Hack Education Weekly News

Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

(National) Education Politics

Via The LA Times: “Betsy DeVos’ visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School prompts complaints from some students.” Here’s the readout from the Department of Education. “Why DeVos’s Parkland Visit Failed,” according to The Atlantic.

There’s lots more from Betsy DeVos’s talk at SXSWedu in the conferences section below.

No mention of DeVos in this WaPo story about her brother though.

Via Politico: “The Trump administration has removed documents from an Education Department website aimed at transgender students, including those intended to help students fight for access to bathrooms of their choice.”

Via The Washington Post: “The U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general is cautioning Congress against provisions in the House Republican higher education bill that would repeal regulations holding colleges and universities accountable for the use of federal student aid.”

And there’s more about the Department of Education and financial aid in the financial aid section below.

Via Buzzfeed: “A Top Trump Administration Civil Rights Official Says Peter Thiel Backed Her For The Job.” That would be Candice Jackson. In addition to the anti-First Amendment supporter Thiel, Jackson also name-dropped her connections to David Horowitz, a long-time advocate for silencing left-learning professors on campus, in order to get her job.

“What If America Didn’t Have Public Schools?” asks Julie Halpert in The Atlantic.

Via Edsurge: “Office of Edtech Wants Help Making Sense of All Those Higher Ed Providers.”

Via The Daily Beast: “The Silicon Valley Giant Bankrolling Devin Nunes.” That would be Oracle, who also bankrolls plenty in education and ed-tech too.

Via Education Week: “After Parkland Shooting, Sen. Rubio Questions Obama-Era Guidance on School Arrests.” And I am not even linking to the National Review article promoting this racist crap. But it is the worst “take” on school shootings.

Via the AP: “The National Rifle Association has given more than $7 million in grants to hundreds of U.S. schools in recent years, according to an Associated Press analysis, but few have shown any indication that they’ll follow the lead of businesses that are cutting ties with the group following last month’s massacre at a Florida high school.”

Via Apple Insider: “Jamf’s ‘innovation pod’ aims to offer iPad-based education to students in Haiti.” An “innovation pod” is actually a private classroom in a shipping container. Excellent re-branding.

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via The Atlantic: “The Ripple Effect of the West Virginia Teachers’ Victory.” More on West Virginia’s teachers via NPR. Via The New York Times: “‘I Live Paycheck to Paycheck’: A West Virginia Teacher Explains Why She’s on Strike.” (Note how teachers have their physical activity tracked as part of their health insurance benefits package.)

Via The LA Times: “Oklahoma comes closer to joining West Virginia in a major teacher strike.” More from KTUL in Tulsa.

Elsewhere in OK: “Oklahoma police department fires guns into textbooks to see if they can stop bullets. Really.”

Via The New York Times: “Anatomy of a School Lockdown: A Threat, Then the Anxious Wait.”

Via The Boston Globe: “For charter schools across the state, the news has been relentlessly bad in recent months: A Western Massachusetts principal fired after a drug arrest. A Dorchester school placed on probation amid allegations of financial mismanagement. Multiple unionization efforts. A record-breaking campaign finance penalty. Black students in Malden punished simply for wearing braided-hair extensions.”

I’m just gonna come right out and say it. I am sorry. But Wakanda would not have charter schools.

Via The Washington Post: “Florida legislature backs new gun restrictions after Parkland school shooting.” Governor Rick Scott has still not said whether he will sign the legislation.

NYC has a new schools chancellor: Richard Carranza, who currently heads the Houston school district. Chalkbeat, on last week’s superintendent brouhaha – : “The big loser in the Carvalho chaos, according to New York City papers: Bill de Blasio.” Also via Chalkbeat: “NYC knew about discrimination lawsuit involving Carranza, but say accusations are ‘completely false’.”

“N.Y. drama takes two big prospects out of discussion for L.A. schools job,” says The LA Times.

Via Chalkbeat: “Top school choice group advising Puerto Rico on controversial efforts to expand charters and vouchers.”

