Tag Archives: Hack Education

Hack Education Weekly News

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

(National) Education Politics

There are stories about the school shooting in Florida and its ramifications in several sections below (and I will be the first to admit I have not gathered even close to all the links that are in circulation this week). Although the shooting is a local story, I am putting many of the articles here in the national section because, over a week later, it is still very much in the national headlines.

Via NPR: “After Florida Shooting, Students Are Lobbying For New Gun Regulations.”

“Courageous Grieving and The Tragedy In Parklandby Virginia Heffernan in Wired.

President Trump has tried to blame the school shooting in Florida on everything but guns. On video games, for example – yes, that old canard. He has made a number of proposals: banning bump stocks, “hardening” schools.

Via NPR: “Trump Backs Arming Teachers During Emotional White House Listening Session.”

Trump’s ideas seem to be a reprise of a proposal the NRA put forward back in 2013.

Via NPR: “How School Shootings Have Changed The Teaching Profession.”

“I’m a Florida Teacher in the Era of School Shootings. What Happens in My Classroom During a Lockdown Drill Should Horrify Americans,” writes K. T. Katzmann in The Trace.

The Absurdity of Armed Educatorsby Vann R. Newkirk II in The Atlantic.

“The backwards logic of putting guns in schoolsby Gaby Del Valle in The Outline.

“What Decades Of Covering School Shootings Has Taught Me” by NPR’s longtime education reporter, Claudio Sanchez.

Via Education Week: “Students Spoke Out After Fla. School Shooting. Then Internet Trolls Attacked.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s What It’s Like At The Headquarters Of The Teens Working To Stop Mass Shootings.”

I’m putting this local story in this section because it too has national implications. Via the Houston Chronicle: “KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg fired following allegations of sexual misconduct.” Via The New York Times: “Michael Feinberg, a Founder of KIPP Schools, Is Fired After Misconduct Claims.” [More via Chalkbeat](Mike Feinberg, KIPP co-founder, fired after misconduct investigation).

More federal stuff: Inside Higher Ed on restructuring at the US Department of Education: “Proposed reorganization would eliminate office of under secretary, which oversaw higher ed policy for much of the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, and combine postsecondary and career and technical education into a single office.”

There are stories about teachers unions and national politics in the HR section below. There are stories about the Department of Education and for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below. Stories about the Department of Education and its policies regarding student loans are in “the business of financial aid” section below.

Via Wired: “Ajit Pai’s Plan Will Take Broadband Away From Poor People.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via The Houston Chronicle: “Houston-area school district threatens to suspend students who protest after Florida shooting.”

Via NPR: “Kentucky Moves To Add Guns To Schools After School Shooting.”

Schools across West Virginia were closed this week as teachers in the state staged a walk-out. Via NPR: “Why West Virginia Teachers Are Demanding Higher Pay and Improved Benefits.”

Via The New York Times: “D.C. Schools Chancellor Resigns Amid Outcry Over Daughter’s School Transfer.”

Via The Washington Post: “‘We serve the top 100 percent’: California community college chief responds to Trump.”

Education in the Courts

From The Century Foundation’s website: “Federal Judge Grants Century Foundation’s Temporary Restraining Order Against DeVos’ Department of Education.” Several other articles about this case are strewn around other sections here – in the for-profit higher ed section as well as the accreditation section.

Via Wired: “Ex-Google Employee Claims Wrongful Firing For Criticizing James Damore’s Memo.” More Damore news in the HR section below.

Via The San Jose Mercury News: “In a direct challenge to California’s landmark law guaranteeing public access to beaches, Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla on Thursday filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that he should not be required to allow public access to Martins Beach in San Mateo County.” Oh sure sure, this isn’t exactly education technology news, except for the part where Khosla invests in education technology companies and his wife founded the open education organization CK–12. “Open.”

“Free College”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Tuition-Free, With Strings.”

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education signaled Monday that it is interested in tweaking the standards used for determining whether student loan debt can be discharged in bankruptcy.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Borrowers With High Debt Levels Struggle to Repay Loans.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Education Dept. Knew of Whistle-Blower Complaint Before Easing Restrictions on For-Profit College.” The college in question: Northwest Suburban College. There’s still more on this story in the accreditation section below.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As Kaplan Sale Faces Final Hurdle, Purdue President Criticizes Faculty Opponents.” Of course.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Ashford U. Faces New Setback in Battle Over GI Bill Funds.”

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

Imperial College London will teach a class on artificial intelligence on the Coursera platform.

There is some exciting Udacity news in the job training section below too.

Meanwhile on Campus…

“The Real Threat To Campuses Isn’t ‘PC Culture.’ It’s Racismby Tressie McMillan Cottom.

Via ProPublica: “Inside Atomwaffen As It Celebrates a Member for Allegedly Killing a Gay Jewish College Student.”

Via Knox News: “White nationalist talk at UT draws about 45 and 250 protesters for peaceful event.” UT here is the University of Tennessee.

News from one of my alma maters: “White supremacist flyers found on Casper College bulletin boards.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Turning Point USA Is Accused of Abandoning Kent State Chapter Following Diaper Fiasco.” Diaper fiasco.

“A University of, by and for the People” – Sarah Vowell on Montana State University.

“Why Is the Manhattan DA Looking at Newsweek’s Ties to a Christian University?” asks Newseek. “What in the World Is Going On Between Olivet U. and Newsweek?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via The New York Times: “Rhodes Scholarships Go Global as Students From Anywhere Now Qualify.”

Atlantic Union College will close its doors this year.

Via Standard Digital: “School abandons computer lessons as tablets remains unpowered.” That’s the Nalekat Primary School in Kenya which has government issued tablets but no power to charge them.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via The Washington Post: “Education Dept. releases records at center of a lawsuit over accrediting panels.” More from The Century Foundation.


Edsurge reprints the College Board’s graphs about the latest AP results.

Go, School Sports Team!

“The NCAA Says Student-Athletes Shouldn’t Be Paid Because the 13th Amendment Allows Unpaid Prison Labor,” says Shaun King writing for The Intercept.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Inside Auburn’s Secret Effort to Advance an Athlete-Friendly Curriculum.”

