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The History of the Future of Education Technology
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  • 03/31/17--10:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics


    Via The New York Times: “North Carolina’s Love of College Sports Spurred Move to Repeal Bathroom Law.” Welp. It’s not clear, however, if the NCAA and others will end their boycott of the state.

    Via PBS Frontline: “Climate Change Skeptic Group Seeks to Influence 200,000 Teachers.” The group in question is the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank.

    Via The New York Times: “Student Loan Forgiveness Program Approval Letters May Be Invalid, Education Dept. Says.”

    It seems like the Department of Education is doing everything it can to screw over students’ financial aid.

    From the Department of Education press release: “To protect sensitive taxpayer data, the IRS and FSA announced today the Data Retrieval Tool on fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov will be unavailable until extra security protections can be added. While we are working to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, students and families should plan for the tool to be offline until the start of the next FAFSA season.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Trump signs bills overturning Obama-era education regulations.”

    Via Politico: “After proposing a $9.2 billion cut to the Education Department’s budget for next year, the President Donald Trump is now calling on Congress to slash nearly $3 billion in education funding for the remaining five months of this fiscal year, according to a document obtained by POLITICO.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Trump Proposal to Cut Indirect Research Payments Would Hit State Universities Hardest.” And via WaPo: “Trump budget cuts could hit research universities hard, Moody’s warns.”

    More on the Trump budget via Inside Higher Ed: “Cutting College Prep.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Trump‘s Proposed Cuts Threaten Colleges’ Key Job-Training Programs.”

    Via Education Week: “DeVos Compares School Choice Fight to Uber vs. Taxis; Decries State of Test Scores.” (Nice timing, Betsy, as this was a useful comment to include in the talk I gave this week on the future of the "driverless school.")

    Via The Washington Post: “Trump taps Kushner to lead a SWAT team to fix government with business ideas.” That’s Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, and that’s SWAT, as in a militarized police force.

    “The Mad Rush to Undo Online Privacy Rulesby Siva Vaidhyanathan writing for Bloomberg. “ISPs Can Continue to Collect and Sell All of Our Browsing History, and We’ll Never Know,” says Bill Fitzgerald.

    “Higher education and library associations called on the Federal Communications Commission Thursday to uphold Obama-era rules requiring broadband providers to treat all traffic on the internet equally,” Inside Higher Ed reports. (Sadly, I think “net neutrality” under Trump is toast.)

    “House bill would further politicize the Register of Copyrights,” Creative Commons cautions.

    Immigration and Education


    Via The Washington Post: “Virginia judge sides with Trump administration on new travel ban.”

    Via The Guardian: “Hawaii judge refuses to overturn block on Trump travel ban.”

    Via The New Yorker: “After an Immigration Raid, a City’s Students Vanish.”

    Via the Daily Kos: “Fearing deportation, immigrant parents are now canceling their U.S. citizen kids’ food assistance.”

    Via Education Week: “High School Rape Case Becomes Flashpoint in Immigration Debate.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Spanier Is Found Guilty of Child Endangerment in Sandusky Sex-Abuse Case.” That’s Graham Spanier, the former president of Penn State.

    More on Penn State in the “meanwhile on campus” section below.

    Testing, Testing…


    “How the SAT and PSAT collect personal data on students – and what the College Board does with it,” by The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss.

    “Free College”


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Here’s a Map of ‘Free College’ Programs Nationwide.”

    Via the Pasadena Star-News: “Pasadena City College offering tuition-free first year for local high schools students.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Trump administration defended the gainful-employment rule in federal court Wednesday, suggesting that it may not quickly roll back the regulation designed to crack down on programs graduating students unable to pay down high student loan debt loads.”

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “A new report from the American Enterprise Institute argues that state and local funding of public colleges stacks the deck against for-profit institutions under the gainful-employment rule, an Obama administration regulation that measures the ability of graduates of vocational programs to repay their student loans.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The Closing of the Republican Mind on For-Profit Colleges.”

    Fresh Air’s Terry Gross talks to Tressie McMillan Cottom about her new book, Lower Ed, and “How For-Profit Colleges Sell ‘Risky Education’ To The Most Vulnerable.”

    Via The New York Times: “Arizona Summit Law school, a troubled for-profit institution owned by the InfiLaw System, has been placed on probation by its accrediting body, the American Bar Association.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Coding Schools Build Tuition-Back Guarantees Into Business Model.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Online education platform Coursera has set a goal of offering 15 to 20 degree programs by the end of 2019. The company took another step toward that goal Wednesday, announcing new degree offerings from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and France’s HEC Paris.”

    Via Edsurge: “Coursera’s Rick Levin on the Evolution of MOOCs and Microcredentials.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via MuckRock: “The same billionaire that funded Trump’s campaign bankrolled Milo’s college speaking tour.” That’s Milo Yiannopoulos, the speaker, and Robert Mercer, the billionaire. Small world!

    Via The New York Times: “In School Nurse’s Room: Tylenol, Bandages and an Antidote to Heroin.”

    Via The LA Times: “After therapy dog refuses to drink, San Diego Unified finds lead in water.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Louis J. Freeh, who five years ago produced a scathing report on the culpability of Pennsylvania State University administrators in the Jerry Sandusky child-molestation scandal, released a two-page statement on Friday that tore into the university’s leaders and called for the resignation of President Eric J. Barron.”

    Via The LA Times: “UC Berkeley chancellor improperly accepted free fitness benefits, probe finds.”

    “What it’s like at San Quentin’s coding school,” according to Techcrunch.

    Via Education Dive: “‘Mall of America of colleges’ provides one-stop shop for local ed needs.”

    Via NPR: “Concerns After Texas School Opens ‘Prayer Room’ That’s Attracting Muslim Students.”

    Via NPR Code Switch: “Muslim Schoolchildren Bullied By Fellow Students And Teachers.”

    Camelot Education, a for-profit manager of alternative schools, is facing challenges nationwide after our report on alleged physical abuse of students by staffers,” says ProPublica.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Louisiana Monroe says it’s getting rid of two major natural history collections to make way for a sports field.”

    Via the BBC: “Students must swim before they graduate, says China university.” That’s Tsinghua University, a.k.a. “Harvard of the East.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “After a Student Dies, Penn State Bans a Fraternity and Liquor at All Greek Houses.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Schools Shift to Free, Public-Domain Curricula.”

    The Wall Street Journal is concerned that students at Harvard are studying authors “marginalized for historical reasons.”

    “Western-style universities are challenged in Hungary and Russia,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via the Starbucks press release: “Starbucks and ASU Expand College Achievement Plan.”

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “2 Think Tanks Weigh In on Accreditation” – that’d be the Heritage Foundation and the Center for American Progress.

    Via Edsurge: “BloomBoard Partnership Gives Teachers Graduate-Level Credit for Micro-Credentials.”

    Fast Company profiles David Blake, the co-founder of the alt-credentialing startup Degreed.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via The News & Observer: “Cost of bills in UNC academic scandal nears $18 million.”

    “Why Is a Suspect in the Vanderbilt Rape Case Talking to Athletes About Sexual Assault?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The Washington Post: “Transgender high school wrestler to compete against boys thanks to new USA Wrestling policy.”

    More on sports in the politics and courts sections above.

    From the HR Department


    Via The New York Times: “Oculus Founder, at Center of Legal Battle Over VR, Departs Facebook.” That’s Palmer Luckey, funder of anti-Clinton “shit-posting” efforts.

    Via WSLS: “Liberty University online education drops, staff layoffs.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “AAUP report concludes that a professor at Community College of Aurora was likely fired for refusing to compromise on rigor in his courses as part of a ”student success“ initiative.” More on this story from Jonathan Rees.

    Via The Detroit News: “In a move rarely seen in academia, Wayne State University is trying to fire multiple faculty members depicted as abusing their tenure by doing as little work as possible.”

    Cornell Grad Union Election Too Close to Call,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “Ithaca College’s new non-tenure-track faculty union reached a tentative contract agreement with the institution this week, averting a threatened strike.”

    The American Arbitration Association declared this w From The New York Times’ “Corner Office” series: “Jessie Woolley-Wilson on Creating Benevolent Friction at Work.” (She is the CEO is Dreambox Learning.)

    The Business of Job Recruitment and Training


    “Save Your College (and America’s Workforce) Through Corporate Training” – a really god-awful op-ed in Edsurge by venture capitalist Ryan Craig and for-profit higher ed CEO Frank F. Britt.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The rapid growth of Handshake, a career-services platform, is also raising questions about whether some students’ grades are made visible to employers without permission.”

    Contests and Awards


    The 2017–2018 Spencer Education Journalism Fellowships have been awarded by Columbia University’s J-School: Antonio Gois, Cara Fitzpatrick, Nick Chiles, and me. (!!!)

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    “Can Grit Be Measured?” asks Edsurge.

    “Will Personalized Learning Become the New Normal?” asks The Atlantic.

    “Was the ‘Open Education’ movement of the ’70s ahead of its time?” asks Education Dive.

    “Do You Have What It Takes to be a Successful Edtech Product Manager?” 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


    “Can We Afford Free Textbooks?” is a terrible op-ed by Robert S. Feldman, a deputy chancellor at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Thankfully, IHE added a disclosure to the end of the article: “He also serves as chair of the McGraw-Hill Education Learning Science Research Advisory Council.”

    iPads Did Not Revolutionize Campus Teaching,” Edsurge informs us, “(But a Few Colleges Give Every Student One).”

    Apple’s Bid To Reclaim The Classroom From Chromebooks May Be Too Late,” says Fast Company.

    “Privatizing Recess: Micromanaging Children’s Play for Profit” by Nancy Bailey– a story on Playworks.

    Technology ‘Disrupting’ Teaching, Part 1 and Part 2" by Larry Cuban.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “The Future of Curriculum: Playlists, Open Ed., and Tough Choices for Teachers.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via Campus Technology: “AI Market to Grow 47.5% Over Next Four Years.” Education Dive rewrites the story with this headline: “Report predicts AI spike in education.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    MasterClass has raised $35 million“to expand celebrity-led courses.” Investors in this Series C round include Institutional Venture Partners, Advancit Capital, Bloomberg Beta, GSV Acceleration, Javelin Venture Partners, MX Investments, New Enterprise Associates, Novel TMT Ventures, Sam Lessin, and Yan-David Erlich. The company has raised $56.4 million total.

    BYJUs has raised $30 million in Series F funding from Verlinvest. The test prep company has raised $204 million total. Yay! Test prep!

    Raise.me has raised $12 million in Series A funding from Redpoint, GSV Acceleration, Owl Ventures, and SJF Ventures. The startup claims it’s “reinventing financial aid” and has raised $16.5 million total.

    Voxy has raised $12 million in Series C funding from SJF Ventures, Contour Venture Partners, GSV Acceleration, Inherent Group, Rethink Education, and Weld North. The English language-learning startup has raised $30.8 million total.

    Edlio has acquiredSangha.

    Excelligence Learning Corporation has acquiredChildCare Education Institute.

    Here’s Pearson’s annual report for 2016. It’s bad news. And yet! Via the BBC: “Pearson boss sees pay boost despite firm’s struggles.”

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    “Introducing the K–12 Cyber Incident Mapby Doug Levin.

    And speaking of incidents, here’s one from Montana, “Hackers hit Forsyth schools server, cause disruptions,” reports KTVQ.

    Via Dark Reading: “Millions of Stolen US University Email Credentials for Sale on the Dark Web.”

    Via the EFF: “Privacy By Practice, Not Just By Policy: A System Administrator Advocating for Student Privacy.”

    “Who Owns Your Face?” asks The Atlantic. I bet you can guess the answer.

    More on testing data in the privacy section above.