Via NPR: “Charity Honoring Philando Castile Pays All Lunch Debts In St. Paul School System.”

Via Wired: “Washington State Enacts Net Neutrality Law, in Clash With FCC.”

Via The Oregonian: “Oregon won’t allow 529 tax breaks for K–12 private school.”

Ball State University will take over control of the public school district in Muncie, Indiana.

Via WSBT: “Indiana teen becomes superintendent of fake school corporation.” The 13-year-old created a fake school district and successfully registered it with the state department of education. Think of the money he could make soliciting ed-tech deals!

Education in the Courts

Via The New York Times: “Ex-Leader of Baltimore County Schools, a Tech Booster, Pleads Guilty to Perjury.” That’s Dallas Dance.

Via The Verge: “Lawsuit against VC says he ‘groped and fondled multiple women’ for over a decade.” That’s Lucio Lanza.

Via The New York Times: “Top Volleyball Coach Raped Teenage Athletes, Lawsuit Alleges.” That’s Rick Butler, who coached for USA Volleyball.

Via The Register Guard: “Academy of Arts and Academics Principal Mike Fisher, who committed suicide Feb. 1, had sexually abused a student starting when she was 14 years old and continued having sex with her into adulthood, according to documents received by The Register-Guard.”

“The Trump administration just failed to stop a climate lawsuit brought by 21 kids,” The Chicago Tribune reports.

Via Ars Technica: “Judge bars student from violent games after alleged shooting threat.”

Via The Chicago Tribune: “Pearson Family Members Foundation sues University of Chicago, aiming to revoke $100M gift.”

Immigration and Education

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A federal district judge in Maryland on Monday upheld the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers temporary protection against deportation and provides the right to work to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, known as Dreamers. The ruling has no immediate practical effect, as federal judges in California and New York previously ordered nationwide temporary injunctions barring the Trump administration from ending the program as planned.”

DACA Lives, but for How Long?asks Inside Higher Ed.

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Washington Post: “Education Dept.’s mishandling of student debt relief claims creating headaches for applicants.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via Bloomberg: “Conflicts of Interest Seen as For-Profit Schools Eye Nonprofit Status.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “On Its 2nd Try, Grand Canyon U. Gets the Green Light to Become a Nonprofit.”

Via The Conversation: “Purdue-Kaplan deal blurs lines between for-profit and public colleges.” There’s more on the new Kaplan in the accreditation section below.

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

Via Edsurge: “​In Move Towards More Online Degrees, Coursera Introduces Its First Bachelor’s.” “Coursera and other purveyors of massive open online courses supposedly signaled the end of traditional credentials and, as some told it, universities. Now the company is betting big on both,” says Inside Higher Ed. Vive la MOOC révolution.

Coursera More than Doubles Number of Degrees on Its Platform,” says Campus Technology.

Via Chalkbeat: “A tiny Indiana district is banking on virtual education to survive. But at what cost?”

Inside Higher Ed reports that there’s “confusion over distance education rules”: “Colleges seek guidance about looming federal requirement for online colleges to tell students whether academic programs meet licensing requirements in their home states.”

“Orphan MOOCs and the Digital Dark Ages” by Jeffrey Pomerantz in Hybrid Pedagogy.

There’s more research on race and gender discrimination in online ed in the research section below.

Speaking of online education, this from earlier in the year. Via The New York Times Magazine: “What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn.”

Via Buzzfeed: “ How PragerU Is Winning The Right-Wing Culture War Without Donald Trump.” It’s a “university” not a university, but hey. When has that ever stopped anyone?

Meanwhile on Campus…

The New York Times on “How the Parkland Students Got So Good at Social Media” – a really important corrective, I’d argue, to that “digital native” silliness.

Lisa Miller in New York Magazine: “War Room” – “The teenage strategy sessions that built an anti-gun movement out of the trauma of Parkland in one week.”

The New York Times on school resource officers.

