The Stories We’ve Been Told (in 2017) about Education Technology

Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2017: The Stories We’ve Been Told

At the end of every year since I founded Hack Education in 2010, I’ve reviewed what I think are the most important and influential trends in education technology. I’ve called this “the Top Ed-Tech Trends,” but this has never been an SEO-optimized list of products that the ed-tech industry wants schools or parents or companies to buy (or that it claims schools and parents and companies are buying). No, fidget spinners were not a “top ed-tech trend” this year.

“Trends” is certainly a misnomer, and I’m going to start moving away from that word this year. This is about the stories we’re told about education, about technology, and about education technology. (No doubt, some people hope these stories fuel markets and lead to trends.)

This series is meant to serve in-depth exploration of the events of the past year and an analysis of how these events shape the way in which we imagine and prepare for the future of teaching and learning. We must think more critically about education technology – its technologies and its stories – and I believe that comes in part from scrutinizing its history. The world is not changing more rapidly than ever before – don’t let that story convince you to throw the past into a memory hole.

This series always ends up being incredibly lengthy – I apologize in advance – and this year, it threatens to be even more so. 2017 has been an extraordinary year for education news and for technology news – two areas that provide crucial context for everything that happens with education technology.

It’s the first year, of course, of the Trump Administration, and its attempts to change education policy and funding have been profound: the nomination of his most controversial and unpopular Cabinet member, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos; a budget proposal that would have slashed $9 billion from the Department of Education (not to mention steep cuts to other education-related programs and services, including funding for scientific research); battles with HBCUs; the revocation of DACA and changes to immigration and visa policies, including an increase in deportations; the withdrawal from UNESCO, the UN’s cultural and educational organization; Justice Department investigations into college admissions and free speech on campuses; the rollback of regulations relating to the rights of students with disabilities; the rollback of Obama-era guidance on Title IX and sexual assault policies on college campuses; the delay of Obama-era regulations on for-profit higher ed and reneging on promises of debt relief for the students defrauded by these institutions; the rollback of Obama-era protections for transgender students; the rollback of Obama-era rules on school lunch standards (are you sensing a trend yet?); and the scaling back of investigations into civil rights violations in schools.

All this happened in the larger context of news from the US school system itself. And again, what a year: changing demographics of teachers and students (and the US population overall); changing enrollments; desegregation turning to resegregation; hate crimes; lead poisoning; “adjunct-ification”; school shootings (including those by school police officers); bullying; hazing; hurricanes; fraud; money laundering; FBI investigations; illicit campaign contributions; corruption charges; drug-fueled parties; white nationalists on campus; student protests; (ongoing) racial disparities in school discipline; the opioid crisis; school closures and mergers; rising poverty levels and growing income inequality; increasing student loan debt; food insecurity; “lunch shaming”; homelessness; and my god, so many stories of sexual assault and sexual harassment at school – stories that emerged well before the revelations regarding Harvey Weinstein have emboldened more victims to come forward and speak up.

And I haven’t even touched on any news from the tech sector yet. There were scores of stories of sexual assault and sexual harassment in that industry too: accusations regarding the ride-sharing company Uber – Susan Fowler really should be credited for kicking off much of the discussion of sexism and Silicon Valley culture this year; the student loan startup SoFi; venture capitalist Frank Artale; venture capitalist Dave McClure; venture capitalist Chris Sacca; venture capitalist Justin Caldbeck; and venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson. Then there was the infamous anti-diversity memo distributed by Google engineer James Damore and leaked to the press this summer that charged that efforts the company (and the industry more broadly) had taken to address diversity were misguided as women are biologically ill-suited to computer science – which is, of course, totally bullshit. And then there were the revelations – although, to be fair, many people had already noticed this last year – that the Internet had played a played a major role in a concerted dis-information campaign during the 2016 Presidential Election, that Twitter, Facebook, and Google were (and still are) ongoing sources of misinformation, that the major technology companies have become powerful monopolies and in the process serve to undermine democracy and reshape public institutions to suit their needs and visions for the future.

One of the challenges of this end-of-year series has always been determining what is really within the purview of “education technology.” This isn’t a review of “the year in education” or “the year in tech,” after all. And yet it is naive and even misleading to pretend as though education technology exists separately from either of those – from the politics of DC, the politics of local school boards, or the politics of Silicon Valley, for example. The latter’s influence permeates education – politically, financially, and culturally; via venture capital, venture philanthropy, and lobbying efforts, and increasingly through algorithms that govern schools’ and teachers’ decision-making. As concerns about “fake news” make clear, Silicon Valley’s influence also extends to how we access information and build knowledge; it extends to the stories we hear and share.

So that’s my focus of this project this year: analyzing the stories that we have told and were told in 2017 about and by education technologies.

The series kicks off on Saturday, 2 December. (You can receive updates from Hack Education via email if you prefer to read articles that way.)