Memos from HR (and from the Labor Union)

Via Buzzfeed: “Teachers Unions Think 2020 Is When They Will Defeat The Charter School Democrats.”

“The AR Isn’t The Real Florida Teacher Pension Scandal,” Andrew Rotherham contends.

Via The Verge: “James Damore’s labor complaint against Google was completely shut down.” More via Wired.

There’s more news about lawsuit termination lawsuits in the courts section above. And there’s data about pay in the research and reports section below.

The Business of Job Training

“The Future of AI, Data, and Education,” says Udacity, as it announces a new advisory board…

Udacity has updated its blog post, removing the photo of the 12 men and replacing it with a picture of a server rack. The advisory board itself remains unchanged.


The New York Times profiles WeWork, including its plans to launch a private K–12 school to teach “entrepreneurship” or some such thing.

Via Education Week: “Computer Science for All and Silicon Valley: Generous Support or Corporate Takeover?”

In other learn-to-code news, the press release says thatMattel Expands Partnership With Tynker, Setting Goal To Introduce 10 Million Kids To Coding By 2020.”

Via The Verge: “Dancing dinosaurs will teach your kid to code.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Computer Science for All: Can Schools Pull It Off?” 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.”)

Upgrades and Downgrades

Among those companies trying to capitalize on the recent school shooting in Florida, the College Board, whose president David Coleman sent out an email praising the student protestors not for the content of their protests but for the skills he said they obviously learned in AP class. More via Inside Higher Ed.

Via Edsurge: “Jefferson Education Accelerator Winds Down, Rebrands to Focus on Edtech Reviews and Procurement.” More via EdWeek’s Market Brief.

Wikispaces Classroom (and free wikis from the company, now owned by TES) joins the ed-tech dead pool.

“What Happens When You Combine Blockchain and Education?” asks Hackernoon. Nothing good, I’m gonna go ahead and guess. Oh wait, I don’t even have to guess…

“Globalizing education standards with ISO 21001by Ben Williamson.

“For the third time this month, scholars are questioning the integrity of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest professional organization for the advancement of technology,” writes Inside Higher Ed. “IEEE Removes Article Over Allegations of Plagiarism,” Inside Higher Ed notes later in the week, updating its earlier story.

Reclaim Hosting’s Jim Groom explains “Why a Domain of One’s Own?”

Via The Spoon: “Goodbye Lunchables: New School Lunch Delivery Services Offer Healthier Food Choices.”

“How Augmented Reality Is Shaping the Future of Play,” according to Wired.

“Ads for text therapy are everywhere, but people who have tried it say it’s surprisingly unhelpful and expensive,” says The Outline. Which means it’s probably going to be proposed for schools who cannot afford counseling services. Just you wait…

Inside Higher Ed profiles ClassPulse, a(nother) classroom feedback tool.

Speaking of feedback, Inside Higher Ed also profiles a sentiment analysis surveillance tool, developed at the University of St. Thomas, that claims it can tell how students are feeling and if they understand. Because god forbid you actually ask them.

Via the Hypothes.is blog: “Elsevier Collaborates with Hypothesis to Integrate Open Annotation.” I don’t often include partnership announcements in the “Hack Education Weekly News” but when a company that wraps itself in the rhetoric of “open” partners with one of the giants in the education publishing industry, one in the process of trying to become a data platform (and a former weapons dealer to boot), I figure one should take note.

Via Campus Technology: “McGraw-Hill Education Launches Textbook and E-Book Rental Program.”

It’s like that old Reese’s Peanut Butter ad… Mike Caulfield draws on the work of Dan Meyer: “The Three Acts of Online Media Literacy Lessons: A First Pass.”

“The Purgatory of Ed Tech Transformation Initiativesby Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill. I guess we’re not calling them “pilots” any more?

Ah, it must be time, once again, for one of these stories, this time from Business Insider: “Silicon Valley parents are raising their kids tech-free – and it should be a red flag.” Silicon Valley parents are not raising their kids tech-free. Don’t be ridiculous.

I’ve got all the “learn-to-code” news in the job training section, because let’s be honest…

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Artificial Intelligence Is Coming. What Should We Teach?” asks the CEO of Schoolrunner in an article in EdWeek’s Market Brief. I’m gonna go with ethics, sociology, history, and critical race and gender theory. Thanks.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

How much money does the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative spent in order to place advertorials about personalized learning in ed-tech publications like Edsurge?

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Departures at Gates Foundation Stir Speculation About Its Plans for Higher Ed.”

Bill Gates has no idea how much Rice-a-Roni costs. Rapidly expanding economic inequality and the cluelessness of one of the world’s richest men is so hilarious!

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Kidaptive has raised $19.1million in Series C funding from Formation 8 and Woongjin Thinkbig. The “invisible” “adaptive learning” company has raised $38.7 million total.

IMAX Corporation has raised $13.5 million from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, LGT Impact, and Aspada. The textbook maker has previously raised $30 million.

Sofatutor has raised $3.6 million from Frog Capital, Acton Capital, and JCMB. The test prep company has raised ~$8 million total.

The Graide Network has raised $1 million from Network Ventures and other undisclosed investors. The writing assignment company had previously raised $40,000.

I included Singularity University’s fundraise in last week’s “Hack Education Weekly News,” but I just want to note here that GeekWire’s Frank Catalano did get this detail from the company that I previously didn’t have: the for-profit school has raised $54 million to date.

If there was one good thing that came out of Katrina, [it’s that] it wiped out the K–12 education system in New Orleans” –if there was one good thing that came out of this Edsurge article, it’s that you can see how much people in the ed-tech industry truly loathe public education and the people who work in it.

“A peek inside Alphabet’s investing universe” via Crunchbase. Alphabet is, of course, the parent company of Google.

“Kidtech startup SuperAwesome is now valued at $100+ million and profitable,” Techcrunch informs us.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

“This MIT Startup Is Developing A Fitness Tracker For Your Brain,” says Fast Company. Do note all the stories this week that are intertwined with predicting and assessing people’s “moods” – that is, some sort of “social emotional” thingy.

Algorithmic zoning could be the answer to cheaper housing and more equitable cities,” Techcrunch claims. Read some history, Techcrunch. OK?