A Stanford student group, Stanford Students Against Addictive Devices, is protesting Apple for its role in “smartphone addiction.” Perhaps protest Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab?

Via The Huffington Post: “Florida Public School Teacher Has A White Nationalist Podcast.” One white supremacist Florida public school teacher now no longer has a job.

Via The Washington Post: “‘Nazis go home!’ Fights break out at Michigan State as protesters, white supremacists converge for Richard Spencer speech.”

Christina Hoff Sommers’ speech was briefly interrupted at Lewis & Clark College, prompting at least one NYT op-ed writer to write something ridiculous (and wrong) in response.

University of California president Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday that she wants the system to explore ways to guarantee admission to academically eligible students in the state’s community colleges,” says Inside Higher Ed.

Via Buzzfeed: “University Puts Physicist Lawrence Krauss On Paid Leave While It Investigates Sexual Harassment Allegations.” That’s Arizona State University.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In a Fight Against Depression, UCLA Relies on Technology.”

Whose University Is It Anyway?asks Ron Srigley in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via Pacific Standard: “Purdue University Gets the Final Approval on Its Plan to Convert Kaplan Into a Non-Profit College.” More via Inside Higher Ed,

George Mason University’s Tyler Cowen offers “A Radical Solution to the Overuse of Occupational Licensing.”

There’s more licensing and certification news in the MOOC section above.


Via Chalkbeat: “Indiana’s new ILEARN test is expected to be shorter than ISTEP.”

“One Standardized Tests Provider Looks to Gaming and Personalized Learning to Innovate Exams” – Edsurge on ETS.

Memos from HR

Diane Auer Jones will join the Department of Education as senior adviser to the assistant secretary for postsecondary education, a post she held under George W. Bush.

Katrina Stevens, formerly of Edsurge and the Department of Education, will join the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as its new director of Learning Sciences.

Via The Iowa City Press-Citizen: “ACT to cut 100 jobs companywide.” Right after making some big VC investments too.

Via The New York Times: “Harvard Professor Resigns Amid Allegations of Sexual Harassment.” That’s government professor Jorge I. Domínguez.

There are sexual harassment allegations in several sections. Because education is certainly not immune from power and exploitation and violence.

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Richard Buery, a New York City deputy mayor who tried to build bridges between the district and charter schools, will leave to take a senior post this month at KIPP, a national charter-school network.”

The Business of Job Training

Watch how the narratives about “the future of education” are crafted. Via The Wall Street Journal: “Why an Honors Student Wants to Skip College and Go to Trade School.”

Conferences and Events

Lots of marketing and PR from SXSWedu: Edsurge on nudges and behavioral economics. Edsurge on teachers leaving the classroom to join tech companies. Edsurge on mindfulness in public schools. Edsurge on the business of OER. Edsurge on "reality-based education.“ Edsurge on the ethics of ed-tech companies paying teachers. Edsurge on ”Words to Never Use If You Want to Build a Diverse Edtech Company."

Highlights from some of the featured speakers:

Via Edsurge: “Betsy DeVos at SXSW EDU: ‘What Students Really Need Won’t Originate in Washington’.”

Via WaPo’s Valerie Strauss: “Betsy DeVos used Shutterstock picture to attack U.S. schools. Teachers aren’t having it.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: danah boyd on the Dangers of Weaponized Critical Thinking.“ Edsurge also weighs in on boyd’s SXSWedu keynote: ”danah boyd: How Critical Thinking and Media Literacy Efforts Are ‘Backfiring’ Today."

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Are AI-Powered Chatbot Tutors the Future of Textbooks?asks Edsurge.

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

Upgrades and Downgrades

Not pigeons, but hey… Via The Washington Post: “The Silicon Valley elite’s latest status symbol: Chickens.”

“‘Blockchain’ is meaningless,” says The Verge’s Adrianne Jeffries. Which means it’s perfect for marketers to use in promoting their various education technology projects.