Stories From Previous Years:

Here are some of the stories that got us to where we are today:

The Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2016

The Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2015

The Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2014

The Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2013

The Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2012

The Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2011

The Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2010

I’m fortunate to be a recipient of a Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship this year. But as a reminder, Hack Education is a completely independent publication. The stories I write here are not backed by venture capital or venture philanthropy or consulting dollars. Readers can support my work in a number of ways, but what would be awesome is if everyone took the time to think more critically about the stories they’re telling about the future of education. It’s getting pretty dystopian out there…

Icon credits: The Noun Project

from Hack Education

Hack Education Weekly News

(National) Education Politics

The Republican War on College,” by The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson.

Tax bill reflects rift between many Republicans and higher education,” The Washington Post reports. And perhaps it’s not just higher ed. The education reform-minded publication The 74 says that “Educators Warn of ‘Devastating’ Consequences for Charter Schools in New GOP Tax Bill.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Graduate Students Are Freaking Out About The New Tax Bill.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai – formerly of Verizon – has announced that “net neutrality” will be dismantled. That could give telecoms – hey! like Verizon! – the ability to throttle or block content online.

Via The New York Times: “Net Neutrality Repeal: What Could Happen and How It Could Affect You.”

Network Neutrality Can’t Fix the Internet,” Ian Bogost argues in The Atlantic.

“Will Reversal of FCC’s ‘Net Neutrality’ Policy Help or Hurt Schools?” asks EdWeek’s Market Brief. I mean, I guess it depends in part on your financial relationship to a telecom, right?

In other bad news from the FCC, this via The Verge: “FCC begins scaling back internet subsidies for low-income homes.”

“Education Dept. Restores Pell Eligibility to Nearly 300,000 Students,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Via Chalkbeat: “To back up claim that schools must change, DeVos cites made-up statistic about the future of work.”

Via Education Week: “DeVos’ Team Hears Criticisms of Obama-Era Guidance on Student Discipline.”

Via The Washington Post: “Education Department withdraws ‘bomb threat checklist’ that used ‘ebonics’ as an identifier.”

An op-ed in Bloomberg says that “China’s Top Economic Risk? Education.” For what it’s worth, venture capitalists have heavily backed Chinese ed-tech startups this year. (Mostly tutoring companies.)

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via “Virginia will require computer science education in high school.”

Via The Detroit Free Press: “Vendor Norman Shy, convicted in Detroit school kickback scheme, cuts $1.5M restitution check.”

Via Carolina Public Press: “Emails shed light on school canceling activist’s appearance.” The activist in question is Bree Newsome, best known for scaling the flag pole at the South Carolina State House to take down the Confederate flag.

Note the completely unbiased headline here. “Despite Startling Achievement Gaps, San Francisco Board Rejects Bid to Bring KIPP School to Poor Neighborhood,” says The 74.

Immigration and Education

ICE officials have invited tech companies, including Microsoft, to develop algorithms that will track visa holders’ social media activity,” ProPublica reports. Schools should consider the ways in which their own social media surveillance re-inscribes these sorts of violent, nationalist policies.

Via Longreads: “The True Story of Refugees in an American High School.”

Education in the Courts

Via Politico: “The New Mexico Supreme Court will reconsider a case that could end up as voucher proponents’ next best shot at scrapping provisions in most states that prohibit public money from supporting religious schools. That’s especially the case now that another high-profile legal challenge, to a Colorado voucher program, is in question after anti-voucher candidates swept a recent school board race.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Justice Dept. Says Harvard Is Not Complying With Probe on Race in Admissions.” More via The Wall Street Journal and via Buzzfeed.

Via The Root: “Virginia Mother Charged With Felony After Putting Recording Device in Daughter’s Backpack to Catch Bullies.”

The Business of Student Loans

Via The New York Times: “When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work.”

Via Politico: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday accused Citibank of misleading student loan borrowers about tax benefits, incorrectly charging late fees and other practices it says violated federal consumer protection law. Citibank has agreed to pay a $2.75 million civil penalty, pay $3.75 million in borrower refunds and make changes to its servicing practices to resolve the allegations.”

There’s more research on student loan fraud in the for-profit higher ed section below.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via The Chicago Tribune: “Almost all student loan fraud claims involve for-profit colleges, study finds.”

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

The University of Iceland has joined edX.

Via Chalkbeat: “Policymakers agree virtual schools should get more teachers and less money. Will they make it happen?” Perhaps this headline is better suited for the Betteridge’s Law section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Here’s the Mashable headline: “This school plans to create an ‘unsafe space’ and it’s causing controversy.” “This school” is a grammar school in Kent. And it’s “announced plans to create an ‘unsafe space’ to discuss texts including Mein Kampf and topics such as the infamous memo by ex-Google employee James Damore, who claimed there are ‘biological causes’ that prevent more women from getting jobs in tech.” “Unsafe space” is the phrase used by many men of the alt-right to talk about ways in which they can continue to keep people of color and white women out of male-dominated spaces.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “After a special meeting of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, the university announced late Tuesday that it would permit – if certain conditions are met – the white supremacist Richard Spencer to appear on campus.”

