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The History of the Future of Education Technology
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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,, 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
    • (computer science career marketing) – $3.5 million
    • Common Sense Media (media education) – $4.25 million
    • Creative Commons (open licenses) – investment amount unknown
    • (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
    • (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, 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

    “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 “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 “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

    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

    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

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  • 04/26/17--05:43: Un-Annotated
  • I have added a script to my websites today that will block annotations – namely those from Genius and those from I have been meaning to do this for a while now, so it’s mostly a project that comes as I procrastinate doing something else rather than one that comes in response to any recent event.

    I took comments off my websites in 2013 because I was sick of having to wade through threats of sexualized violence in order to host conversations on my ideas.

    My blog. My rules. No comments.

    I’ve made this position fairly well known – if you have something to say in response, go ahead and write your own blog post on your own damn site. So I find the idea that someone would use a service like to annotate my work on my websites particularly frustrating. I don’t want comments– not in the margins and not at the foot of an article. Mostly, I don’t want to have to moderate them. I have neither the time nor the emotional bandwidth. And if I don’t want to moderate comments, that means I definitely do not want comments to appear here (or that appear to be here) that are outside my control or even my sight.

    This isn’t simply about trolls and bigots threatening me (although yes, that is a huge part of it); it’s also about extracting value from my work and shifting it to another company which then gets to control (and even monetize) the conversation.

    Blocking annotation tools does not stop you from annotating my work. I’m a fan of marginalia; I am. I write all over the books I've bought, for example. Blocking annotations in this case merely stops you from writing in the margins here on this website.

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  • 04/28/17--07:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Via The New York Times: “Trump Orders Review of Education Policies to Strengthen Local Control.” “ What does Trump’s executive order on education do? Not much,” says The LA Times’ Joy Resmovits.

    Via WaPo’s Valerie Strauss: “Trump’s rather weird meeting with the 2017 Teachers of the Year.”

    Via The Hill: “21 state AGs denounce DeVos for ending student loan reform.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ Education Department relaxes financial aid process in the absence of IRS tool .”

    In other Department of Education bureaucratic nightmares, “Dozens of Colleges’ Upward Bound Applications Are Denied for Failing to Dot Every I,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The House Veterans Affairs Committee this week postponed a planned hearing on potential updates to the GI Bill amid growing opposition to a proposal that would require new service members to pay into the GI Bill for future benefits.”

    New hires at the Department of Education include former HP exec Holly Luong Ham (she will serve as the assistant secretary for management) and former Congressional staffer Liz Hill (she’ll serve as the press secretary). Elsewhere in the administration, Trump’s new State Department spokesperson “spread toxic anti-Muslim stories for years,” says The Intercept, highlight a segment where former FOX anchor Heather Nauert described swim classes for Somali-American girls as “Sharia Law.”

    Via Education Week: “FCC Chairman Announces Plan to Roll Back Key Net Neutrality Rules.” The Trump Administration is calling it “restoring Internet freedom,” because of fucking course.

    Via Chalkbeat: New York City“Mayor Bill de Blasio announces plan to expand universal pre-K to 3-year-olds.” (“What do we really know about the value of prekindergarten?” asks WaPo’s Valerie Strauss, before reprinting an article by UVA professor Dan Willingham.)

    The NAACP endorses OER.

    The New York Times on the conservative think tank The Heartland Institute’s efforts towards “Sowing Climate Doubt Among Schoolteachers.” (Not to mention The New York Times’ own efforts to sow climate doubt.)

    Via Infodocket: “Two U.S. Senators Introduce Bill to Keep Government Research Data Publicly Available (Preserving Data in Government Act).”

    A bill that would let the President pick the next Register of Copyrights has passed the House of Representatives.

    The Rwandan government plans to roll out digital education this summer. It’s a partnership with Microsoft.

    The Egyptian parliament is weighing doing away with print textbooks and using digital materials instead. “5 Reasons Why e-textbooks in Egypt Would Be Inequitable” by Maha Bali.

    Via the BBC: “University staff from EU countries should be guaranteed a right to stay and work in the UK after Brexit to avoid a ‘damaging brain drain’, says a report from MPs.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via The New York Times: “Judge Blocks Trump Effort to Withhold Money From Sanctuary Cities.”

    Via EdSource: “1 in 8 children in California schools have an undocumented parent.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via KIRO7: “Charges filed after University of Washington shooting outside Milo Yiannopoulos event.” “Prosecutors say Elizabeth Joy Hokoana, 29, and her husband, Marc K. Hokoana [supporters of Yiannopoulos, let me editorialize] ‘created a situation designed to allow Elizabeth Hokoana to shoot the victim in the middle of an extremely crowded event under the guise of defending herself or her husband.’”

    Via The Washington Post: “Lawsuit filed against UC Berkeley for canceling Ann Coulter speech.” More on Coulter cancelling her speech in the campus section below.

    Via NPR: “West Virginia State University Says It Is Suing Dow Chemical For Contamination.”

    Via Multichannel News: “Trayvon Martin Attorney Parks Targets AT&T Over Alleged Broadband Redlining.” (In Cleveland.)

    More on sanctuary cities in the courts in the immigration section above. More on the NCAA’s legal battles in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    “Nation’s Report Card Finds Mixed Grades For U.S. Students In Visual Arts, Music,” NPR reports. The “nation’s report card” is the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. And I hardly noticed any freak out about these scores this week like there usually is about math scores. Weird. It’s almost as though the narrative about “failing schools” doesn’t care much about students’ creativity.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Purdue University is buying Kaplan Universityfor a dollar. Will this “new university” become a public university? Or something else? That is, will faculty have the benefits of other public universities in the state? (Wait, do Indiana professors still have benefits?) Dunno. But it’s a sign of the times, says The Chronicle of Higher Education. “A bold move,” says Inside Higher Ed. Edsurge’s Jeff Young and Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill both asked industry analyst Trace Urdan for his take. I’m waiting for Tressie McMillan Cottom’s response, as she’s certainly unlikely to hype the industry angle and will surely raise the important issues surrounding equity, “lower ed,” and justice. Me, I wrote about how far Kaplan Inc’s reach is in education politics and products.

    Elsewhere: “North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has opened an investigation into Charlotte School of Law,” says Politico.

    More on the University of Phoenix’s new president in the HR section below.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Online education pioneer Tony Bates asksWhat is online learning?”

    EdX has launched some new “professional certificate programs.”

    From the press release: “ MOOCs and books initiative launched by Springer and Federica Weblearning.”

    Via NBC News: “How to Thrive: Arianna Huffington Launches E-Learning Series.” (It’ll run on LinkedIn Learning, formerly, which means it’ll cost you $24.99 a month.)

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    How the school-to-prison pipeline targets students of color, via Mic: “This Texas 6th-grader was threatened with suspension all because of a haircut.”

    Via The New York Times: “Family by Family, How School Segregation Still Happens.”

    Right-wing troll Ann Coulterpulled out of her talk at UC Berkeley, because “because she had lost the backing of conservative groups that had initially sponsored her appearance.” Good grief, the handwringing. “We Have Been Here Before,” says Swarthmore history professor Timothy Burke.

    More in the courts section above on the charges filed against a person who shot a protestor at a Milo Yiannopoulos event at the University of Washington early this year. There’s also a lawsuit against UC Berkeley for cancelling Coulter’s speech (which I haven’t heard will move forward since Coulter was the one who cancelled.)

    Via The Southern Poverty Law Center: “New Alt-Right‘Fight Club’ Ready for Street Violence.” But sure, let’s condemn “liberal college students” as the problem.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Middlebury Professor Sorry for Co-Sponsoring Murray Talk.”

    Via Newsweek: “Rand Paul to Teach ‘Dystopian Visions’ Course at George Washington University.”

    Via The LA Times: “University of California administration is paying excessive salaries and mishandling funds, state audit says.” Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Janet Napolitano Disputes Finding That Her Office Held $175 Million in Undisclosed Funds.”

    Via Democracy: “The Untold History of Charter Schools.”

    Gotta love a quote like this, from a story in Edsurge profiling McComb, Mississippi’s Summit Elementary School: “We are learning how to mitigate between policy and trying to be as innovative as possible without breaking state laws.” I’m more interested in hearing about segregation and state laws in Mississippi than the adaptive learning software a school is using. But hey.

    Edsurge offers“Your Guide to Running a School Like Disney World.” Oh. My. God.

    Via The Hechinger Report: “With number of student-parents up, availability of campus child care is down.”

    Via The New York Times: “In New York City Schools, an Ever-Rising Tide of Homeless Students.”

    Via Times Higher Education: “Why Germany Educates International Students for Free.”

    Via the Hong Kong Free Press: “China’s 8m graduates: Inside the world’s largest higher education boom.”

    Via The New York Times: “At Hungary’s Soros-Backed University, Scholars Feel a Chill.”

    “National Association of Scholars calls on universities to close their Confucius Institutes. Defenders say there’s nothing sinister about the Chinese-backed centers,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Pitchfork: “Beyoncé Launches ‘Formation Scholars’ Scholarship Program.” The scholarship, “for young women studying creative arts, music, literature, or African-American studies,” will be offered to students at Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Parsons School of Design, and Spelman College.

    Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen has doubled down on his prediction that half of all universities might close or go bankrupt within 10 to 15 years. He first made this prediction 6 years ago, so we’re looking at 4 to 9 years out, I guess. For what it’s worth, according to the latest data from the NCES, the number of post-secondary institutions in the US has increased since 2011. (Increased by just 2, but still.)

    Accreditation and Certification

    “When a College Degree Isn’t Enough,” according to The Atlantic.

    Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s deputy assistant and a fan of wearing Nazi memorabilia, might have a fake PhD.

    Inside Higher Ed reports on problems at Tallahassee Community College after students discovered their health IT program was not properly accredited.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    “A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit claiming that the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Pac–12 Conference infringed on labor laws and thus owed money to a former Division I football player,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    From the HR Department

    Kristina Johnson, formerly an under secretary in the US Department of Energy under President Obama, has been named the new Chancellor of SUNY.

    Peter Cohen, formerly the executive VP of McGraw-Hill Education, has been hired as the new president of the University of Phoenix.

    Russell “Rusty” Greiff has joined2U as its senior VP and regional general manager. Greiff has previously been a partner at the 1776 venture fund and he was also a co-founder of the test prep company Grockit.

    Jeff Fernandez, the co-founder of the online learning company Grovo, has resigned. His other two co-founders are gone from the company too, says Axios’ Dan Primack.

    Perhaps this will help the Grovo fellows: “Tips for Landing an Edtech Gig – From the EdSurge Jobs Team.” (Wow. This image speaks volumes.)

    On the hiring of serial predators: “Ousted Over Sexual Misconduct Claims, and On to the Next Teaching Job.”

    Students Oppose Pomona College’s Hiring of Alice Goffman as a Visiting Scholar," The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Resident Advisers Gain the Right to Unionize.”

    The Business of Job Training

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Liberal Arts Colleges, in Fight for Survival, Focus on Job Skills.”

    It’s not a “skills gap,” says Edsurge. It’s an “awareness gap.”