Via The Guardian: “Facebook asks users: should we allow men to ask children for sexual images?” Thank goodness neither Facebook nor its founder have expressed any interest in bringing these questionable ethics and business practices to education. PHEW, RIGHT?

“To get rural kids online, Microsoft wants to put Internet access on school buses,” The Washington Post reports.

Via The Verge: “Lego will sell its first sustainable pieces later this year.”

Via Laughing Squid: “Text-to-Teach Children’s Book Responds With Demonic Screeching When Battery Is Low.”

Your Kid’s Phone Is Not Like a Cigarette,” Anya Kamenetz writes in a NYT op-ed.

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

“Assessing the dangers of AI applications in education” by Tony Bates.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Via The 74: “HarvardMIT Personalized Learning Program to Help Early Readers Gets $30M From Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.” More via Education Dive.

Via Chalkbeat: “Walton gives Indianapolis Public Schools $1.7 million to increase principal power.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Degreed has raised $42 million from Jump Capital, Founders Circle Capital, and Owl Ventures. The skills identification company has raised $76.2 million total.

The language learning app ELSA has raised $3.2 million from Monk’s Hill Ventures. The company has raised $3.3 million total.

GradTouch has raised ~$1.3 million from NPIF Maven Equity Finance to help “18–24 year olds transition from university life into a young professional.”

Tarena International has acquired the K–12 robotics company Wuhan Haoxiaozi Robot Technology (a.k.a. Rtec).

Springboard Education has acquired Kids’ Adventures.

Asteria Education has acquired the test prep company ECS Learning Systems.

The Stepping Stones Group has acquired Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services.

The Verge reports thatFormer Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announces new investment fund focused on job creation.” And, yup, he’s going to focus on education. FML.

In other education VC news, Edsurge points to “The Newest U.S. Education Technology Venture Fund? Look to Japan.” That would be Edulab Capital Partners.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

From the University of Arizona press office: Sudha Ram’s Smart Campus research tracks students’ social interactions and daily routines via their CatCard usage – and leverages that information to make predictions about freshman retention.“ This one’s for all those who whine that liberal colleges are the biggest threat to free speech on campus. I’d say that ”smart campus" projects are much much more dangerous.

Via Willamette Week: “Portland State University Researchers May Have Violated Federal Law by Using the Personal Data of Thousands of Portland-Area K–12 Students.”

According to Education Dive, “App shows how Internet of Things benefits colleges, students.” I’d say that “app shows how little colleges and the companies they partner with for various education technologies respect student privacy or sovereignty.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The 2018 Trends Report.”

Research from ProPublica: the “Trump Town” project – “Tracking White House Staffers, Cabinet Members and Political Appointees Across the Government.” Look up the Department of Education folks. It’s fun.

“There Is No ‘Epidemic of Mass School Shootings’” says Eric Levitz in the New York Magazine.

Via NPR: “Here’s How To Prevent The Next School Shooting, Experts Say.”

“The screen time debate is pitting parents against each other,” says The Verge.

Via NPR: “More Than Half Of Transgender Teachers Surveyed Tell NPR They Are Harassed At Work.”

Via CItyLab: “The Problem With America’s New National Broadband Map.”

Via Times Higher Ed (republished in Inside Higher Ed): “One in three students globally is enrolled in private higher education institutions, according to research that reveals the huge growth and wide reach of private providers.”

Inside Higher Ed reports on a Foreign Policy report: “China Intensifying Oversight of U.S. Student Groups.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Survey Finds Girls’ Isolation, Vulnerability Rise With Heavy Social Media Use.”

Inside Higher Ed reports on a new study from the Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University, finding “Race and Gender Bias in Online Courses.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“To What Extent and Under Which Circumstances Are Growth Mind-Sets Important to Academic Achievement? Two Meta-Analyses” from researchers Victoria F. Sisk, Alexander P. Burgoyne, Jingze Sun, Jennifer L. Butler, and Brooke N. Macnamara. Spoiler alert: weak effects.