“White nationalist Richard Spencer banned from 26 European nations,” The LA Times says. But he’s still welcome on college campuses and Twitter. What a time to be alive.

Via The Washington Post: “ A self-proclaimed Nazi is banned from his college campus in Florida – but allowed to remain a student.” That’s Ken Parker, former KKK grand dragon, who’s banned from the University of North Florida.

“A recording of the way professors at Wilfrid Laurier University questioned a teaching assistant about her use of a debate video in class has set off a major dispute about academic freedom in Canada,” says Inside Higher Ed.

Via The New York Times: “Questioning Evolution: The Push to Change Science Class.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Prominent Creative-Writing Professor at UVa Is Accused of Sexually Harassing Students.” The professor in question: John Casey.

This isn’t a “meanwhile on campus story,” but I’m not sure where else to put articles about sexual harassment and sexual assault. So it’ll go here. From The Verge’s Sarah Jeong: “In chatlogs, celebrated hacker and activist confesses countless sexual assaults.” The celebrated hacker in question: Morgan Marquis-Boire.

Oh look. Another story about harassment. Via The Washington Post: “ The TED talks empire has been grappling with sexual harassment, interviews and internal emails show.”

Education Dive profiles Khan Academy’s Khan Lab School. (It will be interesting to compare the success or failure of Khan Lab School with the failure of AltSchool. Or the school below…)

Via The New York Times: “Disrupting the World of Private School With Tech and Guinea Pigs.” That’s the Portfolio School.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “‘Ring by Spring’: How Christian Colleges Fuel Students’ Rush to Get Engaged.”

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies (and Dreams of the Blockchain)

“Thanks To Blockchain, You Can See What Your Thanksgiving Turkey Looked Like As A Child,” Buzzfeed tells us. So just imagine the education applications!

From the EU’s JRC: “Blockchain in Education.” – “Blockchain Anti-Falsification Solution for Academic Diplomas and Certificates.”

Pearson, WTF? Badges, patents, and the world’s ‘least popular’ education company” by Doug Belshaw.

More research on a GED program – the GED is one of the original competency-based education efforts – in the research section below.

Via Getting Smart: “How Competency-Based Education Can Lead to A More Equitable Classroom.” Just like the GED has done. Cough.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Luna CC Faces Loss of Accreditation.”

Testing, Testing…

Via The Houston Chronicle: “Cancelling STAAR tests in Harvey’s wake could wipe out federal funding, TEA leader says.”

From the HR Department

Via Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Big Changes at Unizin: CEO and COO resign after board meeting.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Diane Auer Jones, a former assistant secretary of education in the George W. Bush administration, has joined the U.S. Department of Labor as a senior policy adviser.”

The Business of Job Training

Via The MIT Technology Review: “Finally, a Useful Application for VR: Training Employees.” Starring Walmart. (I don’t understand this at all. Why VR?)

Via Techcrunch: “ trains students become venture capitalists.”

Coding Boot Camps Are in Trouble, but New York City Has a Plan to Shape Them Up,” says MIT Technology Review. (“The Plan” is really more of “a report.”)

Via the Google blog: “Investing £1 million in training for computing teachers in the U.K.

Learning to code will eventually be as useful as learning Ancient Greek,” Quartz claims.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Challenge for Higher Ed: Modernize Manufacturing, but Protect Jobs.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Can Online Credit Recovery Recover?asks Michael Horn in Edsurge, perpetually hopeful that disruptive innovation will save the day.

Are Parent-Teacher Conferences Becoming Obsolete?asks The Atlantic.

(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

“A Silicon Valley startup is quietly taking over U.S. classrooms,” Axios claims. Apparently the startup is Kiddom. And frankly it blows my mind that people want to chastise me for calling out the terrible PR that poses as ed-tech journalism.

Via Edsurge: “Modeled on Zillow, Edmit Wants to Help Families Make Financially Savvier College Decisions.”

More coverage of AltSchool in the tech press – via Business Insider: “Tech billionaires spent $170 million on a new kind of school – now classrooms are shrinking and some parents say their kids are ‘guinea pigs’.” And via Techcrunch: “AltSchool wants to change how kids learn, but fears have surfaced that it’s failing students.” “Fears have surfaced” – LOL. Here’s me, three years ago… “surfacing fears” or something.

Remember how Apple recently claimed that its stores were like “the public square”? Yeah. About that vision of “the public.” As The Outline notes, “Apple only wants to put its stores where white people live.”

YouTube Is Addressing Its Massive Child Exploitation Problem,” says Buzzfeed. YouTube gets little credit for this clean-up in my book, however, as it took journalists to uncover and talk about the problem.

Speaking of child exploitation, this via The Financial Times: “Apple’s iPhone X assembled by illegal student labour.”

Via ProPublica: “Facebook (Still) Letting Housing Advertisers Exclude Users by Race.” “Personalization.”

