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The History of the Future of Education Technology
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  • 02/17/17--04:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics


    “How higher education made President Trump,” according to Jeffrey Selingo.

    Via Fusion: “ICE detained close to 700 immigrants in a five-day nationwide raid.”

    Via Education Week: “Undocumented Teachers Shielded by DACA in Legal and Emotional Limbo.”

    Via Reuters: “Mexican ‘DREAMer’ nabbed in immigrant crackdown.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “A DREAMer Was Arrested During A Raid And Now Immigration Officials Have Been Ordered To Explain Why.”

    More on DACA in the campus section below.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Texas legislation could force campus police departments to hold on to those they arrest until federal immigration authorities can consider their legal status.”

    Also from Texas, via WaPo: “ Texas officials: Schools should teach that slavery was ‘side issue’ to Civil War.”


    “What Betsy DeVos means for edtech,” according to venture capitalist Ryan Craig. Union busting, outsourcing, and “unbundling,” apparently. Edsurge also“forecasts the future” of ed-tech and is hopeful. Screw equality, I guess – or “Ka-ching,” as Edsurge likes to say.

    Via The New York Times: “Trump Drops Defense of Obama Guidelines on Transgender Students.” More via WaPo and Buzzfeed.

    Via The Washington Post: “Influential conservative group: Trump, DeVos should dismantle Education Department and bring God into classrooms.” The group in question: the Council for National Policy. It doesn’t make its members’ names public, but Kellyanne Conway did once service on its executive committee, DeVos’s mother was on its board of governors, and DeVos’s father-in-law served twice as its president.

    Also via The Washington Post: “Here’s who Trump invited to the White House to talk about schools. The list says a lot about his education priorities.” (As in, no Black parents or educators in view.)

    “How Much Power Does Betsy DeVos Really Hold to Shake Up Higher Ed?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Meanwhile… via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos’s Brother Is Setting Up A Private Army For China, Sources Say.”

    Via The Washington Post: “DeVos: Protesters show hostility to change, new ideas in education.” And later in the week, also via The Washington Post: “DeVos softens stance on protesters at higher ed event.” Here’s the press release from the Department of Education after a handful of protestors yelled at DeVos at her first visit to a public school ever.

    Apparently now DeVos is getting “beefed-up security” from the US Marshals Service– the only cabinet member who has this protection and the first time something like this has ever been done for a Secretary of Education. This is theatre. Frightening, frightening theatre.

    DeVos has also vowed to go after employees who would “subvert” her mission.

    Via The Oregonian: “GOP senator introduces bill requiring colleges to expel students convicted of rioting.” That’s Oregon State Senator Kim Thatcher.

    Via NPR: “Beyond DeVos, What 5 Key Trump Appointees Could Mean For Schools.” (Not on the list but certainly important to watch, particularly for ed-tech, the head of the FCC.)

    Via WaPo: “The FCC talks the talk on the digital divide– and then walks in the other direction.”

    Via Univision: “How White House advisor Stephen Miller went from pestering Hispanic students to designing Trump’s immigration policy.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Vocal Critic of Office for Civil Rights Is Likely to Lead It.” That’s Gail Heriot.

    Via ProPublica: “Child’s Play: Team Trump Rewrites a Department of Energy Website for Kids.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U.S. Closure of Animal-Use Database Alarms Both Scientists and Protesters.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Wis. Governor Pushes to Eliminate For-Profit Oversight Board.”

    Via The Casper Star Tribune: “School official says $91M cut could result in ‘bloodbath’.” The Wyoming boom-bust cycle continues.

    Education in the Courts


    Via The Seattle Times: “A cellphone belonging to the man who claims he shot and wounded another man in self-defense during a demonstration last month at the University of Washington had been wiped clean of data before being seized by police, according to search-warrant documents filed in King County Superior Court.” The demonstration was against Milo Yiannopoulos; the shooter a supporter of the white nationalist joker; and the victim of the shooting was antifa.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The owner of a chain of four Los Angeles-area colleges accused of running a ‘pay-to-stay’ scheme through which foreign nationals fraudulently obtained immigration documents allowing them to stay in the U.S. on student visas though they were not bona fide students pleaded guilty Thursday to federal immigration fraud charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced in a press release.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “17 Universities Join N.Y. Legal Challenge to Trump Immigration Ban.”

    Via MarketWatch: “These lawyers may have discovered a way to wipe away student debt in bankruptcy.”

    More on legal actions regarding for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    Testing, Testing…


    Via Education Week: “After seven years of tumult and transition fueled by the common core, state testing is settling down, with most states rejecting the federally funded PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments, and nearly one-quarter embracing the SAT or the ACT as their official high school test.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “As Advanced Placement Tests Gain Popularity, Some Colleges Push Back.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    “Should Online Courses Go Through ‘Beta Testing’?” asks Edsurge. “How One Provider Taps 2,500 Volunteers.” The provider in question is Coursera, which has raised some $146.1 million and relies on volunteer labor. (Disclosure alert.)

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “FutureLearn, the massive open online course provider owned by the Open University in the U.K., expands to the U.S.”

    “What’s the bottom line on online preschool?” asks The Hechinger Report.

    NPR on MOOC Micromasters.

    Florida Virtual School model shows online learning can be engaging,” according to a puff piece by Education Dive, which rewrites a puff piece by eSchool News.

    “Free College”


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Oregon’s free community college scholarship, which began last year, is encouraging more students to consider going to college and to feel more confident about being able to afford it, according the results of a survey conducted by Education Northwest, a nonprofit research group.”

    Also via Inside Higher Ed: “Oregon’s free community college scholarship faces money woes and criticism, particularly from the state’s four-year university leaders, who cite the program’s higher-income beneficiaries while also worrying about enrollment declines at their institutions.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Tressie McMillan Cottom’s new book, Lower Ed, is now out, and you should buy it and read it.

    The Century Foundation on the history of for-profit higher ed: “Vietnam Vets and a New Student Loan Program Bring New College Scams.”

    Via Bloomberg: “Cosmetology Schools Sue Betsy DeVos Over Obama-Era Rules.” Those rules, of course, involve “gainful employment.”

    “How the G.O.P. Became For-Profit College Abuse Deniers” by New America. The venture capitalists at University Ventures respond, as does Stephen Downes.

    Via the Phoenix Business Journal: “University of Phoenix laying off full-time faculty; 170 could be impacted.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Bob Jones University lost its nonprofit tax exemption after the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in 1976 found that the conservative religious college was practicing racial discrimination with its ban on interracial dating. That decision sparked a long court battle, which ended when the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982 upheld the IRS’s decision.” Now, the school is poised to become a non-profit once again.

    “Will Data Error Threaten For-Profit Regulation?” asks Inside Higher Ed. Again, that’s gainful employment.

    More on the latest shenanigans from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker regarding for-profit higher ed in the politics section above.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via Vox: “‘Crying is an everyday thing’: life after Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ at a majority-immigrant school.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Undocumented Students’ Fears Escalate After a DACA Recipient’s Arrest.”

    Via NPR: “School District In Canada Cancels Trips To U.S., Citing Border Policies, Safety.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Yale Will Rename Calhoun College for Adm. Grace Hopper.”

    Via NPR: “Despite Protests And A Fire Alarm, Martin Shkreli’s Show Goes On At Harvard.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Central Michigan University has determined that an individual who is not a student was responsible for a Hitler-referencing Valentine’s Day card that was in a gift bag distributed by the university’s College Republicans last week, and that the Republicans were unaware the card was placed there.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “‘The Great Shame of Our Profession.’ How the humanities survive on exploitation.”

    “Dissent at Berkeleyby Michael Meranze.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “As the White House and congressional Republicans plan overtures to black colleges, activists on one campus rally to bar the president from campus.” That’s Howard University. More on Trump and HBCUs in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why Is a University’s Top Lawyer Seeking an Outspoken Professor’s Emails?” The University of Oregon is seeking the emails of professor William Harbaugh, who operates the blog UOMatters, and his correspondence with the media.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Minnesota philosophy professor writes that immigrants have low IQs and refugees are part of ‘religious-political cult.’ Reaction is intense.”

    Via The New York Times: “College Costs Too Much? N.Y.U. Paves Way to Graduate Faster.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “After 10 years of state oversight, a locally elected board will now govern Compton Community College District, in California.”

    Via Geekwire: “Google quietly donates $10M to University of Washington in another major computer science gift.”

    Accreditation and Certification


    A story to watch under the Trump administration: accreditation. Here’s an op-ed in The Hill: “College accreditation goes rogue: Another unaccountable system.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Education has recommended a renewal of recognition for the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, a controversial regional accreditor of two-year colleges in California and other Western states. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, a federal panel, is slated to review ACCJC’s recognition and scope at a meeting next week.”

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via WaPo: “Trump will not fill out an NCAA tournament bracket.” IMPEACH.

    Via NJ.com: “Coed CYO hoops team defies archdiocese order to kick girls out, forfeits season.”

    From the HR Department


    Via the Naples Daily News: “East Naples teacher reassigned after Facebook post about immigrants.”

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has a new CEO: John “Jack” Lynch, formerly the head of Renaissance Learning.

    Bridget Foster has been named the head of the SIIA’s ed-tech association, the Education Technology Industry Network.

    More on layoffs at the University of Phoenix in the for-profit higher ed section above.

    Contests and Awards


    Edsurge reports that NewSchools Venture Fund is running another competition – this one to fund entrepreneurs who build PreK–12 special education apps. Edsurge fails to disclose that NSVF is one of its investors.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    “Are Teachers Becoming Obsolete?” asks a “teacherpreneur” writing for The Atlantic.

    “Can Virtual Reality‘teach’ empathy?” asks The Hechinger Report.

    “Can Blended Learning Improve Equity in One of Nation’s Most Diverse Districts?” asks Edsurge.

    “Can Micro-credentials Create More Meaningful Professional Development For Teachers?” asks MindShift.

    (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


    Here’s a trend to watch in 2017: companies and organizations who “help” schools buy ed-tech:

    Edsurge writesFast Company’s list of the “most innovative education companies.”

    Via The New York Times: “Intel Drops Its Sponsorship of Science Fairs, Prompting an Identity Crisis.”

    Via The Verge: “Yik Yak is secretly pivoting to group messaging.” I’ll use this as an excuse to remind you all that the founders of this terrible company are named Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll.

    “College Leaders Show Growing Interest In Teaching Information Literacy,” according to Edsurge.

    Via Mike Caulfield: “Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers Is Out.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “ How America’s Student Loan Giant Dropped The Ball.” That giant is Navient.

    Via the AP: “How Google Chromebooks conquered schools.”

    “Students can take charge of learning by controlling the seating plan,” according to Education Dive (rewriting an Edutopia article).

    Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Vert Capital and Scriba Corp: Institutions losing course data in company’s death throes.”

    Also by Phil Hill: “Ellucian Stops Support for Brainstorm, its CBE platform.” (Do be sure to check out the Horizon Report which predicts “next generation LMSes,” like Brainstorm, are “on the horizon.” More below in the “research” section.)

    Via Edutechnica: “One Course to Rule Them All: A Return to the Course Management System.”

    Via Fast Company: “Want to Fight Inequality? Forget Design Thinking.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Pixar offers free online lessons in storytelling via Khan Academy.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    “In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant,” says George Monbiot.

    Via Getting Smart: “#AskAboutAI: Informing Educators, Parents and Policymakers About Life With Smart Machines.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Top Hat has raised $22.5 million in Series C funding from Union Square Ventures, Emergence Capital Partners, Georgian Partners, Golden Venture Partners, iNovia Capital , SoftTech VC , and Version One Ventures. The company, which lets students use their phones to respond to prompts in class, has raised $41.9 million.

    Brightwheel has raised $10 million in Series A funding from GGV Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, ICONIQ, Eniac Ventures, Golden Venture Partners, Lowercase Capital, Mark Cuban Companies, and RRE Ventures. The startup, which records activity at daycare to send to parents, has raised $10.6 million total.

    SmartUp.io has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding from Notion Capital and Hong Leong Group for “a peer-to-peer learning management system to encourage users to create communities filled with micro-learning activities,” whatever the hell that means.

    Learn-to-code company Ozobot has raised $3 million in Series A funding from Mark Rampolla and Tribeca Venture Partners.

    MiDrive has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from Chrystal Capital, Force Over Mass, Holiday Extras, Initial Capital, Kelvin Capital, and Wild Blue Cohort. The startup, which offers a driving test app and a marketplace for driving instructors, also lost its CEO, Scott Taylor. But hey, it’s raised $7.29 million total.

    TinyTap has raised $1.5 million from Animoca, Inimiti VC, and New York Angels. The company, which offers a “marketplace of teacher-created apps,” has raised $2.05 million total.

    CampusLogic has acquiredCegment.

    WayUp has acquiredLookSharp.

    VitalSource has acquiredVerba.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via Doug Levin: “IRS Official to Schools: ‘One of the Most Dangerous Email Phishing Scams We’ve Seen’.” Just one example of this, via MPR News: “Data breach of W–2 forms hits thousands of Bloomington school employees.”

    Via the BBC: “Facebook algorithms ‘will identify terrorists’.”

    Considering IBM’s history, this letter from CEO Ginni Rometty about working with Trump is amazing (and chilling).

    Via the EFF: “A School Librarian Caught In The Middle of Student Privacy Extremes.”

    Via ZDNet: “How IoT hackers turned a university’s network against itself.” More via Bruce Schneier.

    Via the BBC: “German parents told to destroy Cayla dolls over hacking fears.”

    Via Techcrunch: “This baby monitor uses radar to detect infant breathing patterns.” Raybaby also “builds a photo/video collage of the baby for posterity.” Yuck.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Student Is Suspended for Filming Instructor Who Made Anti-Trump Remarks.”