    Data and “Research”


    Forbes perpetuates the worst sorts of stereotypes about college students as it reports on a survey by a student loan company LendEDU: “College Students Using Loans For Spring Break, Alcohol, Drugs.”

    “A shortage of job candidates with fluency in data science and analytics is among the nation’s most yawning of skills gaps, one requiring substantial changes by higher education institutions and employers alike,” according to a report by the Business-Higher Education Forum.

    Via NPR: “A Surprising Explanation For Why Some Immigrants Excel In Science.”

    Higher Ed Analytics Market Is Growing in Complexity,” according to a report by Eduventures.

    School-Choice Data Reveals Parents Opting Out of Private Schools for Charters and Virtual,” says Edsurge, drawing on a report from the Brookings Institution’s Education Choice and Competition Index.

    Via DML Central: “Google Scientist Tells How Tech Affects Learning.”

    “More on demographics: American white people’s declining lifespan and what it means for education” by Bryan Alexander.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study: Income-Based Repayment Reduced Defaults.”

    “The World’s Top Venture Capitalists” – according to The New York Times at least.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    This talk was presented at Coventry University as part of my visiting fellowship at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab

    Every year since 2010, I’ve undertaken a fairly massive project in which I’ve reviewed the previous twelve months’ education and technology news in order to write ten articles covering “the top ed-tech trends.” This is how I spend my November and December – researching and writing a series that usually tops out at about 75,000 words – which I didn’t realize until print copies were made for my visit here is about 240 pages.

    Now, all those words and pages make this quite a different undertaking than most year-in-review stories, than much of the “happy new year” clickbait that tend to offer a short, bulleted list of half a dozen or so technologies that are new enough or cool enough to hype with headlines like “these are the six tools poised to revolutionize education.” To be honest, these sorts of articles are partly why I undertake this project – although each year, when I’m about 15,000 words in, I do ask myself “why am I doing this?!” (This talk will hopefully serve as an explanation for you and a nice reminder for me.)

    Last year, I gave a lecture at Virginia Commonwealth University titled “The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Issue a Press Release.” (The transcript is on my website.) It was one articulation of what’s a recurring theme in my work: we must be more critical about the stories we tell and we’re told about the future of education. Indeed, we need to look at histories of the future and ask why certain people have wanted the future to take a certain shape, why certain technologies (and their stories) have been so compelling.

    To be clear then when when I write my “trends” series, it’s not meant to be predictive. Rather it’s a history itself – ideally one that’s useful for our thinking about the past, present, and future in the way in which the study of history always should be. It’s a look back at what’s happened over the course of each year, not simply – to counter that totally overused phrase from hockey player Wayne Gretsky’s dad – to “skate to where the puck is going,” but to examine where it has been. And more importantly, to ascertain where some folks – those who issue press releases, for example – want the puck to head.

    So I am not here to tell you, based on my analysis of ed-tech “trends,” what new tools you should buy or what new tools you should incorporate into your teaching or what old tools you should discard. That’s not my role – I’m not an advocate or evangelist or salesperson for ed-tech.

    I realize this makes some people angry – “she didn’t tell us what we should do!” some folks always seem to complain about my talks. “She didn’t deliver a fully fleshed-out 300-point plan to ‘fix education.’” “She didn’t say anything positive about technology, dammit.”

    That’s not the point of my work. I’m not a consultant hired to talk you through the implementation of your next project. My work is not “market research” in the way that “market research” typically functions (or in the way “market research” hopes it functions). According to the press releases at least, ed-tech markets are always growing larger. The sales are always increasing. The tech is always amazing.

    I want us to think more critically about all these claims, about the politics, not just the products (perhaps so the next time we’re faced with consultants or salespeople, we can do a better job challenging their claims or advice).

    As you can see, much of what I write isn’t really about technologies at all, but rather about the ideologies that are deeply embedded with them. I write about technologies as practices – political practices, pedagogical practices – not simply tools, practices that tools might enable and that tools might foreclose.

    Throughout the year, I follow the money, and I follow the press releases. I scrutinize the headlines. I listen to stories. I try to verify the (wild, wild) claims of marketers and salespeople and politicians. I look for the patterns in the promises that people make about what technologies will do for and to education. And it’s based on these patterns that I eventually select the ten “Top Ed-Tech Trends” for my year-end review.

    They’re not “trends,” really. They’re themes. They’re categories. They’re narratives.

    And admittedly, because of my methods, how I piece my research together, they’re narratives that are quite US-centric. I’d say even more specifically, they’re California- and Silicon Valley-centric.

    I use “Silicon Valley” in my work as a shorthand to describe the contemporary high tech industry – its tech and just as importantly, its ideology. Sticklers about geography will readily point out that the Silicon Valley itself isn’t the most accurate descriptor for the locus of today’s booming tech sector. It ignores what happens in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for example: the site of Harvard and MIT. It ignores what happens in Seattle: the home of Amazon, Microsoft, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (The influence of Bill Gates in education and education technology policy really cannot be overstated. Bill Gates is not part of Silicon Valley per se, but the anti-democratic bent of his philanthropic efforts – justified through claims about “genius,” through a substitution with charity (which is also tax relief) for justice – I would contend is absolutely part of the “Silicon Valley narrative.”)

    Silicon Valley is itself just one part of Northern California, one part of the San Francisco Bay area – the Santa Clara Valley. Santa Clara Valley’s county seat and the locus of Silicon Valley (historically at least) is San Jose, not San Francisco or Oakland, where many startups are increasingly located today. Silicon Valley does include Mountain View, where Google is headquartered. It also includes Cupertino, where Apple is headquartered. It includes Palo Alto, home to Stanford University, founded in 1885 by railroad tycoon Leland Stanford.

    The “silicon” in “Silicon Valley” refers to the silicon-based integrated circuits that were first developed and manufactured in the area. But I extend the phrase “Silicon Valley” to all of the high tech industry, not just the chip makers. And those chip makers aren’t all located in the area these days. Arguably the phrase “Silicon Valley” obscures the international scope of the operations of today’s tech industry – tax havens in Ireland, manufacturing in China, and so on.

    But if the scope is international, the flavor is distinctly Californian. A belief in the re-invention of the self. A “dream factory.” A certain optimism for science as the penultimate solution to any of the world’s problems. A belief in technological utopia. A belief in the freedom of information technologies, in information technologies as freedom. An advocacy for libertarian politics – think Peter Thiel (a Stanford graduate) now advising Donald Trump. A faith in the individual and a distrust for institutions. A fierce embrace of the new. A disdain for the past.

    California – the promised land, the end-of-the-road of the US’s westward (continental) expansion, the fulfillment of Manifest Destiny, colonization upon colonization, the gold rush, the invention of a palm-tree paradise. The California too of military bases and aeronautics and oil. California, the giant economy. The California that imagines itself – and hopes others imagine it – in Silicon Valley and Hollywood but not on the farms of the Central Valley. The California that ignores race and labor and water and war.

    The California that once could boast the greatest public higher education system in the US – that is until Ronald Reagan became governor of the state in 1966 after campaigning on a vow to “clean up that mess in Berkeley” and promising during his first year in office that he’d make sure taxpayers in the state were no longer “subsidizing intellectual curiosity.” We can see in Reagan’s pledge the roots of ongoing efforts to defund public education, something that enabled for-profit schools to step in to meet the demand for college. We can see too in Reagan a redefinition of the purpose of higher ed – it’s not about “intellectual curiosity”; it’s about “jobs,” it’s about “skills.”

    Despite thinking of themselves as liberal-learning, today’s tech companies re-inscribe much of this. “Everyone should learn to code,” as they like to tell us. “Higher education is a bubble,” as Peter Thiel has said. “Disrupt.” “Unbundle.” “It’s like Uber for education.” And so on.

    “The Californian Ideology,” as Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron described all this in their terrifically prescient essay from 1995, does not tend to make many lists of the “top ed-tech trends.” But the ideology permeates our digital technologies, whether we like it or not. And if and when we ignore it, I fear we misconstrue what’s going on with Silicon Valley’s products and press releases.

    We’re more likely to overlook the role that venture capital plays, for example. 2015 was a record-setting year for investment in education technology, with some $4 billion flowing into the industry globally. But the total dollars fell sharply in 2016 – “only” $2.2 billion. The number of investments fell by 11%. (It’s a bit too early to tell what 2017 will bring.)

    I repeatedly select “the business of ed-tech” as one of my “top ed-tech trends” because I think it’s crucial to questions about investors’ interest in education and education technology. What sorts of companies and what sorts of products do venture capitalists like, for example? What’s the appeal – profits, privatization? (Turns out, lately investors like testing companies, tutoring companies, “learn to code” companies, and private student loan providers.) Why has investment fallen off? (Turns out that “free” might not be the best business model for a for-profit company, particularly one that cannot rely on advertising the same way that other “free” products like Facebook and Google can. Turns out too that a lot of the education startups that have been promising “revolution” or hell even “improved outcomes” for the past few years have been selling snake oil. Turns out that the typical timeline that venture capitalists work with – about three to five years after making their investment, they expect a return in the form of an acquisition or a public offering and very, very few ed-tech companies go public. Turns out that Pearson, which once funded and acquired a lot of startups, isn’t in particularly good financial shape itself.)

    Now, it’s so very typically American to come to the UK to talk about ed-tech and to insist “oh really, it’s all about the US – our values.” “It’s all about the state I live in” even – to invoke Pearson, a company founded in Yorkshire in 1844, the largest education company in the world, and still insist that the “Silicon Valley narrative” and the “California ideology” are the dominant forces shaping education technology. (I’m not thrilled about this either, mind you!)

    In Distrusting Educational Technology, sociologist Neil Selwyn identifies three contemporary ideologies that are intertwined with today’s digital technologies – my reference to “Silicon Valley narratives” are meant to invoke these: libertarianism, neoliberalism, and “the ideology of the ‘new economy.’” Selwyn writes,

    Most people, it would seem, are happy to assume that educational technologies are “neutral” tools that are essentially free from values and intent (or, at most, shaped by generally optimistic understandings and meanings associated with educational change and improvement). In this sense, it is difficult at first glance to see educational technology as entwined with any aspect of the dominant ideologies just described. Yet, as was noted earlier, one of the core characteristics of hegemony is the ability of dominant ideologies to permeate commonsensical understandings and meaning. Following this logic, then, the fact that educational technology appears to be driven by a set of values focused on the improvement of education does not preclude it also serving to support and legitimate wider dominant ideological interests. Indeed, if we take time to unpack the general orthodoxy of educational technology as a “positive” attempt to improve education, then a variety of different social groups and with different interests, values and agendas are apparent. …While concerned ostensibly with changing specific aspects of education, all of these different interests could be said to also endorse (or at least provide little opposition to) notions of libertarianism, neo-liberalism and new forms of capitalism. Thus educational technologies can still be said to be “ideologically freighted”, although this may not always be a primary intention of those involved in promoting their use.

    I’d add another ideological impulse that Selwyn doesn’t mention here: that is, a fierce belief in technological solutionism (I’m building on Evgeny Morozov’s work here) – if students are struggling to graduate, or they’re not “engaged,” or they’re not scoring well on the PISA test, the solution is necessarily technological. More analytics. More data collection. More surveillance.

    I would point to this “ideological freighted-ness” in almost all of the trends in which I’ve written about since 2010. You can see neoliberalism, for example, in efforts towards privatization and the outsourcing of core technological capacities to third party vendors. (This is part of the push for MOOCs, we must be honest.)

    I’m not sure there’s any better expression of this “Silicon Valley narrative” or “California ideology” than in “personalization,” a word used to describe how Netflix suggests movies to us, how Amazon suggests products to do, how Google suggests search results to us, and how educational software suggests the next content module you should click on. Personalization, in all these manifestations, is a programmatic expression of individualism. The individual, as the Silicon Valley narrative insists, whose sovereignty is most important, whose freedom is squelched by the collective. Personalization – this belief that the world can be and should be algorithmically crafted to best suit each individual individually (provided, of course, that individual’s needs and desire coincide with the person who wrote the algorithm and with the platform that’s promising “personalization.”)