(Related, this assignment from Davidson College’s Mark Sample: “Hacking Facebook’s Ad Network for Justice.”)

Via Education Week: “Why Neuroscience Should Drive Personalized Learning” – because of “the propagation of myths and misinformation.” As if neuroscience gets you out of that dilemma. Ha.

Via Boing Boing: “Scientist puts his dog on the editorial boards of seven predatory journals as proof of their negligence.”

Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill says that “A change in direction and a likely change in culture” is coming. TBH, I still can’t remember what Unizin actually is. There’s more on Unizin in the HR section above.

The business of OER.

The business of Peter Thiel. Via Buzzfeed: “Y Combinator Cuts Ties With Peter Thiel After Ending Part-Time Partner Program.” And Buzzfeed reports that “Peter Thiel May Be Looking To Buy” (Here’s a story from last year I wrote on Thiel’s ed-tech investment portfolio.)

Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein continues to fight the LMS fight: “Fear and Loathing in the Moodle Community.”

“​We Don’t Need More Alternatives to College,” says Edsurge. Or more accurately, the advice here is “don’t market your ‘alternative to college’ business as an alternative to college.”

I don’t always include partnership announcements here because they’re typically much ado about nothing. But consider how well-funded these two startups are, I think it’s noteworthy that that’s what they’re resorting to: the ol’ “partnership” press release. From the Edmodo blog: “We’re Partnering with Clever to Give Districts Automatic Digital Classrooms!”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

Via The Washington Post: “When your kid tries to say ‘Alexa’ before ‘Mama’.”

Via Edsurge: “Educators on Artificial Intelligence: Here’s the One Thing It Can’t Do Well.” Spoiler alert: AI doesn’t care.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How Real-World Learning Could Help People Compete With Machines.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

The student travel abroad company WorldStrides has raised $500 million from Eurazeo and Primavera Capital Group.

UBTech has raised $400 million from Tencent Holdings. The company, which makes educational and entertainment robots, has raised $520 million total.

HopSkipDrive has raised $7.4 million for its “Uber for kids” business. Investors include Upfront Ventures, FirstMark, and Student Transportation Inc. The company, which isn’t just driving is babysitting on demand too, has raised $21.5 million total. Why anyone would let “Uber for” anything near their kids is sorta beyond me.

Edmit has raised $855,000 from Bessemer Venture Partners, Wan Li Zhu, Rob Biederman, Anthony Accardi, Bill Triant, Peter Temes, and Shereen Shermak. The company, which says it will help students find the cheapest college to attend, is profiled by Edsurge in a story above.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

A special shout-out to all the people who’ve called for an “Uber for Education.” Really, you couldn’t have picked a worse model. This week’s Uber news, via Bloomberg: “Uber Paid Hackers to Delete Stolen Data on 57 Million People.” More via The NYT: “Uber Hid 2016 Breach, Paying Hackers to Delete Stolen Data.”

Via Techcrunch: “Germany bans smartwatches for kids over spying concerns.”

This seems to fly in the face of the library profession’s belief in privacy. But hey. Big data!

Via Quartz: “Google collects Android users’ locations even when location services are disabled.”

Via EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin: “The COPPA Rule, FERPA, and the Security of Student Data.”

More on surveillance in the courts section above.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

From investors Chian Gong and Jennifer Carolan, writing in Edsurge: “Spotting the 2017 Trends That Fuel Edtech Innovation and Investments.” (No surprise, my review of “2017 trends” will be very different.)

A report funded by Amazon from the Family Online Safety Institute: “Connected Families: How Parents Think & Feel about Wearables, Toys, and the Internet of Things.”

Via Education Week: “What 150 Years of Education Statistics Say About Schools Today.”

More from the Paradise Papers, via ICIJ: “More than 100 universities and colleges included in Offshore Leaks Database.”

Via Education Dive: “Study shows Bridge GED programs help students continue on to college.”

There’s more research on student loan fraud in the for-profit higher ed section above.

“When people move to different jobs, here’s where they go” – as visualized by Flowing Data.

“Where Do Ideas of ‘Success’ and ‘Failure’ in Schooling Come From?” asks Stanford’s Larry Cuban.

Variations on this argument. Again. Via The 74: “New Study Shows American Kids Do Better on Tests If You Pay for Answers.”

This, via The Guardian, isn’t necessarily ed-tech. But my goodness, with all the “brain training” products and neurobollocks that schools are being told they should buy, pay attention nonetheless: “Can brain training reduce dementia risk? Despite new research, the jury is still out.”

New Research Answers Whether Technology is Good or Bad for Learning,” Michael Horn claims. No. No it doesn’t.

Via FOX News: “Rocket launch will prove Earth is flat, California man says.” Project-based learning, FTW.

Via The NYT: “Cockatoos Rival Children in Shape Recognition.” Clearly they also rival people who refuse to believe the Earth is round.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

from Hack Education

Hack Education Weekly News

(National) Education Politics

“15 Ways Taylor Swift’s Lyrics Solve Education Policy’s Most Pressing Issues” is, no doubt, the most godawful white lady thing I’ve seen this week in education news. And that is saying a lot.