    Data and “Research”


    The NMC and ELI have released the latest Horizon Report for higher ed. My response to the report.

    “Rationalizing Those ‘Irrational’ Fears of inBloomis my response to the recent Data & Society report on the failed data infrastructure initiative.

    Via Chalkbeat: “That stunning statistic about a third of Tennessee graduates not meeting requirements? It’s not true.”

    Via Education Week: “Online Charter Students in Ohio Perform Far Worse Than Peers, Study Finds.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “GoFundMe Releases Data on College Crowdfunding.”

    Via The Orlando Sentinel: “Teacher merit-pay law hasn’t boosted student learning, Orange says.” That’s the Orange County school district which says it hasn’t seen any significant improvement in student performance since Florida passed a merit-pay law in 2011.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “2017 Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers.”

    Via Education Dive: “Texas district sees learning gains after giving kindergartners Chromebooks.”

    “Attending a Prestigious College Pays Off,” says The Pacific Standard. Especially if you’re a man.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Despite higher education’s progressive reputation, new research shows a stubborn pay gap between women and men who are administrators.”

    Via Politico: “Researchers from the University of Virginia have found that former first lady Michelle Obama’s visit to high schools as part of her Reach Higher initiative led to a ‘substantial’ increase in the percent of students at those schools who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.”

    Via The Atlantic: “The School-Voucher Paradox,” an article about a study on vouchers and school segregation.

    School vouchers“diminish churches’ religious activities,” according to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

    “What Works Can Hurt: Side Effects in Education” by Yong Zhao.

    Pearson’s Jay Lynch and Nathan Martin argue in Edsurge“Why ‘What Works’ Doesn’t: False Positives in Education Research.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study challenges the myth that digital instruction costs less– both for students and for the colleges producing the courses.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 02/20/17--04:01: Calling Education to A Count
  • This article first appeared in the Data & Society publication Points in September 2016. It’s a response, in part, to the organization’s primer on accountability in education: “The Myth of Accountability: How Data (Mis)Use is Reinforcing the Problems of Public Education.”

    To be accountable is to be answerable; to be required to justify one’s actions; to be called to account. That reckoning could take the form of an explanation; in an obsolete usage of the word –obsolete according to the Oxford English Dictionary at least – accountability explicitly involves calculation. But this particular meaning isn’t completely lost to us; in its contemporary usage in education policy, “accountability” certainly demands a calculation as well, one derived primarily from standardized test scores.

    A Brief History of Accountability


    “Accountability” in public education has a long history, but today it's most commonly associated with one of the key pieces of legislation passed under George W. Bush’s presidency: No Child Left Behind, the 2001 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. No Child Left Behind is credited with ushering in, at a national level, an education reform movement focused on measuring students' performance on reading and math assessments.

    Of course, standardized testing pre-dates the NCLB legislation – by over a thousand years if you trace the history of testing back through the examinations used in Imperial China to select candidates for civil service. But No Child Left Behind has always been positioned as a new and necessary intervention, one aimed at the improvement of K–12 schools and one coinciding with long-standing narratives about American educational excellence (and the lack thereof). As such, NCLB and its notion of accountability has shaped the public discourse about how we know – or think we know – whether schools are good or bad; and the law has, until its recent re-write as the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, dictated what is supposed to happen when schools are categorized as the latter: these schools will be held accountable.

    Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit


    “Accountability” now provides the framework for how we measure school success. And to be clear, this is a measurement. But only certain things “count” for this accounting.

    As the pro-business American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has described these sorts of policies, accountability in US public education in the last few decades has taken the shape of “carrots, sticks, and the bully pulpit.” This includes policies that demand a school’s performance be evaluated annually based on its students’ performance on standardized tests. Depending on how well or how poorly a school performs, it might be rewarded or punished, carrots or sticks – by being allocated more or less funding, for example, or by being prompted to hire or fire certain staff members, or in the most extreme cases, by being shut down altogether. But as the AEI’s phrase suggests, a key part of accountability has become “the bully pulpit” and involves a number of powerful narratives about failing schools, incompetent teachers, underperforming students, and as such, the need for more oversight into how tax dollars are being spent.

    There are other shapes that accountability efforts might take (and do take and have taken), no doubt: “Accountability” could refer to the democratic process; that is, elections for local school boards and other education-related offices such as Superintendent of Public Instruction. Accountability could be encouraged through more information transparency, publishing publicly more school data (and not just test scores). Accountability could also be pushed via “markets”; that is offering “choice” or even vouchers to parents so they can opt where they send their children to school beyond simply their neighborhood school. Accountability could focus on mechanisms that reward and punish individual teachers or students (as opposed to entire schools or districts). While that could conceivably involve teachers or students defining their own teaching and learning goals and responsibilities, accountability is often a framework imposed by administrative forces with a narrow set of what educational data and what educational outcomes “count.”

    What Accountability Practices are Missing


    Accountability tends to focus on the outputs of the school system – by measuring different levels of “student achievement” via standardized testing. As such, it is less apt to examine the inputs – at inequalities of funding, at differences in staffing, and so on. It presumes that students’ success or failure is the responsibility of the school, ignoring or at least minimizing the role of poverty or structural racism. Its calculations posit a highly instrumental view of student achievement, not to mention student learning. To be held accountable, it must be quantifiable.

    This instrumentality dovetails quite handily with the increasing use of technologies in the classroom – technologies that collect more and more data on students' various activities. This data collection goes far beyond standardized test scores, making assessment an ongoing and incessant practice. But it’s a practice that, in part because of the very demands of today’s accountability framework, remains focused on surveillance and punishment.

    The word “accountability” is related to the word “responsibility.” As public institutions, there is an expectation that schools spend taxpayer money responsibly. Schools are responsible for teaching students; they are responsible for students’ safety and well-being during the school day and, according to our popular narratives surrounding the effects of education, responsible for their success far beyond school. New digital data collection and analytics promise to improve the responsiveness of teachers and schools to students’ individual needs. But it’s a promise largely unfulfilled. So when we think about “what counts” and who’s held to account under public education’s accountability regime, it’s still worth asking if accountability can co-exist with “response-ability” – accountable to whom, how and to what ends; responsible to whom, how, and to what ends.


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  • 02/24/17--04:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics


    Via The New York Times: “President Trump on Wednesday rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, overruling his own education secretary and placing his administration firmly in the middle of the culture wars that many Republicans have tried to leave behind.”

    The Department of Education press release: “U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Issues Statement on New Title IX Guidance.”

    More on this story: Via The Atlantic: “The Federal Government’s Reversal: Let the States Deal With Transgender Kids.” Via NPR: “Trump And Transgender Rights: What Just Happened?” Via US News & World Report: “Bathroom Wars.”

    Via Politico: “Spicer denies Cabinet feud over transgender student protections.”

    Arne Duncan and Catherine Lhamon– that’s the former Secretary of Education and the chair of the US Commission on Civil Rights – wrote an op-ed in WaPo: “The White House’s thoughtless, cruel and sad rollback of transgender rights.”

    Trump Will Lose the Fight Over Bathrooms for Transgender Students,” writes NYT op-ed writer Ria Tabacco Mar.

    More on trans high school student Gavin Grimm’s Supreme Court case in the section below.

    Do keep all this in mind whenever you hear ed-tech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists and ed-reform types cheer for Betsy DeVos: Via Chalkbeat: “Betsy DeVos, reportedly opposed to rolling back protections for transgender students, defends the changes.” Via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos Defends Decision To Rescind Transgender Protections.” Via ABC News: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos slams Obama’s transgender bathroom rule as ‘overreach’.”

    An interview with Betsy DeVos in Townhall. The highlight:

    I visited a school on Friday and met with some wonderful, genuine, sincere teachers who pour their heart and soul into their classrooms and their students and our conversation was not long enough to draw out of them what is limiting them from being even more success from what they are currently. But I can tell the attitude is more of a ‘receive mode.’ They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child. You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.

    And the response from those teachers, via The Washington Post: “DeVos criticized teachers at D.C. school she visited – and they are not having it.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos Starts Her Time As Education Secretary Taking On Her Critics.” Because being cruel and thin-skinned seems to be the policy priority for everyone in the Trump administration.

    Betsy DeVos is Publicly Polite, but a Political Fighter,” says The New York Times. Well then.

    Via The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss: “So far, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is just what her critics feared.”

    From the Department of Education press release: “Statement from Secretary DeVos regarding the restoration of IDEA.ED.GOV,” claiming that the special education site had been neglected for the past four years before going offline. AFT president Randi Weingarten calls bullshit.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Betsy DeVos Criticizes Professors in Remarks to Conservative Conference.” That is, she told college students at the event that “faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think.” More on DeVos’ CPAC speechin Inside Higher Ed. (The transcript.)

    Via The Hechinger Report: “DeVos praises virtual schools, but new research points to problems.” More on that research in the research section below.

    Via The New York Times: “Popular Domestic Programs Face Ax Under First Trump Budget.”

    More on the possible elimination of AmeriCorpsvia Chalkbeat: “Trump’s proposed AmeriCorps cuts would trim .03 percent of the federal budget – but slash support at 11,000 schools.”

    Via WaPo: “Trump’s hiring freeze leads some Army bases to suspend pre-K and other child programs.”

    “New Trump Deportation Rules Allow Far More Expulsions,” says The New York Times. DACA– purportedly – is not affected.

    Via The Intercept: “Civil Rights Groups, Funded by Telecoms, Back Donald Trump’s Plan to Kill Net Neutrality.”

    Maine governor Paul LePage has finally nominated an education commissioner– the post has been open since 2014.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Iowa Bill Would Force ‘Partisan Balance’ in Hiring” at universities.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Feds Drop Investigation Into Los Angeles District Over $1 Billion iPad Purchase.”

    Oh, how very different “the politics of education (technology)” drumbeat sounds from some ed-tech publications:

    Trump will mean more “innovation” in higher ed, according to eCampus News.

    Via Edsurge: “​Rhode Island’s Plans to Become a ‘Lab State’ for Personalized Learning.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via the ACLU blog: “SCOTUS Rules Unanimously on Behalf of Michigan Girl with Cerebral Palsy Who was Prevented from Bringing Service Dog to School.”

    Via The 74: “Obama-Era Protections for Transgender Students to Be Revoked, Gavin Grimm Supreme Court Case at Risk.” That is, the Supreme Court could now punt on Grimm’s case, which involves his challenge to his school that had banned him from using the boys’ bathroom.

    Via Politico: “The Education Department must determine by next week if it will continue to enforce the Obama administration’s ban on collection of some student loan fees, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta said in an order Thursday night.”

    Via The New York Times: “Federal prosecutors have expanded their investigation of the financial dealings of the former president of the City College of New York into whether she received tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized payments over several years from the school’s oldest alumni fund.”

    More on the legalities surrounding the termination (or not) of the for-profit accreditor ACICS in the accreditation section below.

    Testing, Testing…


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Large-Scale Assessment Without Standardized Tests.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ College Board takes ‘robust’ new SATsecurity steps – but is it enough to stymie cheating?” (This story could go in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section below.)

    Via Campus Technology: “AP Exam Pass Rates Rise Even as Participation Doubles.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

    Via the Iowa City Press-Citizen: “Iowa families foregoing classroom for virtual school.”

    More research on virtual schools in the research below.

    +Acumen“senior innovation associate” writes about +Acumen in Edsurge: “The Flip Side of Abysmal MOOC Completion Rates? Discovering the Most Tenacious Learners.”

    “Free College”


    Via the University of New Hampshire press release: “UNH Announces Tuition-Free Plan for Hundreds of NH Students.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Tressie McMillan Cottom on her new book on for-profits, Lower Ed, and on credentialing and inequality in a Q&A with Inside Higher Ed. Elsewhere in IHE, a review from “Dean Dad” Matt Reed. Dr. Cottom in The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Sociologist Looks at the Failure of the For-Profits and the Rise of Trump.” In The Atlantic: “The Coded Language of For-Profit Colleges.”

    Via Edsurge: “How One Coding School Hopes to Teach Thousands of Students, Without Professors.”

    Via The New York Times: “For-Profit Schools, an Obama Target, See New Day Under Trump.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Career Education Corp. on Wednesday announced that it had settled a false claims lawsuit with private plaintiffs. The suit against the for-profit chain and its American InterContinental University was originally filed in 2008.”

    More on the legalities surrounding the termination (or not) of the for-profit accreditor ACICS in the accreditation section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via ProPublica: “‘Alternative’ Education: Using Charter Schools to Hide Dropouts and Game the System.”

    Via The New York Times: “Universities Face Pressure to Hold the Line on Title IX.”

    “Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?” asks Nikole Hannah-Jones. Perhaps this could go under the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section, but I think in this case the answer to the question is “yes.”

    “Welcome to Shark Tank U” – Steven C. Ward on “entrepreneur mania” in higher ed.

    Via The Washington Post: “A university takes on one of its own, alumna Kellyanne Conway.” The school in question: Trinity Washington University.

    Via the OC Weekly: “Off-Duty LAPD Cop Fires Gun During After-School Melee with Anaheim Teens.”

    Via the Star Tribune: “University of Minnesota police investigate flier with two swastikas posted on campus.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Michigan State plans to bar [whiteboards] from dormitory room doors, in attempt to limit bullying.”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “In a city still struggling with segregation, a popular charter school fights to remain diverse.” The city: New Orleans. The charter: Bricolage Academy.

    The Atlantic on the history of segregation.

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via Politico: “A federal judge on Tuesday declined to put on hold the Obama administration’s decision last year to terminate the nation’s largest accreditor of for-profit colleges.” That’s ACICS.

    Also via Politico: “Congressional Republicans have appointed two new members to the federal advisory committee that oversees college accreditors” – Claude Pressnell, the president of the Independent Colleges and Universities Association, and Brian Jones, the president of Strayer University.