    Personalization. Platforms. These aren’t simply technological innovations. They are political, social – shaping culture and politics and institutions and individuals in turn.

    In 2012, I chose “the platforming of education” as one of the “top ed-tech trends.” I made that selection in part because several ed-tech companies indicated that year that this was what they hoped to become – the MOOC startups, for example, as well as Edmodo, a social network marketed to K–12 schools. And “platforming” was a story that technology companies were telling about their own goals too. To become a platform is to be “the next Facebook” or “the next Google” (and as such, to be a windfall for investors).

    Platforms aim to centralize services and features and functionality so that you go nowhere else online. They aspire to be monopolies. Platforms enable and are enabled by APIs, by data collection and transference, by data analysis and data storage, by a marketplace of data (with users creating the data and users as the product). They’re silos, where all your actions can be tracked and monetized. In education, that’s the learning management system (the VLE) perhaps.

    I wondered briefly last year if we were seeing a failure in education platforms – or at least, a failure to fulfill some of the wild promises that investors and entrepreneurs were making back in 2012. A failure to “platform.” Despite raising some $87.5 million in venture capital, for example, Edmodo hadn’t even figured out a business model, let alone become a powerful platform. Similarly MOOC startups have now all seemed to pivot towards corporate technology training, but certainly all corporate training isn’t running through these companies. Neither Coursera nor Udacity nor edX have become corporate training platforms, although perhaps that’s what Microsoft hopes to become, as a result of its acquisition of the professional social network LinkedIn, which had previously acquired the online training company Lynda.com.

    Platforms haven’t gone away, even if specifically education technology companies haven’t successfully platformed education – yet. Technology companies, on the other hand, seem well poised to do so – not just Microsoft, but Google and Apple, of course. And even Facebook has made an effort to this end, partnering with a chain of charter schools in the US, Summit Public Schools, in order to build a “personalized learning platform.” From the company’s website:

    The platform comes with a comprehensive curriculum developed by teachers in classrooms. The base curriculum is aligned with the Common Core, and each course includes meaningful projects, playlists of content and assessments, all of which can be customized. Teachers can adapt or create new playlists and projects to meet their students’ needs.

    “Playlists” – this seems to be one of the latest buzzwords connected to personalization. “Students build content knowledge by working at their own pace and take assessments on demand,” the Summit website says. But while students might be able to choose which order they tackle the “playlist,” there isn’t really open inquiry about what “songs” (if you will) they get to listen to.

    AltSchool is another Silicon Valley company working on a “personalized learning platform.” It was founded in 2014 by Max Ventilla, a former Google executive. AltSchool has raised $133 million in venture funding from Zuckerberg Education Ventures, the Emerson Collective (the venture philanthropy firm founded by Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs), Founders Fund (Peter Thiel’s investment firm), Andreessen Horowitz, and others.

    The AltSchool classroom is one of total surveillance: cameras and microphones and sensors track students and teachers – their conversations, their body language, their facial expressions, their activities. The software – students are all issued computing devices – track the clicks. Everything is viewed as a transaction that can be monitored and analyzed and then re-engineered. Stirling University’s Ben Williamson has written fairly extensively about AltSchool, noting that the company describes itself as a “full stack” approach to education. From the AltSchool blog,

    As opposed to the traditional approach of selling or licensing technology to established organizations, the full stack startup builds and manages a complete end-to-end product or service, thereby bypassing incumbents.


    So why take a full stack approach to education?


    “You want to own the total outcome,” says A16z General Partner and AltSchool investor, Lars Delgaard. “We are building the world’s biggest private school system. To make that experience the one we want – one that is more affordable, better, and revolutionary – you need to have full ownership.”

    While the company initially started as with aspirations of launching a chain of private schools, like many education startups, it’s had to “pivot” – focusing less on opening schools (hiring teachers, recruiting students) and more on building and selling software (hiring engineers, hiring marketers). But it retains, I’d argue, this “full stack” approach. Rather than thinking about the platforming of education as just a matter of centralizing and controlling the software, the data, the analytics, we have this control spilling out into the material world – connected to sensors and cameras, but also shaping the way in which all the practices of school happen and – more frighteningly, I think – the shape our imagination of school might take.

    John Herrman recently wrote in The New York Times that

    Platforms are, in a sense, capitalism distilled to its essence. They are proudly experimental and maximally consequential, prone to creating externalities and especially disinclined to address or even acknowledge what happens beyond their rising walls. And accordingly, platforms are the underlying trend that ties together popular narratives about technology and the economy in general. Platforms provide the substructure for the “gig economy” and the “sharing economy”; they’re the economic engine of social media; they’re the architecture of the “attention economy” and the inspiration for claims about the “end of ownership.”

    Platforms are not substitutes for community. They are not substitutes for collective political action. We should resist the platforming of education, I’d argue. We should resist because of the repercussions for labor – the labor of teaching, the labor of learning. We should resist because of the repercussions for institutions, for the law, for democracy.

    And these are the things I try to point out when I select the “top ed-tech trends” – too many other people want us to simply marvel at their predictions and products. I want us to consider instead the ideologies, the implications.


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    These remarks were given at Coventry University as part of my visiting fellowship at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab

    I am best known, no doubt, for my criticism of education technology. And perhaps for that reason, people perk up when I point to things that I think are interesting or innovative (and to be clear, interesting or innovative because of their progressive not regressive potential).

    Often when I say that I think that the “Domain of One’s Own” initiative is one of the most important education technologies, I always hear pushback from the Twitter riffraff. “What’s so special about a website?” folks will sneer.

    Well, quite a lot, I’d contend. The Web itself is pretty special – Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of a global hyperlinked information system. A system that was – ideally at least – openly available and accessible to everyone, designed for the purpose of sharing information and collaborating on knowledge-building endeavors. That purpose was not, at the outset, commercial. The technologies were not, at the outset, proprietary.

    The World Wide Web just had its 28th anniversary, and Tim Berners-Lee penned an article – an “open letter” – in which he identified three major trends that he’s become increasingly worried about:

    • We’ve lost control of our personal data
    • It’s too easy for misinformation to spread on the Web
    • Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding

    These are trends that should concern us as citizens, no doubt. But they’re expressly trends that should concern us as educators.

    I think we could slightly reword these trends too to identify problems with education technology as it’s often built and implemented:

    • Students have lost control of their personal data
    • By working in digital silos specially designed for the classroom (versus those tools that they will encounter in their personal and professional lives) students are not asked to consider how digital technologies work and/or how these technologies impact their lives
    • Education technologies, particularly those that enable “algorithmic decision-making,” need transparency and understanding

    (You can substitute the word “scholar” for “student” in all cases above, too, I think.)

    By providing students and staff with a domain, I think we can start to address this. Students and staff can start to see how digital technologies work – those that underpin the Web and elsewhere. They can think about how these technologies shape the formation of their understanding of the world – how knowledge is formed and shared; how identity is formed and expressed. They can engage with that original purpose of the Web – sharing information and collaborating on knowledge-building endeavors – by doing meaningful work online, in the public, with other scholars. That they have a space of their own online, along with the support and the tools to think about what that can look like.

    It doesn’t have to be a blog. It doesn’t have to be a series of essays presented in reverse chronological order. You don’t have to have comments. You don’t have to have analytics. You can delete things after a while. You can always make edits to what you’ve written. You can use a subdomain. (I do create a new subdomain for each project I’m working on. And while it’s discoverable – ostensibly – this work is not always linked or showcased from the “home page” of my website.) You can license things how you like. You can make some things password-protected. You can still post things elsewhere on the Internet – long rants on Facebook, photos on Instagram, mixes on Soundcloud, and so on. But you can publish stuff on your own site first, and then syndicate it to these other for-profit, ad-based venues.

    I recognize that learning these technologies takes time and effort. So does learning how to navigate the VLE. Website design, I promise you – skills like HTML and CSS and Markdown – are going to look better on a CV than… well, no one boasts they can use a VLE except instructional technologists, and I don’t think the mission of Coventry is to graduate hundreds of those.

    I’m pretty resistant to framing “domains” as simply a matter of “skills.” Because I think its potential is far more radical than that. This isn’t about making sure literature students “learn to code” or history students “learn to code” or medical faculty “learn to code” or chemistry faculty “learn to code.”

    Rather it’s about recognizing that the World Wide Web is site for scholarly activity. It’s about recognizing that students are scholars.

    Washington State University’s Mike Caulfield has laid out a different set of concerns than Tim Berners-Lee’s (although I think they overlap substantially when it comes to questions of misinformation and democracy). Mike talks about the difference between what he describes as the “garden” and the “stream.” The stream are the other threats to the Web, I’d argue – these are Twitter and Facebook most obviously. The status updates and links that rush past us, often stripped of context and meaning and certainly stripping us of any opportunity for contemplation or reflection. The garden, on the other hand, encourages just that. It does so by design.

    And that’s the Web. That’s your domain. You cultivate ideas there – quite carefully, no doubt, because others might pop by for a think. But also because it’s your space for a think.


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    These remarks were given yesterday at Coventry University as part of my visiting fellowship at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab. I took part in a panel on "Technology-Enhanced Student Attainment and Retention" with Daniel Burgos from the International University of La Rioja and Lynn Clouder from Coventry University

    As I prepped for my remarks here, I did stop to think a bit about whether I’m the right respondent – am I a social scientist? My formal academic training was really much more in the humanities – I dropped out of a PhD program in Comparative Literature. I do have a graduate degree in Folklore Studies, which is a kin of anthropology and is a field that is a bit of both, I suppose: social sciences and the humanities. I do consider myself, in some ways, an ethnographer. What I am not – not really or not particularly well – is a quantitative researcher. Or at least, I’ve never taken a class in educational research methods, and it’s been about 20 years since I took a class in statistics. I have only the vaguest recollection of what p values are and why they’re significant (I think that’s a bit of word play. But I am not certain).

    What I do have, with full confidence, is a solid rolodex. I have friends who do education research and run regression tables for a living. And when press releases about studies on various education technologies cross my desk, I often ask for their help in deciphering the findings.

    That’s what journalists should do instead of relying on the PR or on the abstracts from journal articles – which in fairness, if you don’t have access to a research library is sometimes all you can read. That’s what academics and administrators should do instead of relying on the PR or on the salespeople who offer you freebies at conferences.

    But let me pause for a minute and restate that: when press releases about studies on various education software cross my desk… Press releases, my inbox is full of them – sometimes from universities, more often from the software makers themselves. Salespeople, the industry is full of them. There’s a lot of marketing about educational software. There’s a lot of hype about educational software. But that’s not necessarily because there’s a lot of solid research that demonstrates “effectiveness” or (and this is key) a lot of “good” ed-tech.

    And I’ll say something that people might find upsetting or offensive: I’m not sure that “solid research” would necessarily impress me. I don’t actually care about “assessments” or “effectiveness.” That is, they’re not interesting to me as a scholar. My concerns about “what works” about ed-tech have little to do with whether or not there’s something we can measure or something we can bottle as an “outcome”; indeed, I fear that what we can measure often shapes our discussions of “effect.”

    What interests me nonetheless are the claims that are made about ed-tech – what we are told it can do. I listen for these stories and the recurring themes in them because I think they reveal a number of really important things: what we value, who we value in education; how we imagine learning happens; what we think is wrong with the current model of teaching and/or system of education; what we think will fix all this; and so on.

    (I use that pronoun “we” in its broadest sense. Like “we all humans.” I do want us to recognize there are many, many competing values and many, many competing visions for education. And that means there are lots of opinions – many, many that are grounded in “research” and many, many that are peddled by researchers themselves – about what we should do to make teaching and learning “better.”)