“An Algorithm Knows When Your Kid Is Using Your Phone,” says Futurism.

Via AZFamily.com: “Concerns raised about digital billboards on HS campuses.” Because when people try to tell you that there’s no advertising in ed-tech, you really must remind them that they are dead wrong.

Via the AP: “Las Vegas school partners with company to ban cellphones.” The company in question is Yondr which provides locked pouches so phones are not accessible.

There’s a surveillance story in the “upgrade/downgrade” section above.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

There’s data about testing in the testing section above. There’s data about student loan repayment in “the business of financial aid” section above.

Inside Higher Ed on professor pay: “Faculty members earn 15 percent less than others with advanced degrees, study finds. They work equally long hours.”

Via Edsurge: “What Researchers Want Teachers to Know About Virtual Reality’s Health Risks.”

Via The Telegraph: “ Teaching children with iPads means they struggle to concentrate without technology, study finds.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “After 2016 Election, Campus Hate Crimes Seemed to Jump. Here’s What the Data Tell Us.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “College students may believe they’re ready for a job, but employers think otherwise. At least, that’s according to data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which surveyed graduating college seniors and employers and found a significant difference in the groups’ perceptions.” The key word here: perceptions.

“Students are zapping their brains to get ahead in school – but evidence for the practice is limited,” says The Hechinger Report. I wonder where they get dumb ideas like this? Oh.

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “World Bank’s ’Global Dataset’ Offers New Way for Comparing Countries’ Educational Performance.”

Via Politico: “Facebook’s next project: American inequality.” A Stanford economist is using the company’s vast store of personal data to study why so many in the U.S. are stuck in place economically.“ That economist: Raj Chetty, ”a favorite among tech elites," so that’s special.

A new report from Data & Society: “The Promises, Challenges, and Futures of Media Literacy.”

“No one is teaching kids how to spot fake news,” says The Outline, with a look at the history of media literacy programs.

But honestly it’s not just “the kids,” let’s be fair. I count at least 10 inaccurate or misleading claims in this article about the future of education / future of work. How can anyone expect ed-tech to be a “solution” to “media literacy” struggles when ed-tech proponents gleefully and purposefully spreads the bullshit so darn thick?

Icon credits: The Noun Project

from Hack Education http://ift.tt/2otoBiP

Hack Education Weekly News

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

(National) Education Politics

I’m sorta loathe to give a lot of attention to Trump’s budget proposal. What the President proposes and what Congress approves always looks very different. But I’ll dutifully link to some of the headlines from the week. That’s what I do here. Via Chalkbeat: “Trump’s proposed education budget: more for school choice, less for teacher training.” Via The Atlantic: “Does Trump’s Education Budget Even Matter?” Here’s the Department of Education Press Office fanfare.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Here’s What the $400-Billion Federal Spending Deal Means for Higher Ed.”

Hooray. “Learning styles” in the White House:

Via Buzzfeed: “The Education Department Officially Says It Will Reject Transgender Student Bathroom Complaints.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Betsy DeVos made a covert visit to Indianapolis last week. Here’s why.” Spoiler alert: she was making a TV special and probably didn’t want to have jeering crowds in the background.

Via The New York Times: “In Her Words: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Assesses a Year on the Job.”

From CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington): “FOIA Request – U.S. Department of Education – Office of Government EthicsDeVos.” Has she divested and/or disclosed all her financial interests?

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Bill Would Hold College Presidents Accountable for Sexual Abuse by Employees.”

There’s more on Department of Education efforts to help the for-profit higher ed industry in the for-profit higher ed section below. And there are several stories related to immigration and education in the immigration and education section below.

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via The New York Times: “Months of Searching Still Hasn’t Found New Schools Chancellor.” That’d be the replace for Carmen Fariña, who’s leaving her position as the chancellor for the New York City schools.

Via E-Literate: “Hawai’i Senate Bill: Would mandate OER material for all U Hawai’i system courses.” And later in the week, an update: “Hawai’i Senate OER Bill Update: Amended language saves the day.”

Via the Tennessean: “One of Nashville’s Achievement School District schools to close months after opening.”

The Texas Monthly on the future of the Texas Republican Party (with implications for education policy).

Via ELearning Inside: “An Emirati City Is Giving Tablets to Every K–2 Learner As Part of its Lughati Initiative.”

Immigration and Education

Via the AP: “Appeals court declares Trump travel ban unconstitutional.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Second Judge Orders DACA to Continue.”

Via The Intercept: “From School Suspension to Immigration Detention.” The school-to-deportation pipeline.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “FBI director Christopher Wray tells Senate panel that American academe is naïve about the intelligence risks posed by Chinese students and scholars. Some worry his testimony risks tarring a big group of students as a security threat.”

There’s some research related to immigration in the research section below.

Education in the Courts

Via Mother Jones: “A Federal Appeals Court Just Dealt a Blow to School Segregation.” That is, “A majority-white Alabama town can’t split from its majority-black county school district.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As** U. of Washington** Braces for Right-Wing Rally, Judge Bars It From Charging Security Fee.”

Via Cleveland.com: “ECOT goes to Ohio Supreme Court with $80 million, its survival and state’s control of charter schools on the line.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “$1.5 Million to Get Into an Ivy.” “Lawsuit reveals just how much a college consulting service will charge for its services.”

More legal action in the immigration in the section above.

“Free College”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Bard College opens its second ‘microcollege’ in Brooklyn Public Library. The free program, which selects ambitious applicants from underprivileged backgrounds, culminates in an associate’s degree.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Portland State University announced a plan to offer free tuition to prospective transfer students from low-income backgrounds starting this fall.”

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Marketwatch: “One company will now handle close to half of all student-loan payments.” That’s Nelnet, which recently merged with Great Lakes Educational Loan Services.

“What if the United States decided to cancel all student debt?” asks Bryan Alexander.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via Inside Higher Ed: “After Borrower Defense Negotiation Fails, Department to Craft New Rule.”

From Bloomberg: “Silicon Valley’s Singularity University Has Some Serious Reality Problems.” There’s more on Singularity University, which announced it has raised over $30 million in venture capital, in the venture capital section below.

There’s more research on how students at for-profits fare (spoiler alert: not well) in the research section below.