“The House Just Voted to Bankrupt Graduate Students,” says Erin Rousseau in The New York Times. “House Republicans on Thursday pushed through tax reform legislation widely opposed by higher education leaders who say many of its provisions will make a college degree less attainable and hurt the financial strength of institutions,” says Inside Higher Ed.

More on the Republicans’ tax plansVia Education Week: “New Senate Tax Plan Doubles Teachers’ Deduction for Buying Classroom Supplies.” Via CNN: “House tax plan allows unborn children to have college savings accounts.”

This is terrible and will hurt poor people. Via the press release: “Congressmen Francis Rooney (FL–19) and Ralph Norman (SC–05) introduced the Pell for Performance Act. This legislation seeks to motivate students to graduate within six years. If students are not able to complete their degree within six years, this act would compel them to repay the grant in the form of an unsubsidized Stafford Loan.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Trump education nominee pleads ignorance about high-profile voucher studies showing negative results.”

Via Politico: “The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights could lose 45 employees because of early separation offers – a big hit to an office that many argue is understaffed to handle the number of complaints it receives each year. In fiscal 2017, the office was funded to employ 569 staff members, according to the department’s budget request from earlier this year.”

From the Bloomberg Editorial Board: “A Raw Deal From Betsy DeVos” – “Rolling back regulations on the for-profit college industry will cause the public pain.”

Education Week reports that, in front of a room full of CEOs, Secretary of Education Betsy "DeVos argued that 65 percent of today’s kindergartners will end up in jobs that haven’t even been created yet." That’s fake news, Betsy – a completely made-up statistic. But weirdly there’s a ton of that in edu.

“Schools across the country are about to be held accountable for student attendance – attaching stakes to a measure that previously had much less significance and increasing the risk that schools will try to manipulate that data,” according to Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education on Monday released the names of 16 negotiators and their alternates who will look to reach agreement on a new gainful-employment regulation.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Breaking with longstanding tradition – through Democratic and Republican administrations – President Trump will not host a meeting with this year’s American Nobel laureates.”

Via The Washington Post: “ Trump personally asked Xi Jinping to help resolve case of UCLA basketball players arrested in China.”

For those keeping track of how great social media is for the future of education and knowledge and civics and such: “Last Year, Social Media Was Used to Influence Elections in at Least 18 Countries,” says the MIT Technology Review.

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Mueller Probes Flynn’s Role in Alleged Plan to Deliver Cleric to Turkey.” I’m including this in this weekly round-up of education news because the cleric in question, Fethullah Gulen, runs a chain of charter schools in the US.

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via The Mercury News: “Working homeless forced to move in East Palo Alto.”

The housing crisis has shown acute symptoms in East Palo Alto schools. Ravenswood City School District Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff said the homeless student population in the district has swelled from 25 percent at the start of last school year to 58 percent today. The district has stepped up efforts to feed children at school and distribute groceries to families in need.

Homeless families are being forced to move in order to make way for The Primary School, a new school founded and funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. How’s that “whole child” thing working for you, Zuck?

Via Education Week: “Baltimore County School Officials in Hot Water Over Ed-Tech Contracts.”

Google Is Being Investigated By Missouri Attorney General,” Fortune reports. Oh and look at this: “Google Critic [Peter] Thiel Gave Money to Official Probing Search Giant,” Bloomberg reports.

More shadiness from Thiel in the campus news section below.

Via Education Week: “Even When States Revise Standards, the Core of the Common Core Remains.”

Via Maine Public Radio: “What Proficiency-Based Education Looks Like Inside One Maine District.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Parent files complaint saying New York City improperly shared student information to aid with charter recruitment.”

Immigration and Education

Post Office Fails to Deliver on Time, and DACA Applications Get Rejected,” The New York Times reported last Friday. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services initially said that there was nothing they could do, but the agency appears to have changed its mind and will review the applications.

Via NPR: “As DACA Winds Down, DREAMers Turn Toward Different Futures.”

Education in the Courts

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Frustrated with the slow resolution of loan forgiveness claims at the Department of Education, two borrowers have filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and loan servicing company Navient in federal court.”

The Business of Student Loans

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Student-Loan Borrowers Await Debt Relief on Nearly 100,000 Claims That They Were Defrauded.”

Via The New York Times: “Behind the Lucrative Assembly Line of Student Debt Lawsuits.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Recently released federal data show that 17 percent of federal student debt holders are over the age of 50. This group of older borrowers collectively hold $247 billion in student debt, an amount that has roughly tripled since 2003.”

Via the BBC: “BBC Panorama spent 10 months investigating dishonest education agents and bogus students who are committing frauds that target private colleges – also known as alternative providers – which offer courses approved for student loans.”

Still more student loan news in the legal section above.

