthropist and investor – blinking before Congress, promising that AI will fix everything, while the biased algorithms keep churning out bias, while the education/technology industry (press) continues to be so blinded by “disruption” it doesn’t notice (or care) what’s happened to desegregation, and with somanydata breaches and privacygaffes that they barely make headlines anymore.

    Folks. I’m done.

    I’m also writing a book, and frankly that’s where my time and energy is going.

    There is some delicious irony, I suppose, in the fact that there isn’t much that’s interesting or “innovative” to talk about in ed-tech, particularly since industry folks want to sell us on the story that tech is moving faster than it’s ever moved before, so fast in fact that the ol’ factory model school system simply cannot keep up.

    I’ve always considered these year-in-review articles to be mini-histories of sorts – history of the very, very recent past. Now, instead, I plan to spend my time taking a longer, deeper look at the history of education technology, with particular attention for the next few months, as the title of my book suggests, to teaching machines – to the promises that machines will augment, automate, standardize, and individualize instruction. My focus is on the teaching machines of the mid-twentieth century, but clearly there are echoes – echoes of behaviorism and personalization, namely – still today.

    In his 1954 book La Technique (published in English a decade later as The Technological Society), the sociologist Jacques Ellul observes how education had become oriented towards creating technicians, less interested in intellectual development than in personality development– a new “psychopedagogy” that he links to Maria Montessori. “The human brain must be made to conform to the much more advanced brain of the machine,” Ellul writes. “And education will no longer be an unpredictable and exciting adventure in human enlightenment , but an exercise in conformity and apprenticeship to whatever gadgetry is useful in a technical world.” I believe today we call this "social emotional learning" and once again (and so insistently by the ed-tech press and its billionaire backers), Montessori’s name is invoked as the key to preparing students for their place in the technological society.

    Despite scant evidence in support of the psychopedagogies of mindsets, mindfulness, wellness, and grit, the ed-tech industry (press) markets these as solutions to racial and gender inequality (among other things), as the psychotechnologies of personalization are now increasingly intertwined not just with surveillance and with behavioral data analytics, but with genomicsas well. “Why Progressives Should Embrace the Genetics of Education,” a NYT op-ed piece argued in July, perhaps forgetting that education’s progressives (including Montessori) have been down this path before.

    This is the only good grit:

    If I were writing a lengthier series on the year in ed-tech, I’d spend much more time talking about the promises made about personalization and social emotional learning. I’ll just note here that the most important “innovator” in this area this year (other than Gritty) was surely the e-cigarette maker Juul, which offered a mindfulness curriculum to schools – offered them the curriculum and $20,000, that is – to talk about vaping. “‘The message: Our thoughts are powerful and can set action in motion,’ the lesson plan states.”

    The most important event in ed-tech this year might have occurred on February 14, when a gunman opened fire on his former classmates at Marjory Stone Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 students and staff and injuring 17 others. (I chose this particular school shooting because of the student activism it unleashed.)

    Oh, I know, I know – school shootings and school security aren’t ed-tech, ed-tech evangelists have long tried to insist, an argument I’ve heard far too often. But this year – the worst year on record for school shootings (according to some calculations) – I think that argument started to shift a bit. Perhaps because there’s clearly a lot of money to be made in selling schools “security” products and services: shooting simulation software, facial recognition technology, metal detectors, cameras, social media surveillancesoftware, panic buttons, clear backpacks, bulletproof backpacks, bulletproof doors, emergency lockdown notification apps, insurance policies, bleeding control training programs, armed guards, and of course armed teachers.

    Does It Make More Sense to Invest in School Security or SEL?” Edsurge asked its readers this summer. Those are the choices – surveillance or surveillance.

    What an utter failure of imagination.

    But there you have it, folks. I’m done.


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    This is the second part of my much-abbreviated look at the stories that were told about education technology in 2018– and in this case, the people who funded the storytellers.

    When I first started working as a tech reporter, I assumed – naively – that venture capitalists were smart people who did thorough research before funding a company. They are, after all, typically investing someone else’s money. One should be conscientious, as such. Right? I assumed that they looked to see if the company could do what it promised – financially, technologically. I assumed they checked to see if the idea was sound, the founders trustworthy.

    Ha.

    One of the best books I read this year was Bad Blood by WSJ journalist John Carreyou. It chronicles the rise and fall of Theranos, a company that promised to revolutionize the medical industry by running a complete slate of tests using only a drop of blood (rather than the more voluminous quantity of blood that can be rather frightening to have drawn). Its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, dropped out of Stanford to start the company when she was just 19. With a media blitz that included a popular TED Talk, Holmes steered the company to a valuation of nearly $9 billion, raising over $700 million in funding. There was just one problem: it was all a deception. The technology did not work. And the phony test results put people’s lives at risk.