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

Via NPR: “Inside The Virtual Schools Lobby: ‘I Trust Parents’.”

Via The Wall Street Journal: “As Online Schools Expand, So Do Questions About Their Performance.”

Via The New York Times: “Berklee College Expands Online, to Graduate Degrees.”

There’s more news about virtual schools in the courts section above and in the HR section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via Education Week: “17 Dead After Expelled Student Opens Fire at Fla. High School.”

“Another School Shooting – But Who’s Counting?” asks The Atlantic.

“No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong,” says The Washington Post. I’m not so sure we should dismiss Everytown’s calculations quite so quickly. I think we should count suicides as school shootings. I think we should recognize that schools are situated within neighborhoods, and when there is violence in the neighborhood, it affects the school, the students.

Related, via Wired: “Pro-Gun Russian Bots Flood Twitter After Parkland Shooting.”

Via The 74: “Schools in Texas, Massachusetts, Oklahoma & Tennessee Mourn Educators Who Have Died Due to the Flu.”

There are many departments at many universities where the ethics of technology is not just an add-on to an existing program. (There are, of course, many departments at many universities where it is.) But The New York Times wants you to know that Harvard and Stanford “are hustling to bring a more medicine-like morality to computer science.”

Via The Portland Press Herald: “Head of UMaine System has financial stake in firm seeking multimillion-dollar contract for Orono campus.”

Via the Lansing State Journal: “MSU Faculty Senate votes no confidence in Board of Trustees.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Southern New Hampshire U. Apologizes for Professor Who Said Australia Is ‘Not a Country’.”

Inside Higher Ed on “The Complications of Free Speech” at Stanford.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How One Campus Is Dealing With Its Ties to a 20th-Century White Supremacist.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Princeton Professor Cancels Course After His Use of a Racial Slur Angered Students.”

Via the Sacramento Bee: “High school science fair project questioning African American intelligence sparks outrage.”

Via The Outline: “How historically black colleges transformed America.”

“What’s So Different About High Tech High Anyway?” asks KQED’s Mindshift.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

The 74 interviewed Sal Khan on personalized learning and his goal to create a “global diploma,” which he says his company can “uniquely” do. Which is… um… a bold claim.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The American Bar Association panel that accredits law schools has proposed loosening its restrictions on online education.”


ACT/SAT for all: A cheap, effective way to narrow income gaps in college,” writes Susan Dynarski in a Brookings report.

Memos from HR

Harvard has a new president, Lawrence Bacow: “Another ‘White Male Economist Named Larry’,” as The Chronicle of Higher Education put it.

Via The Miami Herald: “This teacher married her girlfriend. Then she was fired by a Miami Catholic school.” (The school, incidentally, is a participant in Florida’s voucher program, where tax dollars are used to send students to private schools – a program that Betsy DeVos and others have touted.)

K12 Inc’s CEO Stuart Udell has resigned.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “In a blow to the graduate student union movement on private campuses, three would-be unions withdraw their petitions from the National Labor Relations Board, saying they’ll instead return to seeking voluntary recognition.” That is, would-be-unions at Yale, Boston College, and the University of Chicago.

Erin Bartram on leaving higher ed.

The Business of Job Training

Via Techcrunch: “WeWork Labs, startup-focused co-working space, relaunches.”

Via Techcrunch: “Lyft partners with Black Girls Code to help develop a more diverse tech industry.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Will Augmented and Virtual Reality Replace Textbooks?asks The Center for Digital Education.

(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

Facebook Funded Most of the Experts Who Vetted Messenger Kids,” Wired’s Nitasha Tiku reports.

From the press release: “ISTE Launches New Professional Learning Partnership with Code.org; Announces Plans to Update Standards for Computer Science Educators.”

The Verge profiles Digital Ally, a company that makes police body cameras and soon, a new “conducted electrical weapon.” I’m including this news here not just because TASER holds the monopoly on the market for these weapons. But because the head of Code.org sits on the board of directors of the company that makes TASER, Axon. And perhaps folks should think about who they want to have directing their efforts for “everyone to learn to code” and if we want weapons manufacturers to be leading that charge.

Via Fast Company: “How Software Is Taking On School Shootings.”

I like to track on “baby tech” because I think it underscores how much of Silicon Valley is building a future for the wealthy. Like this example, from Techcrunch: “Cybex starts selling its $330, app-enabled car seat made for safety geeks.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Why Startups Fail: Lessons for Education Companies.”

Via Education Week: “Virtual Reality for Learning Raises High Hopes and Serious Concerns.”

Uber wants to be public transportation, and I have some serious concerns,” writes Andrew Hawkins in The Verge. Okay. It’s not ed-tech. Except for the part in which ed-tech might be redefining public education too.

Via Gizmodo: “Tech History Group Dedicated to Preserving Information Busted Deleting Apology Tweets [Updated].” Related: Safiya Umoja Noble’s new book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism is out soon, and it seems like a “must read” for teachers, particularly those who tout their special “Google Certified Educator” badges.

There are always a bunch of stories each week on how one school or one district is implementing “personalized learning” in some one-off way. It’s never clear to me why these are “a story” – except for the part in which publications funded by the Gates Foundation and CZI are being subsidized to write these articles, I guess.

“Higher Education Joins the Blockchain Party,” says Edsurge. No mention of how any of this connects to alt-right politics, but hey. It’s Silicon Valley. What do you expect.

Via Techcrunch: “Need a post on Harvard.edu about your ICO? $500, please.”

It’s boom times for the “regret industry.” This week, Rick Hess posted on his Ed Week blog “A Confession and a Question on Personalized Learning” from Amplify CEO Larry Berger.

Two articles by Maya Ganesh in Cyborgology on the newly announced Center for Humane Technology: “The Center for Humane Technology Doesn’t Want Your Attention” and “The Center Does Not Want Your Attention II. On Time Well Spent and Ethics.”

“Thoughts about Technology Then and Now” from Larry Cuban, who has a new book on education technology coming out soon.

Via Kotaku: “Sex, Pong, And Pioneers: What Atari Was Really Like, According To Women Who Were There.”