    The Hechinger Report profilesMechatronics Akademie, “a modern iteration of career and technical education for high school students. Created through a partnership between the local department of education, the Volkswagen Chattanooga factory and Chattanooga State Community College, it uses online and in-person instruction in an out-of-school setting to prepare students who might not pursue higher education after high school.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    It’s 2017, and Wired still promotes a narrative that hackers” are all young men. Good job.

    Here’s the headline from The Next Web: “Universities finally realize that Java is a bad introductory programming language.” But thing is, most universities already do not teach Java as the intro language. The most commonly taught language is now Python. But do strive to maintain the narrative that universities are out-of-date and irrelevant, tech blog.

    There have been several stories recently calling the Google Books project a failure. The Executive Director of HathiTrust responds.

    Internet Archive to ignore robots.txt directives,” says Boing Boing.

    Via Techcrunch: “As Chromebook sales soar in schools, Apple and Microsoft fight back.”

    Google announces more updates to its pseudo-LMS, Google Classroom.

    Inside Higher Ed examines the challenges facing LMS provider Blackboard.

    Via Campus Technology: “Pearson Expands Textbook Rental Program.”

    Meal kits seem to be a popular startup idea right now. So no surprise, Techcrunch informs us that “Scrumpt now offers fresh, healthy lunches for kids.”

    The Gap advertises tenure track professor wear.

    Not directly ed-tech related, but with all the algorithmic learning hype, I thought I’d include this story anyway: “FaceApp apologizes for building a racist AI.”

    “How Can VR be Used for Learning?” asks Jade E. Davis on the DML Central blog.

    Snapchat’s smart pivot into an AR company but is AR ready for learning?” asks Donald Clark.

    Via Edsurge: “Khan Academy’s New ‘Teacher Aid’ Tool Goes for a Test Drive in Southern California.” There’s a data dashboard, so you know it simply has to be useful.

    IHE ed-tech blogger Joshua Kim wonders“Who Exactly Holds This Neoliberal EdTech Ideology?” Shrug.

    Via The Financial Times: “ Inside Liberia’s controversial experiment to outsource education.” That’s to the ed-tech company Bridge International Academies. Nope. No neoliberalism anywhere in ed-tech.

    Inside Higher Ed reports thatFannie Mae, the largest backer of mortgage credit in the country, has issued new guidelines allowing home owners to refinance their mortgages to pay off their student loan debt. The option to essentially swap student loan debt for mortgage debt is an expansion of a program launched last year with personal finance company SoFi.”

    Via Techcrunch: “CommonBond now offers direct student loans alongside debt refinancing.”

    Via Buzzfeed: Navient, “America’s largest student loan company was also the most-complained-about financial services company in the country over the last three months, according to new government data released on Tuesday.” Nope. No neoliberalism here. Move along.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    According to Research and Markets’ latest forecast, “the artificial intelligence market in the US education sector to grow at a CAGR of 47.50% during the period 2017–2021.”

    Via CNBC: “Google exec, Mark Cuban agree that these college majors are the most robot-resistant.”

    Learn-to-code toy Ozobots is launching Spiderman and Guardians of the Galaxy branded robots.

    Inside Higher Ed looks atdrones (and rules about drones) on college campuses.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    EverFi has raised $190 million in a Series D round of funding from The Rise Fund, TPG Growth, Advance Publications, Allen & Company, Eric Schmidt, Ev Williams, Jeff Bezos, and Main Street Advisors. The online “off-curriculum” education company has raised $251 million total.

    EverFi also announced this week that it’s acquired the online compliance training company Workplace Answers.

    MarcoPolo Learning has raised $8.5 million from Boat Rocker Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Seedcamp, and DST Global. The mobile app maker has raised $11.9 million total.

    CollegeVine has raised $3.6 million from Morningside Technology Ventures, University Ventures, and Silicon Valley Bank. The admissions consulting service has raised $6.7 million total.

    In February, Holberton School announced it had raised $2.3 million in funding. This week, there were more details about who those investors are – including R&B artist Ne-Yo who will join the coding school’s board of directors.

    Square is acquiring the engineering team from Yik Yak for less than $3 million. Yik Yak has raised $73.5 million in funding.

    Via Edsurge: “The Asian Money Fueling US Edtech Investments.”

    Although this Wall Street Journal article is about the tech industry broadly, it’s still worth noting: “Once-Flush Startups Struggle to Stay Alive as Investors Get Pickier.”

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via The New York Times: “In China, Daydreaming Students Are Caught on Camera.”

    Via The Red & Black, an independent student paper serving the University of Georgia: “UGA Dining Halls to introduce eye scanners.”

    Via “Pour la CNIL, ‘la France doit garder la souveraineté de ses données scolaires’.”

    Via Education Dive: “Casper College looks to Amazon approach to customize student experiences.” “Shouldn’t we be able to use our LMSes to aggregate the experience of every student based on the DNA of their self-selected digital assets?” the CIO asks. No. You shouldn’t.

    Speaking of why Amazon is a terrible model for education, via Motherboard: “Amazon Wants to Put a Camera and Microphone in Your Bedroom.” “Echo Look will use machine learning to decide if you look fat in that shirt.”

    Smart Sparrow Adds Learner Data Analytics,” says Campus Technology.

    Edsurge profiles“literacy” app Newsela and claims “super users” want more data sharing. No disclosure that Newsela and Edsurge share investors.

    Via Duo Labs: “Phishing Across the Pond: 70% of U.K. Universities Impacted.”

    Cyber criminals are sharing millions of stolen university email credentials,” says USA Today.

    “Should We Be Sending Students Who Hack Their Schools to Jail?” asks Doug Levin. No.

    The list of questions Edsurge says schools are supposed to ask ed-tech vendors contains no mention of privacy or information security.

    The 4 Issues AltSchool Needs to Figure Out to Scale Its ‘Personalized Learning’ Platform” also do not include privacy or security. Perhaps that is how you “scale.”

    Data and “Research”

    Via The Guardian: “Teenage hackers motivated by morality not money, study finds.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A report released Tuesday by the Science Coalition identifies 102 companies whose creation was fueled by competitive federal research grants from agencies like the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.” (The point: do not defund those agencies.)

    Prediction press release service Research and Markets says that the “global cloud-based English language learning (ELL) market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.07 percent from 2017 to 2021.”

    The ANOVA “study of the week”: “When It Comes to Student Satisfaction, Faculty Matter Most.” (Also via FdB: “the Official Dogma of Education (version 1.0).”)

    A report via Google Research: “Unconscious Bias in the Classroom.”

    Via Education Week: “Better-Educated Families Less Likely to Choose Pa. Cyber Charters, Study Finds.”

    Here’s a headline to side-eye, via The Federalist: “Dartmouth Study Finds Democrats Are The Least Tolerant Students On Campus.”

    “The Prevalence of Hook-Up Culture on College Campuses Is Completely Exaggerated – and That’s a Problem,” says The Pacific Standard, drawing on research by St. Vincent College professor Jason King.

    The Atlantic’s Melinda D. Anderson looks at research on how racism affects math education.

    The NMC Horizon Report 2017 – the Library Edition

    Pew Research asks, “In America, Does More Education Equal Less Religion?”

    Why is the student veteran graduate rate so low, asks The Atlantic.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students from American families with the highest incomes are almost five times likelier than students from the poorest families to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 24, a new report shows.”

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “On average, white and Asian students earn a college-level credential at a rate about 20 percentage points higher than Hispanic and black students do, a new report shows.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Colleges Whose Undergraduates Borrowed the Highest Average Amounts in Federal Loans in 2014–15.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics finds that 63 percent of college graduates still held student loan debt within four years of earning their degree.”

    “A report released Thursday found largely negative results for students who participated in the District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, suggesting that many of the program’s beneficiaries might actually fare better if they turn down the private-school money,” says The Atlantic, asking how this will affect the Trump administration’s position on vouchers. (Trick question!)

    Vouchers for students with disabilities aren’t always what they seem,” says Harvard Education’s Laura Schifter.

    Charter-advocate publication The 74 boasts that “U.S. News Ranks America’s Top Public High Schools – and for the First Time, Charters Dominate Top 10,” but let’s perhaps consider how the US News and World Report’s rankings are pretty questionable to begin with.

    Via The Cambridge Student: “National student boycott invalidates National Student Survey data.” I learned during my recent trip to the UK that the National Student Survey is a Very Big Deal, and by the sounds of it, its invalidation might be Very Good News.


    Via Berkeley News: “Hubert Dreyfus, preeminent philosopher and AI critic, dies at 87.” Read What Computers Can’t Do, and think more critically about how we define “reason” and “intelligence” and machine interventions in education.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 05/05/17--07:20: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Via The New York Times: “A Little-Noticed Target in the House Health Bill: Special Education.”

    School districts rely on Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor, to provide costly services to millions of students with disabilities across the country. For nearly 30 years, Medicaid has helped school systems cover costs for special education services and equipment, from physical therapists to feeding tubes. The money is also used to provide preventive care, such as vision and hearing screenings, for other Medicaid-eligible children.

    The bill that passed the House of Representatives on Thursday will cut Medicaid by $880 billion.

    Via Education Week: “Congress Budget Deal Bans New Gold-Standard Studies of Federal Vouchers.” Banning research on school vouchers? Gee, I wonder why.

    Via The Pacific Standard: “The New Spending Agreement Revives Abstinence Education.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Budget Deal Provides Money for NIH and Year-Round Pell.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What the Congressional Budget Deal Means for Higher Ed.”

    Via NPR: “Under Trump Budget, Nearly 2 Million Kids May Lose After-School Care.”

    Via The LA Times: “Trump is ending Michelle Obama’s ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative, CNN reports.”

    Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy wins“best headline” this week: “ The Whole Grain Terror In School Lunches Is About To End.”

    Via ProPublica: “Trump Administration Hires Official Whom Five Students Accused of Sexual Assault.” That’d be Steven Munoz, formerly at The Citadel military college, who’s been hired as the assistant chief of visits for the State Department.

    A graphic essay in Fusion: “Betsy DeVos’ ‘School Choice’ Movement Isn’t Social Justice. It’s a Return to Segregation.”

    “Just months after a major gaffe by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about the origins of historically black colleges and universities, a Florida HBCU is taking heat for inviting her to speak at its spring commencement ceremony next week,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The school in question: Bethune-Cookman University.

    Via Education Week: “Under Trump, Ed-Tech Leadership Is Big Question Mark.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The IRS data retrieval tool that let financial aid applicants automatically import income information into the FAFSA won’t be restored for the current aid cycle, said James Runcie, chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid, in written testimony to Congress Wednesday.”

    The Department of Education has rehiredstudent loan debt collectors fired by the Obama Administration: Enterprise Recovery Systems and Navient-owned Pioneer Credit Recovery.

    Not ed-tech per se (unless you recognize that “personalized learning” is greyballing), but according to The New York Times, “Uber Faces Federal Inquiry Over Use of Greyball Tool to Evade Authorities.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Arizona lawmaker: Let’s end compulsory schooling and stop forcing education ‘down everybody's throat’.”

    Via “Arizona awards controversial loan guarantees to privately owned charter schools.”