    Why does attainment matter, for example? To whom does attainment matter? What do we mean by attainment? If it something we can measure? Is it something that education can actually intervene upon? If so, how? If so, in what ways? Why does retention matter? To whom does retention matter? Why? Why do we use words like “intervention” to describe our efforts to address “retention” or “attainment”?

    Do we use the word “intervention” because it’s a medical term? A scientific term? Are we diagnosing something about students?

    As such, I’m very interested in the phrase “technology-enhanced” in the title of this panel. First of all, I think it does underscore that what we do without technology – to attain, to retain – doesn’t work. (We can ask “doesn’t work for whom?) Let’s consider why not. Is it an institutional issue? A systemic, societal one? Is there something ”wrong“ with students? Do we see this as a human issue? Or, as it’s technology-enhanced,” is it an engineering problem?

    My concern, I think – and I repeat this a lot – is that we have substituted surveillance for care. Our institutions do not care for students. They do not care for faculty. They have not rewarded those in it for their compassion, for their relationships, for their humanity.

    Adding a technology layer on top of a dispassionate and exploitative institution does not solve anyone’s problems. Indeed, it creates new ones. What do we lose, for example, if we more heavily surveil students? What do we lose when we more heavily surveil faculty? The goal with technology-enhanced efforts, I fear, is compliance not compassion and not curiosity. So sure, some “quantitative metrics” might tick upward. But at what cost? And at what cost to whom?


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    This was the first-half of a joint presentation at Coventry University as part of my visiting fellowship at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab. The better half was delivered by Jim Groom. Our topic, broadly speaking: "a domain of one's own"

    “The Internet’s completely over,” Prince told The Daily Mirror in 2010. People laughed at him. Or many of the digital technorati did. They scoffed at his claims, insisting instead that the Internet was inevitable. The Internet was the future of everything.

    When it came to music, the technorati contended, no longer would any of us own record albums. (We wouldn’t own books or movies or cars or houses either. Maybe we wouldn’t even own our university degrees.) We’d just rent. We’d pay for subscription services. We’d stream singles instead. We’d share – well, not really “share,” but few would complain when a post-ownership society got labeled as such. Few would care, of course, except those of us struggling to make money in this “new economy.”

    Prince was wrong about the Internet, the technorati insisted. Turns out, Prince was right. The “new economy” sucks. It’s utterly exploitative.

    But many technorati would never admit that Prince was right – perhaps until Prince’s death this time last year when everyone hailed him as one of the greatest artists of our day. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, for example – an organization that, as its name suggests, sees itself as a defender of “Internet freedom,” particularly with regards to copyright and free speech online – had inducted Prince into the Takedown Hall of Shame in 2013, establishing and then awarding him with the “Raspberry Beret Lifetime Aggrievement Award for extraordinary abuses of the takedown process in the name of silencing speech.” Prince was, no doubt, notorious for demanding that bootleg versions of his songs and his performances be removed from the Web. He threatened websites like YouTube with lawsuits; he demanded fans pull photos and lyrics and cellphone videos offline. It was, until recently, almost impossible to find Prince’s music on streaming services like Spotify or video services like YouTube.

    And thus Prince was viewed by some as a Luddite. But many of those folks utterly misunderstood Prince’s relationship to technologies – much like many, I’d argue, misconstrue what the Luddites in the early nineteenth century were actually so angry about when they took to smashing looms.

    It was never about the loom per se. It’s always about who owns the machines; it’s about who benefits from one’s labor, from one’s craft.

    From the outset of his career, Prince was incredibly interested in computers and with technological experimentation – in how computers might affect art and relationships and creativity and love. He released an interactive CD-ROM in 1994, for example, a game that played a lot like another popular video game at the time, Myst. That video game was one of the few ways you could get ahold of the original font file for the symbol that Prince had adopted the previous when he officially changed his name. (His label was forced to mail floppy disks with the font to journalists so they could accurately write about the name change.) You could see Prince’s interest in computer technologies too in songs like “Computer Blue” from the Purple Rain soundtrack (1984) and “My Computer” from the album (his nineteenth) Emancipation (1996). The lyrics in the latter, which some argue presage social media – okay, sure – but perhaps more aptly simply reflect someone who was active in (or at least aware of) the discussion forums and chatrooms of the 1990s:

    I scan my computer looking 4 a site

    Somebody 2 talk 2, funny and bright

    I scan my computer looking 4 a site

    Make believe it’s a better world, a better life

    The following year, Prince released Crystal Ball, and in what was a novel move at the time, put all the album’s liner notes online, via a fairly new technology called a “Web site.” A few years later, Prince launched a subscription service that promised to give fans exclusive access to new music, again via a site he controlled.

    See, Prince didn’t hate the Internet per se, although he certainly had a complicated relationship with what has become an increasingly commodified and exploitative Internet and Web (one actively commodifying and exploiting not just musicians and recording artists). Rather, the problem that Prince identified with the Internet was that it enables – is built on, really – the idea of multiple digital copies, permission-less digital copying. And Prince has always, always fought to retain control of the copies of his work, to retain control of his copyright.

    “I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else,” Prince told The Daily Mirror in that 2010 interview.

    They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it."


    The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.

    He later clarified what he meant to The Guardian: “What I meant was that the internet was over for anyone who wants to get paid, and I was right about that. Tell me a musician who’s got rich off digital sales. Apple’s doing pretty good though, right?”

    If you’re wondering why I’m talking about Prince today and not education technology, you’re not paying close enough attention to the ways in which the ed-tech industry gets rich off of the creative work (and the mundane work) of students and scholars alike. Indeed, I wanted to invoke Prince today and talk a little bit about how his stance on the Internet – and much more importantly, his stance on the control and the ownership of his creative work – might help us think about the flaws in education technology and how it views ownership and control of data, how it extracts value from us in order to profit from our labor, our intellectual property. And I hope that by retelling the story of Prince and the Internet, by telling a counter-narrative to one that’s simply “Prince hated it,” we can think about what’s wrong with how ed-tech – as an industry and as an institutional practice – treats those doing creative and scholarly work. Not because we hate or resist the Internet, but because we want to build and support technologies that are not exploitative or extractive.

    Me, I will gladly echo Prince – I do so with the utmost respect and with a great deal of shock and sadness still to this day that he’s gone – “education technology’s completely over.”

    “If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you,” Prince told Rolling Stone in 1996, on the cusp of the release of his album Emancipation. (A master recording is the first, the original recording of a song, from which all subsequent copies are made.) Prince had famously battled with Warner Bros over his contract and his catalog. He’d recorded with the label from 1978 to 1996 – and that included his biggest hit record, Purple Rain. Fighting with Warner Bros had prompted Prince to change his name to the symbol. Born Prince Rogers Nelson, Prince discovered that he didn’t even own his own name, let alone his music. He hoped that by changing his name, he’d be able to get out of his contract – or at least protest its terms. He appeared with the word “slave” written on his cheek at the 1995 BRIT Awards. His ­acceptance speech at the event: “Prince. In concert: ­perfectly free. On record: slave.”

    In 2014, Prince signed a deal to get his masters back. He controlled his music. The original copies of his music. He could decide what to release and what not to release and when and how to release it.

    Prince fought for a long time with record labels, and arguably that makes his response to the new digital “masters” – Apple, Google, Spotify, and such – more understandable. But his assertions about masters and slaves are perhaps more than a little overstated, overwrought. And as such, I want to be a little cautious about making too much about a connection between the ownership of ideas and the ownership of bodies and how control and exploitation function in academia.

    In the US (and I’m not sure how this works in the UK), if you request a copy of your educational records from your university, they send you a transcript. That is, they send you a copy. You can request a copy of your articles from academic publications. Rarely – although hopefully increasingly – do authors retain their rights. Students often find themselves uploading their content – their creative work – into the learning management system (the VLE). Perhaps they retain a copy of the file on their computer; but with learning analytics and plagiarism detection software, they still often find themselves having their data scanned and monetized, often without their knowledge or consent.

    So I want us to think about the ways in which students and scholars, like Prince, find themselves without control over their creative work, find themselves signing away their rights to their data, their identity, their future. We sign these rights away all the time. We compel students to do so. We tell them that this is simply how the industry, the institution works. You want a degree, you want a record label, you must use the institutional technology. You must give up your masters.

    You needn’t. None of us need to. (Of course, none of us are Prince. Perhaps it seems a little overwhelming to fight the corporate masters like he did. But I believe that “domains” is one small step towards that.)


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  • 04/07/17--15:31: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics


    Trump says the Secretary of Education is “highly respected.” Certainly this week’s news really really underscores how much:

    “What is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos doing with the rapper Pitbull in Miami?” asks The Washington Post.

    What’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s brother doing in the Seychelles with a friend of Putin?

    Also via The Washington Post: “ The cost of Betsy DeVos’s security detail– nearly $8 million over nearly 8 months.”

    Betsy DeVos isn’t listening to parents,” according to an op-ed in USA Today. Pretty sure “meet with Pitbull” and “spend millions on protection services from the Federal Marshals” are not on anyone’s list of education priorities.

    “2 Education Dept. Picks Raise Fears on Civil Rights Enforcement,” The New York Times reports: “A lawyer who represented Florida State University in an explosive sexual assault case and another lawyer who during the 2016 presidential campaign accused Hillary Clinton of enabling sexual predators have been chosen for key roles in the Department of Education, raising fears that the agency could pull back from enforcing civil rights in schools and on college campuses.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Education Department Restores Pell Grant Eligibility for Students Whose Colleges Closed.” That is, shuttered for-profits like ITT Tech.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Congressional Republicans and the Trump White House appear poised to bring back year-round Pell Grant eligibility, which the Obama administration and Congress nixed in 2012 over cost concerns.”

    Via NPR: “Education Department Casts Doubts On Public Service Loan Forgiveness.”

    The New York Times’ Editorial Board weighs in on the Trump administration’s recent policy shift on student debt: “The Wrong Move on Student Loans.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education will end four experimental initiatives launched under the Obama administration granting participating institutions a waiver from certain statutes concerning federal student aid. Those initiatives, known as experimental sites, included a program popular with colleges allowing them to limit the unsubsidized loans a student could take out.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The FAFSA’s Midterm Grade.”

    In other financial aid news – via Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy: “Hackers Had Access To Tax Data For Up To 100,000 FAFSA Users.”

    Via Edsurge: “What Federal Education Budget Cuts Mean for Edtech.” (No mention of the FAFSA tool, which is a good reminder than when Edsurge writes about ed-tech they really only mean what corporations can sell to schools.)

    Via the US News & World Report: “Melania Trump, Jordan’s Queen Tour Girls-Only Charter School.” (I think this is FLOTUS’s first appearance in the Hack Education Weekly News since the inauguration. Congrats, FLOTUS.)

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “New Law Nixing Broadband Privacy Protections Stirs K–12 Fears.”

    Via The New York Times: “Trump Completes Repeal of Online Privacy Protections From Obama Era.”

    Immigration and Education


    Via NPR: “Travel Ban’s ‘Chilling Effect’ Could Cost Universities Hundreds Of Millions.”

    Via Bloomberg: “Trump Cracks Down on H–1B Visa Program That Feeds Silicon Valley.”

    Via NPR: “Deported Students Find Challenges At School In Tijuana.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via NPR: “Judge Approves $25 Million Settlement Of Trump University Lawsuit.”

    The US has a new Supreme Court justice, (plagiarizer) Neil Gorsuch.

    The New York Times on pending legal cases involving trans students: “A Transgender Student Won Her Battle. Now It’s War.”

    Having dropped its appeal of the FTC ruling, “Amazon will refund millions of unauthorized in-app purchases made by kids,” Techcrunch reports.