    More on professional development company Bloomboard’s pivot to micro-credentialing in the HR section below.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via NPR: “Go To College, Play Video Games. E-Sports Make A Play For The Big Ten.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Liberty University will join the Football Bowl Subdivision, college sports’ most competitive level, after receiving a waiver from the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Thursday.” Late last year, the school hired Ian McCaw as athletic director, who’d resigned from Baylor over allegations that his department had mishandled sexual assault cases.

    From the HR Department


    Via KTAR News: “Phoenix-area teacher resigns after tweeting about killing immigrants.”

    Via Edsurge: “BloomBoard Appoints New CEO, Restructures Focus Around Micro-Credentials.” The new CEO: Sanford Kenyon, formerly the startup’s Chief Revenue Officer.

    Via The New York Times: “Inside Uber’s Aggressive, Unrestrained Workplace Culture.” Good thing no one in ed-tech is describing themselves as “Uber for education,” right?

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    “Can ‘Sober High’ schools keep teenagers off drugs?” asks The Hechinger Report.

    “Is the College Board’s Newest AP Computer Science Course Closing the Gap?” 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


    The headline touts teaching computer science without computers; the article is better than that.

    “What Students Want Their Professors To Know About Edtech” – according to Edsurge.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What’s Up With Hive, a Nascent Successor to Yik Yak.”

    Via the Khan Academy blog: “Teachers using Google Classroom can now quickly and easily import their class roster to Khan Academy.” Wheee.

    Via Edsurge: “Battle of the Classrooms: Apple, Google, Microsoft Vie for K–12 Market.” “Comparing Apple Classroom to Google or Microsoft Classroom is sort of like comparing apples to oranges,” but this article was written anyway.

    Mark Zuckerberg on“Building Global Community” via Facebook.

    MakerBot Is Trapped in the Nastiest Part of the Tech Hype Cycle,” according to The Ringer.

    “Looking (again) to Domain of One’s Ownby Martha Burtis.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    Via Quartz: “The robot that takes your job should pay taxes, says Bill Gates.” I’d love to see the Gates Foundation extend this logic to their push for “personalized learning,” but I won’t hold my breath.

    Via the MIT Technology Review: “What Happens When Robots Become Role Models.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Galore has raised $1.65 million in seed funding from Norwest Venture Partners and DCM Ventures. The startup lets parents book activities for kids via a mobile app.

    Vkidz has raised an undisclosed amount of private equity funding from Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

    The private equity firm Francisco Partners has acquired the reading platform MyON.

    Higher Learning Technologies (HLT) has acquiredgWhiz.

    The excitement about Betsy DeVos continues in the pages of Edsurge: “5 Policy Headaches and Opportunities for US Education Businesses Under DeVos.”

    “The LMS Market is Quickly Losing Ground,” according to Chief Learning Officer at least.

    The Gates Foundation’s 2017 Annual Letter doesn’t really say much about education. Phew.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via The New York Times: “The Bright-Eyed Talking Doll That Just Might Be a Spy.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Suspension Lifted for Student Who Taped Instructor.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “N.J.Student-Teacher Videos Raise Privacy Concerns” – “A new rule that requires teaching candidates to submit tapes of their lessons to an education firm for review has sparked a backlash from some educators, parents.”

    Via Campus Technology: “‘Rasputin’ Hacker Targets 60 Universities, Government Agencies.”

    Via Education Dive: “Internet of Things helped Connecticut district cut electricity bill by 84%.” No mention of last week’s story about IOT devices were used to attack one university’s network.

    Data and “Research”


    “America Has Never Not Had a Childcare Problem,” writes Rebecca DeWolf in Pacific Standard.

    Via Education Week: “School Spending Ticks Up; Charters Still Spend Significantly Less.” (That is, they spend less on instruction.)

    Via NPR: “English Language Learners: How Your State Is Doing.”

    Via Eduventures: “Introducing the Higher Education Technology Landscape 2017.” Always fascinating to see how insistent industry folks are in not including private student loan companies or for-profit colleges (and coding bootcamps) in their reports.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Student Debt Total Hits $1.31 Trillion.”

    Via The Pacific Standard: “Debunking Myths About Creativity and the Brain.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Tuition rose faster than state appropriations fell, and federal aid helped make that possible, study asserts.”

    Research from edbuild on property taxes and education funding.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study finds that physicists are more likely to describe women as ethical scientists, but in ways that potentially limit their productivity and competitiveness.”

    Via Kevin Carey in The New York Times: “Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins.” SURPRISE! (Not really. I mean, I'm not surprised. Are you?)

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    I have updated my Ed-Tech Funding project with the dollars and deals from February. This past month, ed-tech startups raised $566,950,000.

    But there’s an asterisk by that figure as it includes $500,000,000 raised by one company, student loan provider SoFi – money that SoFi says it plans to use to “push beyond lending.”

    Many ed-tech publications do not count SoFi as “ed-tech,” preferring to label it as “fintech” and thereby excluding it and other student loan startups from their calculations. Edsurge, for example, does not include student loan startups in the “ka-ching!” reports it sells as it says it only considers ed-tech to be those “technology companies whose primary purpose is to improve outcomes for all learners, regardless of age.”

    But that isn’t a particularly helpful delineation in my mind. Would a student information system or any sort of administrative software fall under that definition? Isn’t the point of financial aid – public and private – ostensibly “to improve outcomes”? Does a messaging app like Yik Yak count? It was marketed to students after all. Does a company that offers career assistance to college students count? Why not? (And you can’t say “because it doesn’t improve learning.” Most ed-tech doesn’t actually “improve learning,” let’s be honest.)

    I try to cast a wide net when I include companies in my funding research because I want to be able to have as full a picture as possible about the types of education companies that are getting funded. But I’m also incredibly interested in the types of market opportunities that venture capitalists have identified in education.

    That’s why excluding private student loans from “the state of ed-tech” strikes me as so dangerous if not disingenuous. Ignore student loan startups, and you have a very skewed sense of what the priorities are for investors, all of whom are actively trying to shape the narratives about the future of education. Think Peter Thiel and his proclamation of a “college bubble.” Think Ryan Craig and that mantra about the “unbundling” of higher ed. (Both partners in VC firms that are investors in student loan startups, funnily enough.)

    Tressie McMillan Cottom’s new book, Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy, is particularly useful in thinking about the “financialization” of education. (And there’s a reason why she and I have described “coding bootcamps” as “the new for-profit higher ed.”) Well beyond the push for “everyone learn to code,” it’s worth considering how digital technologies – in the classroom, in administrators’ offices, in human resources departments, at home – have become a core part of the “Wall-Street”-ification of education.

    Earlier this week, news broke that ResearchGate, a social network for scholars, had raised $52.6 million… back in November 2015. When Business Insider asked the founder why he hadn’t disclosed the investment (until required by law to do so by the German government), he said that “I didn’t really want to announce it because I think talking about funding generally is pretty boring.” Boring or not, disclosure about funding is incredibly important – for transparency, certainly, but also because it helps remind us that the for-profit companies involved with education have other missions besides simply “improving learning outcomes.”


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  • 03/03/17--10:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics


    President Trump gave a not-the-State-of-the-Union address to Congress on Tuesday. Details about the education-related elements of his speech from NPR, The New York Times, Education Week, and The Washington Post.

    Via The New York Times: “For Trump and DeVos, a Florida Private School Is a Model for Choice.” More on Trump’s visit to a school via The LA Times. Also via The LA Times, more on Trump’s call for a school voucher program.

    Betsy DeVos Says HBCUs are Pioneers of School Choice. She Is A Fucking Idiot. You Know This. But Still,” say the VerySmartBrothas.

    You can read the DeVos’s statement on HBCUs here.

    Via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos Is Under Fire After Saying Historically Black Colleges Are ‘Pioneers’ Of School Choice.”

    From The New York Times Editorial Board: “Ms. DeVos’s Fake History About School Choice.”

    Via The New York Times: “After Backlash, DeVos Backpedals on Remarks on Historically Black Colleges.” More on changing her tune from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The New York Times: “Betsy DeVos’s Power Over Black Colleges.”

    “My Statement: White House HBCU Event” by Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Executive Order Falls Short of Some HBCU Leaders’ Hopes.” More on the EO from Inside Higher Ed. And here’s how it differs from the one that Obama issued in 2010.

    Via The Root: “Morehouse College President: We Got Played.”

    Here it is: the worst education “take” of the year. Congrats, Federalist.

    More on HBCUs in the “on campus” section below.

    Kevin Carey’s latest op-ed in The New York Times: “DeVos and Tax Credit Vouchers: Arizona Shows What Can Go Wrong.”

    Via Education Week: “Fact Check: DeVos Doesn’t Control Who Gets a ‘Free Lunch’.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Education Department needs to better monitor colleges’ finances to prevent another costly fiasco like the 2014 collapse of Corinthian Colleges, says the agency’s Office of Inspector General.”

    Via CNET: “Trump signs laws to promote women in STEM.” Here’s the Department of Education press release.

    “Obama administration guidelines for LGBT student protections under Title IX remain in place, and the student codes at Liberty and Bob Jones Universities appear to violate them,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Paul Ryan Expresses Support for Year-Round Pell.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Republican Proposal Would Make Trump University Lawsuits ‘Almost Impossible’.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ Chance the Rapper is meeting with Illinois’ governor about education funding. Really.” (Did you know he recorded his first mixtape at the Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia studio?)

    Via Techcrunch: “FCC votes to negate broadband privacy rules.” More via The New York Times.

    “Here’s Why Net Neutrality is Essential in Trump’s America,” according to Motherboard.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Voucher-like proposal could take $71 million of public school funding from all Tennessee districts.”

    Via Business Insider: “A Colorado county is sending students to college on the $445,000 it made from legal weed.”

    Via The Tennessean: “A year after the General Assembly de-funded the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee’s flagship campus in Knoxville, a panel of state lawmakers voted Wednesday to create an ‘intellectual diversity’ office there.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Lawmaker Pushing ‘Partisan Balance’ Fabricated Education Credentials.” More on this story from The Chronicle of Higher Education and in the credentialing section below.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “China Seeks Tighter Ideological Control of Its Top Universities.” Just like Republicans in Iowa and Tennessee!

    Immigration and Education


    Via LAist: “This Is What It’s Like When A Father Of 4 Is Detained By ICE While Dropping His Daughters Off At School.”

    Via Buzzfeed: DREAMer“Daniela Vargas was detained by federal agents moments after leaving a news conference where she spoke about her fear of being deported.” Via The Huffington Post: “Dreamer Arrested After Speaking To Media Will Be Deported Without Hearing, Attorney Says.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “DACA Remains Intact for Now, but Students Without It Are More Fearful Than Ever.”

    “How Much Can Schools Protect Undocumented Students?” asks Education Week.

    Via The Intercept: “Palantir Provides the Engine for Donald Trump’s Deportation Machine.” Reminder: here are the education companies Palantir founder Peter Thiel has invested in.

    Via TheEagle.com: “International scholar visiting Texas A&M‘mistakenly detained’ by customs officials.” The person in question is Henry Roussou, a French Holocaust scholar.

    Education in the Courts


    Via The Marshall Project: “Your Kid Goes to Jail, You Get the Bill.”

    Via Politico: “13 states, DOJ reach settlement in litigation over transgender student rights.”

    Via the Creative Commons: “Update on Great Minds v FedEx Office Litigation Involving BY-NC-SA.” Case dismissed.

    Via Chalkbeat: “Detroit lawsuit stops just short of accusing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of bribery.”

    Via The Washington Post: “White classmate avoids jail in coat-hanger assault of disabled black teenager.”

    Via The New York Times: “Corporations Show Support for Transgender Boy in Supreme Court Case.”

    Via The Kansas City Star: “Kansas Supreme Court rules the state has failed to ensure adequate education funding.” More on the ruling from NPR and The NYT.

    Via WOSU Radio: “What Privacy Do Students Have? Ohio Supreme Court Hears Backpack Seizure Case.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A federal grand jury has indicted the president of Ecclesia College, Oren Paris III, a former Arkansas state senator and a consultant, on multiple charges of mail and wire fraud. The allegations center on reports that Paris, through inappropriate means, asked legislators to provide state funds to the college, a Christian institution in Arkansas.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Uber loses legal challenge against English tests for London drivers.”

    Testing, Testing…


    Khan Academy announces“Free LSAT Prep for All.”

    Via Education Week: “Smarter Balanced Issues RFP for ‘Hybrid’ College Admissions, Accountability Test.”

    GitHub touts automated testing on its blog.

    ACT says it will invest in ProExam. (I’m not including this in the funding section because from what I can tell the investment hasn’t happened yet.)

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Inside Higher Ed on online education at Simmons College.

    EdX To Retire Foundational 6.002x Platform,” Class Central reports.

    edX has added 16 new “MicroMasters” programs.

    More on MOOC and online education research in the research section below.

    “Free College”


    “Keeping the Oregon Promise” by Sara Goldrick-Rab.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Free college tuition proposals will be moderately credit positive for the overall higher education sector, Moody’s Investors Service said Friday in a report issued after New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and San Francisco have recently introduced new or expanded proposals.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    “Credentials, Jobs and the New Economy” by Tressie McMillan Cottom. Via NPR: “To This Scholar, For-Profit Colleges Are ‘Lower Ed’.”

    For-Profit Schools Rebound Under Trump,” according to the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education.

    “Mixed Picture for a For-Profit College,” says The New York Times in a profile of Berkeley College.

    Via Techcrunch: “Coding bootcamps commit to transparency in reporting around job placement.” “The effort is being drive by Skills Fund, an Austin-based student lending startup that also has developed its own methodology for quality assurance.”

