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The History of the Future of Education Technology
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    The Evergreen School District in Washington has told its teachers to stop using Donors Choose to raise money for classroom supplies and projects. According to KATU2, “The Washington State Auditor’s Office advised the district that a policy needs to be put in place to ensure that the money is properly handled, and that the items are designated as district property and put in the district inventory.”

    Peter Greene argues that this new policy is about control – who gets to decide what is purchased for a classroom or school. One might pick up on an unspoken message in the decree too: teachers can’t be fully trusted to make procurement decisions. The district already has a system in place to do buy things, one that supposedly checks to make sure that purchases are necessary or “appropriate,” that (tax) dollars are spent wisely, and that no ethical or legal issues arise.

    But does the district procurement process work? (Not just in this district. Anywhere.) For whom does it work? For whom does it not?

    Of course, crowdfunding sites like Donors Choose (which boasts it’s helped raise some $571 million for school projects) are just one way that educators stock their classrooms with items that district budgets don’t (or won’t or can’t) pay for. Teachers spend a fair amount of money out their own pockets to this end as well – about $470 on average, often for basic office and classroom supplies. And this occurs alongside the burden of buying classroom supplies that falls on families too – there are reports this fall that the price tag for many back-to-school lists runs from $650 (for an elementary school student) to $1500 (for a high school student). That’s a lot of money for anyone, but particularly for the over half of US public school students who are eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch program, a proxy for living in poverty.

    School supplies, whether paid for by taxpayers, teachers, or parents, are an equity issue. And adding technology to the shopping list might just make things worse – and not simply because these products can be expensive.

    This weekend, New York Times reporter Natasha Singer published the latest article in her series on “Education Disrupted”: “Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues.” The story follows two teachers – Nicholas Provenzano from Gross Pointe South High School in Michigan and Kayla Delzer from Mapleton Elementary School in North Dakota – who have leveraged their social media followings to become high profile “influencers” in education technology, receiving new products for their classroom (for “free” and outside the district procurement process) in exchange for promoting them to other teachers in turn.

    None of this is entirely new– some teachers have always sought to bring supplemental materials into the classroom at their own initiative and risk, particularly when it comes to technology (computing and otherwise). But this latest version of the “entrepreneurial teacher” as described in The New York Times is deeply intertwined with Silicon Valley’s version of “the hustle”; it’s one that demands that teachers take on a second shift (a 24–7 shift even) on technology platforms in order to build their own brands; and it’s one that reinforces the notion that it should be the responsibility of individual teachers to identify, buy, and promote technology, often justified by insisting they’re “doing the best they can” for their students. (Success in raising money on Donors Choose, for example, can depend to a great extent on a teacher’s ability to leverage her or his social media presence to spread word of the crowdfunding campaign.) This acclamation of the individual education “innovator” or entrepreneur and dismissal of a collective responsibility dovetails with talk of the failure of public institutions, as well as with another popular corporate narrative: “the procurement system is broken,” as ed-tech startups are wont to say. But again, broken how and broken for whom?

    "I am in this profession for kids," these celebrity educators insist, not for money or fame. But altruism is not the same as justice.

    “My kids have access to awesome things that, as a district, we could never afford,” teacher Nick Provenzano tells The NYT in justifying his relationship with a 3D printer company. The article takes that assertion at face value; many readers probably did too. Again, we all know that school budgets are tight. But “tight” is relative; budgets are relative. And Provenzano’s school is quite affluent. Just 7% of the students at Provenzano’s school qualify for the free and reduced lunch program – the state-wide average in Michigan is 38%, and 74% of students in the neighboring Detroit Public Schools qualify. Provenzano worries his English lit students won’t have a 3D printer; teachers (and parents) just 8 miles away in Detroit still have to worry about the lead in the city’s drinking water.

    Inequality is rampant throughout public education in the United States (and yes, throughout the United States itself), and inequality affects not just how much money is allocated per student – funding is typically tied to property taxes – or how much teachers and families can afford and expect to spend in order to to supplement that. These inequalities affect what sorts of education technology appears in the classroom and how these products are used. Some students get 3D printers; some students get digital drill-and-kill. Some students get colorful beanbags to sit in; some students have to walk through metal detectors.

    Educational inequalities are historical and they are structural and they are dependent on class and race and geography. 86% of the students at Provenzano’s school are white; 80% of those at Kayla Delzer’s, the other teacher in The NYT story, are white (which is, in fairness, a reflection of the overwhelmingly whiteness of North Dakota). This stands in stark contrast to the percentage of students enrolled in public schools across the entire US who are white: less than 50%. The student-teacher ratio at Delzer’s schools is 8 to 1; it’s significantly higher– no surprise – in classrooms in Detroit, which makes it difficult to imagine how a teacher could adopt the “flexible seating” options that Delzer promotes with her social media profile.

    Neither Delzer nor Provenzano’s classrooms are representative of K–12 public schools; and yet these educators have been granted a sort of “celebrity” and speak widely – with corporate backing, as The New York Times underscores – about the future of education technology. But if their students aren’t representative of the make-up of the US student body, these two teachers both are representative of the K–12 teaching population: 82% of those who teach in public schools are white. Almost without exception, “ed-tech celebrities” are too. Furthermore, these high-profile tech-using educators teach (or once taught) in affluent schools where their students are predominantly white.

    As such, we should ask what it means when these people are selected by ed-tech companies to “brand ambassadors”? What does it reveal about how these companies imagine teaching and learning? What does it say about how these companies view “influence” and decision-making power in public schools? (Indeed, several startups and organizations have identified the procurement process itself as a business opportunity, selling consulting services to schools and districts and recommending which technology products they should buy. Who will control this process?) How are our imaginations about the future of education and education technology shaped by the narratives we see promoted by these companies and by the ambassadors they’ve chosen to speak for them? What ends up on back-to-school lists and Donors Choose lists and district procurement lists because of these narratives?

    Much of the response to The NYT article has focused on ethics: should teachers be profiting from their leveraging their profiles and positions in the classroom? Is there sufficient transparency? What rights do students have in these settings where their teachers are “brand ambassadors”? It’s their experiences and their data and their images, after all, that are being utilized for marketing and product development. These are crucial issues to address, particularly as ed-tech demands schools model themselves on the values of corporations and consumption.

    But the questions the article raises go well beyond the ethics of marketing and pay-for-play. Education technology and its influencers must be viewed through the lens of social justice – and in the loud protestations I’ve seen on Twitter defending the practices in the story, that certainly is not happening – otherwise we will continue to ignore how ed-tech serves to exacerbate inequality and re-inscribe whiteness, affluence, and the conspicuous consumption of gadgetry as signs of “innovation.”

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  • 09/08/17--03:30: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics

    “Americans Have Given Up on Public Schools. That’s a Mistake,” writes Erika Christakis in The Atlantic.

    One of the most important stories this past week was the Trump Administration’s announcement that it planned to end the DACA program, putting the immigration status and safety of some 800,000 people into question. There’s much more on that in the immigration section below.

    Buzzfeed reported that– as of 9pm Thursday at least – “Betsy DeVos Still Hasn’t Said Anything About Trump’s Decision To End DACA.” (Do remember, she weighed in immediately after Trump announced the US was leaving the Paris Climate Accord.) Later, via CBS: “DeVos says her ‘heart is with’ Dreamers.”

    Another huge (and awful) deal: Betsy DeVos announced this week that the Department of Education would replace Obama-era guidance on how colleges must protect students from sexual violence and respond to sexual assault claims on campus. The Department of Education offers“Highlights from Secretary DeVos’ Remarks on Title IX Enforcement.” More from Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The New York Times.

    “The Department of Justice Is Overseeing the Resegregation of American Schools,” The Nation argues.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Education Dept. Ends Partnership With CFPB.”

    Via Education Week: “Senate Panel Rejects Trump Teacher-Funding Cut, School Choice Proposals.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The White House said Friday it would delay an annual conference for historically black colleges and universities that had been scheduled for mid-September.”

    Via Ars Technica: “Senate Democrats fight FCC plan to lower America’s broadband standards.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via The New York Times: “Michigan Gambled on Charter Schools. Its Children Lost.”

    And The New York Times again: “The Resegregation of Jefferson County.”

    Also via The New York Times: “New York City Offers Free Lunch for All Public School Students.”

    Related on school lunch, via Mother Jones: “The Shocking Ways Poor Kids Have Long Been Singled Out in American Schools.”

    Via the Tennessean: “Nashville school district sends families opt-out form as student data battle with state rages on.” The districts are protesting a new law that dictates they hand over student directory data to charter school operators.

    Via Boing Boing: “British Columbia government forces Vancouver dad to end his kids’ free-range city bus rides to school.”

    Via Education Week: “Idaho has repaid the Federal Communications Commission $3.5 million to cover federal funds that went to the botched statewide school broadband contract.”

    Via KATU2: “Evergreen School District teachers told to stop using crowdfunding site Donors Choose.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, through which about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children have gained the right to work and temporary protection against the risk of deportation. The administration said it will phase out the program, which was established by President Obama in 2012, after a six-month period to give Congress a chance to act on legislation that could restore the program.” More on the announcement from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    “Why ending DACA is so unprecedented,” Dara Lind writes for Vox.

    “By ending Daca, Donald Trump has declared war on a diverse America,” by Carol Anderson (author of White Rage).

    Via The Daily Beast: “The Trump Administration Now Has Tons Of DACA Data And Is Poised To Weaponize It.”

    Via Pacific Standard: “How DACA Helped Immigrants Get More Education and Higher-Paying Jobs.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “American Colleges Say They’ll Fight For DREAMers After Trump’s Decision.”

    Via The New York Times: “For Teachers Working Through DACA, a Bittersweet Start to the School Year.”

    More data on enrollment of foreign students in US colleges in the research section below.

    Education in the Courts

    Via The Hill: “Lawsuit filed to let Richard Spencer speak at Michigan State.”

    Via Ars Technica: “Comcast sues Vermont to avoid building 550 miles of new cable lines.”

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via the US News & World Report: “ Why Few Borrowers Have Pursued PSLF.” The acronym stands for “public service loan forgiveness.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Media Matters: “Newt Gingrich used Fox position to push for-profit colleges without disclosing conflict of interest.”

    There’s more research on for-profits in the research section below.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “That Hilarious Tweet About an Instructor’s Big Mistake? Almost Certainly Fake.” The tweet claimed an instructor didn’t realize a class was online and was angry that no students had shown up in class.

    The University of Naples Federico II has joinededX.

    Edsurge wonders if there’s inequality in online education.

    Via Tony Bates: “Responses to the Canadian survey of online and distance learning.”

    There’s more on the accreditation of Arkansas’ new public online university in the accreditation section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Florida’s Governor Closes Public Colleges as Irma Bears Down on Peninsula.”

    Melinda Anderson talks toBeverly Daniel Tatum about the 20th anniversary of her book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race.

    Via The Hechinger Report: “How slavery helped build many U.S. colleges and universities.”

    Via the BBC: “Oxford vice-chancellor criticised over homosexuality comments.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “After All but Closing, Sweet Briar Will Shift Curriculum and Pricing.”

    Inside Higher Ed looks at a change this year to Harvard’s CS50, which last year had encouraged students to watch video lectures instead of coming to class. This year: “come to class,” the instructor says.

    Accreditation and Certification

    Salesforce has filed a patent for “Digital badging for facilitating virtual recognition of an achievement.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Arkansas’s new public online university chooses national accreditor over its regional agency, raising questions about pace, prestige and the state of quality assurance.” The school, eVersity, will seek approval from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, an organization that accredits mostly for-profit institutions, rather than the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits the rest of public higher ed in Arkansas.

    Purdue Introduced 3 Year Degree Program,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Degreed now offers skill certification– “The Degreed Skill Certification is a scientifically-backed process that combines skill evidence, data science, endorsers, and reviews by an expertise panel, which results in your final Skill Level ranking.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Via The New York Times: “Who Benefits From the Expansion of A.P. Classes?”

    Via Mashable: “Why Denver Public School Students Are Protesting for AP History.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “This Saturday’s ACT has been called off at some international testing centers. An ACT spokesman said that the action was ‘due to a verified breach of the test materials,’ and that ACT would not be commenting further on the breach.”

    Also via IHE: “ACT scores are up this year, but the scores of black and Latino students and those who did not complete recommended college preparatory courses remain far behind those of other students.”

    Via Education Week: “New Tool Alerts Teachers When Students Give Up on Tests.”

    “Innovation schools saw some of the largest gains on ISTEP in Indianapolis Public Schools,” Chalkbeat argues.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The New York Times: “Football Favoritism at F.S.U.: The Price One Teacher Paid.”

    “Universities see opportunity in e-sports,” says Education Dive.

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Quartz: “A free, teacher-less university in France is schooling thousands of future-proof programmers.”

    Via Rutgers Today: “Is There a STEM Worker Shortage? Rutgers Professor Debates Issue at National Academies.”

    Google announces it is “Funding 75,000 Udacity scholarships to bridge the digital skills gap.”

    Sound the made-up-statistic klaxon because the MIT Technology Review parrots the BS claim that “65 percent of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that don’t currently exist, underscoring the need for new skills training using hands-on and exploratory learning techniques.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    “XQ is taking over TV to make the case that high school hasn't changed in 100 years. But is that true?asks Chalkbeat.

    Will the Trump Era Transform the School Lunch?asks The New York Times.

    Will a Netflix Model Work for Textbooks?asks Edsurge.

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

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Natasha Singer shook things up with a story in The New York Times this past weekend on the ethics of “brand ambassadors” and influencer marketing in ed-tech. My response: “Inequality, ‘Brand Ambassadors,’ and the Business of Selling (to) Classrooms.”

    Via Edsurge: “Forget ‘US News’ Rankings. For Online College Programs, Google Is Kingmaker.”