    Via the Miami Herald: “Lawmakers set to defundMiami school that educated makers of ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Hamilton’.” Follow-up: “After outcry, lawmakers scrap plans to fully slash grant aid to ‘Moonlight’ alumni’s school.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Texas Governor Is Poised to Sign Immigration Bill, Raising Risks for Undocumented Students.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via Politico: “Appeal could drag out Trump University settlement.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the former co-owner of an education consulting firm were sentenced Friday by a federal judge to prison terms in conjunction with a corruption scandal.”

    Via Politico: “A complex legal battle involving dozens of debt collection companies fighting over contracts with the Education Department has essentially suspended the government’s ability to collect defaulted student loans, the Trump administration disclosed in a court filing on Monday night.”

    Via Infodocket: “Louisiana State University is Suing Elsevier For Breach of Contract.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Marquette University was justified in disciplining a professor who had publicly rebuked a graduate teaching assistant over her handling of classroom discussions of homosexuality, a state judge ruled on Thursday.”

    And for those who claim that student protesters on college campuses are the gravest threat to free speech that this country faces… “A jury on Wednesday convicted three Code Pink activists on charges related to a protest at the confirmation hearing of Jeff Sessions for attorney general – including a Virginia woman who said all she did was break out in laughter,” The New York Times reports.

    More court cases in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    Via “UK student drops from ceiling to steal statistics exam.” UK here means University of Kentucky.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Federal authorities on Thursday announced the arrests of four Chinese nationals on charges of engaging in fraud on admissions tests that allowed three of them to obtain admissions to American universities and visas to study in the United States.” The test in question: the TOEFL.

    “Is there an elegant way to administer exams in online courses?” asks “Dean Dad” Matt Reed.

    “Free College”

    ‘Free’ College Programs Will Still Cost You,” says Nerdwallet.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    More on last week’sPurdue and Kaplan deal:

    Purdue’s deal for Kaplan U trades a long-term business relationship for low up-front costs while raising worries – especially among faculty groups – about blurred lines between public and private higher ed,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via the Journal & Courier: “Legislation that set the stage for Purdue's dive into online higher ed also exempts ‘New U’ from state’s open meetings, public records laws. That, Purdue says, was part of the deal.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “There’s a Reason the Purdue-Kaplan Deal Sounds Too Good to Be True.”

    I’m considered an “expert” here (among others) featured in IHE with thoughts and questions and analysis on the “Purdue-Kaplan marriage.”

    Via NPR: “A Public University Acquires A Big For-Profit, And Raises Big Questions.”

    “Mitch Daniels Wants to Sell the Soul of Public Education: Purdue Faculty Must Stop Him,” the Academe blog argues.

    Faculty members at Purdue University took a strong stance Thursday against last week’s unorthodox acquisition of Kaplan University, passing a University Senate resolution calling the deal a violation of common-sense educational practice and respect for Purdue faculty,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Elsewhere in for-profit-land:

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Thirty student, consumer and veterans’ groups called on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Thursday to seek public comment and impose conditions on the sale of several Education Management Corporation properties to a Los Angeles nonprofit.”

    DeVry is rebranding as Adtalem Global Education.

    An update from the FTC on its settlement with DeVry.

    Techcrunch profiles the coding bootcamp DevMountain.

    The New York Times Editorial Board urges“Keep For-Profit Schools on a Short Leash.”

    More research (and PR posing as research) on for-profits in the research section below. More on for-profits and accreditation in the accreditation section below. More on Trump University in the courts section above.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Brown UniversityjoinsedX.

    I missed this news earlier in April, via Class Central: financial aid applications for Coursera take at least 15 days.

    Y Combinator MOOC for Tech Startups Attracts Thousands of Views,” says Campus Technology. Not sure why this is called a MOOC. It’s just a bunch of video-taped lectures for the (offline) “Startup School” event that the startup incubator program runs at Stanford (which is really just a series of short talks by entrepreneurs and founders).

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via The New York Times: “A Principal Is Accused of Being a Communist, Rattling a Brooklyn School.”

    Via the AP: “A one-day sweep in which over 150 high school students were suspended for dress code violations is bringing new criticism to a Connecticut district of predominantly Hispanic and black students that was already under scrutiny for having low numbers of minority teachers.”

    Via the AP: “AP Investigation Reveals Hidden Horror of Sex Assaults by K–12 Students.”

    Via Business Insider: “Surveillance videos show police officer allegedly abusing high school students.”

    One student was killed and three others wounded in a stabbing attack on the University of Texas Austin campus.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Glue-Gun Incident at Colgate Prompts Concern About Racial Profiling.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Noose Is Found on U. of Maryland at College Park’s Campus.” Police are investigating this as a hate-bias incident.

    Via The New York Times: “F.B.I. Helping American University Investigate Bananas Found Hanging From Nooses.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “A Trump Supporter Allegedly Attacked Students At A Kentucky University With A Machete.” The attack was at Transylvania University.

    Via The Washington Post: “There’s a well-funded campus industry behind the Ann Coulter incident.”

    Via BBC Newsbeat: “Student mental health costs should be free, according to the Royal College of GPs.”

    The New York Times on“Shaming Children So Parents Will Pay the School Lunch Bill.”

    Via KPCC: “Questions linger over closure of Whittier Law School.”

    From the MIT press release: “Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) to spark global renaissance in education through innovation at MIT.”

    Times Higher Education profilesAfrican Leadership University, a company that aims to build a transcontinental university in Africa (funded in part by the Omidyar Network).

    The Pacific Standard writes about “Creative Corrections Education Foundation, a non-profit that provides scholarships for college-bound young people aged 18 to 27 who have a parent in prison, on parole, or off parole.”

    The Chronicle of Higher Education on“The Christian Agenda Behind Inmate Education.”

    Via Feministing: “Why Yale’s Graduate Student Union Hunger Strike Matters.”

    Via The New York Times: “Most New York City Schools Had High Lead Levels, Retests Find.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Trump administration has backed its predecessor’s decision to terminate the recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, a national accreditor that oversees 245 colleges, most of them for-profits.”

    Accreditation rules at Wayne State College in Nebraska are being criticized as a recent change requires “that professors teach only within their fields of expertise, as defined by their advanced degrees.” One professor, who’s taught philosophy for 50 years, will no longer be allowed to do so as her PhD is in English.

    Northwestern’s journalism school drops its accreditor, shortly after Berkeley did the same, echoing broader questions about the value of the process and whether it impedes innovation,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “Accreditation is for Proles,” “Dean Dad” Matt Reed notes.

    Via CNN: Florida Memorial University will award Trayvon Martin a posthumous bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Cetys University is making a bid to become the first Mexican university to join the NCAA.

    Via The Washington Post: “She didn’t laugh at racist jokes. Her coach said she didn’t have the right ‘chemistry’ for the team.” The student was seeking a spot on the University of Mary Washington women’s basketball team.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A state-court jury awarded $1.43 million in damages on Thursday to Jane Meyer, a former senior associate athletics director at the University of Iowa, ruling in her favor on all five claims in her discrimination lawsuit against the university.”

    From the HR Department

    Via Gizmodo: “Facebook Will Add 3,000 More People to Watch Murders and Suicides.” Nope, robots will not be doing this job of content moderation, as Facebook recently boasted at its developer conference. It’ll be low-wage workers in places like the Philippines.

    In other HR news from Facebook: “Facebook replaces Oculus computer vision head at center of underage sex scandal.”

    Graduate students at Brandeis University have voted to unionize.

    Ted Mitchell, the former Education Department under secretary, has joined the board of directors of Frontline Education,” Politico reports.

    The Business of Job Training

    Once upon a time, I’d have put Udacity in the MOOC section above, but I’m sticking this profile by RealClear Education here in the job training section: “Online Educator Udacity Adapts Courses to Changing Labor Market.”

    The Pew Research Center asked“experts” about “The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    “Is Clay Christensen Ready to Disrupt Parenting?” asks CMRubinworld. Will Christensen ever let this ridiculous narrative go?

    “Is this the future of college: Online classes, but no degree?” asks the Associated Press.

    “Zap! Can Electrical Stimulation Help Us Learn?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    “Is this increasingly popular teaching job the Uber for teachers?” asks eSchool News.

    (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

    Yik Yak joins the ed-tech dead pool. (In an update to last week’s news, it appears that Square has paid $1 million for its engineering team. Yik Yak had raised $73.5 million in venture capital.)

    Microsoft had a media event this week. Via The New York Times: “Microsoft Looks to Regain Lost Ground in the Classroom.” “Microsoft’s new education push plays to its strengths, the cheap and familiar,” says Techcrunch. Here is the Microsoft blog post announcing its new products.

    CNN tries to explain “Why Google, Apple and Microsoft are battling for education.” I’ll save you a click: the answer is “money.”

    Via Edsurge: “Apple Partners With Tynker to Help K–5 Students Learn to Code.” (No disclosure about shared investors.)

    Via CNBC: “This Chinese-Israeli start-up wants to change the way kids learn to code.” The startup in question: LeapLearner.

    OER-Enabled Pedagogyby Lumen Learning’s David Wiley.

    Via Diggit Magazine: “The end of how business takes over, again.” Edsurge gets the company’s take on criticisms of its business model.

    Social-Emotional Learning Is the Rage in K–12. So Why Not in College?” asks the Student Experience Manager of the Minerva Project in an article in Edsurge.

    I wrote about social-emotional learning (algorithms) as a “trend to watch.”

    Elsewhere in algorithms… Via The New York Times: “Sent to Prison by a Software Program’s Secret Algorithms.” And in other predictive analytics news, from The Intercept: “Taser Will Use Police Body Camera Videos ‘to Anticipate Criminal Activity’.” (If you think these stories are not relevant to education and education technology, you are not paying attention.)

    Via The Outline: “Machine learning is racist because the internet is racist.”

    Edsurge on“How Students Experience Georgia State’s Push to Use Big Data” and an Ellucian product called Degree Works.

    Techcrunch lists 11 technologies that “want to hack your brain.”

    According to Futurism, “DARPA Is Planning to Hack the Human Brain to Let Us ‘Upload’ Skills.” Sigh. This story. Again.

    Brain data, neurotechnology and educationby Ben Williamson.

    Happy 20th anniversary to Blackboard. Edsurge celebrates by reprinting Blackboard founder Matthew Pittinsky’s blog post“4 Secrets to Building a Tech Company for Higher Ed.” Pittinsky is currently the CEO of Parchment. (No disclosure on this story that Parchment and Edsurge share investors.)

    Speaking of Blackboard, here’s a press release about Blackboard Classroom: “New Solution from Blackboard Helps K–12 School Districts Make Learning More Engaging, Personalized and Accessible.”

    Via Edsurge: “Why Moodle’s Mastermind, Martin Dougiamas, Still Believes in Edtech After Two Decades.”

    TRUSTe’s Opt Out Is a Cynical Joke,” says Bill Fitzgerald.

    Via Edsurge: “Zeal CEO John Danner: Want to Make Data Actionable? Start With Building the Right Culture.” (No disclosure that Edsurge shares an investor with Zeal.)