    Via the Indianapolis Business Journal: “The Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee for ITT Educational Services has hired ‘the most feared’ litigators in the nation to help with investigating and prosecuting claims against the former directors and officers of the defunct for-profit school.”

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via Buzzfeed: “Wave Of Bomb Threats Against Jewish Centers Soars To 100 This Year.” A map from ProPublica: “Bomb Threats to Jewish Community Centers and Organizations.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “2 U. of Missouri Students Are Arrested in Connection With ‘Anti-Semitic’ Messages.”

    Via the NEA Today: “As Opioid Crisis Alarms Communities, Drug Education Now Starts in Kindergarten.”

    “Losing Focus on the Mission: What’s Happening at UMUCby George Kroner.

    Via The New York Times: “Healthier Cereals Snare a Spot on New York School Menus.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Hundreds of students at Middlebury College on Thursday chanted and shouted at Charles Murray, the controversial writer whom many accuse of espousing racist ideas, preventing him from giving a public lecture at the college.”

    Via The Buffalo News: “Culinary Institute in Falls now at heart of NCCC controversy.” Niagara County Community College“President James P. Klyczek and the college recently faced a federal lawsuit that accused him of misappropriating money to help pay for equipment inside the new center.”

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via Eater: “Sorry Senator, You Can’t Call Sizzler Training a ‘Business Degree.’”

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via the US News & World Report: “Transgender Wrestler Wins Texas Championship for Girls.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Baylor Coach Says of Skeptics: ‘Knock Them Right in the Face’.”

    From the HR Department


    Via The Register Guard: “UO laying off 75 nontenured faculty in cost-cutting plan, union says.” That’s the University of Oregon for those keeping score.

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Graduate Students Push for Unions at More Private Colleges.”

    The Business of Job Placement


    Via Edsurge: “What Colleges Should Know About A Growing ‘Talent Strategy’ Push By Companies.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Via eCampus News: “Is higher ed ready for the big edtech explosion?”

    (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


    Apple’s Devices Lose Luster in American Classrooms,” according to The New York Times. Luster lost to Chromebooks, apparently.

    In other Google and edu news, via The Verge: “White nationalists seem to have manipulated Google search results for ‘Boasian anthropology’.”

    Via Education Week: “‘Fake News,’ Media Literacy Become Business Opportunities in Rush to Educate Students.”

    Digital storytelling site Cowbird has shut down.

    Amazon Web Services suffered a major outage this week, knocking many education companies who use AWS offline. The cause: a typo.

    Via The Atlantic: “The STEM Superhero of Sesame Street.” Grover. The only good monster of ed-tech.

    Via Education Week: “K–12 Math, Reading Programs Rated on New ‘Evidence for ESSA’ Website.”

    We’ve reached “Flipped Learning 3.0,” so that’s exciting.

    VR“comes of age,” says Campus Technology.

    Via Techcrunch: “Duolingo brings Tinycards to the web.”

    Via the press release: “Cengage, McGraw-Hill Education, and Pearson have joined forces with Ingram and Chegg, Inc. to have them adopt and implement a set of Anti-Counterfeit Best Practices designed to address the growing problem of counterfeit print textbooks.” You know what’s actually a growing problem? The price of your “real” textbooks.

    Via the BBC: “Watchdog to pursue essay-cheat websites.”

    Via Techcrunch: “DARTdrones pitches Shark Tank to build a flight school for drone pilots.”

    Via Campus Technology: “New Education Think Tank Debuts, Offering Online News and Research.” It’s called FutureEd. (Related: I don’t understand why folks claim their work is “nonpartisan.” Education is always political. And as Gramsci said, “I believe that living means taking sides. Those who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan.”)

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Via The Guardian: “Education publisher Pearson reports biggest loss in its history.”

    Snap IPO’d this week, and while it’s not an education company, there is an education story here. Saint Francis High School invested $15,000 in the company back in 2012. It made about $24 million when Snap went public.

    SoFi has raised $500 million in Series F funding from Silver Lake Partners, DCM Ventures, SoftBank, and Third Point Ventures. The student loan company has raised $1.88 billion total.

    ResearchGate raised $52.6 million in funding from Wellcome Trust, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Four Rivers Group, Ashton Kutcher, LVMH, Xavier Niel, Bill Gates, Benchmark, and Founders Fund. The funding actually occurred in November 2015 but was not disclosed until required by law. Gee, that sounds like a trustworthy company. ResearchGate has raised $87.6 million total.

    Nearpod has raised $21 million in Series B funding from Reach Capital, Krillion Ventures, AGP Tech, GSV Acceleration Fund, Storm Ventures, the Stanford-StartX Fund, the Knight Enterprise Fund, Arsenal Ventures, Marc Benioff, Scott Cook, and Signe Ostby. The company, which makes multimedia presentation software, has raised $30.2 million total.

    Testing company Examity has raised $21 million from University Ventures and Inherent Group.

    CampusLogic has raised $10 million in Series B funding from 4.0 partners. The financial aid management company has raised $17.5 million total.

    Regent Education has raised $8.5 million from New Markets Venture Partners, Chrysalis Ventures, and Ares Capital Corporation. The financial aid management company has raised $32.75 million.

    Motimatic has raised $3.4 million in Series A funding from University Ventures and New Markets Venture Partners for its “automatic motivational support system.” Robo-motivation, ffs.

    Clark, which Techcrunch describes as “an app aiming to ‘turn every educator into an entrepreneur’,” has raised $1 million in seed funding from Human Ventures and Winklevoss Capital.

    Udacity has acquiredCloudlabs. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Barnes & Noble Education has acquiredMBS Textbook Exchange.

    I’ve run the numbers on venture capital investments in education for the month of February: $566,950,000.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via Motherboard: “Internet of Things Teddy Bear Leaked 2 Million Parent and Kids Message Recordings.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “College Board pilots system to help colleges make admissions decisions about who is disadvantaged – and evidence from one college suggests 20 percent of decisions might be different. But lack of emphasis on race concerns some advocates.” Algorithmic decision making. What could possibly go wrong?

    School district boasts it’s giving laptops to migrant students. These sentences are horrifying: “Students will be allowed to take the devices with them when they migrate in or out of state. The devices will be monitored through a tracking system developed for this purpose.”

    Via The New York Times: “New York City Will Be Asked to Release More Data on Students.”

    Via The MIT Technology Review: “Big Questions Around Facebook’s Suicide-Prevention Tools.”

    Via Real Clear Education: “K–12 Predictive Analytics: Time for Better Dropout Diagnosis.”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Students’ worry: education technology might predict failure before they have a chance to succeed.”

    Via The Chicago Sun Times: “CPS privacy breach bared confidential student information.”

    Beware Edtech’s Equivalent of the Flashlight App” – to my surprise, the story isn’t about how flashlight apps are full of malware, but golly it could be.

    More on violating students’ privacy rights in the courts section above.

    Data and “Research”


    More research on venture capital in ed-tech in the venture capital section above.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “New paper casting doubt about the merits of online education raises concerns, but also questions from researchers who say it is ‘seriously flawed.’” “Deeply flawed,” says Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill. More on the study from The Chronicle of Higher Education. And still more from Hill.

    Via NPR: “Parent Alert! Your Child Just Skipped Class” – research on the effectiveness of texting parents about missed class or assignments.

    Via Boing Boing: “Psychology journal editor asked to resign for refusing to review papers unless he can see the data.”

    Inside Higher Ed on research published in the International Journal for Educational Integrity: “The proliferation of online tools allowing students to paraphrase academic work for their own assignments is facilitating plagiarism, according to the author of new research in the area.”

    Inside Higher Ed on research published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior: “Incoming first-year students at Michigan State University who felt a connection with the university during orientation were more likely to fit in and want to stay enrolled at the university, particularly students from ethnic minority groups.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “State-by-State Breakdown of Graduation Rates.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “American Academy of Arts and Sciences makes the case for increasing foreign language learning capacity in a political climate that’s increasingly anti-global.”

    Via The Pacific Standard: “If We’re Serious About Early Learning, Here’s How It Should Look.”

    “How Brain Scientists Forgot That Brains Have Owners” by Ed Yong.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new report from the Community College Research Center at Teachers College at Columbia University finds that computer-mediated developmental math benefited high school students more than those same courses when taught at Tennessee colleges.”

    Via NPR Code Switch: “HBCUs Graduate More Poor Black Students Than White Colleges.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Professors and Politics: What the Research Says.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Students Who Comment More in MOOCs Have Higher Rates of Completion.”

    “Which Colleges Might Give You The Best Bang For Your Buck?” asks NPR.

    Via Campus Technology: “Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending to Double in 2017.”

    Via the Council on Foreign Relations: “The Link Between Internet Access and Economic Growth Is Not as Strong as You Think.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    While much of the speculation about the future of education technology under President Trump has been focused on the new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (her investment in various ed-tech companies, her support for vouchers and charter schools), it’s probably worth remembering that the Department of Education is hardly the only agency that shapes education and education technology policy.

    The FCC plays a particularly important role in regulating the telecommunications industry, and as such, it has provided oversight for the various technologies long touted as “revolutionizing” education – radio, television, the Internet. (The FCC was established in 1934; the Department of Education, in 1979; its Office of Educational Technology, in 1994.)

    Tom Wheeler, the head of the FCC under President Obama, stepped down from his role and left the agency on January 20– the day of President Trump’s inauguration. Wheeler had been a “champion” of net neutrality and E-rate reform, according to Education Week at least, but his replacement, Trump appointee Ajit Pai, seems poised to lead the agency with a very different set of priorities – and those priorities will likely shape in turn what happens to ed-tech under Trump. As an op-ed in The Washington Post put it, “The FCC talks the talk on the digital divide – and then walks in the other direction.”

    Indeed, one of the first moves made by the FCC under Pai was to block nine companies from providing subsidized Internet service to low-income families.The agency also rescinded a report about the progress made in modernizing the E-rate program, something that had been the focus of Wheeler’s tenure – a report that had been released just two days before Wheeler left office – removing it from the FCC website altogether. (An archived copy is available via Doug Levin’s website.)

    Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, issued a strongly worded rebuke to that move, calling E-rate “without question the single most important educational technology program in the country.”

    Despite this praise, the program has long been controversial, frequently criticized for fraud and waste. Arguably, E-rate is one of the key pieces of ed-tech-related legislation in the US, and as such it’s worth examining its origins, its successes, and its failures.

    What can E-rate tell us about the relationship between politics and ed-tech? Who has benefited?

    A History of E-rate Legislation


    E-rate is the name commonly used to describe the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, established as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The act called for “universal service” so that all Americans could have access to affordable telecommunications services, regardless of their geographical location. The legislation also ordered telecom companies to provide their services to all public schools and libraries at discounted rates – from 20% to 90% off depending on the services provided and number of students receiving free and reduced school lunches. The program, whose subsidies were initially capped at $2.25 billion, was to be funded through mandatory contributions from telecom providers – the Universal Service Fund (USF). (Telecom providers added fees to customers’ bills in order to pay for their contributions.)

    The FCC initially appointed the National Carrier Exchange Association, the non-profit organization charged with managing the USF, with handling the E-rate program, but eventually a new organization was created to do this: the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

    From the outset, the program faced Congressional scrutiny, with questions about its scope, its management, and its funding. In particular, legislators were concerned that the charges levied on telecoms in order to pay for E-rate might be a tax (rather than a fee). (If the charges were a tax, it would be unconstitutional for the Executive branch and not Congress to exact them.) Some members of Congress also objected to the level of funding for E-rate. They argued that the program cost too much money and took needed funds away from other “universal service” efforts; some proposed that the program be replaced by block grants.

    In 2014, the FCC undertook a “modernization” plan for E-rate in part to address the changing demand for telecommunications services. The agency issued an order to support affordable access to high-speed broadband in particular (not merely “access to the Internet”) and to boost access and bandwidth of schools’ WiFi networks.

    As part of these modernization efforts, in 2015 the funding cap for E-rate was increased to $3.9 billion and the way in which funds were allocated was an adjusted – all in an attempt to “spread the wealth” beyond just a few large districts that had historically benefited most from the program.

    According its January 2017 report, the FCC’s modernization push enabled some 77% of school districts to meet the minimum federal connectivity targets by the end of 2016; just 30% had met those requirements in 2013. (That is, Internet speeds of 100 Mbps per 1000 users.) During the same period, the cost that schools paid for Internet connectivity fell from $22 to $7 per Mbps.

    “Progress,” the FCC boasted in the report. “No comment,” the FCC said in February when asked why the report on the modernization efforts had been pulled from its website. Commissioner Pai had voted against those efforts, for what it’s worth, back in 2014, saying that the FCC order did little to curb bureaucracy or waste.

    A Brief History of E-rate Fraud


    Throughout its history, the E-rate program has faced repeated scrutiny from Congress, from Republican members of the FCC like Pai, and from the General Accounting Office, which issued a report in 2005 that took issue with the “unusual” organizational structure of the USAC and questioned whether or not E-rate was sufficiently responsive to accountability standards that would “help protect the program and the fund from fraud, waste, and abuse.”

    And there have been plenty of accusations and lawsuits regarding “fraud, waste, and abuse.” Among them: an $8.71 million settlement paid by Inter-Tel in 2004 over accusations of rigging the bidding process. A $21 million settlement paid by NEC in 2006 for price-fixing. An $8.2 million settlement paid by AT&T in 2009 over accusations of non-competitive bidding practices and overcharging. A $16.25 million settlement paid by Hewlett Packard in 2010 over accusations of fraud. A $3 million settlement paid by the New York City DOE in 2016 over accusations of mishandling the bidding process. (Here is the full list of those who’ve been convicted of criminal or civil violations and have therefore been barred from participating in the E-rate program.)