    Tonight there’ll be a live TV show on the four major networks – “XQ: The Super School Project.” It’s sponsored by Laurene Powell Jobs, the founder of the venture philanthropy firm Emerson Collective and the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs. It’s part of the argument that investors and entrepreneurs like to make: that high school hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.In The Washington Post, Jack Schneider writes about “The false narrative behind a glitzy live television show about school reform.”

    Quartz is publishing a series on “The Vanishing University.” The first article claims that “The college lecture is dying. Good riddance.” It’s full of examples of lecturing, but now that they’re recorded as videos somehow it’s innovation.

    “Why Picking a Major Is a Bad Idea for College Kids,” Cathy Davidson argues. She’s out with a new book, The New Education: How To Revolutionize the University To Prepare Students for a World in Flux.

    “Student Teachers Get ‘Real World’ Practice Via Virtual Reality,” says Education Week, apparently confused because VR is very much not “real.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF– “No need to spend money on teachers – I’ll help you learn English effectively and for free!”

    Investor Tom Vander Ark talks to investor Michael Moe about the future of AI and HR.

    “This Machine Learning-Powered Software Teaches Kids To Be Better Writers,” Fast Company claims. No, actually. I bet it doesn’t.

    Automation-proofing students requires more of schools, districts,” says Education Dive.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “IBM and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced Thursday that the company will spend $240 million on a joint lab with MIT focused on artificial intelligence.”

    From the Udacity blog: “ Your Exclusive Guide To Pursuing A Robotics Career.” Exclusive!

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    The Koch Brothers are teaming up with Deion Sanders to launch an anti-poverty initiative. Sanders is the founder of a charter school company that, in the words of the Dallas Morning News, “collapsed spectacularly.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Guild Education has raised $21 million in Series B funding from Bessemer Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Harrison Metal, Social Capital, and Cowboy Ventures. The company, which helps corporations run education programs for their employees, has raised $31.5 million total.

    Labster has raised $10 million in Series A funding from Balderton Capital, David Helgason, and Northzone. The company offers “virtual science labs” and has raised $13.67 million.

    Evertrue has raised $6 million in Series B funding from Bain Capital Ventures and University Ventures. The company, which helps schools manage philanthropic giving campaigns, has raised $20.57 million total.

    Classcraft, which says it helps “gamify” the classroom, has raised $2.8 million in venture funding from Whitecap Venture Partners, Brightspark Ventures, and MaRS Catalyst Fund.

    English language learning app Kings Learning has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Village Capital and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

    Tenka Labs has raised $2 million in seed funding from undisclosed investors. The company, which makes engineering kits, has raised $4.1 million total.

    Circuit Cubes has raised $2 million from undisclosed investors.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via The Washington Post: “Parents cite student privacy concerns with popular online education platform.” Not sure how popular Facebook and Summit Public Schools’ “personalized learning” platform is, for what it’s worth.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    Via the Institute for Women’s Policy Research: “Single Mothers are 3 Times More Likely to Enroll in For-Profit Colleges than Single Students without Children.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study finds that students who deliver microaggressions are also likely to harbor racist attitudes.”

    Daniel Willingham on learning styles.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Amid concerns about visas and the political environment, some institutions are maintaining or even increasing their enrollment numbers, but many report drops, some by as much as 30 to 50 percent for new students.”

    Via the Pew Research Center: “Most Americans – especially Millennials– say libraries can help them find reliable, trustworthy information.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new University of New Hampshire study has identified how deeply sexual assault can affect students’ academics.”

    Via Campus Technology: “2.1 million augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality headsets shipped in the second quarter of 2017, a 25.5 percent increase compared to the same period of 2016, according to a new report from International Data Corp. (IDC).”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Many college students are stressed about finances– but none more so than American students, according to the results of a new report by Sodexo.”

    Adaptive learning spending balloons to $41M since 2013,” Education Dive claims.

    The latest on venture capital and education from me: “The Business of Ed-Tech: August 2017 Funding Data.”

    Via The New York Times: “Education by the Numbers.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    This talk was delivered at MIT for Justin Reich’s Comparative Media Studies class “Learning, Media, and Technology.” The full slide deck is available here.

    Thank you for inviting me to speak to your class today. I’m really honored to be here at the beginning of the semester, as I’m not-so-secretly hoping this gives me a great deal of power and influence to sow some seeds of skepticism about the promises you all often hear – perhaps not in this class, to be fair, as in your other classes, in the media, in the world at large – about education technology.

    Those promises can be pretty amazing, no doubt: that schools haven’t changed in hundreds if not thousands of years and that education technology is now poised to “revolutionize” and “disrupt”; that today, thanks to the ubiquity of computers and the Internet (that there is“ubiquity” is rarely interrogated) we can “democratize,” “unbundle,” and/or “streamline” the system; that learning will as a result be better, cheaper, faster.

    Those have always been the promises. Promises largely unfulfilled.

    It’s important – crucial even – that this class is starting with history. I’ve long argued that ignorance of this history is part of the problem with education technology today: that its promises of revolution and innovation come with little to no understanding of the past – not just the history of what technologies have been adopted (or have failed to be adopted) in the classroom before, but the history of how education itself has changed in many ways and in some, quite dramatically, with or without technological interventions. (I’d add too that this is a problem with tech more broadly – an astounding and even self-congratulatory ignorance of the history of the industries, institutions, practices folks claim they’re disrupting.)

    I should confess something here at the outset of my talk that’s perhaps a bit blasphemous. I recognize that this class is called “Learning, Media, and Technology.” But I’m really not interested in “learning” per se. There are lots of folks – your professor, for starters – who investigate technology and learning, who research technology’s effect on cognition and memory, who measure and monitor how mental processes respond to tech, and so on. That’s not what I do. That’s not what my work is about.

    It’s not that I believe “learning” doesn’t matter. And it’s not that I think “learning” doesn’t happen when using a lot of the ed-tech that gets hyped – or wait, maybe I do think that.

    Rather, I approach “learning” as a scholar of culture, of society. I see “learning” as a highly contested concept – a lot more contested than some researchers and academic disciplines (and entrepreneurs and journalists and politicians) might have you believe. What we know about knowing is not settled. It never has been. And neither neuroscience nor brain scans, for example, move us any closer to that. After all, “learning” isn’t simply about an individual’s brain or even body. “Learning” – or maybe more accurately “learnedness” – is a signal; it’s a symbol; it’s a performance. As such, it’s judged by and through and with all sorts of cultural values and expectations, not only those that we claim to be able to measure. What do you know? How do you know? Who do you know? Do you have the social capital and authority to wield what you know or to claim expertise?

    My work looks at the broader socio-political and socio-cultural aspects of ed-tech. I want us to recognize ed-tech as ideological, as a site of contested values rather than a tool that somehow “progress” demands. Indeed, that’s ideology at work right there – the idea of “progress” itself, a belief in a linear improvement, one that’s intertwined with stories of scientific and technological advancement as well as the advancement of certain enlightenment values.

    I’m interested not so much in how ed-tech (and tech more broadly) might change cognition or learning, but in how it will change culture and power and knowledge – systems and practices of knowing. I’m interested in how ed-tech (and tech more broadly) will change how we imagine education – as a process, as a practice, as an institution – and change how we value knowledge and expertise and even school itself.

    I don’t believe we live in a world in which technology is changing faster than it’s ever changed before. I don’t believe we live in a world where people adopt new technologies more rapidly than they’ve done so in the past. (That is argument for another talk, for another time.) But I do believe we live in an age where technology companies are some of the most powerful corporations in the world, where they are a major influence – and not necessarily in a positive way – on democracy and democratic institutions. (School is one of those institutions. Ideally.) These companies, along with the PR that supports them, sell us products for the future and just as importantly weave stories about the future.

    These products and stories are, to borrow a phrase from sociologist Neil Selwyn, “ideologically-freighted.” In particular, Selwyn argues that education technologies (and again, computing technologies more broadly) are entwined with the ideologies of libertarianism, neoliberalism, and new forms of capitalism – all part of what I often refer to as the “Silicon Valley narrative” (although that phrase, geographically, probably lets you folks here at MIT off the hook for your institutional and ideological complicity in all this). Collaboration. Personalization. Problem-solving. STEM. Self-directed learning. The “maker movement.” These are all examples of how ideologies are embedded in ed-tech trends and technologies – in their development and their marketing. And despite all the talk of “disruption”, these mightn’t be counter-hegemonic at all, but rather serve the dominant ideology and further one of the 21st century’s dominant industries.

    I want to talk a little bit today about technology and education technology in the 20th century – because like I said, history matters. And one of the ideological “isms” that I think we sometimes overlook in computing technologies is militarism. And I don’t just mean the role of Alan Turing and codebreakers in World War II or the role of the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency in the development of the Internet (although both of those examples – cryptography and the Internet – do underscore what I mean when I say infrastructure is ideological). C3I – command, control, communications, and intelligence. Militarism, as an ideology, privileges hierarchy, obedience, compliance, authoritarianism – it has shaped how our schools are structured; it shapes how our technologies are designed.

    The US military is the largest military in the world. That also makes it one of the largest educational organizations in the world – “learning at scale,” to borrow a phrase from this course. The military is responsible for training – basic training and ongoing training – of some 1.2 million active duty soldiers and some 800,000 reserve soldiers. That training has always been technological, because soldiers have had to learn to use a variety of machines. The military has also led the development and adoption of educational technologies.

    Take the flight simulator, for example.

    One of the earliest flight simulators – and yes, this predates the Microsoft software program by over fifty years, but postdates the Wright Brothers by only about twenty – was developed by Edwin Link. He received the patent for his device in 1931, a machine that replicated the cockpit and its instruments. The trainer would pitch and roll and dive and climb, powered by a motor and organ bellows. (Link’s family owned an organ factory.)

    Although Link’s first customers were amusement parks – the patent was titled a “Combination training device for student aviators and entertainment apparatus” – the military bought six in June of 1934, after a series of plane crashes earlier that year immediately following the US Army Air Corps’ takeover of US Air Mail service. Those accidents had revealed the pilots’ lack of training, particularly under night-time or inclement weather conditions. By the end of World War II, some 500,000 pilots had used the “Link Trainer,” and flight simulators have since become an integral part of pilot (and subsequently, astronaut) training.

    (There’s a good term paper to be written – you are writing a term paper, right? – about the history of virtual reality and the promises and presumptions it makes about simulation and learning and experiences and bodies. But mostly, I’d argue if I were writing it, that much of VR in classrooms today does not have its origins the Link Trainer as much as in the educational films that you read about in Larry Cuban’s Teachers and Machines. But I digress.)

    The military works along a different principle for organizing and disseminating knowledge than does, say, the university or the library. The military is largely interested in teaching “skills.” Or perhaps more accurately, this is how military training is largely imagined and discussed: “skills training.” (Officer training, to be fair, is slightly different.) The military is invested in those skills – and in the teaching of those skills – being standardized. All this shapes the kinds of educational software and hardware that gets developed and adopted.

    One of the challenges the military has faced, particularly in the twentieth century, is helping veterans to translate their skills into language that schools and civilian hiring managers understand. This is, of course, the origin of the GED test, which was developed during WWII as a way to assess whether those soldiers who’d dropped out of high school in order to enlist had attained high-school level skills – to demonstrate “competency” rather than rely on “seat time,” to put this in terms familiar to educational debates today. There has also been the challenge of translating skills within the military itself – say, from branch to branch – and within and across other federal agencies. New technologies, to a certain extent, have complicated things by introducing often incompatible software systems in which instruction occurs. And at the end of the day, the military demands regimentation, standardization – culturally, technologically.

    I just want to lay out an abbreviated timeline here to help situate some of my following remarks:

    I’m not suggesting here that the Web marks the origins of ed-tech. Again, you’ve read Larry Cuban’s work; you know that there’s a much longer history of teaching machines. But in the 1990s, we did witness a real explosion in not just educational software, but in educational software that functioned online.

    In January of 1999, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13111 – “Using Technology To Improve Training Opportunities for Federal Government Employees.” Here’s the opening paragraph, which I’m going to read – apologies – simply because it sounds as though it could be written today:

    Advances in technology and increased skills needs are changing the workplace at an ever increasing rate. These advances can make Federal employees more productive and provide improved service to our customers, the American taxpayers. We need to ensure that we continue to train Federal employees to take full advantage of these technological advances and to acquire the skills and learning needed to succeed in a changing workplace. A coordinated Federal effort is needed to provide flexible training opportunities to employees and to explore how Federal training programs, initiatives, and policies can better support lifelong learning through the use of learning technology.

    One of the mandates of the Executive Order was to:

    in consultation with the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, recommend standards for training software and associated services purchased by Federal agencies and contractors. These standards should be consistent with voluntary industry consensus-based commercial standards. Agencies, where appropriate, should use these standards in procurements to promote reusable training component software and thereby reduce duplication in the development of courseware.

    This call for standards – and yes, the whole idea of “standards” is deeply ideological – eventually became SCORM, the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (and one of the many acronyms that, if you work with education technology, will make people groan – and groan almost as much as a related acronym does: the LMS, the learning management system).

    Indeed, SCORM and the LMS – their purposes, their histories – are somewhat inseparable. (And I want you to consider the implications of that: that the demands of the federal government and the US military for a standardized “elearning” experience has profoundly shaped one of the foundational pieces of ed-tech that is used today by almost all colleges and increasingly even K–12 schools.)

    The SCORM standard was designed, in part, to make it possible to easily move educational content from one learning management system to another. Among the goals: reusability, interoperability, and durability of content and courses. (I’m not going to go into too much technical detail here, but I do want to recognize that this did require addressing some significant technical challenges.) SCORM had three components: content packaging, runtime communications, and course metadata. The content packaging refers to the packaging of all the resources needed to deliver a course into a single ZIP file. The runtime communications includes the runtime commands for communicating student information to and from the LMS, as well as the metadata for storing information on individual students. And the course metadata, obviously, includes things like course title, description, keywords, and so on. SCORM, as its full name implies, served to identify “sharable content objects” – that is the smallest unit in a course that contains meaningful learning content by itself – content objects that might be extracted and reused in another course. The third version of SCORM, SCORM 2004, also introduced sequencing, identifying the order in which these content objects should be presented.