    In June, Holmes and her boyfriend were indicted on a number of charges, including conspiracy and wire fraud, and they could face time in prison. (I bet they won’t.)

    John Warner made the connection between Theranos and ed-tech in an op-ed published on Inside Higher Ed, noting the parallels between the claims about companies poised to revolutionize education, often made by those without much experience or expertise in teaching and learning and the claims that Holmes and her company made – claims that those with experience and expertise (biologists and chemists and medical engineers, for example) knew simply weren’t true.

    Nevertheless Holmes was able to tap into a network of powerful, wealthy conservatives, including George Schultz and Henry Kissinger and others connected to the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Networks matter. They matter to who gets funded more than any of those naive ideas I had about the key being good ideas or good businesses or good people. Reporting in May, John Carreyou noted that among those who’d lost the most money by investing in Theranos were the Walton Family, Betsy DeVos, Rupert Murdoch, and Carlos Slim – all also major (conservative) funders of charter schools and ed-tech.

    Bad blood indeed. It runs pretty thick.

    Follow the Money


    But hey, it was another record-setting year for ed-tech investment. Here’s the year by the numbers:

    • Investment dollars: $4.46 billion
    • Number of investment deals: 187
    • Average investment size: $26 million / Median investment size: $5.2 million
    • Number of acquisitions: 109
    • Number of spinoffs: 1
    • Number of mergers: 9
    • Number of IPOs: 4
    • Number added to the “ed-tech dead pool”: 10

    All that money. All that activity.

    A closer look reveals a lot of illness too, a lot of exploitation, a number of criminal convictions, and a lot of uncertainty about the shape of the future of education.

    The Biggest Investments of 2018


    The companies that raised the most money this year:

    • BYJU’s (tutoring): $540 million
    • VIPKID (tutoring): $500 million
    • Zuoyebang (tutoring): $350 million
    • Yuanfudao (tutoring): $250 million
    • 17zuoye (tutoring): $200 million
    • Peilian.com (music education): $150 million
    • DreamBox Learning (adaptive learning): $130 million
    • Zhangmen (tutoring): $120 million
    • Connexeo (school administration software): $110 million
    • DadaABC (English language learning): $100 million
    • Knowbox (tutoring): $100 million

    (You can see the complete list of investments here.)

    As far as I can tell, these are now the most well-funded ed-tech startups (that is, those education companies which have not gone public):

    • SoFi (student loans): $2.16 billion
    • VIPKID (tutoring): $825 million
    • CommonBond (student loans): $803.6 million
    • BYJUs (tutoring): $784 million
    • DadaABC.com (English language learning): $608.9 million
    • Zuoyebang (tutoring): $585 million
    • 17zuoye (tutoring): $585 million
    • EverFi (“critical skills” training): $251 million
    • Yuanfudao (tutoring) –- $244.2 million
    • Coursera (online education): $210.1 million
    • Knewton (adaptive learning): $182.3 million
    • Age of Learning (educational apps): $181.5 million
    • DreamBox Learning (adaptive learning): $175.6 million
    • Udemy (skills training): $173 million
    • AltSchool (private school; learning management system): $172.9 million
    • D2L (learning management system): $165 million
    • Udacity (skills training): $160 million

    All great investments, I'm sure.

    Notable Investment Trends


    The most well-funded types of education company this year were those who offered tutoring. Tutoring, to be clear, here mostly means test prep.

    It’s worth noting, I think, that tutoring as the preferential method of instruction is deeply intertwined with the long history of computer-assisted instruction and “intelligent tutoring systems.” Tutoring is the cornerstone of technological fantasies about “personalized learning.” You’ll often hear its advocates invoke Benjamin Bloom’s 1984 study on “the 2 Sigma Problem” and claim that one-on-one tutoring is radically effective at improving student outcomes. The results of Bloom’s investigation are a little suspect; or at least, they’ve never been replicated. But before the 1980s and since, many education technologists have been convinced that tutoring is the best form of instruction – far, far surpassing “traditional” classroom instruction – and that the only way that we can reach the goal of one tutor per child is to use the computer as the tutor.

    Investors in tutoring companies this year included Warbug Pincus, Goldman Sachs, Learn Capital, Y Combinator, the Omidyar Network, Sequoia Capital, TAL Education, Tencent, Google, and of course, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

    Not all of these tutoring companies rely on AI or adaptive teaching, although that is a big selling point of some of them. Many of them take advantage of the “gig economy,” using low-wage freelance workers (many of whom are teachers working a second job) as tutors. It’s “flexible, interactive, and fun” sponsored content on Edsurge wants its readers to know.