    As some of these settlements highlight, while the E-rate program was supposed to ensure that schools received discounted telecommunications services, this hasn’t always happened. ProPublica reported on over-charging in the E-rate program in 2012,

    Lawsuits and other legal actions in Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and New York have turned up evidence that AT&T and Verizon charged local school districts much higher rates than it gave to similar customers or more than what the program allowed.


    AT&T has charged some schools up to 325 percent more than it charged others in the same region for essentially the same services. Verizon charged a New York school district more than twice as much as it charged government and other school customers in that state.

    Despite these issues, a court decision in 2014 blocked the USAC from prosecuting telecoms for making false statements about offering schools and libraries the “Lowest Corresponding Price,” arguing that this falls outside the False Claims Act, a statute that allows the government to pursue fraud claims against businesses. The burden of proof that schools and libraries are being offered a competitive price falls on the applicants themselves.

    E-rate and the History of the Future of the “Digital Divide”


    When the E-rate program was first established in 1996, only 14% of K–12 classrooms in the US had access to the Internet. Almost all schools are now connected to the Internet, although – as that FCC modernization report underscores – not all classrooms have access to high-speed broadband, and not all schools have WiFi networks that can support the heavy data demands on their bandwidth. According to EducationSuperhighway, a non-profit organization that lobbies for increased Internet access, 88% of public schools now have the minimum level of Internet access – that is, 100 kbps per student), although just 15% offer the FCC’s goal – that is, 1 Mbps per student.

    According to both EducationSuperhighway and the FCC, it is imperative to “level the playing field” so that schools and libraries, regardless of geographic location or the income level of students they serve, all have access to affordable high speed Internet. Certainly in the 1990s, when E-rate was introduced, its goal was to address this very issue – “the digital divide.”

    Cost has certainly remained a barrier for the poorest schools, as has the infrastructure itself in some areas – a lack of high speed broadband service altogether, for example. Some schools “cannot overcome the 19th century buildings to take advantage of 20th century technology,” Education Secretary Richard Riley told The New York Times in 2000.

    But there’s another access to “the digital divide” beyond simply who can afford “the digital,” and that’s something that Macomb Community College professor Chris Gilliard calls “digital redlining”: “the growing sense that digital justice isn’t only about who has access but also about what kind of access they have, how it’s regulated, and how good it is.” That issue with “what kind of access” is core to E-rate because of an associated law, the Children’s Internet Protection Act.

    The act, known as CIPA, was passed in 2000 – one of a series of pieces of legislation that attempted to curb if not criminalize “adult materials” online in places “where minors would be able to find it.” The Communications Decency Act, for example, was passed in 1996 – the same year as the Telecommunications Act – but was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court the following year. In 1998, Congress again sought to address children’s exposure to “harmful materials” with passage of the Child Online Protection Act, but this too was challenged in court. The Supreme Court also found the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1998 unconstitutional in 2002.

    Recognizing these legal challenges, Congress took a slightly different tact with CIPA. Rather than regulating content on the Web writ large, it opted to restrict what schools and libraries that receive federal funding – through the Library Services and Technology Act, Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Act, the Museum and Library Services Act, or E-rate – could allow people to view online. CIPA requires schools and libraries to create “acceptable use” policies for Internet usage, to hold a public meeting about how it will ensure safety online, and to use a “technology protection measure” to keep Internet users away from materials online that are “obscene,” “child pornography,” or “harmful to minors.” That is, CIPA requires Web filtering.

    The law has faced its own share of legal challenges, including one from the American Library Association. The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that CIPA does not violate the Constitution.

    One of the myriad complaints about CIPA is that it results in “over-filtering” – that schools and libraries block content that are not “obscene” or “harmful to minors.” There are many stories about how information about things like breast cancer or LGBTQ issues or drug abuse is inaccessible at certain schools. (I have found that my website is blocked by many because it contains that dangerous word “hack.”)

    Now that schools are increasingly providing students with laptops or tablets, filtering software often happens at the device-level, not simply at the school network level. That is, the Internet remains filtered, even when students are on their laptops at home.

    Clearly this is an equity issue – one that complicates how “the digital divide” has traditionally been framed and what E-rate was supposed to address. Those who rely on the Internet networks at E-rate supported schools have their Internet access restricted and monitored in turn.

    E-rate and the Future of Ed-Tech


    The decision by the new FCC to rescind its report on E-rate raises plenty of questions about the future of the program under President Trump. Will the FCC reduce spending on universal service? Will the agency revise regulatory oversight for the E-rate program? What might this look like?

    How might this, alongside Ajit Pai’s opposition to “net neutrality,” reshape access to information at schools and libraries (particularly those that serve a low-income population and those in rural areas)?


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  • 03/10/17--10:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics


    As if applying for financial aid wasn’t difficult enough already, it appears that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which pulls tax information into the FAFSA app, “will be unavailable for several weeks.” Great timing, IRS.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Congress, in an effort to limit federal involvement in higher education, has voted to eliminate Obama-era regulations on teacher-preparation programs.”

    Via PBS Newshour: “Senate votes to end Obama school accountability rules.”

    Via The LA Times: “Trump wants to create a national private school choice program. Here’s how it could work.”

    Via NPR: “‘Tax Credit Scholarships,’ Praised By Trump, Turn Profits For Some Donors.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Three months into Tennessee’s first voucher foray, 35 students are enrolled.”

    Via NPR: “Trump’s International Policies Could Have Lasting Effects On Higher Ed.”

    Via ProPublica: “Meet the Hundreds of Officials Trump Has Quietly Installed Across the Government.” Education Department hires include a venture capitalist, members of the Trump campaign, and a KIPP school founder.

    Via Rolling Stone: “Betsy DeVos’ Holy War.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “A Surprising Number Of People Say They Have An Opinion About Betsy DeVos In This New Poll.”

    An op-ed in Techcrunch by Kadenze co-founder Ajay Kapur: “What Betsy DeVos’ confirmation means for innovation in education.”

    The Hechinger Report asks, “What can Betsy DeVos really do?”

    Including this news item here as there’s also an “odd” link to Betsy DeVos. Via CNN: “Sources: FBI investigation continues into ‘odd’ computer link between Russian bank and Trump Organization.”

    Via eCampus News: “The 2 edtech fields with the most potential under Trump.” (Spoiler alert: “workforce initiatives” and “accountability.” Saved you a click.)

    The New York Times on how Trump became “the first Silicon Valley President.”

    Via Mashable: “Trump’s favorite techie thinks there should be ‘more open debate’ on global warming.” Trump’s favorite techie is, of course, Peter Thiel.

    More about Trump’s immigration policies in a separate section below. And more about Trump and for-profit higher ed policies in the for-profit higher ed section below.

    Via The Chicago Tribune: “Chance the Rapper writes $1 million check to CPS as a ‘call to action’.”

    “The History of the Future of E-rateby me.

    According to the EFF, “A Dangerous California Bill Would Leave Students and Teachers Vulnerable to Intrusive Government Searches.” More on AB 165 from the ACLU, which also opposes the proposed law.

    Following up on ProPublica reporting, “Florida to Examine Whether Alternative Charter Schools Underreport Dropouts.”

    Via The Register Guard: “The Eugene School Board on Wednesday postponed until March 15 a decision on whether to further restrict information available in student directories, such as a student’s date or place of birth.”

    Via Education Week: “The Ohio education department could seek repayment of more than $80 million from nine full-time online schools, based on audits of software-login records that led state officials to determine the schools had overstated their student enrollment.”

    Via The Washington Post: “Muslim students tried to meet with a lawmaker. They were first asked: ‘Do you beat your wife?’” The lawmaker in question: Oklahoma State Representative John Bennett.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “177 Private Colleges Fail Education Dept.’s Financial-Responsibility Test.”

    Via Teen Vogue: “Virginia and North Carolina Schools to Close on ‘A Day Without a Woman’.”

    Via The New Inquiry: “A Women’s Strike Syllabus.”

    Immigration and Education


    Trump has issued an update to his Muslim ban. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “New Travel Ban Still Sows Chaos and Confusion.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it is temporarily suspending premium processing of H–1B skilled worker visa applications for up to six months, beginning on April 3.”

    Via The New York Times: “A Rush for Birth Certificates, as Immigrants Try to Hold Families Together.”

    Also via The New York Times: “Educators Prepare for Immigration Agents at the Schoolhouse.”

    Via NPR Code Switch: “Teachers, Parents Struggle To Comfort Children Of Color Fearful Of Targeted Raids.”

    Via The Washington Post: “A U.S. citizen is denied college aid– because of her mother’s immigration status.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Republican State Lawmakers Seek to Ban ‘Sanctuary’ Campuses.” That is, legislators in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and Texas.

    Education in the Courts


    The US Supreme Court will not hear a case regarding a trans high school student’s bathroom options at his high school. The case now goes back to the 4th Circuit Court. That student, the incredible Gavin Grimm wrote an op-ed in The New York Times: “The Fight for Transgender Rights Is Bigger Than Me.”

    Via The New York Times: “Trump University Lawsuits May Not Be Closed After All.”

    Via the BBC: “Facebook Reports BBC to Police Over Investigation Into Child Sex Images.” More on this story and concerns about how Facebook moderates content via Techcrunch.

    Testing, Testing…


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Harvard Law School announced Wednesday that it will start an experiment in which it will accept the Graduate Record Examination for admissions, not just the traditionally required Law School Admission Test.”

    Via The Denver Post: “Colorado juniors face new, revamped college exam in SAT after state dumps rival ACT.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ School offers ‘incentives’ to get kids to take Common Core standardized test.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “Data shows Indiana students are taking AP exams, but half aren’t passing them.”

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Tressie McMillan Cottom on The Daily Show. Tressie McMillan Cottom’s new book on for-profit higher ed reviewed by The New York Times.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Dream Center Foundation, a religious missionary organization based in Los Angeles, plans to buy EDMC, a struggling for-profit chain that enrolls 65,000 students. The resulting nonprofit college group will be secular.” “I Honestly Don’t Get This,” “Dean Dad” Matt Reed writes in response.

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Trump Administration Delays Enforcement of Obama-Era Rules on For-Profit Colleges.” The “gainful employment” rules, that is.

    Via ProPublica: “These For-Profit Schools Are ‘Like a Prison’.” The schools are run by Camelot Education.

    More on the for-profit “school” Trump University in the courts section above. More on HR changes at UofP in the HR section below.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    An op-ed in Forbes by University Ventures’ Ryan Craig: “Make Online Education Great (For The First Time).”

    Via The Financial Times: “Coursera chief on the future of online learning and the Trump era.”

    New Nanodegrees from Udacity: Digital Marketing and Robotics.

    More on the politics of online education in the politics section above.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    The Atlantic profiles“The Violent Fight for Higher Education” in South Africa.

    Via The Washington Post: “‘Unprecedented effort’ by ‘white supremacists’ to recruit and target college students, group claims.”

    Speaking of which, so many “takes” this week about protests at a talk by Charles Murray at Middlebury College.

    Via The Mercury News: “A conservative student organization, fighting for a toe-hold of official recognition in the liberal Bay Area, scored a victory at Santa Clara University where a vice provost overturned a student senate decision and granted a charter to Turning Point USA.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Here’s a Roundup of the Latest Campus-Climate Incidents Early in the Trump Presidency.”

    Via The New York Times: “Campus Backlash After Leaders of Black Colleges Meet With Trump.”

    “Starting March 15, the university will begin removing more than 20,000 video and audio lectures from public view as a result of a Justice Department accessibility order,” reports Inside Higher Ed. That’s UC Berkeley. David Kernohan responds. (Here’s a story I wrote a couple of years ago about the history of webcasting at Berkeley.)

    Via The LA Times: “Inside Celerity charter school network, questionable spending and potential conflicts of interest abound.”

    Via CBC News: “Ottawa teacher sent home after cutting hair of 7-year-old boy with autism.”

    Via The New York Times: “College Student Suffers Severe Reaction After Hazing Involving Peanut Butter.”

    Via The Guardian: “Sexual harassment‘at epidemic levels’ in UK universities.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Northwestern U. Is Accused of Violating Academic Freedom.”

    Via The Mercury News: “University of California proposes first enrollment cap on out-of-state students.”

    Via The New York Times: “Years of Ethics Charges, but Star Cancer Researcher Gets a Pass.” The researcher in question, Carlo Croce from Ohio State University.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    “Why Sports and Elite Academics Do Not Mix” according to The Atlantic’s Jonathan R. Cole.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “In December, an association representing the country’s top athletics directors created a political action committee. It joins the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s own lobbying efforts, which have more than doubled in the past five years.”

    From the HR Department


    “Head of Savannah College of Art and Design was the top-paid college leader in 2014,” says The Wall Street Journal. She made $9.6 million.

    Timothy Slottow, the president of the University of Phoenix, will step down.

    Via GeekWire: “Amazon Education GM leaves; company says it ‘remains committed’ to K–12 technology.” That’s Rohit Agarwal, founder of TenMarks, a math startup that Amazon acquired in 2013.

    Via The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss: “Head of DeVos-founded group resigns after saying he wanted to ‘shake’ an official ‘like I like to shake my wife’.” That’s the Great Lakes Education Project and executive director Gary Naeyaert.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A National Labor Relations Board office rejected Columbia University‘s objections to a recent graduate employee union election Monday, recommending that United Auto Workers be certified as the students’ collective bargaining representative.”

    “Graduate student employees at Duke University on Tuesday withdrew their petition to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “President of Morehouse College Has Not Been Ousted, It Says.”

    The Business of Job Training


    An op-ed in Techcrunch by University Ventures’ Ryan Craig: “Blame bad applicant tracking for the soft skills shortage at your company.”

    Contests


    Via Deadspin: “Five-Year-Old Set To Become Youngest-Ever Contestant At National Spelling Bee.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    Via Education Dive: “Can this Montessori’s AltSchool partnership help scale the model?”