Via Edsurge: “Why Professors Doubt Education Research.” Perhaps because education (technology) journalists write up some pretty silly stories based on the so-called findings? I’m just spitballing here…

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Guns and Ed-Tech (Again)

It’s become commonplace for people to respond to President Trump by urging others not to take his statements seriously – not to give them attention or credence because “it’s a distraction.” Or “it’ll never happen.” No doubt, as a rule, Trump’s ideas are rarely well-thought-out. His policy proposals often seem to have been invented entirely off-the-cuff – as he speaks or as he tweets – and as such are hardly policy proposals at all.

Trump’s notion of arming teachers in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida might be a perfect example of this. “It’s a distraction.” “It’ll never happen.”

His call to “harden schools” does echo, some have suggested, a proposal the NRA made back in 2013 following the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. That proposal recommended hiring more school security officers and arming select teachers. There aren’t a lot of details in Trump’s plan – and so many unanswered questions about how it could possibly work – but that hasn’t stopped other politicians from making similar statements, from unveiling similar proposals.

They’re not simply demanding more weapons in schools. They’re demanding more weapons and anti-weapons technology, along with more surveillance capabilities. “We’ve got to invest in metal detectors,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said yesterday. “We’ve got to invest in bulletproof glass. We’ve got to invest in steel doors. We’ve got to invest in upgraded locks.”

This is the second time I’ve written this year about guns and schools, something that I’d much rather not have to do – not because the topic strays from my focus here on this site on education technology. Rather, because all of this is ed-tech, but it’s rarely addressed as such.

To reiterate what I wrote in that other essay: we need to expand what is too often a narrow definition of education technology – one that obsesses with gadgetry but fails to consider the context into which gadgets are introduced; one that lauds “innovation” but fails to understand systems, structures, histories; one that champions products but ignores practices; one that readily embraces “what’s new” and readily ignores “what’s just”; one that insists that “technology” means “computers in the classroom” and “technology” means “progress.” This narrow definition circumscribes what we think of as ed-tech, how we talk about ed-tech, how we imagine its development and its usage, and how we address the technological systems and practices that are already deeply embedded in any educational setting.

“Hardening schools” is an education technology endeavor, whether or not we take seriously anyone’s suggestions about giving teachers guns. For now, “hardening schools” explicitly calls for hardware like those items listed by Governor Scott: metal detectors and bulletproof windows, as well as surveillance cameras and various sensors that can detect gunfire. It also implies software – social media monitoring and predictive analytics tools, for example, that claim they can identify students “at risk” of violence or political extremism.

The hardware and software already exist in schools – although we know that these technologies are not implemented evenly across all demographics or across all schools. Perhaps the emphasis should be placed less on insisting that arming teachers will never happen and more on recognizing the ways in which these disciplinary regimes are already in place, the ways in which data and assessments are so readily and efficiently weaponized, and the ways in which education technologies facilitate a culture of surveillance and compliance and control.

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Hack Education Weekly News

Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

(National) Education Politics

Via The New York Times: “Trump Wants to Arm Teachers. These Schools Already Do.”

Via The Hechinger Report: “Betsy DeVos’s school choice ideas are a reality in Sweden, where student performance has suffered.”

Via The Washington Post: “DeVos moves to delay Obama-era rule on minority special-education students.”

Via The New York Times: “Kushner’s Family Business Received Loans After White House Meetings.” (I’m including this here because all of these entities – Kushner’s family, the companies he received loans from – have education investments too.)

Speaking of loans, there’s more about the Department of Education and the business of student loans in the “business of financial aid” section below.

Via Motherboard: “The FCC’s New Broadband Map Paints an Irresponsibly Inaccurate Picture of American Broadband.”

Via the BBC: “Learners let down by Learndirect, say MPs.” (Learndirect is a job training company that has a major contract with the UK government.)