    Wolfram is launching a data repository.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    “How to Prepare for an Automated Future,” by The NYT’s Claire Cain Miller.

    For more news about robots not taking jobs, see the HR section above.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    AltSchool has raised $40 million from undisclosed investors. The private school startup has raised $173 million total. (Disclosure alert: Edsurge does not disclose it shares investors with AltSchool in its coverage of the funding news.)

    Game-based learning company Legends of Learning has raised $9 million in seed funding from Baltimore Angels.

    Schoolrunner has raised $500,000 from the Colorado Impact Fund. The student information system startup has raised $2 million total.

    The private equity firm Education Growth Partners has acquiredApex Learning.

    2U has acquiredGetSmarter for $103 million.

    Pearson released its quarterly report today and announced a “strategic review” of its K–12 courseware business, particularly with regards to print. Andrew Rotherham interviewed CEO John Fallon about the company’s shift to digital.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    “Someone Hit the Internet with a Massive Google Doc Phishing Attack,” Motherboard Vice reports. Don’t click. Never click. (Use this as an excuse to avoid all future Google Docs and “collaborative” writing projects. You know you want to.)

    “Hundreds of thousands of kids have identity info hacked from pediatricians’ offices,” says

    “235 apps attempt to secretly track users with ultrasonic audio,” says Boing Boing. Android apps to be specific.

    “‘Is Our Children’s Apps Learning?’ Automatically Detecting COPPA Violationsby Irwin Reyes, Primal Wijesekera, Abbas Razaghpanah, Joel Rearson, Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez, Serge Egelman, and Christian Kreibich.

    Data and “Research”

    This is irresponsible. “Students to colleges: Please use our data this way,” reads the eCampus News headline in an article claiming students want even more of their data tracked and utilized. This is all based on a survey by Ellucian (the company behind the student information system Banner and Degree Works, a predictive tool profiled by Edsurge in a story linked above); and I’d sure love to see the wording of the questions.

    Via The Independent: “Facebook research targeted insecure youth, leaked documents show.”

    “4 out of 5 Companies Have Hired a Coding Bootcamp Graduate,” says Campus Technology. Well, not quite. Job search site surveyed 1000 HR managers and tech recruiters.

    The latest report formerly known as the Sloan Survey of Online Learning has been released. “Digital Learning Compass: New report on distance education higher ed enrollments” by Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill. Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education also cover the report.

    “Do For-profit Institutions Converting to Non-profit Affect Distance Education Enrollment Numbers?” asks Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill. (Spoiler alert: no.)

    The ANOVA blog’s“study of the week” includes Skinner (but no pigeons): “Nicaraguan Sign Language and the Speaking Animal.”

    Via Brookings: “How the quality of school lunch affects students’ academic performance.” has released new reports on math textbooks and how well they align to the Common Core.

    “Emerging Research on K–12 Computer Science Education: 6 Trends to Watch” by Education Week’s Ben Herold.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new paper finds students don’t leave postsecondary education when the for-profit institution they attend is sanctioned by federal agencies. They move into the public sector.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Study: More Underrepresented Students Rely on Social Media for College Search.”

    “The Most Polarized Freshman Class in Half a Century” sure makes for a great headline confirming all the hullaballoo lately about intolerance on college campuses. (Incoming classes are also increasingly diverse demographically.)

    Via Pacific Standard: “Selective Colleges Take Fewer Low-Income Students, According to a New Report.”

    From the American Institutes for Research: “The Income Share Agreement Landscape: 2017 and Beyond.”

    More pushback on the US News and World Report 2017 high school rankings. “4th Best High School In New York Is A KIPP School That Doesn’t Exist,” education blogger Gary Rubinstein charges. “Why the U.S. News Best High School Rankings Are Flawed,” according to RealClear Education.

    Creative Commons has released its State of the Commons 2016 report.

    IHE blogger Joshua Kim asks where folks get the figure “$1.9 trillion,” supposedly the size of the global higher education market.

    EdWeek’s Market Brief pushes another number about the size of education markets: “As more computing devices are available in K–12 classrooms, the market for ed-tech software and tools and back-end administrative technology platforms, is expected to grow to $1.83 billion by 2020, according to Futuresource Consulting, Ltd.”

    April 2017 Ed-Tech Fundingby me. One factoid: three companies – SoFi, EverFi, and– account for more than 65% of the money raised so far this year. Unlike other people who tout certain dollar figures for the size of markets, I do show my work.


    Via Vox: “William Baumol, whose famous economic theory explains the modern world, has died.” Vox loves explainers but, like Baumol, doesn't always get the explanation right:

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 05/12/17--16:20: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Via Politico: “Trump suggests financing for historically black colleges may be unconstitutional.” Wait, so that photo op at the beginning of the year with HBCU presidents was utterly disingenuous?! More via Buzzfeed– that is, before Trump changed his mind – or at least changed his public stance, and according to WaPo, expressed his “unwavering support” for HBCUs. Via The NYT: “Trump Walks Back Threat to Defund Black Colleges.”

    And then DeVos goes to an HBCU to give a graduation speech and get an honorary doctorate. “Betsy DeVos Was Booed Heavily As She Gave A Commencement Address,” writes Buzzfeed. “Students Boo, Turn Their Backs on DeVos at Bethune-Cookman Speech,” writes The Chronicle of Higher Education. NPR calls the students “hecklers.” According to the school, only 20 students protested. (According to those present, about half of the graduates did.) The Secretary of Education issued a statement about the ceremony. All the words were spelled correctly.

    DeVos also spoke at the ASU-GSV Summit. No one stood and turned their backs, I gather. “Betsy DeVos likens education technology to ‘a thousand flowers’ that have yet to bloom,” says The Hechinger Report. Innovation! Education should be more like AirBnB. And no one booed. Damn, y’all.

    Via Politico: “All the President’s Guests.” The White House isn’t releasing official visitor logs, so here’s the unofficial version. Search for “education” to see who’s popped by for a chat.

    Via Motherboard: “John Oliver Just Crashed the FCC’s Website Over Net Neutrality – Again.” Yes, it’s time to weigh in – again – about “net neutrality.”

    Not directly related to ed-tech, but only because no one actually demands ed-tech prove its “interventions” “work”: “Peter Thiel vs. the FDAvia Vox.

    Via ABC News: “Puerto Rico to close 184 public schools amid crisis.”

    Via The Daily Beast: “No Love for Paul Ryan in Harlem School.” The school in question: Success Academy, a charter school chain.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Jerry Brown, California’s governor, released his revised budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year Thursday. While the budget largely mirrors an earlier plan, it includes $50 million in funding for the University of California system that will be sequestered until the system resolves concerns raised last month by the state’s auditor.”

    Ian Bogost on campus carry legislation in Georgia.

    Via The New York Times: “Is ‘3-K for All’ Good for All? De Blasio’s Preschool Plan Troubles Some.”

    Via “Christie signs ‘Snooki’ bill capping N.J. college speaking fees.”

    Via The LA Times: “Silicon Valley is ‘officially a retirement community for D.C. political vets’ starting fresh outside the nation’s capital.”

    Meanwhile in San Francisco, via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Low pay, high SF housing costs equal 1 homeless math teacher.”

    More on the politics of education data and research in the data and research section below. More on the politics (and business) of student loans in the student loans section below.

    Immigration and Education

    Via NPR: “Texas Gov. Abbott Signs Measure Targeting ‘Sanctuary Cities’.” The law, which allows officers to stop and ask people’s immigration status, also applies to college campuses.

    Via The Washington Post: “Second largest school district in U.S. moves to protect undocumented immigrants from federal agents.” That’s LAUSD. (That’s the Los Angeles Unified School District.)

    Via The New York Times: “U.S. May Ban Laptops on All Flights From Europe.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via Buzzfeed: “Howard University Refused To Help Suicidal Rape Victims, Explosive Lawsuit Claims.”

    Just putting this story here because I’m tracking on all those social and political networks of education reform and education technology funders. And that includes Robert Mercer. Via Bloomberg: “Mercer Sued by Hedge Fund Worker Fired After Blasting Trump.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Thomas Friedman links the future of “lifelong learning” to standardized testing, bless his heart. Warning: hate read.

    “A History of Achievement Testing in the United States Or: Explaining the Persistence of Inadequacy” (PDF) by Ethan Hutt and Jack Schneider.

    More on testing and test prep research in the “research” section below.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Purdue Defends Plan to Acquire Kaplan University in Wake of Faculty Vote.”

    Via WTVR: “For-profit colleges under scrutiny as students default on loans.”

    Lots lots lots more on student loans in the student loan section below.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    edX is celebrating its 5th birthday. (And I can’t believe that “the Year of the MOOC” was five years ago.)

    A Coursera blog post shared with you without commentary: “Using data to transform the learning experience.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    The conservative press continues to argue that college campuses remain the biggest threat to free speech. Here’s the NRO: “U of Arizona Is Hiring Students to Tattle on Others for ‘Bias Incidents’.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “To fight campus liberalism, a right-wing group is funneling thousands of dollars to student-government campaigns.” That’s Turning Point USA.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “8 Fraternity Members Are Charged With Manslaughter in Hazing Death at Penn State.”

    Madison, WI schools block social media access for students,” says EAGNews, “as part of a pilot project aimed at reengaging students.”

    Harvard will no longer charge library fines. Apparently library fines are stressful to those poor Harvard students.

    Via Chalkbeat: “New York City’s special ed tracking system malfunctioned more than 800,000 times per day, but changes are underway.”

    Via the NY Daily News: “99% of students handcuffed by NYPD in public schools were black or Hispanic: report.”

    “An administrator at Holy Cross College, in Indiana, mistakenly sent an email to the entire student body on Friday that paints a bleak picture of the small institution’s finances and mentions its possible closure,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Oops.

    Via Teen Vogue: “Nicki Minaj Offers to Pay Fans’ School Tuition.” (Nicki needs to talk to Tressie.)

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “More than 100 elite private high schools aim to replace traditional transcripts with competency-based, nonstandardized documents – with no grades. They plan to expand to public high schools, with goal of completely changing how students are evaluated.” This is one way to expand educational inequalities, that’s for sure.

    AIR on alternative teacher certification.

    Education Dive summarizes a Washington Times (!) article by the Heritage Foundation (!) and asks “Should states, industry lead higher ed accreditation efforts?” Pretty sure all those factors and more means this really should go in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A report released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association Wednesday said that athletes in Division I improved academically for the 12th consecutive year, according to the association’s academic progress rate.”

    From the HR Department

    Internet2 has a new president: Howard Pfeffer, formerly a VP at Time Warner Cable.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    “Can technology solve the 2,500-year-old problem of boredom in the classroom?” asks Slate.

    “Dropout Detective Offers Academic ‘Credit Scores’– But Is That a Good Thing?” asks Edsurge.

    “Will Personalized Learning Become the New Normal?” asks The 74.

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

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Education Week: “Can K–12 Education Prepare Students For ‘Jobs of the Future?’” Yes, this could go in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section.

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via NPR: “U.S. Government Officials Play Hardball On Student Loan Defaults.”

    The US Department of Treasury is poised to raise the interest rates on student loans in July.