    (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


    Remember the Thiel Fellows? Here’s a puff piece from Business Insider on what “some of the most successful” ones are up to these days.

    Via The Outline: “Google’s featured snippets are worse than fake news.”

    “How ‘News Literacy’ Gets the Web Wrong” by Mike Caulfield.

    Via The Guardian: “Essays for sale: the booming online industry in writing academic work to order.”

    John Deasy, former LAUSD Superintendent, is heading a new education publication, The Line– it has a corporate backer, Frontline Education.

    “What’s the problem with competency based education?” asks Graham Attwell.

    “When Social Media Assignments Increase Risks for Vulnerable Students” by Monica Bulger and Jade E. Davis.

    “I learned how to do math with the ancient abacus– and it changed my life,” says Ulrich Boser.

    Offering “modules” in an LMS is, apparently, newsworthy.

    USA Funds is changing its name to Strada Education Network.

    Techcrunch profiles a tutoring company: “Tutoring startup Toot launches into twin policy storms around education and immigration.”

    Also via Techcrunch: “Parental control serviceCircle with Disney’ to help with distracted driving, social media, kids’ chores & more.”

    Also via Techcrunch: “Current wants to digitize your kid’s allowance with an app and a debit card.”

    (Do note: startups selling to parents, rather than startups selling to schools.)

    Via Campus Technology: “Johns Hopkins U Website Ranks K-12 Reading, Math Programs Under ESSA Standards.”

    I’ve carved off all the “upgrades” and “downgrades” and press releases from SXSWedu into their own category, below.

    Dispatches from SXSWedu


    Keynotes from Sara Goldrick-Rab and Christopher Emdin.

    Via EdWeek Market Brief: “SXSWedu Speakers Break Down Ed-Tech Market Activity Around the Globe.”

    Also via EdWeek Market Brief: “Startup Founder Offers Peek Inside Venture Capital Dealmaking at SXSWedu.”

    Via The 74: “South by Southwest Education: 10 New Ed Tech Startups About to Grab the Spotlight in Austin.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Quizlet Debuts Study Feature That Helps Students Study Efficiently.”

    “At #SXSWEdu @TFerriss Espouses The Virtues of Discomfort. Then This Happened,” says Lisa Nielsen. The “this” that happened was an angry response from the audience to Tim Ferriss’ talk, particularly from teacher Derek Breen.

    Via Edsurge: “Startup Showdown: Recruiting Startup ‘The Whether’ Takes Home Launch Competition Prize.”

    Via SXSWedu: “At SXSWedu, ‘Mastery-Based’ Lessons Touted as Option for Equity.”

    Via Edsurge: “Is Edtech Worsening or Righting Inequities in Education? From the SXSWedu Floor.” I can’t think of a better place to ask that question than a corporate event, can you.

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    “New study raises concerns about impact of automated social media advocacy on education coverage,” says Alexander Russo. Robots hate the Common Core.

    Via Reuters: “Amazon deepens university ties in artificial intelligence race.”

    Via The Washington Post: “How millions of kids are being shaped by know-it-all voice assistants.”

    Via Techcrunch: “Disney Research has robots matching verbal styles with kids.”

    Via PC Magazine: “Researchers Show Off ‘Mind-Reading’ Robot.”

    Via Big Tomorrow: “Imagining an AI-First Student Experience.”

    Via Motherboard: “Could AI Replace Student Testing?” (Clearly this story could also go in the “Betteridge’s Law of Headlines” section.)

    “‘Artificial Intelligence’ Has Become Meaningless,” says Ian Bogost.

    Via Quartz: “So long, banana-condom demos: Sex and drug education could soon come from chatbots.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    Google is acquiring machine learning contest site Kaggle. (Kaggle hosted the robo-essay-grading competition, sponsored by the Hewlett Foundation.)

    Grading platform Kiddom has raised $6.5 million from Khosla Ventures. Edsurge notes the deal was led by Keith Rabois, does not note the allegations of sexual harassment against Rabois that prompted him to resign from Square in 2013 or the 1992 incident at Stanford where Rabois allegedly hurled anti-gay insults at a professor. Another great investor for the future of education technology!

    An op-ed in Techcrunch by University Ventures co-founder Daniel Pianko: “Rethinking return on education investment.”

    Via The New York Times: “Valuation Shell Game: Silicon Valley’s Dirty Secret.”

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via the Office of Inadequate Security: “University of Georgia student and employee data found in data dump.”

    Via the AP: “ Phishing Scam Hits Connecticut School District, Again.” That’s Groton Public Schools, which the AP helpfully informs us is pronounced GRAH’-tuhn.

    Via BlackburnNews.com: “Data Breach At Public School Board.” The board in question: the Greater Essex County District School Board.

    Via the CBC: “The University of Moncton says a ninth malicious email was sent to the campus community Thursday night, reaching almost 2,000 students and staff.” The president of the university calls this “cyber terrorism.”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “When using data to predict outcomes, consider the ethical dilemmas, new report urges.”

    The Guardian onCambridge Analytica and the “misuse of data in politics.” More on Cambridge Analytica in The New York Times.

    There’s more about the politics of data in the politics section above.

    Data and “Research”


    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study details tool to help professors measure how much active learning is happening in their classrooms.” It records the voices in a classroom, which seems like a huge privacy violation to me but hey. How else could we possibly tell if there’s “active learning” happening?!

    Via Education Week: “New Database Helps Connect Education Researchers, Schools.” It’s called the National Education Researcher Database or NERD.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Regular drinking isn’t associated with meaningfully lower GPAs, study finds, but those who use alcohol and marijuana do see a decline.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Highest Representation of Racial and Ethnic Groups at Liberal-Arts Colleges, Fall 2015.”

    “A new study examines how six adult-serving institutions are defining and using alternative credentials such as badges, noncredit certificates and those issued for successful completion of MOOCs or coding and skills boot camps,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Via Campus Technology: “Report: iPad, Mac Use Growing in Higher Ed.” iPad use?! Seriously?!

    Via Futuresource Consulting: “US K–12 Education Digital Management Platforms & Tools Market to Grow at a CAGR of 4.5% to 2020, to Reach $1.83 Billion.” (I had to google “CAGR” – it’s “compound annual growth rate” in case, like me, you weren’t a business major.)

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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    This article first appeared on Points, a Data & Society publication in February 2017

    That inBloom might exist as a cautionary tale in the annals of ed-tech is rather remarkable, if for no other reason than ed-tech – at least its manifestation as a current blend of venture capital exuberance, Silicon Valley hype, philanthropic dollars, and ed-reform policy-making – tends to avoid annals. That is to say, ed-tech today has very little sense of its own history. Everything is “new” and “innovative” and “disruptive.” It’s always forward-facing, with barely a glance over its should at the past – at the history of education or the history of technology. No one had ever thought about using computers in the classroom – or so you might glean if you only read the latest marketing about apps and analytics – until this current batch of philanthropists and entrepreneurs and investors and politicians suddenly stumbled upon the idea circa 2010.

    Perhaps that very deliberate dismissal of history helped doom inBloom from the start. Those who worked on the initiative seemed to ignore the legacy of the expensive and largely underutilized ARIS (Achievement Reporting and Innovation System) system that had been built for New York City schools, for example, hiring many of ARIS’s staff and soliciting the company in charge of building it, Wireless Generation, to engineer the inBloom product.

    While those making sweeping promises about data collection and data analytics wanted to suggest that, thanks to digital technologies, InBloom offered a unique opportunity to glean insights from data from the classroom, many parents and educators likely had a different sense – a deeper history –of what data had already done or undone, of what data could do or undo. They certainly had a different sense of risk.

    The compulsion to gather more and more data is hardly new, although certainly new technologies facilitate it, generating more and more data in turn. In 1962, Raymond Callahan published Education and the Cult of Efficiency, tracing to the early twentieth century the eagerness of school leaders to adopt the language and the practices of business management in the hopes that schools might be run more efficiently and more “scientifically.”

    There’s something quite compelling about those hopes, it seems, as they underlie much of the push for education reform and education technology in schools still today. Indeed, this belief in efficiency and science helped to justify inBloom, as Data & Society’s new report on the history of the $100 million data infrastructure initiative demonstrates.

    That belief is evident in the testimonies from various politicians, administrators, entrepreneurs, and technologists involved in the project. Data collection – facilitated by inBloom – was meant to be “the game-changer,” in the words of the CEO of the Data Quality Campaign, providing a way to “actually use individual student information to guide teaching and learning and to really leverage the power of this information to help teachers tailor learning to every single child in their class. That’s what made inBloom revolutionary.” “The promise was that [inBloom] was supposed to be adaptive differentiated instruction for individual students, based on test results and other data that the states had. InBloom was going to provide different resources based on those results,” according to the superintendent of a New York school district.

    But this promise of a data-driven educational “revolution” was – and still is – mostly that: a promise. The claims about “personalized learning” attainable through more data collection and data analysis remain primarily marketing hype. Indeed, “personalized learning” is itself a rather nebulous concept. As Data & Society observed in a 2016 report on the topic,

    Description of personalized learning encompass such a broad range of possibilities – from customized interfaces to adaptive tutors, from student-centered classrooms to learning management systems – that expectations run high for their potential to revolutionize learning. Less clear from these descriptions are what personalized learning systems actually offer and whether they improve the learning experiences and outcomes for students.

    So while “personalized learning” might be a powerful slogan for the ed-tech industry and its funders, the sweeping claims about its benefits are largely unproven by educational research.

    But it sounds like science. With all the requisite high-tech gadgetry and data dashboards, it looks like science. It signifies science, and that signification is, in the end, the justification that inBloom largely relied upon. I’m someone who tried to get the startup to clarify“what inBloom will gather, how long it will store it, and what recourse parents have who want to opt out,” and I remember clearly that there was nevertheless much more hand-waving and hype than there ever was a clear explanation (“scientific” or otherwise) of “how” or “why” it would work.

    No surprise then, there was pushback, primarily from parents, educators, and a handful of high profile NYC education activists who opposed InBloom’s data collection, storage, and sharing practices. But as the Data & Society report details, “instead of seeking to build trust at the district level with teachers and parents, many interview participants observed that inBloom and the Gates Foundation responded to what were very emotional concerns with complex technical descriptions or legal defenses.”

    This juxtaposition of parents as “emotional” and inBloom and the project’s supporters as “scientific” and “technical” runs throughout the report, which really serves to undermine and belittle the fears of inBloom opponents. (This was also evident in many media reports at the time of inBloom’s demise that tended to describe parents as “hysterical” or that patronized them by contending the issues were “understandably obscure to the average PTA mom.”) The opposition to inBloom is described in the Data & Society report as a “visceral, fervently negative response to student data collection,” for example, while the data collection itself is repeatedly framed in terms of its “great promise.” While the report does point to the failure of inBloom officials to build parents’ trust, many of the interviewees repeatedly dismiss the mistrust as irrational. “The activism about InBloom felt like anti-vaccination activism. Just fear,” said one participant. “I don’t know how else to put it,” said another. “It was not rational.”

    But inBloom opponents did have reason – many perfectly rational reasons– for concern. As the report chronicles, there were a number of concurrent events that prompted many people to be highly suspicious of plans for the data infrastructure initiative – its motivations and its security. These included inBloom’s connection to the proponents of the Common Core and other education reform policies; the growing concern about the Gates Foundation’s role in shaping these very policies; Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance; several high profile data breaches, including credit card information of some 70 million Target customers; the role of News Corp’s subsidiary Wireless Generation in building the inBloom infrastructure, coinciding with News Corp’s phone hacking scandal in the UK, as well as its decision to hire Joel Klein, the former NYC schools chancellor who’d commissioned the failed ARIS system, to head News Corp’s new education efforts. As the report notes, “The general atmosphere of data mistrust combined with earlier education reform movements that already characterized educational data as a means of harsh accountability.”

    In the face of this long list of concerns, the public’s “low tolerance for uncertainty and risk” surrounding student data is hardly irrational. Indeed, I’d argue it serves as a perfectly reasonable challenge to a technocratic ideology that increasingly argues that “the unreasonable effectiveness of data” will supplant theory and politics and will solve all manner of problems, including the challenge of “improving teaching” and “personalizing learning.” There really isn’t any “proof” that more data collection and analysis will do this – mostly just the insistence that this is “science” and therefore must be “the future.”

    History – the history of inBloom, the history of ed-tech more generally – might suggest otherwise.


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  • 03/17/17--11:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • The Trump Budget


    This “skinny budget” is ridiculously cruel. More guns. Less butter. While it’s unlikely to be accepted by Congress, it does show Trump’s priorities.

    Secretary of Education Betsy "DeVos says Trump education budget‘places power in the hands of parents and families’," Michigan Live reports. DeVos’s statement from the Department of Education Press Office.

    According to the White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, “Proposed cuts to Meals on Wheels are compassionate to taxpayers.”

    What’s in the budget, other than this sort of “compassion”?

    $9.2 billion cut from the Department of Education’s budget. (That’s 13.5%.)

    $1.4 billion to expand vouchers.

    Cuts to work study. Via Inside Higher Ed: “Many experts on the program agree it needs changing with a greater emphasis on low-income students. But few agree that the large cut being sought by the Trump administration will help.”

    Cuts to the Pell Grant program. Via Inside Higher Ed: “By taking about a third of the program’s multi-billion-dollar surplus and cutting other college access programs, [advocates for low-income students] assert, the new administration would jeopardize Pell’s long-term sustainability and harm the prospects of low-income students.”

    Cuts to after-school programs. Via The Washington Post: “Trump budget casualty: After-school programs for 1.6 million kids. Most are poor.” Mulvaney said Thursday that“services intended to help feed hungry students in order to improve their academic performance deserve to be cut because proof of that progress has not materialized.”