I’m not including these in my calculations of ed-tech funding, but it is worth noting how much attention (and money) the private loan industry is attracting at the moment. Here are a couple of headlines from the week from Techcrunch – This one boasts no human decision-making on applications: “Kabbage gets $200M from Credit Suisse to expand its AI-based business loans.” And this one is really something: “Kinder, gentler debt collector TrueAccord raises $22 million.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

The Chronicle of Higher Education with a look “Inside the Scramble to Save Ashford U.” And following that investigation, “Ashford University announced this week that it has temporarily suspended new enrollment of veteran students who receive the Post–9/11 GI Bill, ” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via The Economist: “For-profit colleges in America relaunch themselves as non-profits.”

From the press release: “William Hansen Joins Career Education Corporation Board of Directors.” Hansen is one of those figures that really demonstrates the political and financial networks that govern education. He was Deputy Secretary of Education under George W. Bush. He was the chairman of Scantron. He has been the president of the student loan org Strada Education Network (formerly known as USA Funds) since 2013.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Legal education observers say accreditation issues at Florida Coastal School of Law – whose graduates have struggled to pay off loans – should lead to tougher look at its parent company, InfiLaw.”

All the fraud and all the deceptive practices and all the people that are hurt by for-profit higher ed and you still get headlines like this: “4 For-Profit Education Stocks to Enrich Your Portfolio.”

More on debt relief for students defrauded by for-profits in the student loan section below. And there’s more on regulating the industry (or ya know, not) in the national politics section above.

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

Via Edsurge: “Are You Getting a Pay Bump For Student Completion? Virtual Schools Dish Out the Dough.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Former Indiana schools chief Glenda Ritz: Virtual schools ‘prey’ on vulnerable students.”

“Whatever Happened To MOOCs?” asks Stanford’s Larry Cuban.

Coursera announces on its blog that it’s expanding to Brazil.

It’s good to shake up your “everyone should learn to code” messaging sometimes, I guess. Here’s Coursera arguing “Why Everyone Should Learn Sales.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education examines faculty objections to online education at Eastern Michigan University.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “California community colleges look to create a new statewide​, online-only college that will focus on helping adult students earn credentials.”

Meanwhile on Campus…

“Harvard Business School professor: Half of American colleges will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years,” says CNBC. Clayton Christensen made the same prediction – “half of colleges will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years” – five years ago.

Perhaps I need to start a new section in this article where I look at these sorts of bullshit predictions and proclamations and cliches. “The industrial model of education is failing” and whatnot.

Inside Higher Ed calls recent school closures “Days of Reckoning.” If you repeat these stories enough, it’s almost as if you can convince people to make it a trend.

Via Ars Technica: “University could lose millions from ‘unethical’ research backed by Peter Thiel.” The details: “Questionable herpes vaccine research backed by tech heavyweight Peter Thiel may have jeopardized $15 million in federal research funding to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.”

Via Business Insider: “Elon Musk launched a secretive LA private school for his kids 4 years ago and there are still almost no details available.”

“Film company behind Love Actually to open school in London,” The Guardian reports.

Via the NEA: “Follow the Money: The School-to-(Privatized)-Prison Pipeline.”

CNN, following another school shooting this week: “How active shooters are changing school security in the US.” Many of these measures, I’d argue, do fall under the umbrella of “ed-tech,” but let’s see if it gets positioned that way by Silicon Valley-backed journalism.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Sexual Harassment and Assault in Higher Ed: What’s Happened Since Weinstein.”

Via The Huffington Post: “Grad Student Says Princeton Prof Who Sexually Harassed Her Was Given Slap On The Wrist.”

Inside Higher Ed looks at how Notre Dame is changing its policies and practices regarding campus sexual assault.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Dozens of Spelman Professors Support Student Campaign That Has Named Harassers.”

“Professors from around the world say they won’t advise students to study or work at Rochester in light of institution’s alleged attempts to downplay serious harassment case. Is this next tactic in battle against discrimination?” Inside Higher Ed asks.

Via The Columbus Dispatch: “Ohio State accuses 83 students of cheating in a business class.” The students allegedly used the group messaging app GroupMe to collaborate. Sounds scandalous.

Via Education Dive: “Gordon Gee: For higher ed to survive, we’ve got to ‘blow up the box’.” Gee is the president of West Virginia University. “The box,” I guess, is what Gee believes universities fail to think outside of.

Valparaiso University says it will no longer admit new students to its law school (but insists that the law school isn’t closing).

The Wall Street Journal criticizes student protesters at Williams College. (They were protesting frequently WSJ contributor and anti-feminist Christina Hoff Sommers.)

Williams College President Adam Falk in WaPo: “Don’t ignore the real threats in the debate over free speech.”

Inside Higher Ed on Richard Spencer’s speech at Stanford.

Via The 74: “Educators Report Being Surprised by a Homecoming Surge in Hate Speech at Their Schools.”

Inside Higher Ed has Judith Butler’s reaction to having an effigy of her burned outside a talk she gave in Brazil.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A University’s Free-Speech Committee Pledges Transparency – Then Closes Its Meetings to the Public.” The university in question: Ohio.