    Via The New York Times: “U.K. Court Upholds Fine for Dad Who Took Child From School for Disney Trip.”

    Testing, Testing…


    Via The NY Daily News: “Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy High School is sitting out the city’s SAT School Day on Wednesday because the test doesn’t include the optional essay portion, a Success spokeswoman said.”

    “Free College”


    Via Inside Higher Ed: BernieSanders Keeps Focus on Free College.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Via The LA Times: “Westech College’s abrupt closure raises questions about training options.”

    Via Edsurge: “Student Results From Coding Bootcamp Coalition: 92% On-Time Graduation Rate, $70K Salary.” The results are self-reported based on a survey administered by a private student loan company which offers loans to coding bootcamp enrollees, but I’m sure it’s all on the up-and-up.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Coding Boot Camps Come Into the Fold With Campus Partnerships.”

    Via the Santa Fe Reporter: “Planned sale of Santa Fe University of Art and Design is scrapped as school stops enrolling new students.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “With a federal government that now appears sympathetic to for-profit colleges, city officials in Milwaukee seek to block institutions that violate Obama-era regulations.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “In the wake of federal criticism of its accreditation standards, the American Bar Association sanctions another for-profit law school.” That’d be Arizona Summit Law School.

    More on Pell Grant eligibility for for-profit students in the education politics section above. And the Trump University fraud case has been settled – more in the courts section above.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Via the Coursera blog: “Coursera now offers free trials for most Specializations.”

    There’s some Udacity news in the “business of ed-tech” section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…



    Via The Washington Post: “At U-Va., a ‘watch list’ flags VIP applicants for special handling.”

    Via The New York Times: “The Ivy League Sweep: Still Rare, but You’re More Likely to Hear About It.”

    Via the BBC: “News that a high school student wrote nothing but #BlackLivesMatter on his personal statement in an application to California’s Stanford University– and got in – has been raising some eyebrows.”

    Via ANOVA (FdB’s new blog): “Success Academy Charter Schools accepted $550,000 from pro-Trump billionaires.”



    Via The Atlantic: “The Alt-Right Curriculum.”

    Via Ars Technica: “Libraries have become a broadband lifeline to the cloud for students.”

    Bryan Alexander on“Still more American university cuts and mergers.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Canadian government this week announced that it will provide 117.6 million Canadian dollars (about $87 million) to support universities in recruiting 25 top researchers from outside the country (including Canadian expatriates) to work at Canadian universities.”

    Via The New York Times: “Florida Prepares to Apologize for Horrors at Boys’ School.” That’s at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, where decades of young boys – mostly African-Americans – suffered from abuse and neglect.

    Via eCampus News: “MIT BLOSSOMS enters first-of-its-kind partnership with charter school.”

    “Have Silicon Valley Teachers Using Technology Daily Altered Their Classroom Practice?” asks Stanford University’s Larry Cuban.

    Via The New York Times: “Digital Detox at Liberty University.”

    Accreditation, Certification, and Graduation Requirements


    Via The Washington Monthly: “ A Well-Intended Bad Idea: Mayor Emanuel’s Plan for Chicago High Schools.” Honestly, Emanuel gets too much credit in that headline. It’s simply a bad idea. “Public high-school students would have to show a job or college acceptance to get a diploma,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

    Here’s a hate-read for you: “Your College Degree is Worthless.” Penned by a guy with multiple degrees who’s running an “apprentice at a startup” startup.

    Via Campus Technology: “ASU Students Earn Credits for Spending a Semester in Silicon Valley.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Media Attention at Morehouse College Will Trigger Investigation by Accreditor.”

    “Do Preschool Teachers Really Need to Be College Graduates?” asks The New York Times.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Accreditor Proposes Ban on Paying Recruiters of International Students.”

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “NCAA Puts North Carolina Back Into Mix After Repeal of ‘Bathroom Bill’.”

    Via CBS Sports: “Oregon’s run to 2017 Final Four has disturbing backdrop that can’t be overlooked.”

    There was some other basketball news, but I think I missed it.

    From the HR Department


    Jerks and the Start-Ups They Ruin” by Dan Lyons.

    Via Education Week: “California’s Top Superintendent Leaves for Ed-Tech Startup AltSchool.” Actually AltSchool hired more than one exec: Devin Vodicka (from Vista Unified School District in San Diego), Sam Franklin (from Pittsburgh Public Schools), Ben Kornell (from Envision Learning Partners), Colleen Broderick (from ReSchool), and Laura Hughes Modi (from AirBnB). The latter because someone had to go and shred the “Uber for Education” mantra bullshit, perhaps.

    Via NPR: “Kansas Student Newspaper’s Fact Check Results In New Principal’s Resignation.”

    Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Hiring Personalized-Learning Engineers,” says Education Week. Oh yay. “Learning engineers.” Thanks to everyone who promoted that bullshit phrase.

    Richard Culatta Named New Chief Executive Officer of ISTE,” Education Week reports. Culatta was the former head of the Office of Education Technology under President Obama.

    Via The Register Guard: “UO cutting 31 jobs, including 21 instructors from its largest college.” That’s the University of Oregon.

    The Business of Job Training


    Via Udacity’s blog: “‘Valuable Skills’ and What This Means For The Future Of Learning.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Via Bloomberg: “Student Debt Giant Navient to Borrowers: You’re on Your Own.”

    Google adds fact-check findings to search and news results,” says The Verge, adding “But it won’t do much about the fake news problem.”

    And it’s perfect really. Ad-based sites like Google screw up information and knowledge online. And then more money pours into other technology companies that promise to fix “news literacy.”

    Via The New York Times: “A Toy for Toddlers Doubles as Code Bootcamp.” Get them started on for-profit STEM education early, amirite.

    “It’s Important for Us to Be Critical of STEM Education Efforts,” says The Pacific Standard. Indeed.

    Coding for What?” [asks Stirling University’s Ben Williamson](Coding for What?).

    “Herding Blind Cats’: How Do You Lead a Class Full of Students Wearing VR Headsets?” asks Edsurge.

    Virtual Reality Could Transform Education as We Know It,” insists Education Week. Oh. I’m. Sure.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Manifold, a hybrid publishing platform created by the U of Minnesota Press and CUNY’s Graduate Center, launches in beta form with features supporting experimental scholarly work.”

    Via NPR: “How Two Georgia Tech Students Came Up With The Common App For Internships.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via The New York Times: “Learning to Think Like a Computer.”

    Via Edsurge, always ready to repeat the rather ludicrous claims Big Blue makes about its AI brand: “IBM Watson’s Chief Architect Talks Democratizing AI, Starting With Fifth Graders.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Report: AI and Cognitive Systems Spending to Hit $12.5 Billion Worldwide This Year.”

    Robots Are Changing The World,” says edX, which hopes to sell you on some classes on robots.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Remember MOOCs? My, how they’ve pivoted. Via Reuters: “Udacity Self-Driving Taxi Spin-Off Voyage Takes Aim at Uber.”

    Test-prep company Testbook has raised $4 million in Series A funding from Matrix Partners India. The company has raised $4.25 million total.

    Blackbaud has acquiredAcademicWorks.

    Vitalsource has acquiredVerba.

    According to Crunchbase, Donorschoose.org has received a $5 million grant from the PNC Financial Services Group.

    According to Edsurge, “Google, Lemann Foundation Invest $6.4M to Deliver Lessons to Brazilian Teachers’ Phones.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Pearson Share Prices Tumble on Worries About Online Ed. Prospects.”

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via Edsurge: “Panorama Offers New Platform to Help Teachers Track Student’s SEL Growth.” Among the “social emotional” signals, the company tracks: grit and growth mindset, for which students get a score between 1 to 5. Sounds totally legit.

    Via Motherboard: “Phony VPN Services Are Cashing in on America’s War on Privacy.”

    “Major internet providers say will not sell customer browsing histories,” Reuters tells us, but let’s not be naive here.

    More on privacy legislation (or the end-of-privacy legislation) and federal financial aid privacy screw-ups in the politics section above.

    Data and “Research”


    Via investment analyst firm CB Insights: “High Marks: Ed Tech Deals Tick Up In Q1’17.” Here are my calculations on VC funding from the same time period, for what it’s worth.

    Via Chalkbeat: “‘Harlem diaspora’ sends local children to 176 different public schools, report finds.”

    Via The Pacific Standard: “The Lifelong Effects of Music and Arts Classes.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study finds library directors are moving forward with big reorganizations plans, but they also may be struggling to communicate those plans to administrators and faculty members.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The readability of scientific abstracts is declining, according to the preliminary results of a major study.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Brookings Institution Researchers Find Many Countries Lack High-Quality Education Data.”

    “More Data on International Applications” via Inside Higher Ed.

    Via The New York Times: “Behind the Problem of Student Homelessness.”

    “Number of people who owe over $100,000 in student debt has quadrupled in 10 years,” according to MarketWatch.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Federal Reserve Bank of New York study suggests student loans don’t play a major role in limiting borrowers’ ability to buy a home later.”

    Daniel Willingham points to“New studies show the cost of student laptop use in lecture classes.”

    Via Education Week: “Implementation Woes Undermine Ambitious K–12 Ed-Tech Efforts, Study Finds.”

    Via Edsurge: “Survey Ranks 10 Key Trends for K–12 Tech Leaders.” The survey in question: “The fifth annual K–12 IT Leadership Survey conducted by the Consortium for School Networking.”

    “Who’s on the List of Most Popular Edtech Organizations and Jobs?” asks Edsurge, which counts those “most popular edtech organizations and jobs” based on those who pay to have their stuff advertised on Edsurge.

    Questionable data about coding bootcamps in the “future of for-profit higher ed” section above.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 04/14/17--03:31: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics


    From the Department of Education’s press release: “U.S. Secretary of Education Announces Chief of Staff and Additional Staff Hires.” And what a fine bunch. Via ProPublica: “DeVos Pick to Head Civil Rights Office Once Said She Faced Discrimination for Being White.” Also on the list of new hires: Robert Eitel, “who had been criticized for his dual role as a top for-profit college official and Education Department adviser, has resigned from his position at Bridgepoint Education.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “DeVos Withdraws Obama-Era Memos Focused on Improving Loan Servicing.” Also via CHE: “DeVos’s Rollback of Servicing Guidance Raises Fears Among Borrowers’ Advocates.” More on the policy change via IHE. Here’s the very short press release from the Department of Education.

    Via The New York Times: “The Accusations Against Navient.” Navient is the country’s largest student loan provider.

    “Researchers say removal of an IRS tool for financial aid applicants may have slowed FAFSA submissions, while college aid groups warn that affected students could already be losing out on aid,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    “A bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate would open up Pell Grants to low-income students who earn college credits while still enrolled in high school,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    ESSA’s Flexible Accountability Measures Give PE Teachers (and Entrepreneurs) Hope,” says Edsurge. Well, thank goodness that entrepreneurs are hopeful.

    Special Ed School Vouchers and the Burden of a ‘Simple Fix’” by The New York Times’ Dana Goldstein.

    Via The New York Times: “Arizona Frees Money for Private Schools, Buoyed by Trump’s Voucher Push.”

    Via Boing Boing: “California’s charter schools: hundreds of millions of tax dollars for wasteful, redundant, low-quality education.”

    Via FOX 59: “State lawmakers say virtual pre-school will be part of pre-K bill.” State lawmakers in Indiana, that is.

    Via The Washington Post: Governor Scott “Walker wants Wisconsin to be first state to stop dictating how much time kids should go to school.”

    Via Raw Story: “White House solicits Sesame Street characters for Easter Egg Roll four days after bid to end PBS funding.” No one knew the White House Easter Egg Roll could be so complicated.

    Via Wired: “The New FCC Chairman’s Plan to Undermine Net Neutrality.”