From The Express Tribune in Pakistan: “Around 500,000 laptops are likely to be distributed among talented and deserving students by the year 2020, according to Prime Minister Youth Programme Chairwoman Leila Khan.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Yesterday was high drama in Miami and NYC as the former’s school superintendent was supposed to be named the superintendent of the latter. The headlines tell the story of how all this unfolded instead: Via Chalkbeat: “Carvalho’s first New York City controversy: his salary, which would be 50 percent higher than Fariña’s.” Via The New York Times: “Alberto Carvalho Backs Out of New York City Schools Job.” Via Chalkbeat: “What happened when: Inside the circus that was the Carvalho pick and sudden rejection.”

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that “West Virginia Teachers’ Strike Ends With a Promise to Raise Pay.” Nope. West Virginia’s teachers are still on strike. Via The Atlantic: “West Virginia’s Teachers Are Not Satisfied.” Still more via The New York Times.

Via The Tampa Bay Times: “Despite Parkland’s opposition, Florida House panel votes to arm teachers.”

Via TPM: “In Oath Keepers Webinar, Student Gun Control Activists Are ‘The Enemy’.”

Via The Washington Post: “D.C. Public Schools graduation rate on track to decline this year” – that is, from 73% down to 49%, based on high school seniors’ current progress.

Via Chalkbeat: “Indiana still has the nation’s largest voucher program. But growth is slowing down.”

Via The New York Times: “Arizona Republicans Inject Schools of Conservative Thought Into State Universities.”

Immigration and Education

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Southern New Hampshire University and several donors want to guarantee an education for 1,000 DACA students.”

Via WaPo’s Jay Mathews: “Born in the U.S.A. and still hassled about the immigration status of their parents” on their college applications.

Education in the Courts

The US Supreme Court heard arguments in Janus v AFSCME this week – its decision “likely to permanently weaken public unions,” says NBC News. Via The Intercept: “The Right Is Trying to Take Down Public Sector Unions. It May Bring Much More Down With It.”

Via Gizmodo: “‘Bro Culture’ Led to Repeated Sexual Harassment, Former Google Engineer’s Lawsuit Says.”

Another Google lawsuit, as reported by Ars Technica: “Ex-Google recruiter: I was fired because I resisted ‘illegal’ diversity efforts.”

Here’s some of the latest on the Dallas Dance, the former head of the Baltimore County Public Schools, who’s set to go to trial soon on perjury charges.

The Business of Financial Aid

Via NPR: “Education Department Wants To Protect Student Loan Debt Collectors.”

Via Bloomberg: “Student-Debt Firms Protected From State Probes Under Trump Plan.”

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

MOOC news is now much more often “job training” news, so there’s more on MOOCs in that section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…

The New York Times profiles a new private school startup called Luminaria (and cites me in the process): “Why This Tech Executive Says Her Plan to Disrupt Education Is Different.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Richard Spencer Will Speak at Michigan State – Way Out on a Farm.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Shadowy ‘Group of 17 Faculty’ Adds Confusion to Chapel Hill’s Silent Sam Debate.” The headline really doesn’t do justice to this story, which involves a Confederate statue and a faculty group’s threat to remove it if UNC does not.

Via The Washington Post: “In a prestigious high school math and science program, alumni say #MeToo.”

Via Chalkbeat: “How KIPP’s observers and allies are reacting to co-founder Mike Feinberg’s firing” for sexual misconduct.

Chalkbeat on how a Denver school uses yoga as a disciplinary tool.

Business Schools Have No Business in the University,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why Admissions Leaders Have – or Haven’t – Spoken Up for Prospective Protesters.”

“How the student activists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High demonstrate the power of a comprehensive education,” by Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick.

Via the Detroit Free Press: “Central Michigan University shooting: 2 dead, gunman at large.”

Mount Ida College and Lasell College are in talks to possibly merge, The Boston Globe reports.

Concordia College will close its doors.

Via Wisconsin Public Radio: “UW-Stevens Point Provost: Program Cuts, Faculty Layoffs ‘Unavoidable’.”

“Another queen sacrifice,” says Bryan Alexander. “Castleton University in Vermont.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Lessons Learned From a $75 Million Failed Experiment.” That is, the closure of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning.