    Cuts to the NIH and research at the Energy Department. Via Inside Higher Ed: “Trump Seeks Deep Cuts in Education and Science.”

    The elimination of funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which finances programs run by AmeriCorps. The elimination of funding for 18 other independent agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

    “The Real Cost of Abolishing the National Endowment for the Artsby The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert. (Spoiler alert: rural and underserved communities are the most affected.)

    The Chronicle of Higher Education on“What Trump’s Budget Outline Would Mean for Higher Ed.”

    EdWeek’s Market Brief on“Implications for K–12 Companies in Trump’s Big Proposed Cuts to Ed. Spending.”

    Education Week’s Sarah Sparks on the future for education research in light of these proposed budget cuts.

    Elsewhere in Education Politics


    “A Fumble on a Key Fafsa Tool, and a Failure to Communicate” by Susan Dynarski.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Student aid advocates and financial aid administrators say shutdown of IRS data retrieval tool has consequences beyond the FAFSA process.”

    “Online Tool to Apply for College Aid Was Taken Down Due to ‘Criminal Activity’,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Top leaders of the congressional education committees from both parties wrote to Betsy DeVos, the U.S. secretary of education, Thursday to get answers on the ‘cause and scope’ of this month’s shutdown of a financial aid data tool by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, which cited the vulnerability of student data to identity thieves.”

    Via Politico: “The nation’s governors say they’re ‘concerned’ the Trump administration’s new guide for crafting state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act doesn’t prioritize outreach to a variety of groups and individuals, like civil rights advocates, parents and state lawmakers.”

    More on the politics of accreditation in the accreditation section below.

    Via Business Insider: “There’s a huge catch if the federal government forgives your student debt.” The amount of debt that’s canceled is taxable. Saved you a click.

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “An Uncertain Future for Higher Education’s Federal ‘Cop on the Beat’.” That’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which I wouldn’t describe that way, but hey.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Trump administration on Thursday withdrew 2015 guidance issued by the Obama administration that barred student loan guarantee agencies from charging collection fees to defaulted borrowers who start repaying their loans quickly.”

    Via The Wall Street Journal: “Trump Officials Are Learning How Hard It Is to Sell $1 Billion of Their Assets.” This includes, of course, billionaire Betsy DeVos.

    Via The LA School Report: “Report card time for schools: California Dashboard goes live today, but some find it impossible to navigate.”

    “California Youth in Detention and Foster Care Deserve Internet Access,” writes the EFF in support of A.B. 811, a California bill that would establish the right to computer technology.

    Via The Atlantic: “California’s Plan to Eliminate Student Debt.”

    “What Can Florida Teach Us About School Choice?” asks The Pacific Standard.

    Via Politico: “Education Department beachhead hire Kevin Eck has drawn the wrath of ‘Star Wars’ star Mark Hamill, legendary for his role as Luke Skywalker. As CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski noted on Twitter Tuesday, Eck, who is now a special assistant to Secretary DeVos, tweeted last November that Hamill should ‘stick to playing Han Solo’s short little b—-’ after Hamill tweeted criticism of the Trump administration.”


    Immigration and Education


    “A federal judge on Wednesday rejected the White House’s second effort to impose a travel ban that colleges have said would damage their appeal to international students and scholars but that President Trump has defended as necessary to protect the nation from terrorism,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

    Via Reuters: “Apple, Google, Facebook skip legal challenge to new travel ban.”

    Via The Nation: “ICE Relents and Releases DREAMer Daniela Vargas.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Where Will the Government Look for Thousands of New Border Agents? On College Campuses.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Four in 10 colleges are seeing drops in applications from international students amid pervasive concerns that the political climate might keep them away.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via Education International: “In an attempt to silence Kenyan teacher union leader Wilson Sossion, Bridge International Academies have threatened him with legal action for exposing its activities undermining the attainment of inclusive and equitable quality education for all.” Last year, the Ugandan government decreed that company’s schools be shut down because they failed to meet education and sanitation requirements; Kenyan courts have also ordered the schools to close. (Investors in this education startup include the Gates Foundation, Learn Capital, and the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.)

    Via CNN: “Mississippi school district ends segregation fight.”

    A fairly typical Valerie Strauss story/headline: “ A Florida court decision about third-graders and testing falls ‘on the side of stupid’.”

    More court cases in the sports section below.

    Testing, Testing…


    Via ABC News: “Test meant to screen teachers instead weeded out minorities.” Via The New York Times: “Regents Drop Teacher Literacy Test Seen as Discriminatory.”

    NoRedInk Adds New Exercises to Prepare Students for ACT, SAT,” says Edsurge. (Disclosure alert.)

    “Free College”


    “Can California Pull Off Debt-Free College?” asks The Pacific Standard.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    The Chronicle of Higher Education profiles DeVry: “A For-Profit-College Company Embraces Its Technology-Focused Past and Its Evolving Future.”

    Via ProPublica: “For-Profit Colleges Gain Beachhead in Trump Administration.” Taylor Hansen, for-profit university lobbyist has joined the Department of Education.

    Via AZ Central: “Arizona Summit Law School moves to affiliate with a private, nonprofit university.” That’s Bethune-Cookman University.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Big for-profit American Public now offers competency-based undergraduate degrees that don’t rely on the credit-hour standard, but federal aid isn't part of the mix, for now.”

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    “A Corporate Learning Revolution” – a Coursera webinar. (Are MOOCs webinars? Are webinars now MOOCs?)

    Via Class Central: “FutureLearn’s New Pricing Model Limits Access to Course Content After the Course Ends.”

    Also via Class Central: “MéxicoX: Meet the MOOC Platform Funded by the Mexican Government.”

    Via Campus Technology: “edX Retiring Original MIT Circuits and Electronics Course.”

    VCU’s Jon Becker writes“More about online learning in Virginia.”

    “Institutions say they will not follow in Berkeley’s footsteps and delete publicly available educational content,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Via Mic: “5th grade NJ students asked to make slave auction posters for history assignment.”

    Via Caged Bird: “White Howard University Professor Holds Mock Slave Auction.”

    Mark Zuckerberg visited North Carolina A&T State University on Monday, and the Gizmodo headline pretty much sums it up: “Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of a One Percent Black Company, Spoke to Black Students About ‘Diversity’.”

    Via Buzzfeed: “Everyone Please Take This Very Wholesome Survey So Mrs. Porter’s Second-Grade Class Can Learn About Graphs.” (Actually, I bet at this stage Mrs. Porter’s class hopes you do not take the survey.)

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Characteristics of Colleges That Raised the Most in Private Donations, FY 2016.”

    Via The Atlantic: “Why One University Is Sharing the Risk on Student Debt.” The university in question: Purdue.

    Via USA Today’s Greg Toppo: “Charter schools’ ‘thorny’ problem: Few students go on to earn college degrees.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How Silicon Valley Exploits Students and Their Universities” – “Musk’s Hyperloop Pod Competition, run by his company SpaceX, is just the latest, trendiest example of Silicon Valley’s increased efforts to unite the student workers of the world together into a labor force it does not need to pay.”

    It’s 2017 and we’re still writing stories about how students are distracted by technology.

    Accreditation and Certification


    Via the Sunshine State News: “Marco Rubio Renews Effort to Reform Higher Ed Accreditation.”

    Badges, Proof and Pathways” by Doug Belshaw.

    Via Inside Story: “In praise of credentialism.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Southern New Hampshire University will offer competency-based degrees to federal employees through its College for America, the university announced this week.”

    Go, School Sports Team!


    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “2 Former Penn State Officials Plead Guilty in Sandusky Case.”

    Via ProPublica: “Nothin’ but Debt: Which NCAA Tournament Schools Give Low-Income Students the Best Shot?”

    From the HR Department

    The Verge on layoffs (and a pivot) at the annotation startup Genius: “Brain Drain.”

    Contests and Competitions


    Via NPR: “As Braille Literacy Declines, Reading Competitions Held To Boost Interest.”

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    “Are online preschools signaling the future of education?” asks eSchool News.

    “Are Teenagers Replacing Drugs With Smartphones?” asks The New York Times.

    “Does Nonresident Tuition Show that Privatization Works?” asks Chris Newfield.

    (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


    How long ’til some ed-tech company markets this as anti-cheating tech?


    “Why Ed Tech Will Fail to Transform Education (for Now),” Michael Feldstein argues.

    “We can teach women to code, but that just creates another problem,” says Miriam Posner.

    “Why Are Asian Americans Missing From Our Textbooks?” asks The Pacific Standard.

    Antigonish 2.0

    Blockchain startup LBRY has made a copy of the course content that UC Berkeley pulled offline due to a lack of ADA compliance. The content was licensed CC-BY-NC, underscoring how companies seem to interpret “non-commercial” in some pretty odd ways. What would be nice, I’d say, instead of profiting off this material as a marketing ploy, would be to make it ADA compliant. That’s how you benefit the community.

    Via The Verge: “When your child’s favorite YouTube celebrity is a secret racist.”

    In other Google news, Google now allows anyone to use Google Classroom, even those without a GAFE account. I wonder about how data collection works with this. (Well, actually, I can guess…)

    “Problems with Personalized Learningby Dan Meyer.

    “CZI Takes Over Building Summit Learning Platform,” Edsurge reports. CZI stands for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The Summit Learning Platform is the learning management system that Facebook had been building for the Summit Public Schools charter chain.

    UNESCO on“Media and Information Literacy.”

    Via the Business Daily Africa: “Techie rakes in cash selling online exam papers to schools.”

    Tele-instruction has become the emerging tool in higher education for teaching and learning models,” says Education Dive. “Tele-instruction.”

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    “In the future there will be mindclones,” says Techcrunch, which I’m sure is never ever wrong about the future.

    Via the MIT Technology Review: “The Entrepreneur with the $100 Million Plan to Link Brains to Computers.”

    Via The Next Web: “How Artificial Intelligence enhances education.”

    “What Does it Mean to Prepare Students For a Future With Artificial Intelligence?” asks Edsurge.

    Via The Atlantic: “Training Students to Outpace Automation.”

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    CareDox has raised $6.4 million in Series A funding from Digitalis Ventures, First Round Capital, Giza Venture Capital, TEXO Ventures, and Prolog Ventures. The startup, which sells an electronic health record system to schools, has raised $13.54 million total.

    NeoStencil has raised $1 million from Brand Capital and Paragon Trust. The online education company has raised $1.06 million total.

    I read the Backchannel story“Now We Know Why Microsoft Bought LinkedIn” and I still don’t know why Microsoft bought LinkedIn. Because Reid Hoffman, I guess?

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via Stat: “House Republicans would let employers demand workers’ genetic test results.”

    “How Should We Address the Cybersecurity Threats Facing K–12 Schools?” asks Doug Levin.

    Via Techcrunch: “Teen quiz app Wishbone hacked, users’ emails and phone numbers exposed.”

    Via the Office of Inadequate Security: “Victims of W–2 phishing scams (2017 list).”

    Via KrisTV.com: “School administrators fall victim to possible scam.” Administrators with Ben Bolt I.S.D. in Texas, that is.

    And the phishing attacks on schools spread to the UK. Via Schools Week: “Ofsted email scam asks people to ‘confirm’ Paypal details.”

    Data and “Research”


    Via The Economist: “Tests suggest the methods of neuroscience are left wanting.”

    Educational attainment in the US, mapped.

    Via Gizmodo: “Report Shows AT&T Ignores Poor Neighborhoods in Cleveland.”

    Via Edutechnica: “LMS Data– Spring 2017 Updates.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “An analysis of new student loan data finds the number of federal loans in default at the end of 2016 increased 14 percent from 2015.”

    Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Two analysts at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public-policy organization in Washington, D.C., have … concluded that colleges with more-affluent students are disproportionately unwelcoming to free speech.” Many methodological flaws. Much confirmation bias.

    Via Education Dive: “New research from University of South Florida vice president of economic development Paul Sanberg suggests that colleges and universities should be more aggressive in developing startup projects on and around campus, which can lead to great gains in revenue and positive development of institutions.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new study from the University of California, Riverside, shows that student veterans attending rural community colleges struggle with integrating into campus communities.”

    Via Campus Technology: “Institutions Tap Student-Level Data to Improve Learning.” That’s according to analysis from the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities and the Institution for Higher Education Policy.

    Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Market for PCs in the U.S. Is Growing, But Global Sales Take a Hit.”

    “Who lost the most marks when cheating was stopped?” asks the BBC.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Institutional costs per degree at California’s two public four-year higher education systems dropped by almost one-fifth from 1987 to 2013, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California.”

    Via the BBC: “Graduates aren’t skilled enough, say employers.”

    Via ProPublica: “Debt by Degrees – Which Colleges Help Poor Students Most?”

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Study: Half or more of community college students struggle to afford food, housing.”

    Via The Guardian: “Teachers must ditch ‘neuromyth’ of learning styles, say scientists.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project


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  • 03/24/17--11:01: Hack Education Weekly News
  • Education Politics


    “Former Lobbyist With For-Profit Colleges Quits Education Department,” ProPublica reports. That’s Taylor Hansen who was a lobbyist for Career Education Colleges and Universities. He’s the son of Bill Hansen, the son of USA Funds, another student loan guarantee agency, Inside Higher Ed notes.

    Via The New York Times: “Betsy DeVos’s Hiring of For-Profit College Official Raises Impartiality Issues.” That’s Robert Eitel, a lawyer for Bridgepoint Education, a for-profit that recently settled with the federal government over charges of deceptive student lending.

    Via The Atlantic: “Trump Reverses Obama-Era Protections on Student Debt.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Two debt collectors said in separate statements this week that they will not assess collection fees on defaulted student loan borrowers who quickly enter repayment, despite new guidance from the Department of Education.” That’s the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and TG.