Via Radio Free Asia: “University in China’s Guizhou Cancels Outspoken Economics Professor’s Classes.”

In other news about academic freedom – via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Memphis is reportedly investigating Judy Cole, a professor of nursing, for comments she made on Twitter about Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary.”

Via The Columbus Dispatch: “Activities suspended at all Ohio State fraternities governed by IFC.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How a Defense Dept. Program Equips Campus Police Forces.”

“Willing, able and forgotten” – a series on high school students with disabilities in The Hechinger Report.

“The Ivory Tower Can’t Keep Ignoring Tech,” says Cathy O’Neil in a NYT op-ed, arguing that no one in academia is paying attention to algorithms. “Yeah, pretty sure we don’t, but thanks for minimizing our contributions and perpetuating ‘ivory tower’ stereotypes,” scholars responded.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Accreditor Apologizes for Suggestion That UNC Might Be Investigated Again.”

Questions about the accreditation of for-profits in the for-profit higher ed section above.

Testing, Testing…

Via Chalkbeat: “Fired testing company seeks $25.3 million for work on TNReady’s bumpy rollout.”

Go, School Sports Team!

More about the UCLA basketball players arrested in China in the national politics section… because Trump.

From the HR Department

More sexual harassment accusations in venture capitalism. Via Techcrunch: “VC Steve Jurvetson is leaving Draper Fisher Jurvetson.”

Via Essense: “Being Black In Tech: A Black Female Engineer Says Google CEO Mistook Her For An Assistant.” Eric Schmidt told her to put a sign on her door explaining her role at the company. WTF.

The Business of Job Training

There’s often a pattern to the education news – or at least, to the stories that get shouted the loudest and spread the widest in any given week.

Via The 74: “Report: 30 Million Well-Paying Jobs, Mostly in the West and South, Exist for Workers Without Bachelor’s Degrees.”

You Can Get a Good Job Without a Bachelor’s Degree,” Bloomberg insists. You just need the right training apparently.

Via Education Week: “Betsy DeVos: Stop ‘Forcing’ Four-Year Degrees as Only Pathway to Success.”

Tech Illiteracy Will Get You Fired Long Before Automation Does” – that’s the headline from the MIT Technology Review on a new report from the Brookings Institution: “Digitalization and the American workforce.” Via Education Week: “Jobs of All Types Now Require More Digital Skills, Brookings Report Finds.” This is a particularly hilarious sentence: “It is probably fair to say that the social good of having every high school student in America learn Salesforce might outstrip other trendier agendas in tech.” I think many historians of ed-tech would note that this has long been the argument for teaching Microsoft productivity tools in lieu of computer science. (Related: last week, Edsurge touted Salesforce as helping close the "skills gap.")

Via CNBC: “Trade school, not 4-year college, is a better bet to solve the US income gap, researchers say.”

“Why the U.S. Fails at Worker Training” – according to The Atlantic at least.

“Nearly Everyone Supports Career Education. But What Would Make It Work?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Do Professors Need Automated Help Grading Online Comments?asks Inside Higher Ed.

As devices replace textbooks, should students be charged fees?asks Education Dive.

Can These New Colleges Help Solve Higher Education’s Equity Problem?asks Edsurge.

Does Academia Need Another Alternative to For-Profit Scholarly Platforms?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

Edsurge with the second story on brain-wave monitoring startups in almost as many weeks: “Brainwave Headsets Are Making Their Way Into Classrooms – For Meditation and Discipline.” They’re not really making their way into classrooms, incidentally. This is a story about one experiment conducted with a Muse headset by a Kansas State University researcher. Did you know Ashton Kutcher is an investor in Muse? Must be legit then.

The New York Times lists mind control as one of the “Five Technologies That Will Rock Your World.”

Mindset marketing from Pearson: “3 steps to upgrade your GRIT in education.” GRIT is one of Pearson’s “mindset”-oriented career success programs.

More wishful thinking via Getting Smart: “How Virtual Reality and Embodied Learning Could Disrupt Education.”

Speaking of predictions about the coming disruption, I sure do seem to remember a lot of that hype about Second Life. Wonder what’s going on in that virtual world these days? Oh.

Via Boing Boing: “Dupes gather at sold-out Flat Earth International Conference.”

Digital Polarization on Pinterest Is Scary Aggressive,” says WSU’s Mike Caulfield.

Via The Guardian: “ Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the web: ‘The system is failing’.”

It is not entirely clear to me what, per this Edsurge op-ed, higher ed can learn from precision medicine.

Via Techcrunch: “Facebook, Google and others join The Trust Project, an effort to increase transparency around online news.”

Via Poynter: “Do Facebook and Google have control of their algorithms anymore? A sobering assessment and a warning.”