University staff are on strike at some 60+ universities in the UK over plans to cut their pensions.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via The New York Times: “Hungary’s Soros-Backed University Is Reaccredited.”

Via Campus Technology: “ACE and Credly Building Transcript for Digital Credentials.”


Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Iowa Lawmakers Wade Into Disputed Award of $31 Million State Testing Contract.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Education Dept. Opens New Investigation Into Michigan State’s Handling of Nassar Scandal.”

“Black Labor, White Profits, and How the NCAA Weaponized the Thirteenth Amendment” by Kevin Gannon.

Via The Washington Post: “Transgender wrestler Mack Beggs wins second Texas state girls’ championship.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Purdue University’s president harshly critiques the current system that allows college athletes to drop out and go pro after a single season.”

ESPN has more on the ongoing federal investigation into college basketball recruitment.

Memos from HR

Bloomberg discovers Taylorism: “Amazon’s Labor-Tracking Wristband Has a History.”

The Business of Job Training

Via Techcrunch: “Udacity grew its revenue over 100% year-over-year in 2017.”

Speaking of Udacity, the company has responded to the outcry about its all-male, mostly-white advisory board by dissolving it.

Chalkbeat on CZI’s grant to the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning: “‘Personalized learning’ comes to teacher training, bringing big ambitions and big questions.”

Via Techcrunch: “Amazon will now pay Alexa developers for top-performing skills for kids.”

Via the Google blog: “Learn with Google AI: Making ML education available to everyone.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Is School Desegregation Coming to an End?asks The Atlantic.

Can sending public money to private schools improve equity?asks The Hechinger Report.

“School Shootings Have Declined Dramatically Since the 1990s. Does It Really Make Sense to Militarize Schools?asks The Intercept.

(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

Code.org boasts that “Minecraft has inspired 85 million on Code.org.” That is, “more than 85 million learners around the world have been introduced to some of the basic concepts of coding and computer science through the organization’s Minecraft activities.” I guess I’m a little skeptical about that number. That would mean more than one out of every ten school age children on the planet have undertaken one of Code.org’s Minecraft lessons. Even if every school age kid in the US public school system was introduced to Minecraft through Code.org, that’s still only about 51 million students. Code.org might see itself as the go-to site for the future of computer science education, time and time again it’s shown it needs help with basic math and statistics.

It’s likeUber, but for Getting to the Hospital.” Actually, it is Uber for getting to doctors’ visits. I mean, what could go wrong?! (Including this here because a) people keep using the Uber analogy for education and b) I’m waiting for when the “ride-sharing” company launches its school-bus replacement plan. Meanwhile, “Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Joins Health Startup’s Board,” says Bloomberg. Because that’s how Silicon Valley punishes a failed CEO who, among other disastrous decisions, peeped at the medical records of a woman who was suing his company after she was raped by one of its contract workers.

Via The New York Times: “Tech Envisions the Ultimate Start-Up: An Entire City.” Privatize everything.

Via the Southern Poverty Law Center: “How Tech Supports Hate.”

Via The Digital Reader: “ Kobo to Retire Kobo Kids Accounts on 3 April.”

Edsurge on Hypothes.is’s partnership with Elsevier.

Ethereum’s smart contracts are full of holes,” says The MIT Technology Review. Good thing no one in education is silly enough to be promoting blockchain as a solution for anything.

Oh wait. Via the press release: “World’s Largest Pilot of Blockchain Technology in Education Launched Affecting Over 400,000 Students.”

Amazon Tries Its Hand in School Procurement,” says Edsurge, with a story that totally doesn’t sound like it come from Amazon PR.

Via NPR: “Dolly Parton’s Nonprofit Reaches Milestone With 100 Million Books Sent To Children.”

Educators sure do seem to discover a lot of new “mindsets.”

Techcrunch on the latest in “parent-tech”: “Peanut, the matchmaking app for moms, launches a community feature called Peanut Pages.”