    Via PR Watch: “Betsy DeVos Ethics Report Reveals Ties to Student Debt Collection Firm.” That’s Performant Financial Co for those keeping track of who’s charging fees on student loan repayments.

    Via Wired: “The Senate Prepares to Send Internet Privacy Down a Black Hole.”

    Via The New York Times: “School Choice Fight in Iowa May Preview the One Facing Trump.”

    Via The Atlantic: “How Betsy DeVos Could End the School-Integration Comeback.”

    Representative Glenn Grothman (R-WI) claimed during a hearing before the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development that Pell Grants discourage marriage. He also suggested low-income students spend their financial aid on “goodies and electronics.” Vote these assholes out.

    Via Edsurge: “How Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s iZone Went from ‘Cool’ to Cold.”

    “A Public University Mends Fences With Its State” – that’s UW Madison mending fences with the state of Wisconsin. Mended fences according to The Chronicle of Higher Education at least.

    “How Budget Battles Are Stacked Against Higher Education,” according to The Pacific Standard.

    Via WBEZ News: “ChicagoAfter-School Programs Face Axe Under Trump’s Budget.”

    The state of New Jersey is poised to pass a bill that would cap public university speaker fees at $10,000. “The Snooki bill” is a response to $32,000 that the Jersey Shore star received from Rutgers in 2011.

    Via The Sacramento Bee: “Lawmaker wants tuition-free college in California by taxing millionaires.”

    Via The Washington Post: “ Is your school worth one star or five? D.C. officials approve new rating system.”

    More on how the IER, the Department of Education’s research arm, fails to protect student data in the infosec section below.

    Racism, Immigration, and Education


    Via The USA Today: “Kids on winning robotics team told, ‘Go back to Mexico’.” The kids were from Pleasant Run Elementary School in Indianapolis.

    Via The New York Times: “Amid ‘Trump Effect’ Fear, 40% of Colleges See Dip in Foreign Applicants.”

    Education in the Courts


    Via NPR: “The Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of A Special Education Student,” ruling 8–0 in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. “Supreme Court sets higher bar for education of students with disabilities,” says The Washington Post. More via The New York Times.

    Via The Atlantic: “An Israeli American Teen Has Been Arrested in the JCC Bomb Threats Case.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “After explosive allegations of anti-union intimidation, KIPP files a federal lawsuit against the UFT.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Princeton University filed a lawsuit against the Education Department on Friday in an effort to stop the release of hundreds of pages of documents that would reveal some of the university’s private admissions procedures.”

    The Chronicle of Higher Education on the opening day of the trial of Graham Spanier, the former Penn State president for his role in ignoring the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. And The Chronicle of Higher Education on the trial’s closing arguments.

    “Free College”


    Free college didn’t die with the Clinton campaign. It’s just getting started,” says The Hechinger Report’s Jon Marcus.

    More on legislation relating to free college in the politics section above.

    The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


    Via Politico: “The cost to taxpayers of the implosion of ITT Tech last fall has so far exceeded $141 million, according to court documents filed last week by attorneys representing the Education Department in the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings of the now-defunct for-profit college giant.”

    “How to Con Black Law Students: A Case Study” – Elie Mystal in The New York Times on a partnership between the HBCU Bethune-Cookman and the for-profit Arizona Summit Law School. Tressie McMillan Cottom weighs in.

    Predator Colleges May Thrive Again,” says The New York Times Editorial Board.

    More on for-profit lobbyists who’ve been hired by the Department of Education in the education politics section above.

    Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


    Coursera Removes Biometric Identity Verification Using Keystroke Matching,” Class Central reports.

    An update on Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng’s employment status in the HR section below.

    Meanwhile on Campus…


    Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy reports on Camelot Education– “Inside all of Camelot’s publicly funded schools, security, order, and behavior modification take precedence over academics.”

    Also via Buzzfeed, which does some of the best education reporting around right now: “A Former Student Says UC Berkeley’s Star Philosophy Professor Groped Her And Watched Porn At Work.” The accused: John R. Searle.

    “Who Gets a Bathroom Pass? The History of School Bathroomsby Jennifer Borgioli Binis.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “U of Maryland University College pursues a strategy of spinning off units into stand-alone companies, seeking financial gain for itself and affordable tuition rates for its students.”

    Via The Washington Post: “The heartbreaking reason some schools never seem to grant snow days.”

    Via The Guardian: “Boston public schools map switch aims to amend 500 years of distortion.” Bye, Mercator.

    Via Google’s blog: “Howard University opens a new campus at the Googleplex.” It’s a three-month summer program with classes taught by Google engineers and Howard faculty.

    Via The Washington Post: “Rick Perry challenges election of Texas A&M’s first gay student body president, says it was ‘stolen’ in ‘name of diversity’.” Because clearly all is well with the US nuclear arsenal and there’s nothing else the Secretary of Energy should be fussing about.

    Trump Will Deliver Keynote Address at Liberty U. Commencement,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Via The New York Times: “CUNY to Revamp Remedial Programs, Hoping to Lift Graduation Rates.”

    Bryan Alexander looks at the shift of Aquinas College and its shift away from offering liberal arts undergraduate degrees and back towards being a “normal school.”

    “Universities are changing their business model,” Microsoft’s Ray Fleming claims. Something about unbundling.

    Via The New York Times: “How the Depressed Find Solace on Yik Yak, Believe It or Not.”

    Another (typical) NYT story: “Where Halls of Ivy Meet Silicon Dreams, a New City Rises.” NYU. Cornell. Columbia.

    And The NYT strikes again: “How Colleges Can Admit Better Students,” writes Devin Pope. Me, I’d rather see colleges better support the students they already have.

    Accreditation and Certification


    “Despite the buzz, competency-based education remains a challenging market for software vendors,” says Inside Higher Ed.

    MissionU Says It Can Replace Traditional College With a One-Year Program,” Edsurge’s Jeffrey Young writes. The founder, of course, has a degree from an Ivy League school. MissionU seems like a pretty raw deal with its plan to take a cut of participants’ income. An even rawer deal: not having a (prestigious) higher ed degree when you’re not affluent, white, male. Paging Tressie McMillan Cottom.

    In other news of white men with degrees arguing that folks don’t really need degrees: “Independent study, a replacement for college” by Larry Sanger. Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia, has a PhD incidentally.

    That these sorts of stories still make headlines should prompt us to think about why and to whom credentialing matters. Via Buzzfeed: “This Biotech CEO Doesn’t Have A PhD, But He Did Leave School Under A Cloud.” That’s Gabriel Otte, ceo of Freenome, which is backed by the dukes of due diligent, Andreessen Horowitz.

    Go, School Sports Team!


    More on the trial of former Penn State president Graham Spanier in the courts section above.

    From the HR Department


    Via the MIT Technology Review: “Andrew Ng Is Leaving Baidu in Search of a Big New AI Mission.” Ng is, of course, the co-founder of the MOOC startup Coursera.

    Sara Schapiro, co-founder of Digital Promise, is the new education VP at PBS.

    HR news as “fake news.” Via NJ.com: “Superintendent: I’m a consultant for fed govt. Feds: We’ve never heard of this guy.” This story is something.

    RIP


    Via The New York Times: “Mary Maples Dunn, Advocate of Women's Colleges, Dies at 85.”

    Via Chalkbeat: “William Sanders, pioneer of controversial value-added model for judging teachers, dies.”

    Contests and Awards


    Maggie MacDonnell is the winner of the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize.

    More on racism at a robotics competition in the immigration section above.

    This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


    “Could blockchain tech make the registrar’s office obsolete?” asks Education Dive.

    “ Can Silicon Valley’s autocrats save democracy?” asks the Idaho Press.

    “Will Dropping the LSAT Requirement Create More Miserable Lawyers?” asks The New York Times.

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

    Upgrades and Downgrades



    Via The Verge: “Google built a new app so your kids can have a Google account, too.” This app is gross on so many levels – surveillance, privacy, data collection, behavior modification.

    Google.org pledges $50 million over the next two years to support “organizations that use technology and innovation to help more children get a better education.” Edsurge covers one of them, Learning Equality, which makes educational videos and textbooks available offline.

    Via Techcrunch: “The 52 startups that launched at Y Combinator W17 Demo Day 1.” And via Techcrunch: “All 51 startups that debuted at Y Combinator W17 Demo Day 2.” Honestly, I can’t even bear to look.

    “Julia, A Muppet With Autism, Joins The Cast Of ‘Sesame Street’,” NPR reports. More on Julia from disability rights journalist David Perry.

    More on UC Berkeley and publicly accessible video content. Via Phil Hill on the e-Literate blog: “Clarifications On UC Berkeley’s Accessibility Decision To Restrict Video Access.” A follow-up to the blockchain startup LBRY’s claims last week that it had rescued the videos from Mike Caulfield. “What is LBRY and what does it mean for education?” asks Bryan Alexander. Well, they’re the kind of folks who would retweet a story from William Kristol’s Weekly Standard, one that calls the ADA and Berkeley’s decision part of the “grievance industrial complex.” So they can fuck right off, IMHO.

    Via the MIT Technology Review: “Controlling VR with Your Mind.”

    VR makes a big classroom impact,” Education Dive claims.

    More on how VR makes women puke in the research section below.

    “A Continuum on Personalized Learning: First Draft” by Stanford professor Larry Cuban.

    Via Nature: “Gates Foundation announces open-access publishing venture.”

    TechDirt on ResearchGate: “Bill Gates And Other Major Investors Put $52.6 Million Into Site Sharing Unauthorized Copies Of Academic Papers.”

    One of the resources I use to pull together this list of education stories has been RealClear Education. But I have to note that since the election (perhaps since editor Andrew Rotherham left for The 74) is has taken a hard, hard turn to the conspiracy-theory right. One headline it curated this week: “Colleges May Break IRS Rules With Trump-Hating” from The Washington Times (a conservative paper owned by “the Moonies”). Another headline, this one from the LA Daily News: “The Hate Group That Incited Middlebury College Melee.” That “hate group”? The Southern Poverty Law Center. (FWIW, if you’re looking for a good source of curated headlines, particularly about digital access and digital security, I recommend Doug Levin’s“A Thinking Person’s Guide to EdTech News.”)

    Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


    “By 2030 students will be learning from robots,” the World Economic Forum claims. Hopefully it’s not the robots that power Google’s search algorithm. (See the upgrades/downgrades section above.)

    “Living with an AI: A Glimpse Into The Future” by The Scholarly Kitchen’s David Smith.

    More on AI expert Andrew Ng in the HR section above.

    Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


    MakeBlock has raised $30 million in Series B funding from Evolution Media Capital and Shenzhen Capital Group. The robotics company has raised $36.03 million total.

    WayUp has raised $18.5 million in Series B funding from Trinity Ventures, Axel Springer, BoxGroup, CAA Ventures, Female Founders Fund, General Catalyst, Index Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, OurCrowd-GCai, and SV Angel. The startup, which offers a job placement marketplace for college students has raised $27.47 million total.

    Pear Deck has raised $4 million from Growth Street Partners, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and Village Capital. The presentation software startup has raised $5.15 million total.

    Tutoring company Nactus has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Sandeep Aggarwal, Gautam Chhaochharia, and R Balachandar.

    Education Brands has acquiredRavenna Solutions.

    Testing companies Taskstream and Tk20 are merging.

    Rethink Education and Southern New Hampshire University have launched a $15 million seed fund to invest in ed-tech startups. Here’s the SNHU press release.

    Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


    Via Krebs on Security: “Student Aid Tool Held Key for Tax Fraudsters.” This is an update on the FAFSA / IRS tool.

    Via the Go to Hellman blog: “Reader Privacy for Research Journals is Getting Worse.”

    Via The Register Guard: “Virus possibly exposes Lane Community College data.” Specifically, data from its health clinic.

    Via The Hechinger Report: “Schools collect reams of data, inspiring a move to make sense of it all.” (Or! Or! You could not collect it if you don’t need it.)

    Via Education Week: “With Hacking in Headlines, K–12 Cybersecurity Ed. Gets More Attention.”

    Internet of Things could have eventual data-collection impact on K–12,” says Education Dive.

    Via the AP: “Google Maps already tracks you; now other people can, too.”

    Via Education Week: “The U.S. Department of Education’s office of inspector general has released an audit sharply critiquing the Institute of Education Sciences’ security screenings for federal education contractors.”

    Data and “Research”


    Placement rates, other data colleges provide consumers are often alternative facts,” says The Hechinger Report.

    “Do After-School Programs Positively Impact Children?” asks The Atlantic. “Proponents of President Trump’s budget say no. Their evidence may be faulty.”

    Via NPR: “Kids Who Suffer Hunger In First Years Lag Behind Their Peers In School.”

    Via Quartz: “Stanford researchers show we’re sending many children to school way too early.” Or! Or! We could make kindergarten kindergarten again.

    The Atlantic writes about a Century Foundation report on private school vouchers and segregation.

    The Atlantic also covers research linking food quality and student achievement.

    Via New World Notes: “Confirming danah boyd’s Early Concerns, Studies Suggest Women Much More Likely to Get Motion Sickness from Using VR.”

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Report on Role of College Search-and-Review Sites.”

    Via the Foundation Center: “Visualizing Funding for Libraries,” a database of library funding.

    Via Inside Higher Ed: “Internet speeds at colleges have nearly tripled since 2012 as IT departments have fought to keep up with students bringing new internet-connected devices to campus, streaming music and video, and gaming online, a new study found.”

    Via The Dallas Morning News: “15 percent of female undergraduates at UT have been raped, survey says.”

    Via NPR: “The Earth Is Flat? Check Wikipedia.” Shaq. Dude. Check Wikipedia.

    Also via NPR: “You Probably Believe Some Learning Myths: Take Our Quiz To Find Out.”

    Icon credits: The Noun Project