    Via Buzzfeed: “How The Student Loan Collection System Ground To A Halt.”

    Via Techcrunch: “SoFi plans to apply for a bank charter in the next month.” SoFi began as financing company for private student loans. It is most certainly not ed-tech because ed-tech has nothing to do with finance, or so I hear.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Sallie Mae, the student loan company, will offer free online tutoring to borrowers through a partnership with Chegg, an online textbook publisher that recently has moved into student support services, including test preparation and tutoring.”

    “The Wrong Way to Fix Student Debtby Susan Dynarski.

    Also in The NYT: “3 Basic but Crucial Things to Know About Student Loans.” (Me, I think you should know the business of student loans is intertwined with the business of ed-tech.)

    More on student loans in the for-profit higher ed section above.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    “Tech’s Frightful Five: They’ve Got Us,” says The NYT’s tech reporter Farhad Manjoo. That’s Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Apple. (Check out the interactive feature that let’s you explore if and how you could extricate yourself from their clutches.)

    Meanwhile, Education Week has a big report on “Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft Battle for K–12 Market, and Loyalties of Educators.”

    Via Edsurge: “ClassDojo and Yale Team Up to Bring Mindfulness to the Masses.” Ben Williamson on ClassDojo and “mindfulness at scale.”

    “We Know SEL Skills Are Important, So How the Heck Do We Measure Them?” asks Edsurge. It’s totally by buying ed-tech, am I right?

    Efficiency Can Cost Education” says Andy Smarick in US News & World Report.

    JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon says there’s a “national catastrophe in American education,” and he has no fucking idea what he’s talking about.

    “The reign of the $100 graphing calculator required by every US math class is finally ending,” says Quartz. That’s thanks to Desmos, the online graphing calculator. More Desmos PR in Edsurge, too.

    Via NPR: “Fidget Spinners: Good Or Bad For Kids’ Concentration?”

    Via Techcrunch: “Germany’s Duolingo competitor Babbel sets its sights on the US.”

    Oculus’ Virtual Reality Content Studio to Be Closed,” says Geek Dad. But don’t worry. I’m sure VR is still the next big thing in edu.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Common Application Says New Transfer App Will Better Serve Nontraditional Students.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Current launches a Visa debit card for kids that parents control with an app.”

    “Movement of Canvas LMS to Global Markets” by Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill.

    “The Next Phase of the Maker Movement? Building Startups” – according to Edsurge at least.

    Do be sure to take note of the Edmodo news in the infosec section below.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via KQED: “Using Artificial Intelligence As a Teaching Assistant To Help With Questions Online.” Georgia Tech trying to get a lot of miles out of this one example, huh.

    Via Edsurge: “Robot Students? College Classrooms Try Letting Far-Away Students Attend Via Remote-Control Stand-In.”

    “Could Robots Handle Peer Review?” asks Times Higher Education, a question that does make this story eligible for the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section.

    Machine Learning for Middle Schoolers” by Stephen Wolfram.

    ASU-GSV Summit Celebrates Money and Other Stuff

    Some of the headlines out of this corporate shindig:

    Via Edsurge: “Bankers, Buyers and Warriors: Reporter’s Notebook From the 2017 ASU+GSV Summit.” (Warriors, in this case, refers to the Golden State Warriors, who were staying in the same hotel – but it could be ed-tech warriors, I dunno maybe. God helps us.)

    Via Education Week: “An Uncertain Political Landscape Looms Over Ed. Policy at ASU/GSV.”

    As part of its “thought leader series” at the event, Edsurge interviewed the founder of the Minerva Project, Ben Nelson: “Three Years In, Minerva’s Founder On For-Profits, Selectivity, and His Critics.”

    Via Ed Week’s Market Brief: “K–12 Frustrations With Ed-Tech Interoperability Surface at ASU/GSV.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Tennis Great Andre Agassi Shares Strategies for Scaling Charter Schools at ASU/GSV.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Chinese Ed-Tech Leaders: ‘Make Connections to Make Headway’ in Market.”

    See the politics section above for details about the Secretary of Education’s speech at the event. And do note the differences in the audience response to DeVos there and at an HBCU graduation ceremony this week.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    “The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is funding the education-reform group Chiefs for Change, as both groups seek to grow state- and district-level support for personalized learning,” Education Week reports. No disclosure on the funding amount.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Grammarly has raised $110 million from Breyer Capital Venture, General Catalyst Venture, Institutional Venture Partners, SignalFire Venture, and Spark Capital. This is the grammar-checker company’s first round of venture investment.

    Telegraph Media Group has acquiredGojimo.

    Epiphany Learning has acquiredMy Learning Collaborative Solution.

    Sylvan Learning has acquiredCitelighter.

    InsideTrack has merged with Strada Education.

    Via Crunchbase: “VCs Take An EdTech Breather, But For Those Who Look Globally, Optimism Isn’t Hard To Find.”

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via Motherboard: “Hacker Steals Millions of User Account Details from Education Platform Edmodo.” The data includes usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords. The data is for sale online for $1000.

    Via the Fort Mason Daily Democrat: “Heart rate monitor grades students’ activity.”

    College campus police forces are starting to wear body cameras.

    Via “San Diego School District Brings Biometrics to the Cafeteria.”

    “The ‘S’ in Smart Cities really stands for ‘Surveillance’,” Doug Belshaw argues.

    More on algorithms and surveillance in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section above.

    Data and “Research”

    Research from Harvard on “The Dissatisfaction of the Associate Professor,” as related by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Kansas University: “Research shows prejudice, not principle, often underpins ‘free-speech defense’ of racist language.”

    Via Education Week: “The federal Health and Human Services Department has proposed getting rid of a question in the National Child Health Survey that collects information on preschool children who have been suspended or expelled.”

    “Three-quarters of Americans think it’s easier to succeed in life with a college degree than without one, but only 43 percent say private, nonprofit universities and colleges are worth the cost, according to a new poll” by the think tank New America.

    School Bullying Is Down. Why Don’t Students Believe It?” asks NPR’s Anya Kamenetz.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Colleges With the Highest Average Pay for Full Professors, 2015–16.”

    Via Education Week: “Student Absenteeism: Three New Studies to Know.”

    Edsurge weighs in with “The Hard Truths and False Starts About Edtech Efficacy Research.”

    From the Khan Academy blog: “Studying for the SAT for 20 hours on Khan Academy associated with 115-point average score increase.” “ Can coaching truly boost SAT scores? For years, the College Board said no. Now it says yes,” says WaPo’s Valerie Strauss.

    A new study from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation suggests that robots aren’t taking our jobs as fast as some people are saying. But this all makes for such a nice, salable story, doesn’t it.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 05/19/17--07:50: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics

    Via The Washington Post: “Trump’s first full education budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice.”

    NPR’s Cory Turner on“The Promise And Peril Of School Vouchers.” Also by Turner: “Indiana’s School Choice Program Often Underserves Special Needs Students.”

    Also via WaPo: “Here are K–12 education programs Trump wants to eliminate in 2018 budget.” This includes $10.1 million for Special Olympics because these are some cruel, cruel people.

    Via Politico: “DeVos expected to unveil school choice plans Monday.”

    “This is the new Betsy DeVos speech everyone should read,” according to WaPo’s Valerie Strauss at least. Bonus points for invoking the Prussians, Madame Secretary.

    “Why I Turned My Back on Betsy DeVos During Graduation” by Bethune-Cookman Class of 2017’s Tyler Durrant.

    Via The Washington Post: “Betsy DeVos was asked to address education reporters at their annual convention. She said no.”

    Via Politico: “DeVos’ designated ethics official found no conflict with her addressing the American Federation for Children in her official capacity, a spokesman said Monday. DeVos is the former chair of the American Federation for Children, which advocates for school choice policies, such as tax credit scholarships and vouchers. She and her husband also donated $200,000 to AFC’s charitable arm in 2014 and 2015 through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. DeVos stepped down as AFC chair last year after President Donald Trump nominated her for secretary.”

    President Trump gave the commencement speech at Liberty University. Details via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The Washington Post: “Trump and DeVos plan to reshape higher education finance. Here’s what it might mean for you.”

    I’ve put all the student loan updates in its own section below.

    “The Privatization Prophets” by Jennifer Berkshire.

    Los Angeles Just Had the Most Expensive School Board Race Ever – and Betsy DeVos Couldn’t Be Happier,” says Mother Jones. Charter school-backed Nick Melvoin unseated school board president Steve Zimmer. More than $14 million was spent on this race.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A bipartisan group of influential U.S. senators released a bill Monday that would overturn the ban on a federal student-level data system that would allow for the tracking of employment and graduation rates. A bipartisan companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives followed Tuesday.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The Hill: “FCC votes to advance net neutrality repeal.” More via Education Week. (Here are the education technology companies that have raised money from ISPs. Watch to see what they have to say (if anything) about net neutrality and the future of education.)

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The States Where Campus Free-Speech Bills Are Being Born: A Rundown.” A related story via Inside Higher Ed: “Critics of proposed legislation to ensure First Amendment rights at Wisconsin public universities say it could backfire and limit expression. Requirement for political neutrality alarms professors and administrators alike.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Secret report shows ‘special’ treatment for public officials in D.C. school lottery.”

    Via The News & Observer: “At 3 a.m., NC Senate GOP strips education funding from Democrats’ districts.”

    The New York Times looks at “anti-tax fervor in southern Oregon, which will result in the one public library in Roseburg closing its doors.

    ProPublica looks at the lobbying group the Home School Legal Defense Association: “Small Group Goes to Great Lengths to Block Homeschooling Regulation.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via The Gothamist: “Federal Immigration Agent Allegedly Inquired About 4th Grader At Queens Public School.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Students at Northwestern University drove out a representative from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who was due to speak to a sociology class Tuesday.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via The New York Times: “4 Plead Guilty in Baruch College Student’s Hazing Death.”

    Elsevier Wants $15 Million Piracy Damages From Sci-Hub and Libgen,” says TorrentFreak.

    More legal stories in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…

    Via The Post and Courier: “Citadel cadets score low on a critical-thinking exam. But there’s reason to be skeptical about their results.” That’s the Collegiate Learning Assessment exam (a.k.a. CLA+).

    Via Vox: “Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless.”

    Via NPR: “AP Test-Takers’ Tweets May Not Give Away Answers, But They Raise Questions.”

    More on venture philanthropy and test prep in the venture philanthropy section below.

    “Free College”

    “Should Students Get ‘Grades 13 and 14’ Free of Charge?” asks The New York Times Magazine.

    Via The New York Times: “Free Tuition? Tennessee Could Tutor New York.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Boston-area nonprofit will pay gang members who want to go to college and get off the street, with a goal of improving communities.” The non-profit in question: College Bound Dorchester.

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via Slate: “Betsy DeVos Wants to Kill a Major Student Loan Forgiveness Program.”

    “400,000 were promised student loan forgiveness. Now they are panicking,” says CNN.

    Here’s Betsy DeVos in The Wall Street Journal: “Treating Students as Customers.” “How the Education Department is revamping its loan-serving program.”

    Reminder: Betsy DeVos has a financial stake in a student loan collection agency.