    The implications of all this are fairly significant, particularly if we think about the SCORM initiative as something that’s helped, almost a decade ago, to establish and refine what’s become the infrastructure of the learning management system and other instructional software, as something that’s influenced the development as well of some of the theories of modern instructional design. (Theory is, of course, ideology. But, again, so is infrastructure.) The infrastructure of learning software shapes how we think about “content” and how we think about “skills” and how we think about “learning.” (And “we” here, to be clear, includes a broad swath of employers, schools, software makers, and the federal government – so that’s a pretty substantial “we.”)

    I will spare you the details of decades worth of debates about learning objects. It’s important to note, however, that there are decades of debate and many, many critics of the concept – Paulo Freire, for example, and his critique of the “banking model of information.” There are the critics too who argue for “authentic,” “real-world” learning, something that almost by definition learning objects – designed to move readily from software system to software system, from course to course, from content module to content module, from context to context – can never offer. I’d be remiss if I did not mention the work of open education pioneer David Wiley and what he has called the “reusability paradox,” which to summarize states that if a learning object is pedagogically useful in a specific context, it will not be useful in a different context. Furthermore, the most decontextualized learning objects are reusable in many contexts, but those are not pedagogically useful.

    But like I said at the outset, in my own line of inquiry I’m less interested in what’s “pedagogically useful” than I am in what gets proposed by industry and what becomes predominant – the predominant tech, the predominant practice, the predominant narrative, and so on.

    Learning objects have been blasted by theorists and practitioners, but they refuse to go away. Why?

    The predominant narratives today about the future of learning are all becoming deeply intertwined with artificial intelligence. We should recognize that these narratives have been influenced by decades of thinking in a certain way about information and knowledge and learning (in humans and in machines): as atomized learning objects and as atomized, standardized skills.

    There’s a long history of criticism of the idea of “intelligence” – its origins in eugenics; its use as a mechanism for race- and gender-based exclusion and sorting. It’s a history that educational psychology, deeply intertwined with the development of measurements and assessments, has not always been forthright about. Education technology, with its origins in educational psychology, is implicated in this. And now we port this history of “intelligence” – one steeped in racism and bias – onto machines.

    But we’re also porting a history of “skills” onto machines as well. This is, of course, the marketing used for Amazon’s Alexa. Developers “build” skills. They “teach” skills to the device. And it’s certainly debatable whether many of these are useful at all. But again, that’s not the only way to think about teaching machines. Whether or not something is “pedagogically useful,” here are reasons why the stories about it stick. The narrative about AI and skills is something to pay attention to – particularly alongside larger discussions about the so-called “skills gap.”

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  • 09/15/17--08:30: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics

    US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos launched a “rethink schools” tour. Here are some reports from her travels:

    Via Chalkbeat: “What is Betsy DeVos’s ‘rethink school’ initiative all about? Her Wyoming speech offers clues.”

    DeVos visited my hometown of Casper, Wyoming to give this speech where she spoke at the Woods Learning Center. She was there to tout “choice,” something that she says most public school students and their families do not have. (This is part of her push for vouchers.) When I was growing up the building that now houses Woods was a school for students with special needs, including at one time, a school for deaf students. I’ve been thinking about the history of the language of “choice” and how “choice” and the lack of “choice” has been intertwined segregation and discrimination. That’s not the story that DeVos wants to tell, of course.)

    Via Chalkbeat: “Here’s what Betsy DeVos had to say in Denver about DACA, student loans and opting out of state tests.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Betsy DeVos is headed to an Indianapolis high school for students recovering from addiction.”

    “What DeVos Got Wrong in Her Speech on the ’Dear Colleague’ Letter,” Scott Schneider writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via The LA Times: “L.A. school board president faces felony charges over campaign contributions.” Ref Rodriguez, like most of the current members of the LAUSD school board, has strong financial backing from the charter school industry.

    More LAUSD news in the legal section below.

    Via The New York Times: “After More Than 20 Years, Newark to Regain Control of Its Schools.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “‘Common Core’ no more: New York moves to adopt revised standards with new name.”

    Via the AP: “School at Cook County Jail reported phony attendance numbers.” That’s according to an audit by the Chicago Public Schools’ inspector general of an alternative high school inside the jail.

    Via The LA Times: “ Offering free computers, a small L.A. school district enrolled Catholic school students from Bakersfield.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of North Carolina system Board of Governors voted 24 to 3, with one abstention, Friday to bar litigation by the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law’s Center for Civil Rights. The proposal voted on is technically a ban on all centers and institutes engaging in litigation, but the only entity that litigates is the Center for Civil Rights.” The center, as the name suggests, does legal work for civil rights and low-income groups. Do keep this in mind while conservatives try to argue that the big threat to “free speech on campus” is young leftists.

    Immigration and Education

    Via ProPublica: “Relatives of Undocumented Children Caught Up in ICE Dragnet.”

    There’s more on immigration and Trump’s move to end DACA in the legal section below.

    Education in the Courts

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of California Sues Trump Administration Over DACA Decision.”

    Via The LA Times: “L.A. Unified settles lawsuits with teacher Rafe Esquith.”

    The Business of Student Loans (and the Business of Paying for School)

    SoFi: a student loan company and one of the most well-funded ed-tech companies out there sure seems swell. Via The New York Times: “‘It Was a Frat House’: Inside the Sex Scandal That Toppled SoFi’s C.E.O..”

    More on SoFi in the HR section below.

    RaiseMe, a platform that allows students to earn incremental college scholarship dollars as they attain academic and other goals in high school, is expanding its offering to community college students,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Got Student Debt? Soon Your Employer Might Help With That.”

    Via Edsurge: “As Bootcamps Look for Novel Ways for Students to Pay For Their Studies, Many Try ‘Deferred Tuition’.”

    Do note how student financial aid startups are still raising venture capital (and how now, I guess, ed-tech publications cover these stories when before they insisted these weren’t ed-tech).

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to grant employees a waiver of a rule barring receipt of salary or other benefits from for-profit colleges. The proposed regulation was published in the federal register Thursday and would take effect next month without ‘adverse comment.’”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs this week backed Ashford University‘s attempt to shift its state-based eligibility for veterans’ benefits from Iowa to Arizona, likely preserving the for-profit university’s access to Post–9/11 GI Bill and active-duty military tuition benefits.”

    Delta Career Education Corporation, a privately held for-profit college company, is phasing out seven of its campuses,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    There’s more for-profit news in the HR and accreditation sections below.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    California Should Watch Arkansas Process for Creating New Online Institution,” says Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Harvard has rescinded its appointment of Chelsea Manning as a fellow in its Institute of Politics.

    Harvard has also rescinded the acceptance of Michelle Jones to its PhD program in history. More from The Marshall Project: “In prison for more than 20 years, Michelle Jones was chosen for Harvard’s elite graduate history program – until the university decided her redemption was not enough.”

    Via The Spokesman-Review: “One student dead, three in hospital after classmate opens fire at Freeman High School.” The high school is in Spokane, Washington.

    “Who Gets Rescheduled at Berkeley,” asks Inside Higher Ed. “It’s not Milo.” (It’s Anna Tsing, an anthropology professor at UC Santa Cruz. Priorities.)

    Via The New York Times: “Bannon Will Address Berkeley, a Hotbed of Conflict Over Free Speech.”

    Via Mother Jones: “She Was a Rising Star at a Major University. Then a Lecherous Professor Made Her Life Hell.” The professor in question: Richard Aslin at the University of Rochester.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A University of Virginia working group convened after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Va., in August has released an assessment on the university’s response and what it could have done better. It points to policies the university can pro-actively ennact, and laws that could have been enforced by university police.”

    Via David Perry: “A professor of Atmospheric Sciences stepped down (he was 70) at the University of Illinois rather than appropriately address accommodations in his classroom. His emails to the student emerged in the process, including one he BCC’d to the entire class saying disability support doesn’t belong on campus.”

    Birmingham-Southern Cuts Tuition in Half,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Phil Hill: “Some Ed Tech Perspective on UC’s Billion-Dollar Payroll System Fiasco.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Terminated Accreditor Applies for Recognition.” That’s the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, which accredits mostly for-profits and whose federal recognition the Obama Administration had moved to rescind.

    Educause has published an article about “The Mastery Transcript Consortium,” a group of independent schools that are “reinventing” the college transcript. (I’m skeptical that this is as powerful as folks claim until it exists equitably across schools and not only among those that already given students a leg-up in the college admissions process.)

    “A regional accreditor recently denied an Arizona community college’s bid to increase its online degree offerings, with a decision that highlights challenges colleges may face when seeking to expand their online presence,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The community college: Scottsdale Community College. The accreditor: the Higher Learning Commission.

    Via The CBC: “Toronto man ‘angry’ after learning his $8,100 master’s degree that required no exams or academic work is fake.” This “Toronto man” is Erwin Sniedzins, who runs an ed-tech company called Mount Knowledge.

    More research on certification in the research section below.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    “How does a university go about replacing a live mascot?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Steve Kolowich.

    From the HR Department

    Via The New York Times: “SoFi Board Says C.E.O. Is Out Immediately Amid Sexual Harassment Scandal.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Laureate Education Inc. announced Thursday that effective Jan. 1, 2018, Eilif Serck-Hanssen will become the for-profit company’s new chief executive officer and Ricardo Berckemeyer will take over as the company’s president. Serck-Hanssen is replacing current CEO Douglas Becker, who will become the nonexecutive chairman of Laureate’s Board of Directors.”

    danah boyd has announced that she’ll be stepping down from running her research organization Data & Society. The new executive director: Janet Haven.

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Apple had a thing. Its website touts the “Highlights from Apple’s keynote event.” Among the new features: facial recognition to unlock the new iPhone. I swear if I see anyone arguing this will be great for education…

    “Just What the Heck Was That XQ Super School Live Special?” asks Edsurge. John Merrow also has thoughts on the TV show.

    Inside Higher Ed writes about the messaging app Islands and wonders if it’s “the next Yik Yak.”

    According to WCET, “Developing Effective Courses Using Adaptive Learning Begins with Proper Alignment.”

    Via Getting Smart: “Virtual and Augmented Reality in Personalized Learning.”

    Tom Vander Ark lists “15 Dimensions of Personalized Learning.”

    Via Edsurge: “Questioning the Core Assumptions of Personalized Learning With Math Blogger Dan Meyer.”

    More on “personalization” in the “research” section below.

    Michael Horn profiles John Danner about his new tutoring startup Zeal: “John Danner, Education Entrepreneur, Doubles Down On Human Capital.”

    Via Engadget: “Snapchat plans to add college newspapers to its Discover section.”

    This headline doesn’t quite have the right structure to go in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section, although I’d wager we do know the answer to the question: “Can Techie Parents Reinvent School For Everyone - Or Just Their Rich Kids?

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Can Artificial Intelligence Help Teachers Find the Right Lesson Plans?asks Education Week.

    Will AI Be The Next Big Thing In The Classroom?asks Forbes.

    Could an App Help Teachers Recognize Their Own Biases?asks Education Week.

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

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    “​Teachers Can Now Use IBM’s Watson to Search for Free Lesson Plans,” Edsurge pronounces. IBM wants us to believe that Watson is incredibly powerful – powerful enough, even, to search 1000 OER. Wowee.

    There’s more about IBM Watson (and AI in general) in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section, because of course.

    Speaking of bullshit, the Calling Bullshit course challenges a study that’s been in the news recently claiming that AI can identify sexual orientation based on people’s faces. More on this study in IHE.

    Wow, this story is getting a lot of play: via TES: “Machines ‘will replace teachers within 10 years’.” From iNews: “Within ten years, human teachers will be phased out, replaced by machines, says vice chancellor.”

    Via Education Dive: “Researcher: AI won’t replace teachers.”

    Via TeacherCast: “Why Teachers Will Never Be Replaced By Robots.”

    Inside Higher Ed on Robot-Proof: “Northeastern president discusses his new book on how higher education can train students for careers where technology cannot make them redundant.”

    Via Campus Technology: “ProctorU Intros AI-Based Online Proctoring”: “Machine learning allows ProctorU Auto to adapt to student behavior, improving its analysis with each exam.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    “Great EdTech Success Story Turns Into The Biggest Philanthropic Story of the Year,” Getting Smart argues, pointing to Curriculum Associates’ donation of its stock to the Iowa State University Foundation. Iowa State University Foundation has, in turn, sold the stock to Berkshire Partners for around $145 million.

    Via Edsurge: “Salesforce Gifts $12.2M to Expand Computer Science in S.F., Oakland Public Schools.”

    “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld” – St. Augustine

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Absorb Software has raised $59 million from Silversmith Capital Partners to build an LMS.

    Unacademy has raised $11.5 million in Series B funding from Sequoia India, SAIF Partners, Nexus Venture Partners, and Blume Ventures. The online education platform has raised $17.5 million total.

    MissionU has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding from FirstMark, BoxGroup, First Round Capital, John Doerr, Learn Capital, Omidyar Network, Rethink Education, and University Ventures. The “startup university” has raised $11.5 million total. (No disclosure from Edsurge in its coverage of the funding that it shares several investors with MissionU. No disclosure to that end on any of the stories it’s published on the startup – three all told. Not too shabby for a school that just opened to its first cohort.)

    Piper has raised $7.6 million in Series A funding Owl Ventures, Reach Capital, StartX, and Charles Huang. The Minecraft-based-engineering company has raised $9.75 million total.

    Vemo Education has raised $7.4 million in seed funding from University Ventures, NextGen Venture Partners, Route 66 Ventures, Third Kind Venture Capital, Haystack Partners, and Task Force X Capital. It’s a platform for incoming-sharing agreements.

    Credly has raised $4.6 million from New Markets Venture Partners. The credentialing company has raised $7.1 million total.