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Teaching assistant robots will reinvent academia,” Times Higher Education claims. Fortunately, I hit the paywall so I couldn’t hate-read this

AI Will Give Rise to ’Superhuman Workers,’ Says Google X Co-Founder,” writes Futurism.com. (That’s Sebastian Thrun with yet another prediction about the future.)

“How Russian Bots Spread Fear at University in the U.S.” – Inside Higher Ed covers a new journal article that explores how Russian bots were used to spread misinformation about BLM protests at the University of Missouri. (There is another bot story in the campus section above about Russian bots and the school shooting this week in Florida.)

Via Techcrunch: “Sony now has a Koov robotics learning kit for US classrooms.” It’s $520. Because the future of robots and ed-tech is a future for affluent classrooms.

Via Fast Company: “How Misty Plans To Build The Most Personable, Programmable Robot Ever.”

“The Ghost(writer) Busters: Can machine learning help in the fight against contract cheating?” asks Claire Hardaker, in an article on Turnitin’s claims that it can identify when students have submitted work that isn’t their own.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

It’s “Annual Letter” time for the Gates Foundation, which means lots of press about the organization’s philanthropic efforts. Via The New York Times: “Bill and Melinda Gates Tackle ‘Tough Questions’ and Trump.” Via Chalkbeat: “To fight poverty in U.S., Bill and Melinda Gates say they may move beyond education.” Via The Washington Post: “Bill, Melinda Gates turn attention toward poverty in America.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Varsity Tutors has raised $50 million in Series C funding from Learn Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and TCV. The tutoring company has raised $107 million total.

Bullshit peddlers Singularity University has raised $32 million in funding from Silicon Valley Bank, PeopleFund, TAL Education Group, WestRiver Capital, and Boeing Ventures. It’s not the first round of venture funding, but the company has never previously disclosed how much it’s raised.

Kuali has raised $10 million from Owl Ventures. Once upon a time, the LMS maker was a non-profit.

CollegeDekho has raised $2 million from Man Capital. The college marketing company has raised $5 million total.

Kaleidoscope Group has raised $1.3 million in seed funding from Gopher Angels, Yonoventures, and gener8tor. The “scholarship platform” company has raised $1.7 million total.

Emmersion Learning has raised $600,000 from Zylun Global and Access to Education.

TurnItIn has acquired Vericite.

Microsoft has acquired Chalkup. Or acqui-hired some of the team at least.

More news on Educause’s acquisition of NMC assets. From Bryan Alexander: “Updates on the New Media Consortium bankruptcy: a purchase, an intervention, and possibilities.” More from Edsurge.

I didn’t catch this news last year, but I’ll make note of it here so I can update my list of education spinoffs: Misty spun out of the robotics company Sphero. (And there’s a story on Misty in the robots section above.)

An education IPO! ReadCloud has gone public on the Australian stock exchange.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

“This smartwatch for kids is adorable but probably not a great idea,” says The Verge.

More “kid tech,” this time from MIT Technology Review: “A phone that says ‘no’ to little kid fingers.”

Via The New York Times: “Facial Recognition Is Accurate, if You’re a White Guy.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports

A new report from Brookings: “Gainfully employed? New evidence on the earnings, employment, and debt of for-profit certificate students.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Study finds DACA encourages undocumented kids to stay in school, as Congress ponders their future.”

Via NPR: “The Gap Between The Science On Kids And Reading, And How It Is Taught.”

Via Motherboard: “‘Minecraft’ Data Mining Reveals Players’ Darkest Secrets.”

“Californians Gain Confidence in (Misinformed) Understanding of Charter Schools,” according to the results from the latest PACE/USC Rossier poll.

Via Edsurge: “​Report: Advising Attendance Is Up, but More ‘In-Depth’ Student Support Is Still Needed.”

Educational Attainment Is Up, but Gaps Remain,” says Inside Higher Ed. That’s based on data from the Lumina Foundation.

“Giving CC Students Home Computers Won’t Set Them up for Greater Success,” according to research written up by Campus Technology.

“Shifting to a personalized-learning model requires that schools make a six-figure upfront investment, more than 40 percent of which is likely to go to technology, according to a new analysis of six ‘breakthrough’ Chicago district and charter schools,” EdWeek’s Ben Herold writes.

“Did Flint’s Water Crisis Damage Kids’ Brains?” asks The New Republic. (I’m not putting this in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section because I think the answer is “yes.”)

Via National Geographic: “Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks? New ‘Brain Games’ May Help Them Stay Young.”

Via Nesta: “What is the evidence for edtech?” Shrug. Enough evidence, I guess, that folks will try to sell you brain training for your dog…

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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Hack Education Weekly News

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

(National) Education Politics

“The New Tax Law’s Subtle Subversion of Public Schools,” by Clint Smith in The Atlantic.

Via the US Department of Education press release: “Secretary DeVos Announces New Student-Centered Funding Pilot Program.” “Student-Centered,” eh?

The Chronicle of Higher Education on the Higher Education Act: “Why an Update of Higher Ed’s Sweeping Framework Could Be Years Away.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Education Department to Propose Compromise in Borrower-Defense Negotiations.”

There’s more Department of Education news in the for-profit higher ed and in the info sec sections below.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “NSF starts requiring that institutions report findings of harassment and suspensions in its funded labs and field sites, and reminds institutions that it can pull funding where necessary.”

Via The New York Post: “Charter-school advocacy group to close up shop.” That’s the Families for Excellent Schools, whose CEO was fired last week amid sexual harassment allegations. Via Chalkbeat: “Before Families for Excellent Schools’ sudden implosion, waning influence and a series of stumbles.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via Education Week: “Puerto Rico’s Governor Seeks Charter Schools, Raises for Teachers.”

Via The Indiana Gazette: “Parents and other school district residents reminded the Indiana Area school board on Monday that their dissent of the Summit Learning program hasn’t waned, even though the administration scaled back the program and put it on ‘opt-in’ status for the 2018–19 school year.” The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy has thoughts on the pushback, making the comparison between Zuckerberg’s corporate and philanthropic efforts and inBloom.

The Salt Lake City school board has voted to rename Jackson Elementary. It will no longer be named after Andrew Jackson, but instead honor NASA engineer Mary Jackson.