    Via NPR: “Can’t Pay Your Student Loans? The Government May Come After Your House.”

    Via Techcrunch: “SoFi gets into wealth management.” That’s a private student loan provider, but I forgot that everyone in ed-tech thinks this whole private student loan thing isn’t something we should be watching because it’s not really ed-tech.

    Via the Huffington Post: “Nicki Minaj Is Starting An ‘Official Charity’ To Pay Off Student Loans.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Edsurge: “Why Donald Graham Sold Kaplan University to Purdue for $1.” (And there’s even a disclosure about Edsurge’s financial ties to Graham on this story. Good job, team.)

    Via The New York Times: “U.S. Crackdown on For-Profit Schools Is Said to Go Idle.”

    Also via The New York Times: “For-Profit Charlotte Law School Is Subject of North Carolina Inquiry.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    “Why Haven’t MOOCs Eliminated Any Professors?” asks IHE blogger Joshua Kim. What’s his evidence that technology has not eliminated jobs – other than this weird insistence that there is no such thing as neoliberalism in ed-tech?

    Via The Verge: “Who is MasterClass for? Talking to the people who take online classes with big-name celebs.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Caltech Students Protest Return of Professor From Suspension.” That’s Christian Ott, an astrophysics professor, who has been accused of harassing his graduate students.

    Via NPR: “As White Supremacists Push Onto Campuses, Schools Wrestle With Response.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Where Kids Aren’t Allowed to Put on Sunscreen: in School.”

    Zynga and USC enter social and mobile game design partnership,” says Education Dive. I’d totally forgotten that Zynga was still a thing, but apparently the company has enough money to subsidize gaming courses.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: Mills College“announces layoffs (likely including tenured professors) and plans for curricular reform – amid a deficit that has grown to $9 million.”

    Via The New York Times: “500 Students in a One-Room School: Fallout of New Jersey’s Funding Woes.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Bipartisan support for career and technical education is building, with Virginia Foxx and the Center for American Progress finding rare agreement Tuesday by calling for more of a policy focus on job training that doesn’t require a four-year degree.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via the Kansas City Star: “Lawsuit says Baylor football players videotaped gang rape, which was ‘bonding experience’.” This is the seventh lawsuit over the school’s sexual assault scandal.

    Reminder that Baylor’s former athletic director now works at Jerry Falwell Jr’s Liberty University.

    Speaking of Liberty U, via Deadspin: “Liberty Was So Desperate For An FBS Home Opener, It Agreed To Pay Old Dominion $1.32 Million.”

    From the HR Department

    The open-access publisher PLOS has a new CEO: Alison Mudditt.

    Social Capital has hired Marc Mezvinsky as the investment firm morphs its business,” Recode reports. Yes, that’s the Marc Mezvinsky who’s married to Chelsea Clinton. (Here’s a look at Social Capital’s ed-tech portfolio.)

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    “Can a buzzword deliver on its promise?” asks the Clayton Christensen Institute’s Michael Horn. (He’s referring to “personalized learning,” but might as well be any buzzword when you frame the headline that way, bud.)

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

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via The New York Times: “How Google Took Over the Classroom.” There’s a lot in this superb article – data, surveillance, testing, costs, branding.

    Via Edsurge: “Pearson, an Investor in Knewton, Is ‘Phasing Out’ Partnership on Adaptive Products.” No disclosure in the story that Edsurge shares investors with Knewton, nor that Pearson is, by way of Learn Capital, also an investor in Edsurge.

    Via Quartz: “Apple’s new $5 billion campus has a 100,000-square-foot gym and no daycare.”

    Via the BBC: “Computer giant Apple is expanding its supply line of talented young people with digital skills, by doubling the intake of its European academy.” I’m guessing those “talented young people” don’t need daycare at work, Apple?

    What the conservative ed-reform publication Education Next is watching: “Silicon Valley Billionaires Created AltSchool.”

    Edsurge interviews Stanford’s Candace Thille on “Why ‘Black Box’ Software Isn’t Ready to Teach College.”

    Edsurge profiles MEDSKL, which is like Khan Academy but for medical school. (What could go wrong?)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Online Exam Proctoring Catches Cheaters, Raises Concerns.” Concerns include privacy, racism.

    Edsurge writes that “U of Chicago, UPenn, Harvey Mudd Among Colleges to Join Scholarship App” but does not disclose that it shares investors with the company in question.

    “​Intel Hits Pause on Edtech Accelerator,” says Edsurge.

    “The Sexual Harassment Allegations Against This Virtual Reality Startup Are Really Gross,” writes Buzzfeed. That’s UploadVR. (Here’s a look, from Edsurge, at the company’s involvement in education, so that’s just swell.)

    Via Campus Technology: “6 VR Trends to Watch in Education.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via The Verge: “Elon Musk-backed OpenAI is teaching robots how to learn just like humans do.” Just like humans do. LOL.

    “This robot helps kids with special needs to communicate,” according to Techcrunch. This robot is called Robota and is the creation of a team from Rutgers University.

    From the WCET blog: “Using Artificial Intelligence for Personality Insights.”

    Via Education Week: “In Kentucky, Rural Schools Betting on Drones to Stem ‘Brain Drain’.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is giving a grant– an undisclosed amount – to the College Board to expand test prep.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    CreativeLive has raised $25 million in Series C funding from GSV Acceleration, Creative Arts Agency, Greylock Partners, Jared Leto, REV, Richard Branson, and Social Capital. The online training company has raised $76 million total. (Disclosure alert.)

    Revolution Prep has raised $4 million in Series B funding from Kennet Partners. The test prep company has raised $9 million total.

    Marbotic has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Mirabelle investment fund, Marguerite Fournié, and Michelin Development. The company makes wooden blocks that interact with a tablet.

    Tutoring startup Byju’s will buy part of Pearson’s tutoring company TutorVista, according to The Economic Times.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    On the heels of news last week that Edmodo had been hacked and some 77 million users’ data leaked, privacy researcher Bill Fitzgerald uncovers targeted ad tracking in Edmodo. (The tracking has since been removed. But this isn’t the first time Edmodo’s had security issues, incidentally.) Edsurge writes that “Edmodo’s Tracking of Students and Teachers Revives Skepticism Surrounding ‘Free’ Edtech Tools” but does not disclose that it shares investors with Edmodo.

    Via Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill: “Uber Doesn’t Want You to See This Document About Its Vast Data Surveillance System.” This includes more than 500 pieces of information that Uber tracks for each user. Helpful for putting all those “Uber for education” folks in context.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Wisconsin at Madison Restores Twitter Account After Hack.”

    A cyberattack spread globally this week – WannaCry, ransomware that encrypts all files on a computer until the user pays (Bitcoin) to unlock them. “Colleges Dodge Massive Cyberattack,” according to Inside Higher Ed. “US universities race to contain WannaCry ransomware, officials say,” according to Cyberscoop. Other schools affected: the Brewer school system in Maine. Here’s Microsoft’s statement, which points the finger at the NSA. I’m sorry for citing the Daily Mail but I can’t help it here: “Cyber geek who halted global computer attack was suspended by teachers after being accused of hacking school’s system (…and failed his GCSE in IT!)”

    The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy has released a “Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy.”

    Data and “Research”

    “Don’t Grade Teachers With a Bad Algorithm,” says Cathy O’Neil.

    From FdB’s ANOVA blog: “Campbell’s Law and the inevitability of school fraud.” Also: “norm referencing, criterion referencing, and ed policy.” And: “Study of the Week: What Actually Helps Poor Students? Human Beings.”

    Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults,” says the Pew Research Center.

    Via Mindwires Consulting: “State of Higher Ed LMS Market for US and Canada: Spring 2017 Edition.”

    The latest survey from Project Tomorrow: “Speak Up 2016 Research Project for Digital Learning.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. is not adequately developing and sustaining a skilled technical work force, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.”

    Via Times Higher Education: “Study examines traits British students like– and don’t like – in instructors.”

    “The average first-time, full-time tuition discount rate edged even closer to 50 percent in 2016–17 as net tuition revenue and enrollment struggled.” That’s according to a study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers as reported by Inside Higher Ed.

    Big Data in Education” – a new report from the National Academy of Education.

    Predictive Analytics in Higher Education: Five Guiding Practices for Ethical Use” – a new report from New America.

    Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science about race and IQ,” says Vox.

    Mindfulness training does not foster empathy, and can even make narcissists worse,” says the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest.

    “Sorry, Graphology Isn’t a Real Science,” says Anne Trubek.

    Via NPR: “Whirring, Purring Fidget Spinners Provide Entertainment, Not ADHD Help.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    This talk was given today at CENTRO's symposium "Data, Paper, Scissors Tech-Based Learning Experiences for Higher Education" in Mexico City.

    Thank you very much for inviting me here today. I must apologize in advance for a couple of things about this presentation. First, I apologize that it’s in English. Second, I apologize that it takes such a grim tone. I’m well known, I think, for fierce criticisms and cautions about education technology, and what I’ve prepared today is perhaps even darker and more polemical than I’d like, strikingly so on this beautiful campus. I confess: I am feeling incredibly concerned about the direction the world is taking – politically, environmentally, economically, intellectually, institutionally, technologically. Trump. Digital technologies, even education technologies, are implicated in all of this, and if we are not careful, we are going to make things worse.

    History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we literally are criminals.

    "I attest to this: the world is not white; it never was white, cannot be white. White is a metaphor for power, and that is simply a way of describing Chase Manhattan Bank."– James Baldwin

    I want to be sure that anytime we talk about “the future of education,” that we always consider “the history of education.” We cannot break from history. We have not severed ourselves from the past through the introduction of computers or computer networks. Our institutions have not been severed from the past because of these. Our cultures have not. (At least not entirely. Not yet.) We have not.

    When we talk about “the future of education” as an explicitly technological future, I want us to remember that “the history of education” has long been technological – thousands of years of writing, hundreds of years of print, a century of “teaching machines,” 75 years of computing, almost 60 years of computer-assisted instruction, at least 40 years of the learning management system, more than 25 years of one-to-one laptop programs, a decade (give or take a year) of mobile learning. Education technology is not new; it has not appeared “all of a sudden”; and it is not a rupture. It is inextricably linked to history, to histories of education and to histories of technology.

    Education technology has its roots in traditional institutions, including and particularly the university and the military.

    To be clear, when I talk about education technology or technologies, I am not referring simply to tools or artifacts or products; and technologies certainly aren’t simply computing devices – software or hardware. Technologies, to borrow from the physicist Ursula Franklin, are practices. Technologies are systems. Technology “entails far more than its individual material components,” Franklin wrote. “Technology involves organizations, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and, most of all, a mindset.”

    When I say that education technology is not new, I’m not arguing that technologies do not change over time; or that our institutions, ideas, experiences, societies do not change in part because of technologies. But when we talk about change – when we tell stories about technological change – we must consider how technologies, particularly modern technologies like computers, emerged from a certain history, from certain institutions; how technologies are as likely to re-inscribe traditional practices as to alter them. We must consider how technology operates, in Franklin’s words, as “an agent of power and control.” We must consider how technologies carry this in their design, in their code, in their materiality, in their usage, in the ideologies that underpin them. Because of industry and because of institutions and because of capitalism and because of the weight of history and tradition, technologies are often hegemonic, even if, from time-to-time, we can seize them for counter-hegemonic stories and practices.