    Carnegie Learning has acquired Globaloria.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    The Equifax breach isn’t an ed-tech story, of course. But let’s just say that the kind of negligence that led to it – Equifax not fixing a known security flaw – is far too commonplace in education.

    Via Bill Fitzgerald: “Protecting Ourselves From the Equifax Data Breach, and Data Brokers in General.”

    “Why do big hacks happen?” asks Jathan Sadowski in The Guardian. “Blame Big Data.”

    Again, keep this in mind as schools and ed-tech feel compelled to gather more and more data.

    Via Dark Reading: “72% of Educational Institutions Lack Designated InfoSec Staff.”

    Via KTNV: “Foothill High School regains control of Twitter account after hack.” That’s an updated headline as the school’s Twitter account remained hacked – with obscene language and images posted to it – for days. Just a reminder that Twitter does not care about your school’s social media initiative. At all.

    Via The New York Times: “The Downside of Checking Kids’ Grades Constantly.”

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    Via Politico: “How U.S. News college rankings promote economic inequality on campus.”

    Via the South China Morning Report: “China’s online education market to grow 20pc annually, bolstered by new technologies.”

    Via YourStory: “Despite drop in funding, edtech still presents a huge opportunity.”

    British girls‘logging off’ from CS: What’s the real problem?” asks Mark Guzdial.

    From Silicon Schools: “All That We’ve Learned: Five Years Working on Personalized Learning.”

    Education Elements has also released a report on personalized learning.

    Via Brookings: “Signs of digital distress: Mapping broadband availability and subscription in American neighborhoods.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Ambitious college-completion goals set by the Obama administration and the Lumina Foundation are unlikely to be met, according to a new analysis from Educational Testing Service, the standardized-assessment organization.”

    “What happens after American higher education contracts?” asks Bryan Alexander.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “More than a quarter of Americans hold a non-degree credential, with 21 percent completing a work experience program, new federal data shows. And many of these credential holders have well-paying jobs.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Efforts to ‘raise the bar’ for becoming a teacher are running headlong into efforts to diversify the profession. Now what?”

    “Research in Translation: Cultural Limits of Self-Regulated Learning,” by Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein.

    The World Education blog on some of the latest research about private school operators, including Bridge International Academies, in Liberia.

    Via Education Dive: “29% of teens report having cheated with devices.”

    I’m cited in this Education Week story on the latest Horizon Report.

    Via Nieman Lab: “ Adding a ‘disputed’ label to fake news seems to work, a little. But for some groups, it actually backfires.” (You can bet that “fake news” is going to be one of this year’s “top ed-tech trends.”)

    A new report from the Pew Research Center: “How People Approach Facts and Information.”

    Results from an AFT-backed poll: “National Poll Finds Parents Want Safe, Welcoming, Well-Funded Neighborhood Public Schools; Overwhelmingly Support Public Schools.”

    Poll results from“The Gallup 2017 Survey of K–12 School District Superintendents.”

    Via USA Today: “Survey: Millennials hold complex views on education.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees, Poll Finds.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Survey of Tech in Education Finds Mixed Results.” Better keep hyping it anyway…

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 09/22/17--10:20: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics

    “The Trump Administration Has Revoked A Federal Directive On Campus Rape,” Buzzfeed reports. More on the decision in The New York Times.

    US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ “learning curve where higher ed is concerned is quite vertical,” quips UC president Janet Napolitano. The Chronicle of Higher Education has more on Napolitano’s remarks at a lunch at UC’s Washington Center.

    Via Education Week: “Q&A: One-on-One with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.”

    “The Department of Education rejected two recent calls to improve its monitoring of the financial health of colleges and universities– despite findings that its metrics predicted only half of institutional closures in recent years,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    More on another Department of Education announcement this week – this one regarding the department’s inspector general and a potentially crippling penalty for WGU – in the “competencies” section below.

    Via NPR on Sunday: “President Trump Set To Meet With Presidents Of Historically Black Colleges And Universities.” Via NPR on Tuesday: “Trump, And Most Black College Presidents, Absent From Annual Meeting.” Trump has appointed former NFL star Johnathan Holifield (who never attended an HBCU) to run the White House’s HBCU initiative.

    More on the politics of student loans in the student loan section below.

    “There’s a new call for Americans to embrace Chinese-style education. That’s a huge mistake,” writes Yong Zhao in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via KPCC: “Ref Rodriguez has given up the role of president of the Los Angeles Unified School Board– but is not resigning his seat on the board altogether – one week after the announcement he’d face felony charges for alleged campaign finance violations during his 2015 run for office.”

    Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan,” says ProPublica’s Anne Waldman. The plan: “Converting into private schools– and using voucher programs to thrive on the public dime.”

    Chalkbeat on Success Academies: “Private managers of public schools, charter leaders enjoy extra buffer from public-records laws.”

    Via Education Week: “Assignment asking students to role play as KKK sparks anger.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “School segregation at center of new documentary from collective founded by Ava DuVernay.”

    Education in the Courts

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

    Rachel Cohen in The Intercept: “Authorities Close In On Pro-Charter School Nonprofit For Illicit Campaign Contributions.”

    “Free College”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The California Community Colleges announced Tuesday that the Board of Governors Fee Waiver program, which provides nearly half of the system’s 2.1 million students with free tuition, would be renamed the California College Promise Grant, a name reminiscent of many free college programs.”

    The Business (and the Politics of the Business) of Student Loans

    Via The Washington Post: “Student loan companies reach $21.6 million settlement over dubious debt collection lawsuits.” More via Buzzfeed and via Reuters.

    Via NPR: “The Department Of Education Cuts Off A Student Loan Watchdog.” The watchdog: the CFPB.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Buzzfeed: “The Education Department Will Allow Two Large For-Profit Colleges To Become Nonprofits.” That’s Kaplan University and the Art Institutes. More on the Kaplan news via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Lynn Universitywill buy the for-profit Digital Media Arts College. (The latter had lost its accreditation in December of last year.)

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Via Edsurge: “Peter Thiel May Finally Get His Flying Cars, Thanks to a New Udacity Nanodegree in 2018.” More predictions in Techcrunch: “Autonomous driving’s godfather and tech investors say the world is ready for flying cars.” And via the Udacity blog: “Self-Driving Cars for Everyone!” EVERYONE!

    Via The Hindu Business Line: “Pearson India set to launch K–12 online private school.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    “2 More Speakers Drop From Yiannopoulos’s ‘Free Speech Week’ at Berkeley,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The non-speakers: James Damore, the fired Google engineer, and Lucian Wintrich, a journalist with Gateway Pundit. Also via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Berkeley Casts Doubt on Motives of ‘Free Speech Week’ Organizers, Citing Missed Deadlines.”

    Inside Higher Ed reports that“The University of California Office of the President will pay half of the cost of security for conservative speakers at UC Berkeley this month.”

    “Who is blocking campus speakers now?” asks Inside Higher Ed. “Incidents at Harvard and Catholic Universities challenge idea that liberals are the only ones preventing ideas from being voiced on campuses.”

    “In Support of Dr. Dorothy Kimby David Perry.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A Georgia Tech police vehicle was torched and three people were arrested during a protest this week. Anger has grown over news that officer involved in fatal shooting was never trained in responding to situations involving people with mental-health issues.” More on the shootingvia The Washington Post.

    Via The New York Times: “Cornell Fraternity Closes Indefinitely After Racially Charged Attack.”

    Via Town & Country: “The Strange World of Sorority Rush Consultants.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Dust-Up Involving Conservative Student Sparks Political Uproar in Nebraska.”

    Via NPR Code Switch: “Starting School At The University That Enslaved Her Ancestors.” Mélisande Short-Colomb starts at Georgetown.

    Via The New York Times: “Harvard Endowment Reports ‘Disappointing’ 8.1 Percent Return.” Not sure how the university is going to stay afloat.

    Speaking of Harvard, Crystal Marie Fleming writes in Vox that “Harvard has shown its commitment to diversity was always a farce.”

    “When Affirmative Action Isn’t Enough” by The New York Times’ Dana Goldstein.

    More on Harvard via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Taking Stock of the Ties That Bind Harvard’s Kennedy School and the CIA.”

    Inside Higher Ed on“Fee for Honors”: “Arizona State’s honors college fee, currently at $1,500 per year, has enabled explosive growth, leaders say. Critics worry about dissuading poor students from enrolling, but others say public institutions need new sources of revenue and ways to offer value to top students.”

    BYU now sells caffeinated soda on campus.

    “Two Christian colleges in North Carolina, Piedmont International University and John Wesley University, plan to merge next year,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

    Education Department’s inspector general labels Western Governors as a correspondence-course provider, seeks reimbursement of $713 million in aid and may broadly threaten competency-based education,” Inside HIgher Ed reports. More via Edsurge.

    Via Times of Malta: “Malta becomes first country to explore blockchain education certificates.”

    “ What is the future of accreditation– and how do microcredentials impact it?” asks Education Dive.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The New York Times: “Playing Tackle Football Before 12 Is Tied to Brain Problems Later.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Two college football players died after games last Saturday, following three off-season deaths this year, while a Harvard football player suffered a neck injury and remains paralyzed.”

    Via The Chicago Tribune: “5 Wheaton College football players face felony charges in hazing incident.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “After Faculty Outcry, UNC Will Allow Athletics Course to Be Taught Again.” The class: “Big-Time College Sports and the Rights of Athletes, 1956 to the Present.”

    The Business of Job Training

    Via The Guardian: “ Tech’s push to teach coding isn’t about kids’ success – it’s about cutting wages.”

    Contests and Awards

    The MacArthur Foundation has announced its “100&Change Finalists.”

    Via Edsurge: “Here Are the 5 Finalists for the $15M XPRIZE Global Learning Challenge.” (Forbes goes with a clickbait title: “Possibly Elon Musk’s Biggest Idea Yet – Revolutionizing Education.” Elon Musk doesn’t really have any idea here. He’s just on the board of XPRIZE and helped fund it.

    Via Education Week: “Carol Dweck Wins $4 Million Prize for Research on ‘Growth Mindsets’.”

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via Edsurge: “Minecraft’s New Oregon Trail Experience Has Everything – Even the Dysentery.” It’s not apparent to me in the coverage whether “everything” includes Native Americans.

    Via Motherboard: “New System Knows How Hard You’re Thinking Based on Thermal Imaging.” Mmmhmmm. Sure. Okay.

    Ed Tech Products Should Make Educators More Efficient,” says EdWeek’s Matthew Lynch. The post recommends facial recognition, which is such a terrible, terrible idea.

    Edtech CEOs Seek to Change the ‘Adversarial Narrative’ With Public School Teachers,” says Edsurge. (See how much of that “adversarial narrative” you find in this week’s – or any week’s – ed-tech news.)

    College textbooks are going the way of Netflix,” Quartz predicts in part 2 of a ridiculously silly series on the future of the university.

    From the Knewton blog: “ Introducing Knewton Product Updates for Fall 2017.”

    Via Quartz: “An MIT Media Lab startup is creating beautiful wooden toys to teach children the basics of coding.” The startup is called Learning Beautiful.

    Via The Next Web: “Look no further: Universities are funding startups to ensure students succeed.”

    Via Boing Boing: “World Wide Web Consortium abandons consensus, standardizes DRM with 58.4% support, EFF resigns.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Imagine how great universities could be without all those human teachers,” says Quartz, lauding the fantasy that robots will replace teachers.

    Artificial intelligence will transform universities,” says the World Economic Forum.

    Via IDG’s CIO magazine: “How artificial intelligence is transforming learning.”

    Via Campus Technology: “BYU Researchers Aim to Stop Robots from Eating Tables with Wikipedia.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    ThinkCERCA has raised $10.1 million from Scott Cook, Signe Ostby, Chuck Templeton, Deborah Quazzo, Follett Knowledge Fund, Jeff Weiner, Mike Gamson, Plum Alley, and TAL Education Group. The literacy software company has raised $14.8 million total. (No disclosure on Edsurge’s coverage of the fundraising that Deborah Quazzo’s VC firm GSV is also an investor in Edsurge.) has raised $7 million in Series B funding from Wildcat Venture Partners, MassMutual Ventures, and Mohr Davidow Ventures. The student loan management startup has raised $15.15 million total.

    Packback has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from University Ventures and ICG Ventures. The company, which according to its Crunchbase profile is a “Q&A learning platform powered by a proprietary A.I. to quantify and improve critical thinking skills in college students,” has raised $4 million total.

    Another for-profit university has been acquired by a not-for-profit one. Details in the for-profit higher ed section above.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via Campus Technology: “Education Data Breaches Double in First Half of 2017.”

    “Why the State of Surveillance in Schools Might Lead to the Next Equifax Disaster,” according to Edsurge, with a strange selection of products that might expose students’ data – none of which share any investors with Edsurge.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    “Boys are not defective,” Amanda Ripley writes in The Atlantic. “Girls in the Middle East do better than boys in school by a greater margin than almost anywhere else in the world: a case study in motivation, mixed messages, and the condition of boys everywhere.”

    Via Times Higher Education: “Online courses ‘more time-consuming’ to prepare for, study says.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Brookings Institution has released survey results showing that many college students lack understanding of or support for the legal principles of the First Amendment.”

    “Rejecting Growth Mindset and Grit at Three Levels” by P. L. Thomas.

    Via Campus Technology: “Report: AI, IoT, Cyber Threats Will Shape the Internet’s Future.”

    “How Big is the LMS Market?” asks Inside Higher Ed’s Joshua Kim. Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill responds.

    Edutechnica offers its“5th Annual LMS Data Update.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Cloud Computing Market Poised to Grow in Education Sector, Report Finds.”

    The RAND Corporation has released a report on “Designing Innovative High Schools.”

    Via Education Week: “Student Research Looks at Sleep Habits After Technology Roll-Out.”