    Of the twenty some-odd tutoring companies that raised funding this year, ten were Chinese. As you can see from the list above, these accounted for some of the largest funding rounds of 2018, and Chinese tutoring companies are now some of the most well-funded education startups.

    Chinese tutoring company TAL Education also invested in Edsurge this year– so watch its message about “personalized learning” and tutoring – a message backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative too – grow much louder, with little recognition of how tutoring exacerbates educational inequalities.

    Bad Investments and Unhealthy Markets


    The record level of investment dollars belies the health of the education sector. 2018 saw the lowest number of deals in recent history, as larger companies gained multi-multi-million dollar rounds. Although the number of acquisitions appeared strong, many of those were deals by private equity, which is often a sign that a disastrous restructuring is poised to take place. (One of the most active acquirers this year was the private equity firm Francisco Partners, which bought Discovery Education, Renaissance Learning, and MyON.)

    Neither Pearson nor Blackboard, companies that were quite active in gobbling up startups a year or so ago, bought a single company this year. Microsoft bought three companies in 2018. ACT and TurnItIn both bought two. (You can see the complete list of acquisitions here.)

    Perhaps the biggest acquisition of the year was Edmodo. Well, it wasn’t big financially. It was big as in bad. China’s NetDragon paid $137.5 million for Edmodo – only about $15 million of which was cash. Not a great outcome for a company that had raised over $77 million in venture funding and had been lauded as the future of social learning. “EdTech fails to pay, again,” The Financial Times chuckled.

    Why, it was just a few years ago that Pearson sold off The Financial Times, wasn’t it, in the hopes that a restructured company could make ed-tech pay. How quickly we forget…

    The industry’s fixation on “the future of learning” certainly seems to prevent many people from taking a good look at the past. And my, isn’t it always fun to revisit some of ed-tech’s darlings of yore.

    In 2017, for example, Edsurge informed its readers that“MissionU Says It Can Replace Traditional College With a One-Year Program.” One year later, in May of this year, Edsurge informed its readers that MissionU would cease operations. (You can see a list of all the companies that joined the ed-tech “deadpool” here.) In 2012, Wired Magazine proclaimed that Udacity “could change higher learning forever.” Techcrunch asserted that Udacity would “end college as we know it.” Udacity’s founder Sebastian Thrun predicted that “in 50 years, there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education and Udacity has a shot at being one of them.” This year, Udacity ended its money-back guarantee. It upped the price of its “nanodegrees.” (Its MOOC competitor edX also announced this year that many of its courses would no longer be free.) Udacity laid off about a quarter of its staff mid-year. And its CEO stepped down.

    Vive la MOOC révolution.

    The Privatization of Education


    Speaking of MOOCs, Phil Hill astutely observed earlier this year that many MOOCs and for-profit companies were altering their products and services so as to become online program management providers: “If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try To Be An OPM.”

    The growing reliance on OPMs is part of a larger trend of outsourcing and privatization – and certainly not all of this occurs online, as the “coding bootcamp” trend underscores. (Among the coding bootcamps raising money this year: Trilogy Education, which raised $50 million, and Galvanize, which raised $25 million. Among the startups that closed their doors this year: coding bootcamp Learners Guild.)

    The original OPM is probably the learning management system. Watch everyone (AltSchool, Summit Learning) try to become LMSes.

    Another recommendation for a 2018 book on how corporations are reshaping public education to suit their needs: The University of Nike by Joshua Hunt.

    Ed-Tech and IT Authoritarianism


    If I were writing my usual, lengthy series on the year’s “trends,” I certainly would have devoted one article to the connection between ed-tech and “IT authoritarianism.” I did make a brief nod to this when I wrote an article analyzing Edsurge’s latest round of funding – a round that included two Chinese investors, test prep company TAL Education and JMD.edu.

    China is hardly the only country we should keep an eye on here. It’s hardly the only country willing to surveil, track, and punish students. The US excels at this too, no doubt. We have children in cages, and ICE monitoring schools.

    The connections between tech and authoritarianism became a lot more obvious this year, I’d hope.

    Perhaps the murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi doesn’t seem like a “business of education technology” story. But it matters.

    The murder of Khashoggi is a story that is deeply connected to many of the people in the tech and VC industries. It shows how little those in Silicon Valley care for democracy. Silicon Valley has overtly courted Saudi wealth – it has a “Saudi Arabia Problem,” as NYT op-ed writer Anand Giridharadas put it. “Technology companies can no longer turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses of one of their largest investors,” he argued. (MIT, on the other hand, says it’s too lucrative to sever ties.)