    All this is particularly important, I would argue, when we think about the technologies – practices, beliefs, systems – that are developed by or developed for educational institutions, when we think about education technologies and when we think about educational change.

    There are compelling stories, no doubt, about education technology. We’ll hear them today. Old stories and new stories. Education technology as disruptive. Education technology as transformative. Education technology as progressive (“progressive” as in progressive education like that envisioned by Maria Montessori or John Dewey; or “progressive” as related to social reform movements; or “progressive” as relating to technological progress). In the twenty-first century (as it has been for some time now) we are quite taken with the notion of technology as the force for “progress,” for change. But let’s not confuse new products and new practices and new politics with better.

    If technology is the force for change, in this framework, those who do not use technology, of course – schools and teachers, stereotypically – are viewed as resistant to or even obstacles to change.

    Seymour Papert, an early promoter of the narrative that personal computers would transform learning, wrote in 1993 that he’d already seen the ways in which educational institutions had dulled computers’ radical potential. “Little by little the subversive features of the computer were eroded away,” he wrote in his book The Children’s Machine.

    Instead of cutting across and so challenging the very idea of subject boundaries, the computer now defined a new subject; instead of changing the emphasis from impersonal curriculum to excited live exploration by students, the computer was now used to reinforce School’s ways. What had started as a subversive instrument of change was neutralized by the system and converted into an instrument of consolidation.

    It’s been almost 25 years since Papert wrote that book, and we can debate whether or not computers have actually failed to change educational institutions. (Certainly the title of this segment of today’s event – “the new normal” – seems to conclude that something in School’s ways, to borrow Papert’s phrase, has shifted.) We can debate too whether or not computers were ever really a “subversive instrument of change” in education. Or rather, what exactly do computers subvert? (Institutions? People? The public?)

    And this is the question, I think, that feels incredibly pertinent for us to consider, particularly as the education technology industry boasts about its disruptive capabilities and exerts its financial, political, and cultural power. What might be subverted? What might be lost? (That is, who will lose?)

    When I hear the phrase “the new normal,” I cannot help but think of the ways in which those same words were used in the US to describe the economy during and since the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and subsequent global recession. A period of slow economic growth, limited job creation, and stagnant incomes. A period of economic instability for most of us, and one of growing economic inequality globally as the super wealthy got super wealthier.

    That period was also one of enormous growth in new digital technology companies. Facebook and Twitter grew in popularity as social networks emerged to profoundly reconfigure information and media. Netflix moved from DVDs to a streaming service to a media company in its own right. Amazon introduced “The Cloud.” Apple introduced the iPhone, and “apps” became ubiquitous, leading some to pronounce the World Wide Web – a scholarly endeavor at its origin, let’s not forget – was dead. Venture capitalists became exuberant once again about investing in high tech startups, even those in education, which had for the previous decade been seen as a difficult and unprofitable market. Another Dot Com boom was predicted, this one centered on personal data.

    But the growth of Silicon Valley didn’t really do much to improve the economic well-being of most of us. It didn’t really create jobs, although it did create wealth for a handful of investors and entrepreneurs. It did help further a narrative that our economic precarity was not only “the new normal” but potentially liberatory. The “freelance” economy, we were told, meant we didn’t have to have full-time employment any longer. Just “gigs.” The anti-regulatory practices and libertarian ideology espoused by the CEO of Uber became a model for talking about this “new economy” – that is until Uber (and others) are able to replace freelance workers with robots, of course. “We’re like Uber,” became something other companies, including those in education, would boast, despite Uber’s skullduggery.

    This “new normal” does not simply argue that governmental regulations impede innovation. It posits government itself as an obstacle to change. It embraces libertarianism; it embraces “free markets.” It embraces a neoliberalism that calls for shrinking budgets for public services, including education – a shifting of dollars to private industry.

    Education needs to change, we have long been told. It is outmoded. Inefficient. And this “new normal” – in an economic sense much more than a pedagogical one – has meant schools have been tasked to “do more with less” and specifically to do more with new technologies which promise greater efficiency, carrying with them the values of business and markets rather than the values of democracy or democratic education.

    These new technologies, oriented towards consumers and consumption, privilege an ideology of individualism. In education technology, as in advertising, this is labeled “personalization.” The flaw of traditional education systems, we are told, is that they focus too much on the group, the class, the collective. So we see education being reframed as a technologically-enhanced series of choices – consumer choices. Technologies monitor and extract data in order to maximize “engagement” and entertainment.

    I fear that new normal, what it might really mean for teaching, for learning, for scholarship.

    Seymour Papert argued that “School’s ways” would persist, despite the subversiveness of computers, but I’m not so sure. Or rather, I’d argue that we do see a subversiveness from computers – let’s call it an Uberification – but it looks nothing like what he had hoped for. If School’s ways have been altered, it’s because of the political and fiscal pressures on them. I’d argue new technologies are prompting schools to acquiesce to, to merge with “Silicon Valley’s ways,” with surveillance capitalism, for example.

    Technologies may well be poised to redefine how we think about learning, intelligence, inquiry, the learner, the teacher, teaching, knowledge, scholarship. But remember: technological “progress” does not necessarily mean “progressive politics.” Silicon Valley’s ways also include individualism, neoliberalism, libertarianism, imperialism, the exclusion of people of color and white women from its workforce. These biases are now part of algorithms and algorithmic decision-making.

    Again my fear with our being comfortable or complacent with this “new normal”: Silicon Valley’s ways and Silicon Valley’s technologies are readily subverting the values of democracy and justice.

    The values of democracy and justice should be School’s ways. But to be fair, neither democracy nor justice are values that most educational institutions (historically, presently) have truly or fully or consistently lauded or oriented themselves around.

    If we want the future to be something other than an exploitative dystopia, I think our task must be to resist the narratives and the practices and the technologies that further inequality.

    We cannot do this through through technological solutionism (although technologies are absolutely part of what we need to address and fundamentally rethink). We need to rethink our practices. We have to forgo “personalization.” We must do this through collective action, through community. We do this through action oriented around social and racial justice. We do this through democracy. (And through art.)

    If educational institutions cannot take leadership in this crisis – a crisis of “the new normal” – then I don’t think we have any hope at all. My hope right now rests in the leadership of those outside Silicon Valley, indeed outside the US.

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  • 05/26/17--05:50: Hack Education Weekly News
  • The Trump Budget

    Via The New York Times: “Trump’s Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid and Anti-Poverty Efforts.”

    Via NPR: “Trump BudgetReduces Education Spending, Raises Funding For School Choice.” Also via NPR: “President Trump’s Budget Proposal Calls For Deep Cuts To Education.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Trump Budget Would Slash Student Aid and Research.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What Trump’s Proposed 2018 Budget Would Mean for Higher Ed.”

    Via Edweek’s Market Brief: “Trump’s Budget for Fiscal 2018: Cuts for Ed., Implications for K–12 Business.”

    No Sign of Edtech In Department of Education’s Full Federal Budget Proposal,” Edsurge frets.

    The Office of Educational Technology Under DeVos” by Doug Levin.

    The National Endowment for the Humanities issued a press release: “NEH Statement on Proposed FY 2018 Budget.”

    More news from the NEH in the HR section below.

    Thankfully, this budget is D.O.A. But it does underscore how central cruelty and ignorance are to the Trump administration.

    More Education Politics

    Betsy DeVos Refuses to Rule Out Giving Funds to Schools That Discriminate,” The New York Times reports.

    Via NPR: “Here’s What Betsy DeVos Said Wednesday On Capitol Hill.”

    And here’s what DeVos said when she spoke to the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit. I really like the part where she compares those who defend the current education system to “flat-earthers.”

    “GOP lawmakers said Thursday they had planned to subpoena the former chief of federal student aid, Jim Runcie, to testify before a House of Representatives oversight subcommittee and may still do so,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “Runcie resigned from the Department of Education effective Wednesday rather than testify at a hearing on improper payments by the department. In a resignation memo and other correspondence leaked to the media, he also cited broader disagreements with the direction of the department under Secretary Betsy DeVos as reasons for his departure.” More on James Runcie’s abrupt resignation from The Washington Post, NPR, Buzzfeed.

    Via The New York Times: “Trump Administration Considers Moving Student Loans from Education Department to Treasury.”

    More on student loans in the student loan section below.

    Via the ACLU: “The Miseducation of Betsy DeVos (Apologies, Lauryn Hill).”

    “Don’t Like Betsy DeVos? Blame the Democrats,” says Diane Ravitch. TBH, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

    More on DeVos’s ed-tech investments in the research section below.

    Via Edsurge: “Possible ‘Fraud, Theft, Waste, and Abuse’: Report Questions NYC School Broadband Spending.”

    Via NPR: “Texas Lawmakers Revive ‘Bathroom Bill,’ OK Religious Refusal Of Adoptions.” Via WaPo: “Texas House passes ‘bathroom bill’ restricting transgender student access.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Appeals Court Refuses to Reinstate Trump’s Travel Ban.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via WaPo: “Private investigator accused of seeking Trump’s tax records through financial aid website.” More via Diverse Issues in Higher Education, who I believe broke the story.

    Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Dubious arrests, damaged lives” – “How shelters criminalize hundreds of children.”

    Via Education Week: “Court Orders Pa. to Approve Thrice-Rejected Cyber Charter Applicant.” That’s the Insight PA Cyber Charter School.

    More on for-profits’ legal machinations in the for-profit higher ed section below. More on immigration in the courts in the legal section above.

    Testing, Testing…

    “The Standardized Test Monopoly That Secretly Runs America’s High Schools” by Liz Dwyer. Spoiler alert: it’s the College Board.

    Via The Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service: “Local students struggle after changes to GED test.”

    Via Education Week: “In Race for Test-Takers, ACT Outscores SAT– for Now.”

    Via The NYT: “As Pollen Counts Rise, Test Scores Fall.”

    Via Education Week: “Market Is Booming for Digital Formative Assessments.”

    Via Education Week: “Iowa schools to stop using $14M testing software after audit.”

    Via Education Dive: “Testing centers a growing source of higher ed revenue.”

    “Free College”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation Board of Trustees approved regulations for the state’s new tuition-free public college tuition program Thursday, including some key regulations that would seem to address concerns about residency and credit-completion requirements.”

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via Buzzfeed: “Trump Is Under Pressure To Deliver On Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness.”

    “On track for Public Service Loan Forgiveness? Good news, you’re not in danger from Trump’s budget,” says The Washington Post. This is still terrible news for those not yet “on track,” including those weighing degrees and careers in public service.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s How Trump’s Student Loan Proposals Could Affect You.”

    Via The New York Times: “Education Dept. Keeps Obama Plan to Streamline Loan System.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Education Dept. Says It Will Pick Single Loan Servicer.”

    Via Bloomberg: “Americans Are Paying $38 to Collect $1 of Student Debt.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “About 234,000 defaulted student loan borrowers with debt valued at $4.6 billion will be stuck in limbo and unable to get out of default if a judge’s order is not lifted this week, the Department of Education said in a court filing Friday.”