    WaPo’s Valerie Strauss covers a recent study from the Stanford History Education Group on NAEP: “The ‘nation’s report card’ says it assesses critical thinking in history– but NAEP gets an F on that score.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A survey by e-textbook provider VitalSource has found that 50 percent of students who delayed buying textbooks because of high prices saw their grades suffer as a result.”

    Edsurge writes up the latest report from EducationSuperhighway on e-rate connectivity at public schools.

    From the Navitas Ventures’ website: a report on the “Global EdTech Landscape 3.0– 15,000 teams building the future of education.” We’re only at 3.0, eh?

    Private equity investors are looking for someone to take an Amazon approach to online education,” says PEHub, demonstrating that private equity investors control a lot of money but understand very little about edu.

    Research from Catarina Player-Koro, Annika Bergviken Rensfeldt, and Neil Selwyn: “Selling tech to teachers: education trade shows as policy events.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 09/29/17--05:50: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics

    President Trump Earmarks $200 Million in Federal Grants for STEM, Computer Science Programs,” says Edsurge, later swooning thatGoogle, Facebook, Amazon Among Tech Titans Committing $300 Million to K–12 Computer Science.” “Amazon, Facebook and others in tech will commit $300 million to the White House's new computer science push,” says Recode. Not so fast, says Doug Levin: “Scant Details, Fuzzy Math in $500 Million Public-Private Computer Science Education Push.” Trump has, of course, proposed some $9 billion in funding cuts to the Department of Education, so this is hardly “new money.”

    “Dear Mrs. Trump” by Liz Phipps Soeiro– why the librarian refused the books the First Lady sent to her school.

    Via The New Republic: “Betsy DeVos is headlining Harvard’s Koch-backed conference on school choice– with no critics of school choice.”

    Via The Washington Post: “DeVos speaks at Harvard– and guests were told they would be escorted out if disruptive.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “DeVos Says Obama-Era Consumer Rule Was Akin to ‘Free Money’.”

    Via Vice: “How DeVos’ New Rules on Campus Sexual Assault Discriminate Against Survivors.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What You Need to Know About the New Guidance on Title IX.”

    Via Education Week: “Betsy DeVos Viewed Unfavorably by 40 Percent of Voters, New Poll Says.” She has the highest “very unfavorable” rating of anyone in Trump’s cabinet.

    From the Department of Education press office: “U.S. Department of Education Awards $253 Million in Grants to Expand Charter Schools.”

    Also from the Department of Education press office: “Additional Senior Staff Appointments Announced by Secretary DeVos.”

    Via EdScoop: “Two edtech champions to join White House offices as fellows.” That’s Jake Steel, a TFA alum, and Crystal Moore, formerly at Fullbridge.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Justice Department Will Back Suit on ‘Free Speech’ Zone.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Jeff Sessions Adds to Trumpian Chorus on Campus Speech Limits.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Jeff Sessions Defends Trump On NFL Criticism At Campus Free Speech Talk.”

    “What Sessions doesn’t know about free speech on campus” – an op-ed by Davidson College’s Issac Bailey.

    Inside Higher Ed on the “Return of the College Scoreboard”: “The Department of Education published updated information on the College Scorecard Thursday, including a new feature that allows students to compare data from up to 10 institutions at once.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A newly proposed bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would grant broad waivers to accreditors aimed at allowing them to bypass federal requirements in order to encourage innovation and to reduce ‘administrative burdens.’”

    Via Education Week: “FCC Seeks Comment on Access to WiFi for Schools and Libraries.”

    Via The Telegraph: “Saudi Arabia accidentally prints textbook showing Yoda sitting next to the king.” (Worth clicking on this link just to see the image.)

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via The Dallas Morning News: “1 in 4 Texas students affected by Harvey, education chief tells Dallas business leaders.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Some Schools Are Banning Students From Kneeling During The National Anthem.”

    Via the ACLU’s website: “ACLU of Louisiana Condemns School Official’s Threats to Students’ First Amendment Rights.”

    Via The Intercept: “A Los Angeles School Board Scandal Could Upend Plans By Charter Backers to Take Over Public Schools.”

    Via the Associated Press: “The state says Ohio’s largest online charter school could owe another $20 million for failing to verify enrollment properly.” That’s the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, which is already having to repay Ohio some $60 million.

    Meanwhile, the state has given initial approval for ECOT to become a “dropout school.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “After years of attempts, Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Republican governor, has successfully eliminated the state’s Education Approval Board as an independent agency tasked with overseeing for-profit colleges.”

    Via Ars Technica: “Proposed New Mexico science standards edit out basic facts.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “President Trump on Sunday evening issued new restrictions on travel to the U.S. to replace a 90-day ban on travel for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries. The 90-day ban, which expired Sunday, was widely opposed by colleges and universities concerned about the flow of international students and scholars to their campuses.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via The Baltimore Sun: “State Prosecutor investigating former Baltimore County School Supt. Dallas Dance.” The investigation has to do with Dance’s connection to SUPES Academy – the same thing that got Chicago Public Schools’ head Barbara Byrd-Bennett in hot water.

    Via the Future of Privacy Forum: “Law Enforcement Access to Student Records: What Is the Law?”

    Via The New York Times: “The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a case that could deal a crushing blow to organized labor. … [T]he court will consider whether public-sector unions may require workers who are not members to help pay for collective bargaining. If the court’s answer is no, unions would probably lose a substantial source of revenue.”

    The New York Times looks at“A Legal Industry Built on Private School Sex Abuse.”

    “Free College”

    Inside Higher Ed onBaltimore’s “free college” plans.

    Via The Tennessean: “Tennessee Promise students more likely to succeed in college, less likely to drop out, new data shows.”

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via The Detroit Free Press: “How freezing credit after Equifax will shut you out of some student loans.”

    Via Reuters: “After spate of suicides, China targets predatory student lending.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “National Default Rate for Student Loans Rises, Breaking Streak of Declines.” More via Buzzfeed.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “In Reversal, Former Globe U Campuses to Close.”

    Via The Phoenix New Times: “University of Phoenix Phasing Out Campuses; Current Students Not Affected, School Says.”

    More on the new for-profit higher ed – coding bootcamps – in the job training section below. And more on regulating for-profits (or not) in the state politics section above.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Responses to last week’s news about Western Governors University and the audit of its competency-based offerings: Via NPR: “Who Is A College Teacher, Anyway? Audit Of Online University Raises Questions.”

    Two responses from Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “WGU Audit Findings: Interpretations of ‘regular and substantive’ and self-paced’.” And “WGU Audit: Likely impacts for fragile movement of competency-based education.” (No disclosure on either of these that WGU has been a client of Hill’s.)

    Juilliard has joinededX.

    Via Open Culture: “Martin Scorsese to Teach His First Online Course on Filmmaking.” (This is via the celebrity teacher platform Masterclass.)

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via Citylab: “How America’s Most Integrated School Segregated Again.” That’s West Charlotte High School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Via The LA Times: “ Organizers call off far-right festival at UC Berkeley; some speakers plan rally on campus on Sunday.” More via Buzzfeed.

    Via The New York Times: “What Stunts Like Milo Yiannopoulos’s ‘Free Speech Week’ Cost.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “A Bronx student stabbed two classmates, killing a 15-year-old boy.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Emails Show How An Ivy League Prof Tried To Do Damage Control For His Bogus Food Science.” That’s Brian Wansink of Cornell University and his research on “smart lunchrooms.”

    Bryan Alexander with the latest in his monitoring of campuses’ “queen sacrifices” – “Stony Brook launches a queen sacrifice by cutting humanities and humanists.”

    Via The LA Times: “UC Irvine aims to transform public health with record-breaking $200-million donation.” A follow-up from Cory Doctorow: “Deluded billionaire gives UC Irvine $200M to study homeopathy and ‘alternative’ therapies.”

    Via CBS San Francisco: “Monsanto Caught Ghostwriting Stanford University Hoover Institution Fellow’s Published Work.”

    “I Taught At The XQ Houston Super Schoolby Gary Rubenstein.

    Via The Pacific Standard: “For the First Time, a Female Officer Completed the Marines’ Grueling Infantry Officer Training Course.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via the Northeastern press office: “Northeastern University and IBM partnership first to turn digital badges into academic credentials for learners worldwide.”

    Via Hackernoon: “A Revolutionary Approach to Academic Validation Using Ethereum.” See how many factual errors you can find in this article!

    Edsurge profiles the latest from Degreed: “This Company Wants to Help You Hire for Skills, Not Credentials.” (No disclosure that Edsurge shares investors with the company.)

    There’s more on accreditation in the national politics section above.

    Testing, Testing…

    Inside Higher Ed on the latest SAT scores.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via ESPN: “NCAA basketball coaches among 10 charged with fraud, corruption.” More on the fraud investigation from The Chronicle of Higher Education and from NPR.

    Via The New York Times: “Rick Pitino Is Out at Louisville Amid F.B.I. Investigation.” His attorney says he will fight for the right to be paid the full value of his contract, which runs through 2026 – that’s over $40 million in salary and bonuses.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Rutgers University escaped the most serious punishments by the National Collegiate Athletic Association after its football players failed drug tests and were still allowed to compete and the team’s former head coach tried to persuade a professor to help improve an athlete's grades.”

    There’s more on how schools are responding to their athletes’ decision to protest during the national anthem in the politics section above. And there’s more on how schools and companies violate athletes’ privacy in the data and privacy section below.

    From the HR Department

    Equifax CEO Richard Smith says he will resign from his position after news broke that the company had suffered a massive data breach. He’ll collect $90 million on the way out the door.

    The Business of Job Training

    Via Edsurge: “As US Tech Companies Look to Mexico, Coding Bootcamps Follow.”

    “This Is What Coding Bootcamps Need To Do To Beat The Backlash” – according to Fast Company.

    From the Amazon blog: “Introducing Free Alexa Skills Courses by Codecademy.”

    There’s more “research” on the business of job training in the “research” section below.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Can machine learning unlock the keys to great teaching?asks Michael Petrilli.

    Can Technology-augmented Academic Advising Improve College Graduation Rates?asks Edsurge.

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

    Upgrades and Downgrades

    Via Edsurge: “20 By 2020: Quizlet’s Big Revenue Ambitions From Third-Party Content Partners.”

    “Caution: Chromebooks,” writes Gary Stager.

    Y Combinator has posted a“Request for Education Startups.” (Here’s the list of education-related companies and people involved with YC.)

    Via Techcrunch: “Uber adds a new feature for riders that teaches basic sign language.”

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Microsoft Moves to Enable Streamlined Purchasing of Bundled Products for Education.”

    NCTM and the Math Forumby Tracy Zager.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via Education Week: “How ‘Intelligent’ Tutors Could Transform Teaching.”

    Via Getting Smart: “Using Robots to Teach Elementary Students About Human Nature.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries and the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation have announced $2 million for “education-related recovery from recent hurricanes,” the AP reports.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Gaosi Education has raised $83.52 million from AlphaX Partners Fund, China Media Capital, China International Capital Corporation, Loyal Valley Innovation Capital, Sinovation Ventures, and The Hina Group.

    Job recruitment platform EquitySim has raised $3.1 million in seed funding from 500 Startups, Peak Ventures, and University Ventures.

    Tutoring company Varsity Tutors has acquired tutoring company First Tutors.

    Testing company Taskstream-Tk20 has acquired testing company LiveText.

    Data company IO Education has acquired student information system company eSchoolData.

    Via Bloomberg: “Whitney Tilson to Shut Hedge Fund After ‘Sustained’ Poor Returns.”

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    New America’s Manuela Ekowo writing in Edsurge: “As the University of South Africa Considers Predictive Analytics, Ethical Hoops Emerge.”

    A new report from Data & Society: “Privacy, Security, and Digital Inequality– How Technology Experiences and Resources Vary by Socioeconomic Status, Race, and Ethnicity.”

    Via India Today: “In order to keep a track on efficiency and research skills, around 5,000 class 8 students of Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) are being given tablets as a part of a pilot project. They will especially be used for science and mathematics and will allow teachers to keep a track on whether students are actually studying at home.” (Kendriya Vidyalayas are central government-run schools in India.)

    Hacked Twitter Accounts a New Headache for Schools,” Education Week’s Ben Herold reports.

    Edsurge on“How to Protect Education Data When No Systems Are Secure.” The story features two companies who’ve experienced data breaches – Edmodo and Schoolzilla. No disclosure that Edsurge shares investors with both.

    Via The New York Times: “Technology Used to Track Players’ Steps Now Charts Their Sleep, Too.”

    What happens to all that data that these (unprofitable and likely to fail) startups collect in education? One answer: “Selling data to feed hedge fund computers is one of the hottest areas of finance right now,” says Quartz.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    From the World Bank blog: “A crisis in learning: 9 charts from the 2018 World Development Report.” More on the World Development report here.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “District Officials Think They Know Open Ed. Resources, But Grasp Is Surface-Level, Survey Finds.”

    Via Education Week: “U.S. Adults Outperformed by Rest of Developed World in Numeracy, New Comparison Finds.”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “The high school grads least likely in America to go to college? Rural ones.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “New Research on First Generation Students.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Survey: Faculty Getting More Confident in Tech Skills, but Students’ Skills Are Slipping.”

    Getting Smart’s Tom Vander Ark on a new report from Pearson: “The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030.”

    Via The Guardian: “ ‘Junk science’: experts cast doubt on widely cited college free speech survey.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “New data from the U.S. Federal Reserve on changes in family income show that Americans without a college degree, and African-Americans and Hispanic families, had the most rapid increase in wealth from 2013 to 2016. However, college degree holders are still far more wealthy, as are white families (with almost 10 times the wealth of African-American households).”

    There’s new data on student loan defaults in the business of student loans section above.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new federal report projects that enrollment in American postsecondary institutions will climb 15 percent from 2014 to 2025, with larger proportional increases among adult than traditional-age students, women than men, graduate students than undergraduates, and minority students than white students.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Enrollment in graduate school is up, continuing a trend in first-time graduate students researchers have seen for five years. But growth rates are starting to dip, according to numbers from a new report the Council of Graduate Schools co-published with the Graduate Record Examinations Board.”