Edsurge rewrites the news, which is of course the point – it’s clickbait: “Forbes’ 2018 ‘30 Under 30’ Came Early This Year. Here’s Who Made the Education List.” WaPo’s Valerie Strauss is shocked no teachers made the list. No teachers ever make the list, I don’t think, unless they’re affiliated with TFA. TFA’s Wendy Kopp was one of the judges this year, as were venture capitalist Arne Duncan and venture capitalist Stacey Childress and venture capitalist Marcus Noel.

Stephen Downes and David Wiley debate OER: “The Cost Trap, Part 3” by David Wiley. “The Real Goal of Open Educational Resources” by Stephen Downes. “More on the Cost Trap and Inclusive Access” by David Wiley. “If We Talked About the Internet Like We Talk About OER” by Stephen Downes. “If We Talked About the Internet Like We Talk About OER: The Cost Trap and Inclusive Access” by David Wiley. I might have missed some in this back-and-forth.

Pearson Closes DRM-Free eBookstore, Will Delete All eBooks From Customers’ Account,” The Digital Reader reports.

Microsoft is building a new version of Skype for tutors and consultants,” says The Next Web.

Via Techcrunch: “SnapType makes it easy for kids with learning disabilities to do their homework.”

Via Techcrunch: “Pip is a retro games console for kids to learn coding.”

“Why do so few schools try LiveCode? We let industry dictate our tools,” says Georgia Tech’s Mark Guzdial.

Via Boing Boing: “For sale: surplus nightmare fuel vintage manikins from a defunct dental school.”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

Via Edsurge: “Help! This Edtech Company Says It Uses AI. (What Does That Mean? What Should I Ask?)”

Via University Business: “The drone zone in higher education.” “Unmanned aerial vehicles see an increased role in campus safety and security,” the publication claims.

Via Edsurge: “Learning From Algorithms: Who Controls AI in Higher Ed, And Why It Matters (Part 2).”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

Chan Zuckerberg Backs Personalized Learning R&D Agenda,” says fellow investor Tom Vander Ark.

More on CZI and homelessness in East Palo Alto in the local politics section above.

Via Chalkbeat: “Where do the nation’s big charter boosters send their cash? More and more to charter networks.”

Via Naked Capitalism: “The Super Wealthy Oxycontin Family Supports School Privatization With Tactics Similar to Those That Fueled the Opioid Epidemic.” That’s the Sackler family.

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

Chinese online education company Yixue Education has raised $41 million from NGP Capital, SIG China, CASH Capital, New Oriental Education & Technology, and Greenwood Management.

Lessonly has raised $8 million in Series B funding from Rethink Education, Allos Ventures, High Alpha, and OpenView. The corporate training company has raised $14.1 million total.

SAM Labs has raised $6.75 million in Series A funding from Touchstone Innovations and E15 Ventures. The learn-to-code company has raised $11.2 million total.

Night Zookeeper has raised $793,000 in funding from Newable. The storytelling company has raised about $1.5 million total.

School-Pass has raised an undisclosed amount of money from A3 Education.

Tech Shop has closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy. The workshop space for “makers” had raised $4.7 million in venture capital.

ExploreLearning has acquired IS3D.

The Chinese tutoring company Four Seasons Education has gone public.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

“The Internet of Shit is so manifestly insecure that people are staying away from it in droves,” says Boing Boing. Except in education, of course, where we hear all the time about how IOT will revolutionize school.

Via Techcrunch: “Call to ban sale of IoT toys with proven security flaws.”

Via The Stanford Daily: “Privacy breaches in University file system affect 200 people.”

Via “When Cyber-Hackers Attack, School Districts Are Paying the Ransom.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via The Huffington Post: “Prominent Scholar Calls Growth Mindset A ‘Cancerous’ Idea, In Isolation.” The scholar: San Diego State University’s Luke Wood.

Via Chalkbeat: “Gutting Wisconsin teachers unions hurt students, study finds.”

Via USA Today: “The charter school breakthrough doesn’t work for boys.”

Via The Atlantic: “A new paper argues that using behavioral economics to ease families’ fear of change could help convince them to switch up their children’s routines.”

Via Edscoop: “Report: Rural schools outpace urban, suburban peers in access to technology.” The report is from based on BrightBytes’ customers and data, so caveat emptor.

Via Mindshift: “Increased Hours Online Correlate With Uptick In Teen Depression, Suicidal Thoughts.”

EdWeek’s Market Brief on a report from the National Association of State Budget Officers: “State Spending on K–12 Rises Slightly in 2017, Despite Headwinds.”

From UVA’s Daniel Willingham: “Three versions of personalized learning, three challenges.”

Via Education Week: “Boys Read Better When There Are More Girls in Class, Study Finds.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Open Doors survey shows declines in new international students starting in fall 2016, after years of growth. This fall universities report an average 7 percent decline in new international students.”

Via The Hechinger Report: “Better tests don’t lead to better teaching, study finds.”

Via NPR: “New Study Finds That 4.2 Million Kids Experience Homelessness Each Year.” But onward with those corporate tax cuts, Republicans.

More reports, research, and data in the student loan and job training sections above.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

from Hack Education