    More on the business (and the politics and the legality) of financial aid in the politics section above and in the for-profit higher ed section below. And more on data and research on student loan debt in the research section below.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A group of California for-profit colleges filed a lawsuit in federal court this week seeking to block the implementation of borrower-defense rules finalized last fall.”

    University of Colorado Denver students can earn college credit by taking courses at the coding bootcamp Galvanize. (Worth noting: the website promotes private student loan companies SkillsFund and Climb to students looking for tuition assistance.)

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Via Slate: “The New Diploma Mills.”

    There’s more from Slate in its series on online credit recovery programs: “Why Bad Online Courses Are Still Taught in Schools.”

    George Mason University and Old Dominion University have launched the Online Virginia Network, “an online portal where students can browse both institutions’ online programs and calculate the cost of earning a degree.” Online portals still makin’ news.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via NPR: “Mark Zuckerberg Tells Harvard Graduates To Embrace Globalism, ‘A Sense Of Purpose’.” He mentioned something in his commencement speech about “personalized learning,” which I think – if we’re talking about Facebook’s vision of such things – means profiling users, getting them to click on things, and selling advertising based on their data. “Mark Zuckerberg Should Really Listen to Himself,” says Wired’s Nitasha Tiku.

    Related: “‘Harvard Crimson’ Site Is Hacked to Take Jabs at Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Also related:

    Via Buzzfeed: “Harvard’s Closed Captioning Malfunctioned And Turned Zuckerberg’s Speech Into A Jibberish Tone Poem.”

    Via The Daily Beast: “Over 100 Students Walk Out of Mike Pence’s Commencement Address” at Notre Dame.

    “Dozens of Middlebury Students Are Disciplined for Charles Murray Protest,” The New York Times reports in a story that does not cite a single student involved in opposing Murray’s presence at the school.

    Via The Baltimore Sun: “Police, FBI investigating University of Maryland killing as possible hate crime.” Richard Collins III was set to graduate Bowie State University this week. Sean Urbanski, a member of a white supremacist group, was arrested for stabbing him. More via The NYT.

    “It Runs Deep and We Can’t Talk It Out: On Campus Racism and the Murder of Richard Collins III” by Daniel Greene.

    Via The New York Times: “Surprise for a Mother Who Helped Her Paralyzed Son in Every Class.” They both graduated from Chapman University. Disability journalist David Perry responds: “Inspiration Porn Watch: Mom Gets Degree, Disabled Son Erased.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Mizzou’s Freshman Enrollment Has Dropped by 35% in 2 Years. Here’s What’s Going On.”

    Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy on allegations of racial bias in Princeton’s admission practices.

    Via The New York Times: “Pregnant at 18. Hailed by Abortion Foes. Punished by Christian School.” Maddi Runkles won’t be able to participate in graduation because she’s pregnant, her school says.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Caltech Professor Who Harassed Women Was Also Investigated For Creating An Imaginary Female Researcher.” The professor in question: astrophysics professor Christian Ott.

    Via NPR’s Code Switch: “Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students.”

    Via The Times-Picayune: “New Orleans principal loses job after wearing Nazi-associated rings in video.” Nicholas Dean was a principal at the charter school Crescent Leadership Academy. 99% of the students at this school are African-American. Can you fucking imagine sending your child off every day to this man’s school?!

    Via Chalkbeat’s Colorado newsroom: “Jeffco Public Schools suspended an average of four young students a day last year – and district officials are paying attention.”

    “How far should a university go to face its slave past?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education. Um…. all the way?

    Via Times Higher Education: “German Universities Oppose Plan to Compete on Teaching Quality.”

    “How teachers can support students during Ramadanby Rusul Alrubail.

    Via “Channelview ISD [in Channelview, Texas] teachers are being disciplined after naming a student ‘most likely to become a terrorist.’”

    Via WaPo: “Teachers gave a teen with ADHD a ‘Most Likely to Not Pay Attention’ award.”

    Pull your shit together, teachers.

    Via The NYT: “Student Brought Loaded Gun to Brooklyn School, Police Say.”

    More on guns at schools in Georgia in the sports section below.

    Via “For these Philly librarians, drug tourists and overdose drills are part of the job.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Edsurge: “Texas Partners With BloomBoard to Bring Competency-Based PD to the State.” (Disclosure alert: no mention that Edsurge and Bloomboard share investors.)

    Also via Edsurge: “Why There’s Little Consistency in Defining Competency-Based Education.” The story is part of a new guide, sponsored by D2L, on CBE. (Disclosure alert: no mention that Edsurge and D2L share investors.)

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via the Bleacher Report: “Georgia Law Will Allow Carry of Handguns at Public University Tailgate Events.” Guns will be allowed at more than just sports events, but as US News & World Report observes, “No Storage, Signs on Georgia Campuses as Gun Ban Lifts.”

    From the HR Department

    Bro Adams announced his resignation as the chairman of the NEH.

    Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “UC Berkeley fires instructor following sexual harassment claims.” That’d be Blake Wentworth, who taught in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies.

    Via Techcrunch: “SoFi co-founder Dan Macklin is leaving the company.”

    Via the ProQuest press release: “Matti Shem Tov, President of Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, will succeed Kurt Sanford as CEO of ProQuest in 2017.”

    The Business of Job Training

    A report from VC firm GSV Acceleration: “It’s a Breakout: Capital Flows In the Learning and Talent Technology Market.”

    According to this Techcrunch article, MOOCs like Udacity and Coursera weren’t working out for AirBnB so now it is “running its own internal university to teach data science.”

    Via Edsurge: “Would You Like Higher Ed With That? Guild Education’s Playbook to Educating Employees.” (No disclosure in this article that Edsurge shares investors with Guild Education.)

    The Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus has held its final show. What’s going to happen to all those clown colleges and clown training programs?

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Via MinnPost: “Almost 50 years ago, Oregon Trail revolutionized educational software. Can the game’s creators do it again?”

    (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

    In January, Edsurge announced it was pivoting to focus on its procurement service to schools. Now, four months later, it says it’s shutting down its Concierge service to focus on building an “online diagnostic tool.” (Note what happens to the data.)

    Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill onBarnes & Noble Education’s Predictive Analytics Deal With Unizin.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

    “Tracking Google and Microsoft Adoption in Higher Ed” by Jim Siegl.

    How Google is ruining the Web.

    Via The Guardian: “ Revealed: Facebook’s internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence.”

    Via Edsurge: “EDUCAUSE Adds Emerging Edtech Membership for Small Companies, Hints at Overhaul.”

    The New York Times profiles the College Advising Corps: “Bringing the Dream of an Elite College to Rural Students.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Raspberry Pi Foundation and CoderDojo to code club together.”

    “Ed-Tech Publishing Group Wrestles With Shift to ‘Student-Centered’ Learning,” says EdWeek Market Brief’s Michele Molnar, reporting from the Association of American Publishers’ PreK–12 Learning Group’s conference.

    Via Edsurge: “OER Pioneer David Wiley Predicts All Community Colleges Will Dump Traditional Textbooks By 2024.” (I’ll keep track of this via my new project that tracks these sorts of predictions about the future. Do remember: Clayton Christensen has predicted that by that date, half of all universities will be bankrupt.)

    Via Edsurge: “Turnitin Offers Lexile Scores to Help Teachers Better Assign Reading Passages.” (Both Lexiles and Turnitin are pretty terrible, I’d add, although for different reasons. One is a proprietary (mis)measurement of reading levels; the other makes proprietary decisions based on students’ IP.)

    Speaking of IP: “All the Second Life rabbits are doomed, thanks to DRM,” Boing Boing reports.

    Via Edsurge: “Massive Data Breaches, Billions in Wasted Funds: Who Is Holding Edtech Vendors Accountable?” Insert shrug emoji here.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via Disability Scoop: “Mom Designs Drone To Track Kids Who Wander.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Coaching service Paragon One has raised $1.9 million in seed funding from Y Combinator, Foundation Capital, Learn Capital, University Ventures, Li Yuan Ventures, Altair Ventures, Jimmy Lai, and Jeff Xiong.

    Publisher eDynamic Learning has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Gauge Capital.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via The Verge: “This French school is using facial recognition to find out when students aren’t paying attention.” The school: the ESG business school. The software: Nestor, creatored by LCA Learning. In Greek mythology, Nestor did not participate in the looting of Troy, but clearly this software – it’s a trap! – is very much interested in looting students’ data.

    Via Information Observatory: “Academic Surveillance Complex.”

    Via Education Dive: “School administrators want ability to filter Wi-Fi on school buses.”

    An update from Edmodo’s CEO about the company’s recent security breach and advertising program.

    Via The Intercept: “Facebook Won’t Say If It Will Use Your Brain Activity for Advertisements.” Man, Zuckerberg’s plans for personalized learning are gonna be so swell.

    Via MIT Technology Review: “Google Now Tracks Your Credit Card Purchases and Connects Them to Its Online Profile of You.” Aren’t you glad schools have embraced Google Apps for EDU so readily?!

    Data and “Research”

    “Here’s How a Student ‘Unit Record’ System Could Change Higher Ed,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via Edsurge: “Meet Caliper, the Data Standard That May Help Us (Finally) Measure Edtech Efficacy.”

    Speaking of extracting people’s data without their knowledge or consent, this via Joel Winston: “ takes DNA ownership rights from customers and their relatives.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “As ed reformers urge a ‘big bet’ on personalized learning, research points to potential rewards – and risks.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Report on online education landscape suggests potentially leaner times ahead for colleges hoping to profit in the market. Community colleges are already seeing it.”

    FdB’s “study of the week” looks at entrance exams.

    Via NPR: “Preschool, A State-By-State Update.”

    Music Teachers Believe a Lot of Myths,” according to research reported by Pacific Standard.

    Kevin Carey on William Sanders, “The Little-Known Statistician Who Taught Us to Measure Teachers” (and who gave us the “value-added” model.)

    Via Education Week: “Big Data in Education Needs Better Outreach, National Report Says.”

    Via NY Magazine: “Women Hold Nearly Two-Thirds of Outstanding Student-Loan Debt.”

    Via Bryan Alexander: “Higher education enrollment declined in 2017. Again.”

    Via Edsurge: “Study Finds Classroom-Response ‘Clickers’ Can ‘Impede Conceptual Understanding’.”

    A new study has found that “fitness trackers suck at counting calories,” as Techcrunch puts it. The devices were more accurate, however, at monitoring heart-rates – “approaching something useful in a clinical setting.” (Here’s a link to the study.) Remember: consumer tech does not pass the sorts of regulatory mechanisms required for medical tech – when it comes to the accuracy of the data tracking or the security and privacy of data storage. Perhaps something to think about as ed-tech proponents laud hardware, software, and consumer-oriented (ed-)tech as unleashing and reflecting new “learning sciences.”

    Speaking of “learning sciences,” this from Ulrich Boser: “Betsy DeVos has invested millions in a ‘brain training’ company that’s based on dubious science. I went to check it out.” I’m shocked – shocked! – that “dubious science” is at play at an education technology company.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project