    The non-profit Youth Truth is out with a survey on student bullying.

    Via Chalkbeat: “When charter schools unionize, students learn more, study finds.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Annual report from Scholars at Risk tracks threats to students, academics and their universities worldwide.”

    “Young people oppose Fitbits in schools,” according to research reported by The Conversation.

    Via General Assembly: “Data Science Education Lags Behind in Diversity.”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Number of single moms in college doubled in 12 years, so why aren’t they graduating?”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Black and Hispanic students in New York City most likely to be arrested and handcuffed, data shows.”

    Education Isn’t the Key to a Good Income,” Rachel Cohen writes in The Atlantic.

    “Some Technology Leaders Worry about Children and Digital Devices: They Should,” says Stanford University’s Larry Cuban.

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 10/06/17--04:10: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics

    Ivanka Trump with an op-ed in The New York Post: “Why we need to start teaching tech in Kindergarten.” (Spoiler alert: because five-year-olds need coding skills so they can get jobs. Lazy, lazy, little children.)

    The Huffington Post filed Twitter’s response to Ivanka Trump’s announcement under “comedy.” Or maybe her announcement itself was comedy?

    Related, via Salon: “Silicon Valley’s $300M donation to STEM education is not what it seems.”

    Via Politico: “DeVos’ security detail could cost up to $6.54M over the next year.”

    Via The Washington Post: “DeVos rejects invitation to meet with former for-profit college students.”

    “The White House on Monday announced that it would nominate Mitchell “Mick” Zais as deputy secretary of education,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “Trump Taps Common-Core Foe Mick Zais for No. 2 Post at Ed. Dept.” is how Education Week describes the news.

    Via Buzzfeed: “The Justice Department Is Investigating Harvard’s Admissions Practices.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Inside the Free-Speech Case That Caught Jeff Sessions’ Eye.” It’s a case from Georgia Gwinnett College.

    Via The Seattle Times: “Glitch fixed, federal online student-aid application form is back online.”

    Andy Smarick worries that conservatives are divided over education reform.

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via Politico: “About 40 percent of Puerto Rico’s 1,113 public schools are accounted for, meaning the condition of most schools is unknown. Almost all of Puerto Rico’s schools remain without electricity or running water. Just 22 schools with running water and basic supplies will start holding informal classes today in an attempt to kickstart recovery.”

    Via The Washington Post: “D.C. says charter school board violated city law in vote on expanding charters.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via Politico: “The Kansas Supreme Court rejected the state’s school funding system in a ruling issued Monday that found it runs afoul of the state’s constitution by failing to adequately and equitably fund its school districts.”

    Via The Intercept: “Conservative Provocateur James O’Keefe’s Group Hit With Restraining Order, Blocking Latest Sting.” The case involves the Michigan affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

    More on lawsuits in the student loan section below.

    “Free College”

    “How to Pay for Free Community College,” according to Inside Higher Ed.

    NPR on New York’s “free college” program: “‘Biggest-Ever Free College’ Program Reaches 6 Percent Of New York Students.”

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Post-Recession Borrowers Struggle to Repay Loans.”

    Via the AP: “A new federal lawsuit by Pennsylvania’s attorney general says the nation’s largest student loan company engaged in abusive practices that have cost borrowers billions of dollars.” The largest student loan company is Navient.

    More Navient news in “the business of ed-tech” section below. And there’s more on for-profits and student loans in the research section below.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via ProPublica: “For-Profit Schools Get State Dollars For Dropouts Who Rarely Drop In.” This story looks at EdisonLearning, formerly Edison Schools.

    There’s more on for-profits and student loans in the research section below. And there’s more on for-profits and the Trump administration in the national politics section above.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Via Politico: Western Governors University, “the nation’s leading provider of competency-based education – which the Education Department’s independent watchdog last month said violated federal student aid rules – is expanding into North Carolina.”

    Academy Coinbitcoin for online education or something.

    In the future, you might want to look for most MOOC-related news in the “business of job training” section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    “Alt-Right: How the Breitbart Machine Laundered Racist Hateby Joe Bernstein in Buzzfeed. Do keep this in mind, universities, when you insist that Milo deserves a platform to speak on your campus.

    “Death at a Penn State Fraternityby The Atlantic’s Caitlin Flanagan.

    White supremacist Richard Spencer will speak at the University of Florida, which says it will spend $500,000 on security for the event.

    Via Jezebel: “FBI Arrests White Man Who Threatened to Murder Howard University Students.”

    “According to my observations, the standard Seattle Nazi is a white male under 30 who either works in the tech industry or is going to school to work in the tech industry” – from David Lewis’ story in The Stranger about white nationalists in Seattle. Good thing Seattle isn’t the center of computer science or computer science education!

    Via NPR: “How Schools Are Dealing With Students’ Right To Protest.” More on student athletes protests in the sports section below.

    Via The Baltimore Sun: “Pumpkin spice scent prompts Baltimore school evacuation.”

    The Atlantic on the decision of the Las Vegas School District to keep schools open on Monday: “Returning to Class the Morning After a Massacre.”

    Grace University will close at the end of the school year.

    Via The LA Times: “At UCLA, a dorm floor dedicated to first-generation students.”

    Via EdScoop: “USC launches edtech research center focused on underrepresented youth.”

    University of Wisconsin System to Migrate From D2L Brightspace to Canvas LMS” by Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Ohio State University and Apple on Wednesday announced a collaboration that will start a digital learning effort at the university that Apple and university officials said may represent the company’s most ambitious program in higher education.”

    Via Education Week: “In hurricanes’ aftermath, technology eases return to school.” (The narrative structure of these sorts of articles is always the same: crisis occurs; tech will save the day. Let’s not worry that there are many people who do not have access to electricity, let alone Internet, let alone digital devices.)

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via Edsurge: “More Colleges Are Offering Microcredentials– And Developing Them The Way Businesses Make New Products.”

    Related? Via The New York Post: “CUNY professor allegedly sold fake medical certificates.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “AIR Poised to Win Three State Testing Contracts Worth At Least $84 Million.”

    Via Education Week: “Vendor wins $43M contract for Indiana’s ISTEP replacement.” Again, this vendor is AIR.

    Washington University in St. Louis will accept the GRE (not just the LSAT) for law school admissions.

    More testing news is framed by Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, below.

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The Courier-Journal: “Rick Pitino raked in 98% of the cash from University of Louisville’s current Adidas deal.” That deal is worth $160 million. Pitino was suspended recently for his involvement in a corruption scandal. You do the math.

    Via The Washington Post: “Texas high school coach boots football players for anthem protest.”

    Via Raw Story: “Christian school boots black players off football team for protesting during anthem.”

    From the HR Department

    Albemarle County Public Schools’ superintendent Pam Moran– truly one of the great school administrators – has announced that she plans to retire in June.

    Via The Nation: “This University Suggested International Students Could Be Reported to ICE if They Unionized.” “This university” is Washington University in St. Louis.

    Another USC med school scandal. Via The LA Times: “ USC medical school dean out amid revelations of sexual harassment claim, $135,000 settlement with researcher.”

    Via the AP: “The superintendent of a suburban Cleveland school district who was caught on video at a high school football game pulling down the pants of the school board vice president has been suspended.”

    The Business of Job Training

    “Questioning the Unquestionable: Schools and the Economyby Larry Cuban.

    Via the edX blog: “Higher Education Needs a Re-think to Train Tomorrow’s Workforce.”

    “How can institutions build students’ 21st century workforce skills? Send them abroad,” says Education Dive.

    Via Techcrunch: “OpenClassrooms and Capgemini team up and launch an online apprenticeship program.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Salesforce, the world’s largest customer relationship management platform, has announced a new classroom-ready training scheme called Trailhead for Students.” The new software is supposed to get students ready for “the Salesforce economy,” whatever the hell that means.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    “‘Eton for all’: will robot teachers mean everyone gets an elite education?asks The New Statesman.

    Can a 20-Minute Test Tell Employers What a College Degree Cannot?asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Is Homework Compatible With Personalized Learning?asks Edsurge.

    No State Will Measure Social-Emotional Learning Under ESSA. Will That Slow Its Momentum?asks Education Week.

    ​Can Online Teaching Work at Liberal-Arts Colleges?asks Edsurge.

    Do Medical Schools Still Need Books?asks Inside Higher Ed. Shrug. Guess not.

    Will education publications stop using this formulation in their headlines?

    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

    Google had a big media to-do this week. Were there any education updates? Not sure. This story probably fits better under the surveillance section below. Via Ars Technica: “Google unveils a $249 smart camera that decides what’s worth photographing.”

    This, from Edsurge, is pretty awful: “Why Edtech Executives Are Keeping a Close Eye on Preschool Demographics.” It ties in to Ivanka Trump’s interest in the PreK market, no doubt – see the top story above. (She’s an investor in a company that targets that group.) So follow that narrative and network of financial relationships… But this article also underscores how everyone’s a market to ed-tech and how responsiveness to demographic shifts do not involve structural change but rather product development.

    More potential markets! Via Curbed: “School buses: A massive mass transit system in need of a tech upgrade.”

    Via Techcrunch: “A list of everything Magic Leap has released so far.” Useful for when you hear ed-tech evangelists swoon about how this company is going to revolutionize education.

    “Why Flipped Learning Is Still Going Strong 10 Years Later,” according to Edsurge.

    Via Edsurge: “NYC Keeps Its Edtech Accelerator Revving With New Funders and Markets.” Although plenty of other ed-tech accelerators have failed, this one – the “NYU Steinhardt Edtech Accelerator powered by StartEd” – is being bankrolled in part with funding from Rethink Education and Southern New Hampshire University.

    Via Techcrunch: “Kahoot launches premium version aimed at corporate training market.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Publisher Elsevier has announced the launch of ScienceDirect Topics, an information platform that has been compared to Wikipedia.”

    Via FT: “The secret lives of children and their phones.”

    Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will offer a scholarship“to ‘cut through’ unequal access to opportunity.” It’s only available to KIPP graduates so put a little asterisk next to this notion of equality.

    “Too Many People Dream of a Charmed Life in Academia,” says Bloomberg.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Mattel and Google: a double standard for AI toys?” by Nicholas Carr.

    There’s more about Mattel’s robots and privacy in the privacy section below.

    Via The Post and Courier: “Coming soon to some S.C. classrooms: An army of robots to help autistic students learn social skills.”

    Via Ed-Tech Magazine: “AI Is on the Upswing in Optimizing K–12 Education.”

    Via MIT Technology Review: “Colleges Are Marketing Drone Pilot Courses, but the Career Opportunities Are Murky.”

    Campus Technology with the latest robot predictions (a.k.a. market research press release): “AI, Merging of Digital and Physical Worlds Among Top 10 Tech Trends for 2018.”

    The latest Pew Research report addresses the future of automation. More in the research section below. And, of course, there are robot stories in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    The LMS Moodle has raised $6 million in its first ever round of venture funding. The investor was Education For The Many.

    Workbench Platform has raised $1.7 million in seed funding from Brown Advisory. The project-based learning startup has raised $2.95 million total.

    Biba has raised $1.3 million in seed funding – or rather, it did so back in September, but I’d miss the news. Investors in the company were Greg Zeschuk, Jason Kapalka, and Leonite Capital. The company makes AR games that supposedly encourage playground activities.

    Curiscope has raised $1 million in seed funding from LocalGlobe, Ascension Ventures, Force Over Mass, Richard Fearn, and ustwo Adventure. The company makes AR / VR education content (on t-shirts).

    Student loan provider Navient will acquire student loan provider Earnest for $155 million.

    Campus Management Corp has acquired the following tools from Hobsons: ApplyYourself, AppReview, Connect, Radius, and Retain CRM.

    The second education IPO of the year: RYB Education, a Chinese private preschool company. Wait, I sense a theme in this week’s stories about profiting from preschoolers, don’t you?

    My latest report on ed-tech and venture capital is in the research section below.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via The Washington Post: “Actually, every single Yahoo account got hacked in 2013.”

    Via The New York Times: “Mattel Pulls Aristotle Children’s Device After Privacy Concerns.”

    I’m not even sure how to describe this story, and the headline doesn’t really do justice to it: “‘Dark Overlord’ Hackers Text Death Threats to Students, Then Dump Voicemails From Victims.”

    Via Alternet: “How Hackers Held an Entire School District Hostage.”

    Via Motherboard: “Replacing Social Security Numbers Is Harder Than You Think.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Getting Faculty Members to Embrace Student Data.” Also via The Chronicle: “How 2 Professors Used Data to Improve Their Courses.” Keep playing that data drumbeat.

    There’s more about privacy and robots in the robots section above.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    My latest report on ed-tech and venture capital: “The Business of Ed-Tech: September 2017 Funding Data.”

    Via Edsurge: “Watch That Hand: Why Videos May Not Be the Best Medium for Knowledge Retention.” My favorite thing about this was that, just the day before, Edsurge had touted how “flipped learning” is still a big thing – story linked above – but neither piece recognize one another. It’s like the left hand has no clue what the right hand is up to.

    Via the AP: “Students who attended for-profit colleges were twice as likely or more to default on their loans than students who attended public schools, according to a federal study published Thursday.”

    Via Education Week: “RAND Researchers Make It Clear: Personalized Learning Is Difficult to Do.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Report: VR and AR Headsets to See 50% Growth Every Year Through 2021.”

    More predictions from Campus Technology: “IT Spending to Top $3.65 Trillion in 2018.”

    Via Education Week: “To Ban or Not to Ban? Technology, Education, and the Media.”

    Via The Guardian: “Growing social media backlash among young people, survey shows.”

    The latest Pew Research Center report: “Automation in Everyday Life.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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    Inside Higher Ed asked a group of “experts”“what should Ivanka Trump read in order to learn about education technology?” I submitted an answer but it was not what they were looking for. So I’m publishing my thoughts (or 500 words, at least) here.