    At least one major investment vehicle, SoftBank’s Vision Fund – worth about $100 billion – is funded in part by Saudi money. The fund has backed high profile startups like Uber and Doordash and Slack, among others. Among its ed-tech investments: WeWork, SoFi, and perhaps soon Zuoyebang.

    When the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman toured the US this year, he hung out with Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Sergey Brin and others. Among those involved in bin Salman’s $500 billion “smart city” project, Neom, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

    “Smart cities” are authoritarian cities. “Smart cities” are public spaces and public institutions, privatized. The data analysis and surveillance that are at the core of “smart cities” will surely include education data. “Smart cities” will be facilitated by ed-tech, thru the ed-tech industry. This is the future of learning that plenty of folks are hawking.

    They’ll tell us they’re doing it for our own good.

    The Business of Education Philanthropy


    Charity is no substitute for justice withheld, as St. Augustine famously stated. And philanthropy is no substitute for not paying your taxes. But billionaires – tech billionaires and otherwise – all seem convinced that through their philanthropic efforts they can reshape education, reshape how education is funded and what is taught.

    Two of the world’s richest men – Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates – were joined by more of the world’s richest men to that end this year. Jack Ma, China’s richest man, announced this fall he was retiring from Alibaba to focus on educational philanthropy. (Alibaba is already active politically in the US, this spring joining ALEC, the right-wing organization that “ghost-writes” state legislation to benefit its corporate members.) Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, announced this fall that he was creating a $2 billion fund to address homelessness and to start a chain of “Montessori-inspired” preschools. Like Amazon, but for preschool– “the child will be the customer,” Bezos wrote in his statement.

    Bezos was hardly the only person interested in investing in early childhood education. As Rachel Cohen argued in response to his announcement, “preschool is a particularly appealing area for those who like conceptualizing problems in terms of market potential.” The child will be the customer; the child will be the investment, if you will.

    Startups providing preschool-related ed-tech services were also popular investments, raising money this year from the likes of the Omidyar Network, Andreessen Horowitz, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Wonderschool, for example, took in $22 million in funding; Brightwheel took in $21 million.

    Other areas of investment for Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in 2018 – that is, in addition to tutoring and preschool management software: career placement software, English language learning software, and financial aid management software. (The one ed-tech spinoff this year was the Summit Learning management system, which spun out of the Summit Public Schools charter chain – but not too far out of CZI.) CZI also made a number of grants, which Chalkbeat, a CZI grant recipient itself, helped to identify– the venture philanthropy company remains quite opaque about where its dollars goes.

    The lovely thing about these philanthropists is how they fund education journalism to tell the stories they want folks to hear. It’s only later that those journalists say“oh damn, looks like that reform didn’t work out, eh?” But the great thing about being a billionaire tech philanthropist, I guess, is never having to say you’re sorry. Or rather, you never have to actually mean it.

    I mean, who’s gonna hold you accountable?!


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    I’m making some major changes to Hack Education this year – and no, not because I’ve received venture capital and my investors have told me I have to rewrite the publication’s mission statement again. That’s a different site you’re thinking of…

    For a good portion of the year, Hack Education will go dormant. (The archives, I would note, are rich here. Read up.) I’m no longer going to write the Friday “Hack Education Weekly News,” my chronicle of all the education, technology, and ed-tech news of the week. I’m ending that series because I’m no longer going to write my lengthy series on the year-in-review either. Not in 2019 at least, as I have to focus on Teaching Machines (the draft is due in April and the final manuscript due in September).

    Once the book is done, I plan to return to writing on this site and to publishing essays analyzing what’s happened and happening in education and technology. Many of these will be historical, since it seems that so many people who work in ed-tech are utterly ignorant (even purposefully ignorant) of the field’s rich (but troubling) history. Some of these will respond to the latest happenings, but I want the work I do here on Hack Education to be less reactive to the bad stuff that gets trotted out daily as “innovation.” I don’t want to have to read the ed-tech publications that make me so deeply sad about what’s being peddled and promoted and so deeply disappointed about people’s willingness to read and write and buy that crap. The way we get better and smarter will not be through these ed-tech’s marketers and hucksters.

    I am hoping that the shift away from compiling all the goings-on for that weekly news round-up will give me more time to think deeply and critically about education and technology, instead of perpetually being enraged by how many terrible and silly things are marketed as “solutions” by folks who just want to sell a product or service – some aware, some unaware that their very well-funded load of futurist bullshit is pretty damn dystopian.

    This site will remain vulture free. No investors, philanthropists, corporate sponsors, or advertisers. Just pigeons.