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Alex Usher reviews Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

From the Edmodo blog: “AI, Algorithms and What Should We All Be Thinking About?”

Via Campus Technology: “Survey: In an AI World, Retraining Will Come from Employers, Not Higher Ed.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Via the Harvard Crimson: “Koch Foundation Donations Spur Debate at HKS.” HKS is Harvard Kennedy School for you heathens who don’t know the school’s acronyms.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Meritize has raised $6.8 million from Colchis Capital, Chicago Ventures, Cube Financial Holdings, ECMC, College Loan Corporation, University Ventures, City Light Capital, PC Squared, and Meritize management. The company makes student loans based on students’ “academic data.”

Sales bootcamp Strive Talent has raised $3.8 million from Upfront Ventures, Kapor Capital, Webb Investment Network, NextView Ventures, University Ventures, and Graph Ventures.

The scholarship platform Buddy4Study.com has raised $3 million in Series A from CBA Capital.

The Graide Network – a platform for outsourcing grading – has raised $1 million from Network Ventures.

Discovery Education has been acquired by the private equity firm Francisco Partners.

Lightsail Education has been acquired by the private equity firm Agile Investment Group.

Reports that Pearson is looking to sell its K–12 courseware business in EdWeek’s Market Brief, Inside Higher Ed, and Edsurge.

From the press release: “Campus Technology Conference to Merge with UBTech.”

Via China Money Network: “China’s Sunlands Online Education Files For $300M IPO In New York.”

Reuters reports that SpringerNature is planning to IPO too.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via Edsurge: “Cheating on Chegg? Maybe Not on Its Tutoring Platform.” So Chegg’s algorithms declare you’re a cheater, and you don’t get a tutor. JFC. Silicon Valley continues its obsession with cheating as an excuse to violate students’ privacy and their agency.

Sponsored content on Edsurge – sponsored by Salesforce, that is, a company that seems quite keen on expanding its reach in education – on how predictive analytics systems work or don’t work: “‘Faculty Told Me They Hated It.’ When an Academic-Alert System Backfires – Twice.” My comments above about Silicon Valley’s obsession with cheating are also applicable here.

Via The Verge: “Palantir has secretly been using New Orleans to test its predictive policing technology.”

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick writes about “Charting my kids’ development through targeted advertising on our family computer.”

There are more privacy horrors in the “upgrades/downgrades” section above.

Via Campus Technology: “Amazon Releases New Guidance on AWS and FERPA.”

A report from Deloitte: “Elevating cybersecurity on the higher education leadership agenda.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports

I’ve run the numbers on how much venture capital was funneled into education in the month of February.

EdWeek’s Market Brief with data from the Association of American Publishers: “K–12 Publishers’ Sales Slip, But States’ Buying Cycles May Be to Blame.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Gallup survey finds that Americans believe more in ‘higher education’ than in ‘colleges and universities.’ Poll also drives home that skepticism is deepest among white men without degrees.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new study from the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness has found that an increasing number of public, two-year colleges are using multiple measurements beyond standardized tests to place students in college-level math and reading courses.”

Politico with research on school safety: “ Why hardening schools hasn’t stopped school shootings.”

Via The Intercept: “Children of Color Already Face Violent Discipline in Schools. Arming Teachers Will Get Them Killed.”

Via The New York Times: “Anti-Semitic Incidents Surged 57 Percent in 2017, Report Finds.” Inside Higher Ed notes, based on the same ADL report, that “Anti-Semitic Incidents on Campus Up 89%.”

The Pew Research Center is out with its latest report on “Social Media Use in 2018.”

“How to Protect Your College’s Research From Undue Corporate Influence” – according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via Buzzfeed: “The Inside Story Of How An Ivy League Food Scientist Turned Shoddy Data Into Viral Studies.”

An op-ed in The New York Times: “The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’.”

Via NPR: “From Little Rock to Parkland: A Brief History of Youth Activism.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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