    Perhaps the better question is: what should Ivanka Trump not read in order to learn about education technology. It’s clear from her op-ed in The New York Post that she is quite familiar with the slogans and statistics that organizations like promote. She seems familiar too with the kinds of arguments readily found in tech and ed-tech industry publications and press releases: that computing is inevitable, and progress demands it. We have all heard these stories about the future: new technologies will make education more efficient, more accessible, more scalable; students’ education will become more “personalized”; and/or it will be increasingly oriented towards the demands of the technology industry and a “new economy” – “training” as Trump repeats five times in her op-ed.

    “Learning” is only mentioned once. Lots of other words that might be used to describe the purpose of school – higher education or otherwise – are also missing from Trump’s essay. Curiosity. Civics. Citizenship. Scholarship. Research. The liberal arts. We can probably tell a lot already about her reading list by their absence, because again, this reflects the monomaniacal focus on framing education as about “skills” and jobs – a focus shared by the Trump administration and by the educational marketing and storytelling emanating from the tech industry.

    Trump contends the White House will push for computer science to alter “not just what we teach, but how we teach.” This would require a shift not only in the curriculum but in the process, the pedagogy. But other than the repeated invocation of “training,” there’s no real sense of what a new pedagogical direction might involve – unless, that is, you read her call for more “problem solving” as some sort of twenty-first century update to “project-based learning.” But I don’t think Ivanka Trump has read much John Dewey.

    Problem-solving, Trump suggests, is not being taught in schools today. Of course it is, but in her formulation – one that’s been repeated by former Obama administration officials recently as well– computer science is touted as “the universal language of problem solving.” This implies that all problems are technical problems; all problems are engineering problems. There are no problems of ethics, beauty, or justice – or rather, ethics, beauty, and justice are now subsumed under the realm of “code.” To see coding as a “universal language” also subsumes the needs to communities – scholarly and otherwise – to the needs of the tech industry, to the demands of global capital.

    Trump has clearly read enough and knows enough already to recognize education technology is a perfect vehicle for Silicon Valley ideology. And there’s not much about much of that ideology – steeped in individualism and libertarianism – that she or her father oppose.

    I’ve also written about Ivanka Trump’s ed-tech industry network– what we know about her ed-tech investments and the people who’ve also invested in the same (and same types of) companies. To claim that she’s uninformed about all this seems to be to be wildly naive.

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  • 10/13/17--03:30: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics

    “What Ivanka Trump Knows about Ed-Tech” by me. Thoughts from other “experts” in Inside Higher Ed. Also by me: “The Ivanka Trump Ed-Tech Industry Network.”

    “Even Pokémon Go used by extensive Russian-linked meddling effort,” says CNN. Congrats to everyone who argued that Pokémon Go was the future of education. You have really done your part to extend civic values.

    Via The New York Times: “U.S. Will Withdraw From Unesco, Citing Its ‘Anti-Israel Bias’.” UNESCO is the UN’s educational and cultural organization.

    Via the AP: “The Department of Veterans Affairs abruptly dropped plans Wednesday to suspend an ethics law barring employees from receiving benefits from for-profit colleges. The move comes after criticism from government watchdogs who warned of financial entanglements with private companies vying for millions in GI Bill tuition.”

    Via Edsurge: “Betsy DeVos Visits Bay Area Public School for a Lesson in Personalized Learning.”

    Via The Huffington Post: “Roy Moore Once Compared Preschool To Nazi-Style Indoctrination.” Roy Moore recently won the Republican primary in the race for one of Alabama's Senate seats.

    Inside Higher Ed on“The New, Improved IPEDS.” IPEDS is the government’s database tracking post-secondary education statistics, including enrollments and graduations.

    Via NPR: “After 3 Years Under ISIS, Mosul’s Children Go Back To School.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via NPR: “The Monumental Task Of Reopening Puerto Rico’s Schools.”

    Via Education Week: “One of the nation’s largest online charter schools said it will close within four months, in the middle of the school year, if Ohio’s efforts to recoup $60 million or more in disputed funding aren’t halted.”

    Via Education Week: “Florida Virtual School Will Accept 20,000 Puerto Rican Students.” Do Puerto Rican students have Internet and electricity back yet?

    Via EdSource: “Virtual charter academies in California must refund nearly $2 million to state.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “A 1998 agreement that put the New York City police in charge of school safety has never been revised – until now.”

    Via NPR: “What’s Changed In South Carolina Schools Since Violent Student Arrest.”

    Immigration and Education

    “Losing My Legal Status In This Country Feels Like A Cruel Joke” by Buzzfeed contributor and DACA recipient Jason Koh.

    Education in the Courts

    Via Education Week: “A Maine teacher who pleaded guilty to shoplifting a $14.99 blouse after winning the $1 million Global Teacher Prize is accused of violating her conditions of release by stealing a $28 dog leash.”

    Via Edsurge: “Major Publishers Dismiss Lawsuit Against Follett Corporation.” Publishers dropped the lawsuit, more accurately, which claimed that Follett was selling counterfeit copies of textbooks.

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via Bloomberg: “Black Americans Twice as Likely as Whites to Default on Student Debt.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via The Washington Post: “A hiccup in Purdue’s acquisition of for-profit Kaplan University.” Via The Journal & Courier: “Purdue disputes claims Kaplan deal leaves taxpayers on hook.”

    Via Mother Jones: “Betsy DeVos Champions For-Profit Schools That Are Deceiving Taxpayers and Vulnerable Students.”

    Via ProPublica: “For-Profit Schools Reward Students for Referrals and Facebook Endorsements.”

    There’s more news on for-profits in the national politics section above.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    MOOCs are dead, according to Udacity’s VP. The Economic Times of India reports that “Udacity to focus on individual student projects.” Never one to let a good MOOC story pass them by, Edsurge repeats the story. “MOOCs Are ”Dead.“ What’s Next? Uh-oh,” writes John Warner in IHE.

    Also via Edsurge: “MIT Moves Beyond the MOOC to Court Companies, Professional Learners.”

    More news about online education and virtual charter schools in California, Florida, and Ohio in the state news section above.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    “How the School-to-Prison Pipeline Works” by Mariame Kaba in Teen Vogue.

    This story from Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy is… something: “Meet The ‘Young Saints’ Of Bethel Who Go To College To Perform Miracles.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Inside an ‘Unprecedented’ Increase in Campus White-Supremacist Recruiting.”

    Via The Wisconsin State Journal: “University of Wisconsin officials announce plan to merge Colleges with four-year campuses.”

    Via The Washington Post: “‘In the event of a nuclear attack’: U-Hawaii’s curious email to students and staff.”

    Via The New York Times: “Yale Endowment, Often a Pacesetter, Is a Laggard This Time.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Drexel Puts Professor on Leave After Tweet About Las Vegas Draws Conservative Ire.” It’s so important to watch how the whole “free speech” thing on campus plays out – that is, whose“free speech” gets defended.

    Also via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Purdue’s President Says Free-Speech Policy Forces Him to Defend Faculty Critic.”

    Also via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What Berkeley‘s $800,000 Did – and Didn’t – Buy During ’Free Speech Week’.”

    Via The Journal Sentinel: “The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Friday passed a policy pushed by Republican state lawmakers to punish students on UW campuses who repeatedly disrupt campus speakers with opposing views.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “An assistant professor of history at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas has apologized for blaming President Trump for the recent shooting massacre in the city after a student secretly recorded her comments and shared them with the Las Vegas Review-Journal.” The White House wants an investigation.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Campus Carry in Spotlight After Police Officer’s Death.”

    Via The Hollywood Reporter: “USC Rejects Harvey Weinstein’s $5M Women’s Program Donation.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How the CIA secretly exploits higher education.”

    Boston University and Wheelock College have reached a deal on their merger.

    Via Edsurge: “​Inside the Incubators: The Anatomy of a University Innovation Team.”

    “The History of School Lunchesby Malcolm Harris.

    Accreditation and Certification

    Via The New York Times: “Some Charter Schools Can Certify Their Own Teachers, Board Says.” I look forward to this logic being applied to doctors.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Quality Assurance Commons for Higher & Postsecondary Education is a new group that is exploring alternative approaches to accreditation in higher education. With funding from the Lumina Foundation and through the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, the QA Commons last week announced a pilot project to assess higher education programs at 14 institutions around the country.”

    Via Forbes: “How Blockchain Can Stamp Out China’s Fake Diplomas.”

    Testing, Testing…

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Pearson is fighting to halt a decision by the state of Iowa to award a $31 million testing contract to the American Institutes for Research, arguing that the scoring of bids was riddled with ‘preferential treatment and bias.’”

    Via The Fayette Tribune: “All West Virginia high school juniors will begin taking the SAT as the statewide summative assessment in spring 2018, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) announced earlier this month. The College Board was selected as the successful bidder following a competitive review process for the high school assessment.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The National Collegiate Athletic Association will not punish the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after it created fake courses in which students were given credit despite never attending classes, and no faculty members ever taught them.” Sham courses. Sham oversight from the NCAA.

    Via Deadspin: “How UNH Turned A Quiet Benefactor Into A Football-Marketing Prop.”

    Via MS News Now: “O’Bannon football players suspended from team for taking a knee during national anthem.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Albright College Athlete Is Dismissed From Team for Kneeling During National Anthem.”

    Via The New York Times: “An N.C.A.A. for Esports? Rivals Angle to Govern Campus Video Gaming.”

    Via The Atlantic: “Towns are weighing the practicality of artificial fields against the potential health risks for the kids who play on them.”

    From the HR Department

    I missed this news earlier this year. Coddy Johnson, hired last year as the COO of AltSchool, is back at the video game company Activision. “He was granted $15 million in stock options and performance-linked restricted shares that vest over four years, as well as a $2.2 million ‘contract inducement’ to come back,” Bloomberg reports.

    The Business of Job Training

    Via The New York Times: “Google Unveils Job Training Initiative With $1 Billion Pledge.”

    Contests and Awards

    The MacArthur Foundationannounced its new “geniuses.” Among the recipients of the fellowship: education writer Nikole Hannah-Jones.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Can VR be a tool for inspiring empathy in higher ed?asks Education Dive.

    (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

    Amazon is donating $10 million to (You can see a list of all’s investors here.)

    Via Education Week: “Questions Linger Over Companies’ $300 Million Computer Science Pledge.”

    It’s 2017 and many critics agree that social media is full of trolls and harassers, that it helps subvert democracies here and abroad, but hey: “To Teach Digital Citizenship Effectively, Educators Say It’s Time to Unblock Social Media,” says Edsurge.

    And of course, there’s an app for that. Via Techcrunch: “Kudos wants to be a gentle introduction to social media sharing for kids.”

    Via Spectrum News: “Despite dearth of data, firms sell brain training as autism antidote.” US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is an investor in one of these companies: Neurocore.

    Edsurge on the Injini ed-tech accelerator in South Africa: “Why the World’s Youngest Continent Got an Edtech Accelerator.” The accelerator was founded by former State Secretary for Education Michael Gove’s policy advisor Jamie Martin.

    Via Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Unizin Membership Now Set As Annual Fee Of Up To $427.5k.”

    Via LinkedIn: “Instructure is Utah’s newest $Billion Company.”

    Via the Microsoft press release: “Introducing Education Resources, a source of Open Educational Resources within Office 365.”

    Elsewhere in proprietary OER, via Inside Higher Ed: “Cengage will offer open educational resources, curated and adapted to include proprietary assessment tools, from $25 per student for general education courses.”

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “ResearchGate, a popular tool used by scholars to share their work, is taking down many researchers’ work, apparently in response to demands from publishers.”

    TNW claims that “Socratic is morphing into a distraction-free ‘Snapchat for homework’.”

    Baruch College’s video-based feedback tool Vocat is now open source.

    “Why Do the Boy Scouts Want to Include Girls?” asks The Atlantic.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via Techcrunch: “Mattel releases biologically inspired foldable robot bugs.”

    “New AI tool helps teachers tackle math,” eSchool News claims. The tool in question: IBM’s Teacher Advisor with Watson 1.0.

    10 Disruptions That Will Revolutionize Education,” according to Education Week. The list includes AI, of course.

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    Via The New York Times: “Eli Broad, Patron of Los Angeles, to Step Down From His Philanthropy.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    Andela has raised $40 million in Series C funding from GV (Google Ventures), Spark Capital, Salesforce Ventures, CRE Venture Capital, TLcom Capital Partners, VentureSouq, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, DBL Partners, and Amplo. The African coding bootcamp has raised $81 million total.

    Knowbox has raised $30 million in Series B funding from Bertelsmann Asia Investment Fund, TAL Education Group, Baidu Ventures, and New World Strategic Investment. The Chinese “homework help” company has raised $55.7 million total.

    Neverware has raised $6.5 million in Series B funding from Google Ventures. The company, which helps schools refurbish old computers by installing the Chrome OS, has raised $14 million total.

    Shaw Academy has raised $1.46 million in crowdfunding for its MOOC platform. Someone should inform them that MOOCs are dead.

    Qualified and Upswing have raised $75,000 from Village Capital, “which runs peer-selected startup competitions across the globe.”

    Venture capital firm Educapital has closed a $53 million fund to invest in education companies. Investors include Bpifrance, Hachette Livre, and Education for the Many.

    Apollo Global Management has acquiredWest Corporation, maker of SchoolMessenger, for $5.2 billion.

    Volaris Group has acquiredEdumate.

    I won’t include this in my calculations of ed-tech funding – despite all the proclamations that AR and VR are the future of education. Magic Leap– a wealthy vaporware company that claims it’s building something amazing with AR– is trying to raise $1 billion in funding. The company has raised $2.88 billion total – and has nothing to show for it.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Filter Bubbles and Privacy, and the Myth of the Privacy Settingby Bill Fitzgerald.

    Via The Verge: “Google’s Home Mini needed a software patch to stop some of them from recording everything.”