Via The Houston Chronicle: “Houston charter network bought Dallas condo for office, storage.” As one does…

“What’s the matter with Oklahoma?” asks The Economist.

Via The New York Times: “In Fight Over Science Education in Idaho, Lawmakers Move to Minimize Climate.”

Via NPR: “With Thousands Of Homeless Students, This District Put Help Right In Its Schools.” The district in question: Dallas Public Schools.

Immigration and Education

Vox says this is an exclusive: “Trump’s draft plan to punish legal immigrants for sending US-born kids to Head Start.”

This is a little old, but it just crossed my desk this week and it’s important enough to still include. Via the Law Librarian Blog: “LexisNexis’s Role in ICE Surveillance and Librarian Ethics.”

Education in the Courts

Via the AFP: “Court affirms $25 million Trump University settlement.”

Via the Argus Leader: “A former official with National American University has accused the South Dakota based for-profit system of defrauding the United States government out of millions of dollars in a student aid program, a lawsuit unsealed Thursday in federal court alleges.”

Via Eater: “Students Will Receive Big Payout in Lawsuit Against Le Cordon Bleu.”

Via The Washington Post: “Think tank sues Education Dept. over public records requests on college accrediting bodies.” The think tank in question: The Century Foundation.

Via The New York Times: “Tariq Ramadan Charged With Rape After Accusations by Two Women.” Ramadan is on leave from his position at Oxford University.

Via Education Week: “Student Retweets Snoop Dogg, Then Sues School District for ‘Retaliation’.”

Rachel Cohen on the upcoming Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31: “The Eminent Libertarians Who Might Save Public Sector Unions.”

There are more stories relating to court cases in the “business of ed-tech” section below.

“Free College”

UW Madison Unveils Free Tuition Program,” says Inside Higher Ed.

Free College, With a Catchby IHE’s John Warner.

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Buzzfeed: “The Government Is Forgiving More Student Loans, And It’s Costing Taxpayers.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

There’s more news about financial aid in the politics section above.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “DeVos’s Education Dept. Relaxed Rules for For-Profits Under Accreditor That Closed.”

There are more details about a couple of for-profit court cases in the courts section above. And one for-profit story is in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section because of course.

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

Via Class Central: “TU Delft Students Can Earn Credit For MOOCs From Other Universities.”

Meanwhile on Campus…

“I’m a Stanford professor accused of being a terrorist. McCarthyism is back,” writes David Palumbo-Liu.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As Protests Mount, U. of Chicago Plans for a Visit From Steve Bannon.”

Via The New York Times: “An Addict Dies in a School Restroom. He Was a Teacher.”

Via USA Today: “20 years in, shootings have changed schools in unexpected ways.”

Via The New York Times: “Plans at Stanford Fall Apart for a Plaque at Site of Sexual Assault.”

Via The Wichita Eagle: “Koch family to open new kind of private school at Wichita State University.”

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

There’s accreditation news in the courts section above.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via AZ Central: “Maricopa Community Colleges to eliminate football.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The contract of University of Montana women’s soccer coach Mark Plakorus won’t be renewed after he used a university cellphone to text escort services during at least five recruiting trips to Las Vegas.”

Memos from HR

Daniel Greenstein, who has overseen the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s work on postsecondary education since 2012, announced Monday that he would leave the foundation next month,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Elizabeth Alexander has been named the new president of the Mellon Foundation.

Via Buzzfeed: “Astrophysicist Christian Ott Was Just Fired From His New Job In Finland After Harassment Scandal.”

Note the ratio:

The Business of Job Training

Via Edsurge: “New Cybersecurity Course Teaches Teens the ABCs of (Ethical) Hacking.” The course is from CodeHS, which shares a number of investors with Edsurge. No disclosure, no surprise.

Contests and Awards

There’s talk of changing the name of the ALA’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to an author who isn’t so racist.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

“Have We Decided What ‘Gainful Employment’ Means Yet?” 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 The New York Times: “Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built.” This is the Center for Humane Technology, which had a big PR push this week, with articles in Edsurge and Education Week. Doesn’t seem like any journalists caught this, tho:

Via The Guardian: “‘Fiction is outperforming reality’: how YouTube’s algorithm distorts truth.”

Via Techcrunch: “YouTube’s CEO promises stronger enforcement in the wake of controversies.”

Via CNN: “YouTube to start labeling videos posted by state-funded media.” State-funded media includes PBS, apparently.

Via The New York Times: “School Shooting Simulation Trains Teachers for the Worst.”

School Shooting Simulation Software (and the Problem with How People Define ‘Ed-Tech’)” by me.

“A lecture-capture platform with a ‘confusion alert’ button is changing the way some instructors teach,” says Inside Higher Ed with an article that seems like an ad for Echo360.

The Telegraph on TurnItIn: “New university plagiarism software to be launched in crackdown on ‘contract’ cheating.”

Via Boing Boing: “Cloudflare terminate Sci-Hub domains, declining to challenge court order.”

Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein on his company’s new event series, The Empirical Educator Project.

Via Techcrunch: “The creator of Snoo, the $1200 high tech bassinet just came out with a baby swaddle.”

Facebook’s app for kids should freak parents out,” says MIT Technology Review.

Speaking of Facebook… According to The Verge, “Facebook hired a full-time pollster to monitor Zuckerberg’s approval ratings.”

Speaking of Facebook again… Via CB Insights: “Facebook Patents Tech To Bucket Users Into Different Social Classes.” Well, this will be useful to “personalize learning,” won’t it.

Via Techcrunch: “PS4 update lets parents control how long their kid can play.”

From the Lenovo website: “Lenovo™ Introduces Lenovo Virtual Reality Classroom.” $3000 for three headsets. “Lenovo Virtual Reality Classroom headsets come pre-loaded with more than 700 available Google Expeditions VR field trips and exclusive Wild Immersion content, created with the support of Jane Goodall. Teachers can bring STEM lessons to life through this immersive learning and take students on biodiversity journeys through Africa, Asia, the Amazon, and more.” Pretty sure all this is on YouTube for free, but hey. When it’s strapped to your face, it’s Wild Immersion.

“What We Should Worry About When We Worry About Virtual Reality” – a guest post by Eugene Stern on the Mathbabe blog.