    Via The New York Times: “New Mexico Outlaws School ‘Lunch Shaming’.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “California Shows The Rest Of The Country How To Boost Kindergarten Vaccination Rates.”

    Immigration and Education


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Evolving Visa and Border Regime.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via The New York Times: “Rolling Stone Settles Lawsuit Over Debunked Campus Rape Article.”

    Via the AP: “Michigan courts can have no role in admission decisions at faith-based schools, a lawyer told the state Supreme Court on Thursday in a case that tests whether a family can sue a Roman Catholic school over their daughter’s rejection.”

    Testing, Testing…


    Via WaPo’s Valerie Strauss: “The list of test-optional colleges and universities keeps growing – despite College Board’s latest jab.”

    “Free College”


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “New York State Is Set to Test Free Tuition.” Note: readthe fine print. More on the proposal via Inside Higher Ed.

    Via The New York Times: “New York’s Free-Tuition Program Will Help Traditional, but Not Typical, Students.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As New York Embraces a Free-Tuition Plan, Private Colleges Fear the Consequences.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    ProPublica looks at the Dream Center Foundation’s acquisition of the Education Management Corporation.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “South Carolina State University is the latest historically black institution to align with the University of Phoenix to expand its online education offerings.”

    Sante Fe University of Art and Design will close at the end of the 2017–2018 school year.

    Via Edsurge: “Tech Needs More Than Coders. This Bootcamp Will Train Sales Chops (and Even Pay For It).” The bootcamp in question: Sales Bootcamp.

    “Common (and Avoidable) Legal Pitfalls for Coding Bootcamps and Alternative Education Providers,” according to three lawyers writing for Edsurge.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Via the Coursera blog: “New mobile features: Transcripts, notes, and reminders.”

    Udacity has updated its online "classroom."

    It’s lovely to see the big innovation from the MOOC startups in 2017 involves the learning management system.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via The LA Times: “Boy, 8, and teacher slain in San Bernardino school shooting; gunman kills himself.” The Secretary of Education’s response; POTUS says nothing.

    Via The New York Times: “Sexual Abuse at Choate Went On for Decades, School Acknowledges.”

    Via NPR: “On The Navajo Nation, Special Ed Students Await Water That Doesn’t Stink.”

    Via The New York Times: “PTA Gift for Someone Else’s Child? A Touchy Subject in California.”

    Via NPR: “Where Corporal Punishment Is Still Used In Schools, Its Roots Run Deep.”

    Is college worth the cost?” asks PBS.

    Via NPR: “White Supremacists Trying To Recruit On College Campuses.”

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How Open E-Credentials Will Transform Higher Education.” “These developments suggest that open e-credentials in 2017 are indeed as inevitable as e-commerce was in 1997.” LOL, okay.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A changing economy and professionalization is driving an increase in education requirements for child-care workers, but there are concerns about mandating higher degrees for a field that traditionally doesn’t pay well.”

    “Can States Tackle Police Misconduct With Certification Systems?” asks The Atlantic. Betteridge’s Law of Headlines tells us “no”, as does history and sociology.

    “Should High School Students Need A Foreign Language To Graduate?” asks NPR.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    LeBron James has emerged as an American education leader,” according to The Plain Dealer’s Phillip Morris.

    Via The Sun News: “CCU cheerleaders were paid up to $1,500 for dates, according to investigation.” That’s Coastal Carolina University.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “NCAA Moving to Stop Two-a-Day Football Practices.”

    Via The Atlantic: “How School Start Times Affect High-School Athletics.”

    From the HR Department


    Graduate students at American University have voted to unionize.

    Contests and Awards


    The winners of this year’s Harold W McGraw Jr Prize in Education: Dr. Christine Cunningham, Founder and Director of Engineering is Elementary (EiE) at the Museum of Science; Dr. Sandy Shugart, President of Valencia College; and Chris Anderson, TED “curator.”

    The winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes include Harvard University’s Matthew Desmond for his book Evicted and the Salt Lake Tribune’s staff for its reporting on sexual assault at BYU.

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    “Is Your Edtech Product a Refrigerator or Washing Machine?” asks the Clayton Christensen Institute’s Julia Freeland Fisher. Historian Jonathan Rees, author of Refrigeration Nation, has a wonderful response to this silly “disruptive innovation” mantra, noting how history gets rewritten to support certain ed-tech narratives.

    I love this headline from Campus Technology, which echoes the wise words of Bill and Ted from their excellent adventure: “Ed Tech Changes… and Stays the Same.”

    Via Nieman Lab: “ This ‘Wikipedia for fact-checking’ by students makes more room for context and origins of claims online.”

    Facebook gets in the “literacy” business. Not really. It’s still in the entertainment and advertising business. “Facebook’s News Literacy Advice Is Harmful to News Literacy,” says Mike Caulfield.

    Via Desmos: “The Desmos Geometry Tool.”

    Edsurge profiles Lexia Learning in a new research series paid for by a variety of investors and corporations. No mention that Lexia Learning is owned byRosetta Stone. Very thorough research, gj.

    Via CMX: “ How Edcamp Scaled Up 1,500 Community Events Connecting Educators All Over the World.”

    Pearson and Chegg are partnering for textbook rentals.

    “Ed access to VR growing as low-cost options expand,” says Education Dive. Folks really really really really want VR to be “a thing,” don’t they.

    “Why Fixing the Pipeline Alone Won’t End Edtech’s Diversity Problem,” says Edsurge.

    In other STEM news, Pornhub awards a “women in tech” scholarship. Because “Pornhub cares.”

    “What Would Happen If Learning in School Became More Like Working at a Startup?” asks Edsurge. More racial and sexual discrimination? More dismantling of public institutions in the name of John Galt?

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Cost That Holds Back Ed-Tech Innovation.” Spoiler alert: humans.

    Also via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Growing Pains Begin to Emerge in Open-Textbook Movement.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via The Guardian: “The automated university: bots and drones amid the dreaming spires.”

    “Mixing Automation and a Human Touch, New Software Helps Keep Students ‘On Task’,” says Edsurge.

    AI Learns Gender and Racial Biases from Language” says Jeremy Hsu in IEEE Spectrum. But I’m sure keeping students “on task” as in the Edsurge story above is a totally progressive and unbiased initiative.

    Via Edsurge: “CSUEB Partners with Cognii to Offer Chatbot Services for Students.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    College Ave has raised $30 million in Series D funding from Comcast Ventures and Leading Edge Ventures. The private student loan company has raised $50 million total, but I’m told “fintech” doesn’t “count” as ed-tech so let’s just ignore this trend, right?

    Smart Sparrow has raised $4 million from Moelis Australia Asset Management, One Ventures, and Uniseed Ventures. The adaptive learning company has raised $16 million total.

    The Omidyar Network has invested $850,000 in the “future of tech” research organization Data & Society.

    Bomberbot has raised $795,000 from Social Impact Ventures. The learn-to-code company has raised $1.19 million total.

    TakeLessons has acquired digital sheet music company Chromatik.

    Venture/Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    “Who is the Walton Family Foundation Funding?” asks Diane Ravitch.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via the EFF: “Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy.”

    And spying on children at home. Via TNW: “Amazon‘s new dashboard gives parents eyes on their kids’ browsers.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Where Every Student Is a Potential Data Point.”

    Via Vocativ: “This Teen’s Story Is Your Worst ‘Predictive Policing’ Nightmare.”

    Speaking of predictive policing… Via Edsurge: “This Mathematician Brought Big Data to Advising. Then Deeper Questions Emerged.” The story praises the work of Tristan Denley and his course recommendation tool Degree Compass.

    Via Education Week: “Algorithmic Bias a Rising Concern for Ed-Tech Field, RAND Researchers Say.”

    Structural Justice in Student Analytics, or, the Silence of the Bunnies” by Jeffrey Alan Johnson.

    “What Is the Future of College Marketing?” asks Jeffrey Selingo in part 3 of a series in The Atlantic on big data and higher ed. (Part 1 and part 2.)

    Big Data Alone Won’t Help Students,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Other stories in its “big data” series“: ”Big Data for Student Success Still Limited to Early Adopters.“ ”Big Hopes, Scant Evidence.")

    Also via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Keeping Up With the Growing Threat to Data Security.”

    Via Times Higher Education: “The Australian Approach to Improving Ph.D. Completion Rates.” Spoiler alert: “tracking the performance of those who supervise doctoral students.” Metrics, not humanity. Never humanity.

    Data and “Research”


    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Value, Number of Education Deals Plummet Over Most Recent Year.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “K–12 Schools Could Save Billions by Sharing Ed-Tech Prices, Report Says.” The report is from the Technology for Education Consortium. (I’ve written about the growing trend of companies and organizations selling procurement consulting services.)

    Via The Conversation: “ Who owns the world? Tracing half the corporate giants’ shares to 30 owners.”

    Jeb Bush’s ed-reform org ExcelinEd releases a data visualization tool based on school ratings data, Edsurge reports.

    Via MindShift: “Delay Kindergarten? Some Research Says, Enroll Anyway.”

    “For every $1 spent on SEL, there’s an $11 return,” says Education Dive, summarizing some Penn State and Robert Wood Foundation research into three bullet points.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “New study suggests female professors outperform men in terms of service– to their possible professional detriment.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Compensation survey from AAUP says faculty salaries are up slightly year over year, but institutional budgets continue to be balanced ‘on the backs’ of adjuncts and out-of-state students.”

    “Roughly two-thirds of undergraduates are paying more for college than is recommended by a common benchmark for affordability,” according to a report by the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, and New America.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study Examines Loan Aversion by Population.”

    RealClearEducation makes“The Case for Income Share Agreements.”

    “An update on the staggering mass of student loan debtby Bryan Alexander.

    “Has Underemployment Among College Graduates Gone Up?” asks Matt Bruenig.

    Via Mark Guzdial’s Computing Education Blog: “University CS graduation surpasses its 2003 peak, with poor diversity.”

    Via NPR: “Having Just One Black Teacher Can Keep Black Kids In School.”

    A report from the Movement Advancement Project: “Segregation and Stigma: Transgender Youth and School Facilities.”

    “The Current State of Educational Blogging 2016,” according to Edublogs’ Sue Waters.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Ithaka S+R and OCLC Research launch project to examine how universities and their libraries are changing.”

    Via the ANOVA: “Study of the Week: Computers in the Home.”

    Via Vox: “A new study finds political polarization is increasing most among those who use the internet least.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    This article is part of my research into "who funds education technology," which I plan to expand with my Spencer Education Fellowship

    The Omidyar Network announced earlier this week that it has invested in Data & Society, a New York City-based research institute co-founded by danah boyd. The two-year $850,000 grant will fund Data & Society’s work on “the social and cultural issues arising from the development of data-centric technology.”

    The grant is just one of a slew of recent investments by the Omidyar Network in companies and organizations that work in and around education technology, including Khan Academy, Hypothes.is, and Edsurge. And much like Edsurge (as well as another portfolio company, Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept), the Omidyar Network’s investment in Data & Society certainly raises questions about that organization’s ability to be “independent” in its research and analysis.

    The Omidyar Network, a “venture philanthropy” firm founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, has invested over $1 billion in various projects – those run both by for-profit companies and not-for-profit organizations in finance, public policy, property rights, journalism, and education. According to its promotional materials, the Omidyar Network is “dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. We invest in and help scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change.”

    The “power of markets,” according to this investment approach, is a force for “social good.” However, the history and the impact of the Omidyar Network’s investments, particularly in the Global South, tell a very different story. It’s a story of neoliberalism; it’s a story of privatized investment at the expense of public infrastructure. And when it comes to education – in the Global North and South – that story is of profound political importance.