    Similar news about Microsoft products. Via MakeUseOf: “Cortana Is Listening Into Your Skype Conversations.”

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Historians Blame Lack of Support for Slow Technology Uptake.”

    Via The New York Times Magazine: “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?”

    “Do You Know the Edtech Adoption Rules in Your State? SETDA’s New Guide May Help,” says Edsurge.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Demands From K–12 Schools for Contracts Surging at State, Local Level.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Small increases in course loads can increase the odds that students will stick with college and eventually graduate, particularly part-time students. That’s the central finding of a new report from Civitas Learning, a student success company with a focus on predictive analytics.”

    Via Bloomberg: “The Fraternity Paradox: Lower GPA, Higher Incomes.”

    Via the Pew Research Center: “Online Harassment 2017.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project

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  • 10/20/17--04:50: Hack Education Weekly News
  • (National) Education Politics

    From the White House Press Office: “President Donald J. Trump Proclaims October 15 through October 21, 2017, as National Character Counts Week.” The irony.

    “The U.S. Senate’s education committee on a party-line vote Wednesday advanced the nomination of Carlos Muñiz for general counsel at the Department of Education,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday announced a proposed settlement with a website whose ‘military-friendly’ rankings of colleges and universities allegedly promoted institutions that paid to be included.” The website: Victory Media.

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “The Federal Trade Commission and a group of states last week announced a coordinated law-enforcement action against deceptive student loan debt-relief scams. The crackdown so far has featured new cases and a judgment against scammers who allegedly used deception and false promises to reel in more than $95 million in illegal fees in recent years.”

    Via the BBC: “Tuition fee rise to £9,295 in Wales is scrapped.”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “India tries coding camps, craft centers and all-girls schools to fight illiteracy.”

    Via The New York Times: “To Inspire Young Communists, China Turns to ‘Red Army’ Schools.”

    (State and Local) Education Politics

    Via WBEZ: “CPS Secretly Overhauled Special Education At Students’ Expense.” CPS, for those not up on their edu acronyms, is the Chicago Public Schools.

    Via The Los Angeles Times: “New law puts California on path to offering first year free at community colleges.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Eva Moskowitz looks back at her turn away from district schools, as she plans for 100 schools of her own.” Moskowitz is the founder of the Success Academy charter school chain.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Bill Would Bar U. of Wisconsin Employees From Working at Planned Parenthood.”

    Calling him an “unexpected ally” of Betsy DeVos, The Atlantic reports that “Jerry Brown, California’s Democratic governor, has vetoed a bill that would’ve codified into law Obama-era guidance on Title IX.”

    Via The LA Times: “ What Ref Rodriguez’s latest legal problems mean for the charter school movement.” The story notes that the LAUSD school board member does have support from Netflix’s Reed Hastings who has contributed $75,000 to his legal defense fund.

    New York City libraries have announced they plan to forgive the late fees of all children aged 17 and under in a one-time amnesty event,” The AP reports.

    Via CBS Minnesota: “Philando Fundraising Campaign Clears All St. Paul School Lunch Debt.”

    Via Edsurge: “The Makings (and Misgivings) of a Statewide Effort to Personalize Learning in Massachusetts.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The Decline of the Midwest’s Public Universities Threatens to Wreck Its Most Vibrant Economies.”

    Bryan Alexander posits“One path forward for public higher education: ending in-state tuition discounts.”

    Immigration and Education

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A federal judge in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday blocking the implementation of a new iteration of the Trump administration’s travel ban. The ban, which was scheduled to fully go into effect today, would block all would-be travelers from North Korea and Syria, in addition to prohibiting all immigrant travel and imposing various restrictions on certain types of nonimmigrant travel for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen.”

    Education in the Courts

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Attorneys general in 18 states have sued the U.S. Department of Education over the Trump administration’s move to pause enforcement of the so-called gainful-employment rule, which applies to vocational programs at nonprofit colleges and to all programs at for-profit institutions.” More via Buzzfeed.

    Via CNET: “Verizon to pay $17M to resolve FCC, Justice E-Rate probes.”

    “Free College”

    There’s more about free college plans in the state politics section above.

    The Business of Student Loans

    Via Reuters: “SoFi withdraws U.S. banking application, citing leadership change.” “Leadership change” is really a nice way of putting a series of sexual harassment scandals. Anyway, looks like we’re back to referring to SoFi as a “student loan provider” and not some other new-fangled fin-tech darling. (SoFi is the ed-tech company that has raised the most venture capital. Pay attention.)

    More research on student loans in the research section below. And more on crackdowns on those who try to scam students into repayment plans in the politics section above. And more on who’s buying student loan companies in the “business of ed-tech” section below.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

    Via Edsurge: “Woz U? Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Launches Online School to Teach Software Development.” I suppose I could put this in “the business of job training” section, but as Woz U has partnered with the for-profit Southern Careers Institute, it probably should remain here in this section despite the glowing press it received from tech publications about how this venture is going to unlock tech careers. The school is listed in this 2015 story by Inside Higher Ed on for-profits “where more than half of federal student loan borrowers had not made a single dollar of progress in paying down their loans seven years after they became due.” Good job, Woz. And good job, tech journalists, on checking into the background of this for-profit and not just rewriting the press release. Oh wait… LOL.

    Via The NY Daily News: “Flatiron coding school to pay $375G for operating without a license, making false claims about its graduates.” More from Ars Technica and MarketWatch.

    “Who’s Holding Coding Bootcamp Accountability Accountable?” asks Edsurge. (I believe the answer is “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.”)

    Via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “EDMC completes sale of schools to Dream Center.”

    More on legal actions surrounding for-profits in the courts section above.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Via The GW Hatchet: “Oversight of online learning programs lacking in some schools, report finds.” The report was undertaken by the George Washington University Faculty Senate.

    Via the edX blog: “edX le da la bienvenida a la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.”

    There’s more edX news in the HR section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…

    Via NPR: “White Nationalist Richard Spencer Met By Protesters At University Of Florida.” More on the event via Inside Higher Ed.

    Penn grad student says she’s under fire on campus and off for using a teaching technique that involves specifically calling on students from underrepresented groups,” Inside Higher Ed reports. More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Pro-Trump Protesters Shout Down Democrat’s Speech at Whittier College.”

    Via The New York Times: “‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Removed From School in Mississippi.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ N.J. students walk out of high school to protest teacher’s ‘speak American’ comments.”

    “The Lure of the Lazy River” – The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Jack Stripling on LSU’s new recreation center.

    Via The Clarion-Ledger: “A predominately black public school in Mississippi named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis will be stripped of that moniker next year and replaced with that of another president whose character students, parents and teachers have said is more fitting – Barack Obama.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “When Colleges Use Their Own Students to Catch Drug Dealers.”

    Accreditation and Certification

    “A Kayak for Credentials” – Inside Higher Ed onCredential Engine’s plans for a big database on post-secondary credentials.

    WGU Is Not Off the Hook,” says Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein, referring to the recent Department of Education report on the school’s status as a correspondence school (rather than a distance education provider).

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is offering some students the option to be awarded tamper-free digital degree certificates when they graduate, in partnership with Learning Machine. Selected students can now choose to download a digital version of their degree certificate to their smartphones when they graduate, in addition to receiving a paper diploma.” Because I can’t tell you how many times I have needed to prove I have a college degree but I didn’t have a digital copy of my diploma on my iPhone. So glad someone has solved this problem.

    Testing, Testing…

    More testing problems in Tennessee. Via The Tennessean: “Thousands of TNReady tests scored incorrectly.”

    Go, School Sports Team!

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In UNC Case, No Watchdog for Major Academic Fraud.” Also via The Chronicle: “Where the Buck Stopped in the UNC Fraud Scandal (Hint: Not at the Top).”

    From the HR Department

    EdX has a new COO and president: Adam Medros, formerly of TripAdvisor.

    More MOOC job changes: Techcrunch reports that “Coursera’s chief product officer just left to become a VC.” That’s Tom Willerer, who will join Venrock.

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Launches New Leadership Team,” according to EdWeek’s Market Brief.

    Changes too at another textbook company as David Levin, the CEO of McGraw Hill Educationannounced he’s stepping down.

    Leonard Medlock, formerly the head of Edsurge’s Concierge product, has moved onto another startup. It’s one of a number of departures from Edsurge recently: Mary Jo Madda is now at Google. And Allison Dulin Salisbury has become president of Entangled Studios.

    Grad students at the University of Chicago have voted to unionize.

    The Business of Job Training

    Once upon a time, Coursera updates went in the MOOC section. Most MOOC news these days more accurately fits here under “job training.” From the Coursera blog: “New on Coursera: start-to-finish learning paths for starting a new career.”

    Via Education Week: “CSforAll Announces Computer Science Pledges from Over 170 Organizations.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

    Is blockchain the answer to higher ed’s cybersecurity problems?asks eCampus News.

    “​Ohio State Will Give Incoming Students iPads. But Do Tablet Programs Work?asks Edsurge.

    Is the Five-Paragraph Essay Dead?asks Edsurge.

    Should College Professors Give ‘Tech Breaks’ In Class?asks NPR.

    (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

    Two different opinions on WIkipedia: “How Social Media Endangers Knowledge” by Hossein Derakhshan in Wired. And “Once Reviled in Education, Wikipedia Now Embraced By Many Professors” by Jeffrey Young in Edsurge.

    Internet Archive Hopes to Help Libraries Make Available Books Once Thought Trapped By Copyright,” writes Jen Howard.

    Sprint Rolls Out Effort to Boost Student Connectivity, Tech Access,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief.

    Edsurge has two stories on the Network for Public Education’s conference: “Public Educators Share Fallout on Personalized Learning, Privatization and Edtech” by Sydney Johnson and “Why Our Obsession With Edtech and Workforce Prep Concerns Parents and Public Educators” by Tina Nazerian.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

    Via MIT Technology Review: “Andrew Ng Has a Chatbot That Can Help with Depression.” After fixing education, I guess these folks are on to now automating mental health care. Whee.

    “Teachers Are Finding Innovative Ways to Use Robots in Class,” claims Education Week.

    AI-driven tool produces high quality online learning for global company in days not months,” claims Donald Clark.

    George Veletsianos asks us to “Imagine a future in which technologies teach humans.”

    (Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

    “Our Education Efforts Are Evolving,” says Bill Gates. He told the Council of the Great City Schools that the Gates Foundation would spend some $1.7 billion in U.S. public education in the next five years. Some of the details of this spending:

    First, although we will no longer invest directly in new initiatives based on teacher evaluations and ratings, we will continue to gather data on the impact of these systems and encourage the use of these systems to improve instruction at the local level.

    Second, we will focus on locally-driven solutions identified by networks of schools, and support their efforts to use data-driven continuous learning and evidence-based interventions to improve student achievement.

    Third, we are increasing our commitment to develop curricula and professional development aligned to state standards.

    Fourth, we will continue to support the development of high-quality charter schools.

    Coverage of Gates’ announcements via Chalkbeat and WaPo’s Valerie Strauss. (It’s noteworthy, I think, that “personalized learning” is not mentioned in Gates’ remarks.)

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

    The venture capital firm Owl Ventures has raised a $185 million fund to invest in ed-tech. No details on who its investors are. Here’s what we know about what Owl Ventures’ network (including investments and people involved) looks like.

    Coding bootcamp Galvanize has raised $7 million in Series C funding from University Ventures and ABS Capital Partners. The company, which laid off 11% of its workforce this summer, has raised over $102.4 million total.

    BridgeU has raised $5.3 million in Series A funding from Octopus Ventures, Downing Ventures, and Fresco Capital. The career guidance company has raised $8.2 million total.

    Fluent City has raised $3 million “to revolutionize language learning,” says Techcrunch. Participating in the funding round: New Ground Ventures, WorldQuant Ventures, ZG Ventures, John Katzman, Nick Hammerschlag, Matthew Hanson, and Lerner Investments. The company has raised $8 million total.

    Student loan servicing Nelnet has acquiredGreat Lakes Educational Loan Services for $150 million.

    It’s not ed-tech, but I’ll make note of it anyway. Facebook has acquired tbh, a 2-month-old app that’s purportedly popular with teens. Facebook paid “under $100 million” for it, says Business Insider. (Wonder how Facebook knew that the app was so popular? It tracks the usage of rivals’ apps through its VPN project.)

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

    Via the BBC: “Child safety smartwatches‘easy’ to hack, watchdog says.”

    Via The Kansas City Star: “Easy-to-get hacking device puts KU professors’ information in student’s hands.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Institute for Higher Education Policy on Wednesday issued a set of recommendations on the nuts and bolts of creating a federal postsecondary student-level data system.” Does the Gates Foundation have another $100 million to invest in education data infrastructure?

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Who is keeping student data safe in the era of digital learning?” Trick question.

    Research, “Research,” and Reports

    Via Chalkbeat: “The $100 million question: Did Newark’s school reforms work? New study finds big declines, then progress.” That $100 million is, of course, the money Mark Zuckerberg gave to help distract folks from an unflattering biopic.

    Via WCET: “New Survey Tracks Online and Distance Education in Canada.”

    Young Children Are Spending Much More Time In Front Of Small Screens,” says NPR’s Anya Kamenetz (who’s also written a book on the topic).

    According to this press release, Technavio says that the global competency-based education spending market will grow by 18% between 2017 and 2021. This fortune-teller will charge you about $1000 to read its “market research.”

    Professors’ Productivity Declines With Age, Right? Maybe Not,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education on a study out of UC Boulder.

    The latest Pew Research Center report asks“experts” about “The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: "Half of all black students who took out federal student loansdefaulted in 12 years, according to two analyses of new federal data on student borrowers. More via Buzzfeed.

    Parent Notifications Have Become the Norm in K–12 Market,” EdWeek’s Market Brief claims.

    The New York Times on psychology’s “replicability crisis: “When the Revolution Came for Amy Cuddy.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project