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Via eSchool News: “Why chatbots are not the future of student engagement.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Via Buzzfeed: “The Koch Foundation Is Flooding Colleges With Money.”

There’s more about what the Kochs are up to in the “meanwhile on campus” section above.

Via Chalkbeat: “With new focus on curriculum, Gates Foundation wades into tricky territory.”

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced some new grants. Or rather, its education head Jim Shelton made a Facebook status update to that effect. There’s very little detail as to where CZI money is going. But according to what it revealed this week: $3 million for Woodrow Wilson Academy for Teaching and Learning; 1.5 million for California’s Ravenwood Elementary School District; $1 million to Stephanie Jones of the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and $75,000 to Matthew Biel of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Stories on the Facebook status update from Education Week and Edsurge.

Good grief, Inside Philanthropy, could you pose at least one hard question here: “Teaching K–12 is Brutally Hard. Here’s How CZI Is Offering Support.”

Details about several HR changes at foundations in the HR section above.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Quizlet has raised $20 million in Series B funding from Union Square Ventures, Icon Ventures, Altos Ventures, Costanoa Ventures, and Owl Ventures. The digital flash card company has raised $32 million total.

Smart Sparrow has raised $7.5 million from the testing company ACT. The “adaptive learning” company has raised $23.5 million total.

Niche, which provides rankings for neighborhoods and schools, has raised $6.6 million from Grit Capital Partners and Allen & Company.

AstrumU has raised $3 million from Ignition Partners and Correlation Ventures “to bring efficiency to higher education with machine learning.”

AdmitHub has raised $100,000 from the Michelson 20MM Foundation. The chatbot-advisor company has raised $3.8 million total.

Seesaw has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Jeff Weiner, Wayee Chu, and Bubba Murarka. It also claims that half of all U.S. schools have teachers using Seesaw. There’s no way to verify these sorts of claims – the data comes from the startups themselves. But that doesn’t stop the tech press from running with it anyway.

New Mountain Learning’s subsidiary EMC School has acquired Zulama.

PeopleAdmin has acquired Performance Matters.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Educause has submitted a $55,000 offer to acquire the assets of the now defunct New Media Consortium, court documents reveal.” More via Bryan Alexander.

Via Reuters: “Coding boot camp General Assembly explores potential sale: CEO.” More via Edsurge.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

The FBI’s Cyber Division and the Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General have issued a warning to schools about cyber criminals.

Edsurge on “Why Charter Networks Are Investing Heavily in Data Teams.”

Not directly ed-tech related – except for the part where ed-tech evangelists keep trying to push for “smart classrooms” and “smart schools.” Gizmodo on “smart homes”: “The House That Spied on Me.”

Again, not ed-tech related per se, but again, I saw y’all wearing your Google Glasses at ISTE and talking about how these would be the future of school. Via The WSJ: “Chinese Police Add Facial-Recognition Glasses to Surveillance Arsenal.”

Via Bitdefender’s blog: “Security hole meant Grammarly would fix your typos, but let snoopers read your private writings.”

There’s more surveillance news in the immigration section above.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via The Washington Post: “A flat-earther finally tried to fly away. His rocket didn’t even ignite.” (I think I’ll save most of my other commentary about rockets and marketing for tomorrow’s HEWN.)

NPR’s Anya Kamenetz on “screen addiction” and teens. (She’s also written a new book on parenting and “screens.”)

“The Implications of Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends of 2018 for Education – Part 2,” according to the Getting Smart blog.

Via Chalkbeat: “How new evidence bolsters the case for California’s education policy rebellion.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “First-generation college students are less likely to persist and graduate than are children of college-educated parents, a national study finds.”

How many made-up statistics can you put in a blog post introducing your company?

Via The Atlantic: “The Origins of Diversity Data in Tech.”

Via Mic: “Want to grow the US economy? Cancel student debt, new report shows.”

Via George Veletsianos: “Educational Technology Magazine archive (1966–2017).”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study counters widely held views about how students’ political views change when they arrive in college.” But why let research get in the way of a good “liberal indoctrination” narrative…

Via Times Higher Education: “University of Leeds study finds many undergraduates have never heard of term, or ‘trigger warnings’.” But why let research get in the way of a good “snowflake” narrative…

According to Pacific Standard, “Meditation May Not Make You a Better Person After All.” Shocking. (But the hoopla over “social emotional learning” persists nonetheless.)

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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School Shooting Simulations (and the Problem with How People Define ‘Ed-Tech’)

Last week, The New York Times wrote about a new simulation program, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, that aims to teach teachers how to respond to an active shooter on school grounds – a simulation “that includes realistic details like gunfire, shattered glass and the screams of children,” one in which teachers can play the role of school staff, law enforcement, or the shooter her- or himself.

It was hardly the first article on the program known as EDGE, the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment. There were a flurry of stories on the shooting simulation software at the beginning of the year – Gizmodo, Engadget, Rolling Stone, The Verge – several of which seemed to build on an AP story filed in the closing days of 2016.

Sixteen school shootings occurred between the publication of that AP story and the one that appeared in The New York Times – about one every other day.

From what I can tell, the story of the shooting simulation was not covered by any education publications – only by a handful of technology ones. This raises a number of interesting questions about coverage and about definitions. What counts as an education story? School shootings certainly do. But what counts as “ed-tech”?

I tweeted something rather flippant about the story back in January when Gizmodo posted a video about the simulation, and I received an admonishment from one ed-tech evangelist that the software “has nothing to do with ed-tech.” I replied that metal detectors are ed-tech, that windows are ed-tech, and that one should consider how these technologies are distributed among various school buildings and communities. The individual sneered that my definition was uselessly broad, that this would mean that locks on school doors are ed-tech.

Well, locks on school doors are ed-tech.

When most ed-tech evangelists, like my interlocutor on Twitter, talk about ed-tech, they don’t mean “technologies used in education.” They don’t even always mean “computers in education” – or not all computers, at least. While they readily refer to the use of computers used for instructional purposes, computers used for administrative purposes are less likely to be touted, particularly in those recent conversations that focus on “personalization” or “learning outcomes,” particularly when education-related computations occur outside a school or district (as in the case of private student loan companies, for example).