    The Omidyar Network’s Education Portfolio


    Where the dollars have gone:

    • African Leadership Academy (leadership training) – $1.5 million
    • African Leadership University (accredited university) – investment amount unknown
    • Akshara Foundation (private school chain in India) – $950,000
    • AltSchool (private school chain in the US) – $133 million
    • Andela (coding bootcamp in Africa) – $27 million
    • Anudip Foundation (coding bootcamp in India) – $850,000
    • Artemisia (entrepreneurial training and startup accelerator program in Brazil) – investment amount unknown
    • Aspiring Minds (career placement in India) – investment amount unknown
    • Bridge International Academies (private school chain in Africa) – investment amount unknown
    • Code.org (computer science career marketing) – $3.5 million
    • Common Sense Media (media education) – $4.25 million
    • Creative Commons (open licenses) – investment amount unknown
    • DonorsChoose.org (crowdfunding school projects) – investment amount unknown
    • Edsurge (ed-tech marketing) – $2.8 million
    • Ellevation (English-language learning software in the US) – $6.4 million
    • EnglishHelper (English-language learning services in India) – investment amount unknown
    • FunDza (literacy program in South Africa) – $300,000
    • Geekie (adaptive learning platform in Brazil) – investment amount unknown
    • Guten News (literacy program in Brazil) – investment amount unknown
    • Hypothes.is (annotation software) – $1.9 million
    • Ikamva Youth (after-school tutoring program in South Africa) – $1.33 million
    • IMCO (think tank in Mexico) – $202,500
    • Innovation Edge (early childhood education in South Africa) – investment amount unknown
    • Kalibrr (predictive analytics for hiring in the Philippines) – investment amount unknown
    • Khan Academy (video-based instruction) – $3 million
    • LearnZillion (instructional content and professional development company in the US) – investment amount unknown
    • Linden Lab (best known as the maker of Second Life) – $19 million
    • Lively Minds (preschools in Ghana and Uganda) – $360,000
    • Numeric (tutoring program in South Africa) – investment amount unknown
    • Open Knowledge (data and knowledge-sharing organization) – $2.64 million
    • Platzi (online coding classes) – $2.1 million
    • Reach Capital (venture capital firm) – investment amount unknown
    • RLabs (entrepreneurship training in South Africa) – $465,000
    • Siyavula (adaptive textbooks in South Africa) – investment amount unknown
    • Skillshare (course marketplace) – $12 million
    • Socratic (homework help) – $6 million
    • SPARK Schools (a private school chain in Africa) – $9 million
    • Teach for All (Teach for America, globalized) – investment amount unknown
    • Teach for India (Teach for America but for India) – $2.5 million
    • The Education Alliance (organization supporting public-private partnerships in education in India) – investment amount unknown
    • Tinkergarten (marketplace for early childhood education) – $1.2 million
    • Varthana (private student loans in India) – investment amount unknown
    • Wikimedia Foundation (operator of Wikipedia) – investment amount unknown

    (Funding data drawn from Crunchbase and from the Omidyar Network’s website)

    Investment (as) Ideology


    In some ways, the Omidyar Network’s education investments look just like the rest of venture capitalists’: money for tutoring companies, learn-to-code companies, and private student loan companies.

    While many insist that the latter should not “count” as ed-tech, to ignore the companies offering private financing for education is to misconstrue the shape and direction that investors and philanthropists like Pierre Omidyar want education to take.

    It also obscures the shape and direction that these investors are pushing finance to take, particularly for the very poor and the “unbanked.” Indeed, microfinance initiatives in the developing world have been the cornerstone of the Omidyar Network’s investment strategy for over a decade now. This work has been incredibly controversial, and despite the hype about the promise of micro-loans – “financial inclusion” as the Omidyar Network calls it – the results from these programs have been mixed at best. That is, they have not pulled people out of extreme poverty but rather have saddled many with extreme debt. “Take SKS Microfinance,” write Mark Ames and Yasha Levine in a 2013 profile, “an Omidyar-backed Indian micro-lender whose predatory lending practices and aggressive collection tactics have caused a rash of suicides across India.”

    (The winners in microfinance investing: the investors.)

    In a 2012 article in the World Economic Review, Milford Bateman and Ha-Joon Chang argue that “microfinance in international development policy circles cannot be divorced from its supreme serviceability to the neoliberal/globalisation agenda.” Nor can the Omidyar Network’s investment policy – in microfinance and beyond – be separated from its explicitly neoliberal agenda.

    That holds particularly true for its education investments. The Omidyar Network has backed DonorsChoose.org, for example, which encourages teachers to crowdfund projects and supplies. “The end result,” write Ames and Levine, “is that it normalizes the continued strangling of public schools and the sense that only private funding can save education.”

    The Omidyar Network has backed AltSchool, a private school startup that blends algorithmic command-and-control with rhetoric about progressive education. “Montessori 2.0” and such. I recently spoke about AltSchool and its “full stack” approach to education – a technology platform that manages and monitors all digital activities and physical practices in the classroom. AltSchool is one of the most commonly-cited examples of how Silicon Valley plans to “disrupt” and reshape education.

    I find this “platforming” of education to be profoundly chilling (and profoundly anti-democratic), particularly with its penchant for total surveillance; but it’s probably Bridge International Academies that serves as the most troubling example of the Omidyar Network’s vision for the future of education.

    Bridge International Academies, which is also funded by the Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – is a private school chain operating in several African countries that hires untrained adults as teachers. These teachers read scripted lessons from a tablet that in turn tracks students’ assessments and attendance – as well as teachers’ own attendance and pay. Families must pay tuition – this isn’t free public education – and the cost is wildly prohibitive for most. Moreover, outsourcing to scripted lesson delivery does not build the capacity – in terms of infrastructure or human resources – that many African nations need. As such expansion of Bridge International Academies has been controversial, and the Ugandan government ordered all the Bridge schools there to close their doors in August of last year. But earlier in the year, Liberia announced its plans to outsource its entire education system to Bridge International.

    So, while in the US we see neoliberalism pushing to dismantle public institutions and public funding for public institutions, in the Global South, these very forces are there touting the “power of markets” to make sure public institutions can never emerge or thrive in the first place. Investors like the Omidyar Network are poised to extract value from the very people they promise their technologies and businesses are there to help.

    Conveniently, the Omidyar Network’s investment portfolio also includes journalistic and research organizations that are also poised to promote and endorse the narratives that aggrandize these very technocratic, market-based solutions.

    Disclosure: I have done some paid research for Data & Society on school accountability, and I have published a couple of articles on its website.


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    This was what I said this evening at a panel at the University of Mary Washington as part of its Presidential Inauguration Week. The panel was titled "Higher Education in the Disinformation Age: Can America's public liberal arts universities restore critical thinking and civility in public discourse?" The other panelists included Steve Farnsworth (University of Mary Washington), Sara Cobb (George Mason University), and Julian Hayter (University of Richmond). I only had ten minutes, so my remarks really only scratch the surface.

    In February 2014, I happened to catch a couple of venture capitalists complaining about journalism on Twitter. (Honestly, you could probably pick any month or year and find the same.) “When you know about a situation, you often realize journalists don’t know that much,” one tweeted. “When you don’t know anything, you assume they’re right.” Another VC responded, “there’s a name for this and I think Murray Gell-Mann came up with it but I’m sick today and too lazy to search for it.” A journalist helpfully weighed in: “Michael Crichton called it the ”Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect," providing a link to a blog with an excerpt in which Crichton explains the concept.

    Apologies for quoting Crichton at length:

    Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I call it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)


    Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.


    In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story – and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.


    That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all.


    But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.

    I remember, at the time, appreciating parts of this observation. Or at least, I too have often felt frustrated with the reporting I read on education and technology – topics I like to think I know something about. But I hope we can see how these assertions that we shouldn’t read and shouldn’t trust newspapers are dangerous – or at the very least, how these assertions might have contributed to our current misinformation “crisis.” And I’d add too – and perhaps this can be part of our discussion – that how we’ve typically thought about or taught “information literacy” or “media literacy” has seemingly done little to help us out of this mess.

    This isn’t just about Michael Crichton’s dismissal of journalism (and I’ll get to why he’s such a problematic figure here in a minute.) It’s the President. “Forget the press,” he said during the campaign. “Read the Internet.” It’s the digital technology industry – including those venture capitalists in my opening anecdote – which has invested in narratives and literally invested in products designed to “disrupt” if not destroy “traditional media.” Facebook. Twitter. Automattic (the developer of the blogging software WordPress). Despite the promises that these sorts of tools would “democratize” information, that the “blogosphere” and later social media would provide an important corrective to the failures of “mainstream journalism,” we find ourselves instead in a world in which institutions and experts are no longer trustworthy.

    And yet, all sorts of dis- and misinformation – on the Internet and (to be fair) on TV – is believed. And it’s believed in part because it’s not in print and not from experts or academics or certain journalists.

    I wanted to share this Michael Crichton story for a number of reasons. As I was preparing my remarks, I faced a couple of challenges. First, I couldn’t remember where or when I’d seen these tweets, although I was certain I’d first heard about the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect from venture capitalists on Twitter. Searching for old tweets – verifying Twitter itself as a source – is not easy. Twitter’s search function offers us to “See what’s happening right now.” The architecture of the platform is not designed as a historical record or source.

    I guess these tweets were the conversation I saw – I spent a lot of time looking through old VC tweets from 2013 and 2014 – although my memory tells me it was Tim O’Reilly, a different venture capitalist, who’d mentioned the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect and had caught my eye.

    When and if you do find an old tweet you’re looking for – as a scholar, perhaps, or as a journalist – it is stripped from its context within the Twitter timeline, within the user’s stream of tweets. What was happening on February 28, 2014 that prompted venture capitalist Dave Pell to complain about journalism? I couldn’t really divine.

    In this exchange, we have a series of other Internet-based information claims. Journalist Mathew Ingram links to a blog post to explain the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect, but if you click, you’ll find all of the links in that particular post are dead, including the one that goes to “The Official Site of Michael Crichton.” If you google “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect,” the top search result is Goodreads, a book review site owned by Amazon. The excerpt there doesn’t give a date or a source or a link to Crichton’s commentary.

    The Internet doesn’t magically surface “the truth.” Its infrastructure can quite readily obscure things. You have to understand how to look for information online, and you have to have some domain expertise (or know someone with domain expertise) so you can actually verify things.

    The “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” comes from a talk titled “Why Speculate?” that Crichton gave in 2002 at the International Leadership Forum, a think tank run by the now-dormant Western Behavioral Sciences Institute. You can google this stuff, of course. Or maybe you know it. Maybe this is all, to borrow from Crichton “some subject you know well.”

    Maybe you’re familiar with Crichton too, or more likely you’ve heard his name – a best-selling author; medically trained, but never formally licensed to practice medicine; creator of the TV show ER; writer and director of the movie Westworld (the one with Yul Brenner); and author of many novels including Jurassic Park, The Andromedia Strain, Disclosure, and State of Fear. After the publication of Disclosure, Crichton was accused of being anti-feminist; after the publication of State of Fear, he sealed his status as one of the leading skeptics of global climate change.

    And this is all part of the message of that talk in which he argues for the existence of the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect. Journalism, Crichton contends, is almost entirely speculation. Sunday talk shows, speculation. Global climate change, speculation. “False fears.” Crichton blames the end of fact-checking on the praise for Susan Faludi’s feminist book Backlash. He blames academia, particularly post-modernism: “most areas of intellectual life have discovered the virtues of speculation. In academia, speculation is usually dignified as theory.”

    This was 2002 – Crichton doesn’t blame the Internet. He doesn’t blame the Web. He doesn’t blame Facebook. He blames MSNBC. He blames The New York Times.

    2002 – A year before Judith Miller’s now discredited reporting on the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq appeared in that very newspaper.

