Hack Education Weekly News

(National) Education Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(State and Local) Education Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Immigration and Education

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

Education in the Courts

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

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

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

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

“Free College”

Inside Higher Ed on Baltimore’s “free college” plans.

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

The Business of Student Loans

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

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

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

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

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

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

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

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

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

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

Juilliard has joined edX.

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

Meanwhile on Campus…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accreditation and Certification

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

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

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

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

Testing, Testing…

Inside Higher Ed on the latest SAT scores.

Go, School Sports Team!

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

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

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

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

From the HR Department

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

The Business of Job Training

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

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

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

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

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

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

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

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

Upgrades and Downgrades

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

“Caution: Chromebooks,” writes Gary Stager.

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

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

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

NCTM and the Math Forumby Tracy Zager.

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

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

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

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

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

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

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

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

Tutoring company Varsity Tutors has acquired tutoring company First Tutors.

Testing company Taskstream-Tk20 has acquired testing company LiveText.

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

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

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Research, “Research,” and Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Hack Education Weekly News

(National) Education Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(State and Local) Education Politics

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

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

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

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

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

Education in the Courts

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

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

“Free College”

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

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

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

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

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

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

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

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

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

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

Meanwhile on Campus…

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

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

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

“In Support of Dr. Dorothy Kimby David Perry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BYU now sells caffeinated soda on campus.

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

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

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

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

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

Go, School Sports Team!

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

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

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

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

The Business of Job Training

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

Contests and Awards

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

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

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

Upgrades and Downgrades

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

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

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

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

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

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

ThinkCERCA has raised $10.1 million from Scott Cook, Signe Ostby, Chuck Templeton, Deborah Quazzo, Follett Knowledge Fund, Jeff Weiner, Mike Gamson, Plum Alley, and TAL Education Group. The literacy software company has raised $14.8 million total. (No disclosure on Edsurge’s coverage of the fundraising that Deborah Quazzo’s VC firm GSV is also an investor in Edsurge.)

Tuition.io has raised $7 million in Series B funding from Wildcat Venture Partners, MassMutual Ventures, and Mohr Davidow Ventures. The student loan management startup has raised $15.15 million total.

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

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

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

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

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

Research, “Research,” and Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hack Education Weekly News

(National) Education Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

(State and Local) Education Politics

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

More LAUSD news in the legal section below.

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

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

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

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

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

Immigration and Education

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

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

Education in the Courts

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

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

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

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

More on SoFi in the HR section below.

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

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

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

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

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

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

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

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

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

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

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

Meanwhile on Campus…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accreditation and Certification

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

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

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

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

More research on certification in the research section below.

Go, School Sports Team!

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

From the HR Department

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

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

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

Upgrades and Downgrades

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

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

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

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

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

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

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

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

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

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carnegie Learning has acquired Globaloria.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Research, “Research,” and Reports

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

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

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

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

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

Education Elements has also released a report on personalized learning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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