    In the past 15 years, I wonder if that the “amnesia effect” has worn off in some troubling rather than liberatory ways. Increasingly we trust very little that the media says. Last year, Gallup found Americans’ trust in the media had dropped to the lowest level in polling history. The media, as Crichton and others contend, is all speculation. “Fake news.”

    But it’s not just the media. We face a crisis in all our information institutions – journalism and higher education, in particular. Expertise is now utterly suspect. We mistrust (print) journalists – “the mainstream media,” whatever that means; we mistrust academics; we mistrust scientists.

    We still trust some stories sometimes. Importantly, we trust what confirms our pre-existing beliefs. Perhaps we can call this the Michael Crichton Ego Effect. We have designated ourselves as experts-of-sorts whenever we confront the news. We know better than journalists, because of course we do. (This effect applies most readily to men.)

    The Internet has made it particularly easy for us to confirm our beliefs and our so-called expertise. Digital technologists (and venture capitalists) promised this would be a good thing for knowledge-building; it appears, instead, to be incredibly destructive. And that's the challenge for journalism, sure. It's the challenge for universities. It's the challenge for democracy.


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  • 04/21/17--07:31: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics


    Via The Military Times: “There’s a plan in Congress to start charging troops for their GI Bill benefits.”

    “Should DeVos Block an Embattled Student Loan Giant’s Expansion?” Bloomberg asks. That’s poor embattled Navient.

    Via The New York Times: “DeVos Halts Obama-Era Plan to Revamp Student Loan Management.”

    More on the business of student loans in the upgrades/downgrades section below.

    Via Pacific Standard: “Department of Education to Investigate Alleged Discrimination in Richmond Schools.”

    Via The Verge: “Trump administration says it won’t release White House visitor records.” The White House has also discontinued open.gov.

    “The Next Higher-Ed Funding Battle to Watch May Be in New Mexico,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.


    Immigration and Education


    Via USA Today: “First protected DREAMer is deported under Trump.”

    Tech Is Dominating Efforts To Educate Syrian Refugees,” reports NPR.

    Would-be students have many immediate needs. They have universally experienced some form of trauma. There is a lack of schools, teachers, books, uniforms and food. Yet, according to this study, nearly half of the donors have chosen to supply educational technology, far more than are building schools, providing basic books and materials or employing teachers.

    Trump Signs Order That Could Lead to Curbs on Foreign Workers,” The New York Times reports. More on changes to the H1-B visa programvia The Chronicle of Higher Education and Axios.

    Education in the Courts


    Via The Washington Post: “Supreme Court case could pave the way for vouchers for Christian schools– or do just the opposite.”

    Via Fortune: “These Popular Headphones Spy on Users, Lawsuit Says.” These popular headphones are the very expensive Bose headphones. Good thing no one in education is predicting that connected devices or the Internet of Things are the future, otherwise we’d have to be concerned about privacy in schools, right?

    Testing, Testing…


    Via Education Week: “Rhode Island drops unpopular standardized test system.”

    “Free College”


    NYT bore David Brooks has thoughts on “The Cuomo College Fiasco.”

    “Shut Up About Financial Literacy,” says Sara Goldrick-Rab.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    ESPN on the downfall of Forest Trail Sports University, an all-sports for-profit university.

    Via Edsurge: “Reactions to a College Alternative: Debating the Merits of MissionU.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Via WCTI12.com: “Boy, 8, drives to McDonald’s after learning how online.”

    MOOCs Started Out Completely Free. Where Are They Now?” asks Dhawal Shah, founder of the site Class Central. (Disclosure alert: no mention that Edsurge, which published this article, shares an investor with Class Central.)

    Via the Udacity blog: “Udacity Launches Mobile Developer Education with Facebook at F8.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via Mother Jones: “I Went Behind the Front Lines With the Far-Right Agitators Who Invaded Berkeley.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “After one of its students was seen on video punching a woman at a protest in Berkeley, Calif., the president of California State University at Stanislaus said on Monday it had opened an investigation.”

    White supremacist Richard Spencer’s talk at Auburn was canceled, then un-canceled.

    Right-wing agitator Ann Coulter’s speech at UC Berkeley was canceled, then un-canceled.

    The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf wants to write about something other than how students are protesting free speech on campus and destroying democracy; so college students, I guess you’re supposed to email him with your thoughts.

    Via The Washington Post: “‘I don’t like to be touched’: Video shows 10-year-old autistic boy getting arrested at school.”

    More handwringing about distracted students and technology in the classroomin The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A group of scholars object to a decision by the University of California, Berkeley, to remove many video and audio lectures from public view as a result of a Justice Department accessibility order.”

    Via NPR: “Schools Will Soon Have To Put In Writing If They ‘Lunch Shame’.”

    Salon plugs charter schools in rural areas.

    Last week, NPR covered the lack of clean water at schools on the Navajo Nation. This week, Edsurge covers a charter school there and its promotion of “personalized learning” and assessment technologies. Priorities.

    Via The New York Times: “Whittier Law School Says It Will Shut Down.”

    University of California’s Payroll Project Reboot Now At $504 Million,” says Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill.

    Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Audit to examine questions on Peralta College district spending.”

    Via KHOU: “AR–15raffled for New Caney school charity.” That’s New Caney, Texas.

    Via The New York Times: “Dolly Parton College Course Combines Music, History and Appalachia Pride.” The course will be offered at the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus.

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via Campus Technology: “Education Department Database Publishes Accreditation Warnings.”

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “NCAA Moves to Alter Football Recruiting Rules.”

    Via IndyStar.com: “New IU policy bans athletes with history of sexual or domestic violence.” That’s Indiana University.

    More on sports and for-profit universities in the for-profit higher ed section above.

    From the HR Department


    DPLA executive director Dan Cohen will be stepping down from that role in June and joining Northeastern University as a provost/dean.

    Dallas Dance resigns as Baltimore County Schools superintendent,” The Baltimore Sun reports.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Black Teachers Are Leaving The Profession Due To Racism.”

    Contests and Awards


    Via the Education Writers Association: “2016 Finalists for the National Awards for Education Reporting.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    “Can There Be a Microscope of the Mind?” asks Mindwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

    “Do controversial figures have a right to speak at public universities?” asks The USA Today.

    “Can a District Disrupt the Edtech Industry?” asks Edsurge.

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

    Upgrades and Downgrades


    Via The Hechinger Report: “Using virtual reality to step into others’ shoes.” Related from the radiator design blog: “‘If you walk in someone else’s shoes, then you’ve taken their shoes’: empathy machines as appropriation machines.”

    Via NBC Los Angeles, a profile on Caine Monroy, who five years ago create the cardboard Caine’s Arcade.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “American Historical Review, a flagship journal in history, has apologized for assigning a book about inequality and urban education to a professor who has been criticized by many as a white supremacist.”

    Via Education Week: “‘Personalized Learning’ Guidebook Geared to Rural Districts’ Needs.”

    Via MarketWatch: “America’s student loan giant Navient is about to get even bigger.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ Government watchdog investigating discrimination in student loan servicing.”

    Via Edsurge: “Why Language Learning Apps Haven’t Helped Struggling ELL Students.”

    I didn’t pay close attention to Facebook’s developer event this week. But there were others there to transcribe the PR, so I’m sure you can easily find what glorious products and futures were promised. Via MIT Technology Review: “Facebook’s Sci-Fi Plan for Typing with Your Mind and Hearing with Your Skin.”

    In other FB-related news: “Facebook’s algorithm isn’t surfacing one-third of our posts. And it’s getting worse.”

    Via Business Insider: “Planned Parenthood is following the ACLU’s lead and is joining a Silicon Valley startup accelerator.” Gross.

    Via The Economist: “Silicon Valley’s sexism problem” – “Venture capitalists are bright, clannish and almost exclusively male.”

    What higher ed can learn from American Express, according to venture capitalist Ryan Craig.

    Via Boing Boing: “Prison inmates built working PCs out of ewaste, networked them, and hid them in a closet ceiling.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via Techcrunch: “Robot tutor Musio makes its retail debut in Japan.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Lumen Learning has raised $3.75 million in Series A funding from the Follett Corporation, Alliance of Angels, and the Portland Street Fund. The open courseware startup has raised $6.25 million total. Coverage and reactions from Edsurge, Inside Higher Ed, Geek Wire, Lumen co-founder David Wiley, Stephen Downes, Wiley again (responding to Downes), Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill, and Mindwire Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

    Thinkster Math, formerly known as Tabtor Math, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the Jefferson Education Accelerator. The math tutoring company has previously raised $4.7 million.

    Frontline Education has acquired job search site Teachers-Teachers.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


    Via The New York Times: “How Top Philanthropists Wield Power Through Their Donations.” Related, by me: “The Omidyar Network and the (Neoliberal) Future of Education.”

    Via Edsurge: “New Profit Dishes Out $1M to 7 Organizations in Personalized Learning Initiative.” New Profit is a new venture philanthropy firm funded by the Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. (Disclosure alert, no surprise.)

    Via Edsurge: “Houston Community College Receives $300K to Develop Z-Degree Program.” The money comes from the Kinder Foundation. Z-Degrees are programs with zero dollars worth of textbook costs.

    Via Edsurge: “Couragion Receives $750k Through Small Business Innovation Research Grant.”

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via Edsurge: “Schoolzilla‘File Configuration Error’ Exposes Data for More Than 1.3M Students, Staff.” (Disclosure alert: no mention in the story of Edsurge’s shared investor with Schoolzilla.)

    “He’s got access to your students’ info and is trying to decide what to do. Now what will YOU do?” asks databreaches.net.

    The University of California’s press office announced the school “has uncovered a massive scheme targeting students through its student health plan that fraudulently obtained student information and then stole almost $12 million from UC by writing phony medical prescriptions in the students’ names.”

    “Online Courses Shouldn’t Use Remote Proctoring Tools. Here’s Why,” says Edsurge.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Counting attendance in school ratings could be smart – or completely misleading.”

    Via the ANOVA: “Study of the Week: Discipline Reform and Test Score Mania.”

    Via Edsurge: “Panorama’s Student Progress Reports Show More Than Grades (Think Behavior and SEL).” (Disclosure alert: no mention that Edsurge shares an investor with Panorama.)

    Via iNews: “University to monitor student social media to gauge well-being.” That’s the University of Buckingham, and this idea sounds awful.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “An Instructor Saw Digital Distraction in Class. So She Showed Students What She’d Seen on Their Screens.”

    The lack of respect shown for students’ privacy never ceases to amaze me.

    Blackboard says it is “Putting data in the hands of students.” (Not really. The LMS is displaying some of students' data back at them.)

    Data and “Research”


    “So Far in 2017, Pace of Investment Into Ed Tech Bouncing Back,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief, drawing on a report from investment research firm CB Insights. (Reminder: you can find my analysis on ed-tech investment at funding.hackeducation.com.)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “PayScale’s Impact (and Limitations).”

    Via Quartz: “For half a century, neuroscientists thought they knew how memory worked. They were wrong.”

    UVA’s Daniel Willingham on research on computers and children’s social lives.

    Via Edsurge: “Interest in Online Higher Ed Gain (But Campus-Based Programs Wane).” That’s according to a report from a consulting firm, Gray Associates.

    Support for public higher education rose in 33 states and declined in 17 in 2016 – including a massive drop in Illinois,” according to figures in the 2016 State Higher Education Finance report.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Pathway to a College Presidency Is Changing, and a New Report Outlines How.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “UNESCO Paper on Gaps in Global Completion Rates.”

    “A growing body of research shows that full-time college students are more likely to graduate, yet experts caution against policies that neglect part-time students,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via WaPo: “Minority teachers in U.S. more than doubled over 25 years – but still fewer than 20 percent of educators, study shows.”

    Bryan Alexander on a report from the Institute for the Future: “Americans versus the future.”

    Via Education Week: “Augmented, Virtual Reality Yet to Gain Traction in K–12, Survey Finds.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project