Perhaps due to education publications’ funding by education reform organizations and by venture capitalists, the coverage of “education technology” in much education media tends to coincide with these investors’ policies and portfolios. The definition of “ed-tech” is therefore incredibly narrow, often focused on products rather than practices. And that skews the ways in which we talk about “ed-tech” – how we might consider its politics and its purposes, how we might think about its origins and its implications.

In her 1989 CBC Massey Lectures, the physicist Ursula Franklin offered a different definition of technology, one that I use in my own thinking and writing:

Technology is not the sum of the artifacts, of the wheels and gears, of the rails and electronic transmitters. Technology is a system. It entails far more than its individual material components. Technology involves organization, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and, most of all, a mindset.

If we recognize technology as practices, we can more readily see the connections to social relations, Franklin argued. We can then think about technology not just in terms of the introduction of a particular tool, but in terms of how technology might support or shift pre-existing values. Cultural values. Political values. Institutional values.

To claim that a school shooting simulation isn’t “ed-tech” is remarkably unhelpful. Moreover, it serves to bolster the ideological claims that technology is always bound up in “progress.” And importantly, this refusal to include certain technologies in “ed-tech” circumscribes much of the analysis one might undertake about systems, structures, histories.

What is the history of military teaching machines, for example? What role has the military played in developing education technology (particularly training simulations) that have made their way into classrooms? How might the military’s values – overtly and subtly – permeate ed-tech? How do those coincide and how do they conflict with the values of the public school system?

And what is the history of weapons used at school and of the machines used to detect and deter school violence? “Since the attack on Columbine High School in 1999, mitigating the damage of on-campus shootings has been an increasingly urgent priority,” The New York Times writes in that article about school simulation sotware. “More than two-thirds of public schools nationwide practiced their response to a shooting in the 2013–14 academic year, according to the Department of Education; 10 years earlier, fewer than half of schools did so.”

But of course, Columbine was hardly the first school shooting. And the practices (and products) adopted to “mitigate the damage” have a very different history in affluent, suburban schools than they have in high poverty, urban schools where metal detectors, for example, were introduced almost twenty years earlier.

New York City. Boston. New Orleans. Washington DC. Detroit. These cities all experimented with metal detectors and mandatory searches of (some) students (in some schools) in the early 1980s. The adoption of these practices was a response, according to school officials, to fears of youth violence and weapons incidents in and around schools (but overwhelmingly the latter). Along with the introduction of drug-sniffing dogs, students increasingly found themselves exposed to surveillance and searches at school, the legality of the latter upheld in a number of Supreme Court decisions that decade.

There were concerns at the outset about the effectiveness of metal detectors – not simply whether or not they reliably caught students bringing weapons to campus but whether their introduction changed school culture. “We’d be concerned about the impact psychologically on the climate of the schools,” Robert Rubel, the director of the National Alliance for Safe Schools told The Detroit Free Press in 1985 when the Detroit Public Schools introduced unannounced weapons sweeps using handheld metal detectors.

Indeed, many other school districts that experimented with metal detectors admitted that they found them to be counterproductive. If nothing else, the screening process posed a logistical challenge, with students complaining they had to wait in line so long that they were often late to class. But some districts stuck with metal detectors nonetheless, often as part of a broader police presence in schools. As Carla Shedd writes in Unequal City, the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Public Safety boasted in 2013 that it supported a range of these types of technologies: “8,000+ cameras, 500+ alarm systems, 150+ X-ray machines, 300+ metal detectors, 400+ door entry systems, and 35 bus trackers.”

Shedd argues that

Contemporary urban youth are exposed to police contact more frequently and at earlier ages than their predecessors. Schools – and for those who live in public housing, even some homes – have begun to resemble correctional facilities. Metal detectors, surveillance cameras, and other mechanisms designed to monitor and control inhabitants are now standard equipment in American urban schools. Youth who must navigate these spaces are inevitably at high risk of police contact, which may lead to frustration, disengagement, and delinquency.

“Standard equipment in American urban schools.” Education technologies, even.

What happens if we refuse to talk about these as ed-tech, if we refuse to address the practices of surveillance and control not just the products of surveillance and control? If nothing else, it stops us from having the necessary conversations about why some schools might get simulations that train teachers how to respond to a potential shooting, and some schools get metal detectors that interpolate all students as potential shooters.

from Hack Education http://ift.tt/2Eas4tr

Hack Education Weekly News

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

(National) Education Politics

The State of the Union is a right mess. President Trump gave the annual speech to Congress on Tuesday night. (Thankfully, I had class and didn’t have to listen.) Some of the education-related moments: “Less Community, More Vocational,” as Inside Higher Ed put it. “What Trump Didn’t Say About Education,” according to The Atlantic.

More on the Department of Education and for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below. And more on the Department of Education and its plans for financial aid in “the business of financial aid” section below.

From the press release: “U.S. Department of Education Launches New English Learner Data Story.” “Data story” is a fancy way of saying “website.”

There’s news about Department of Education hires in the HR section below.

Via The New York Times: “Republicans Stuff Education Bill With Conservative Social Agenda.”

Religious colleges would be able to bar openly same-sex relationships without fear of repercussions.

Religious student groups could block people who do not share their faith from becoming members.

Controversial speakers would have more leverage when they want to appear at colleges.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Top Official at Justice Dept. Says More Colleges Should Punish Hecklers.” Because “free speech” matters, right up until someone laughs at a Keebler Elf during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Trump’s 5G proposal is destructive nonsense,” says The Verge. “Let’s socialize wireless networks in America. Just keep Trump out of it,” says The Outline.

Via the Broadcast Law Blog: “Time for the FCC to Review Children’s Television Educational Programming Obligations of Broadcasters? Commissioner O’Rielly Thinks So.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Newark has control once again of its public school system, which the state took away from the city 22 years ago.

Via BocaNews: “Parents throughout South Palm Beach County are using iReady on behalf of their children, possibly skewing scores – and usefulness – of the $6-Million diagnostic computer system.” iReady is owned by Curriculum Associates.

Discovery Creemos Academy – formerly known as the Bradley Academy of Excellence – a charter school in Goodyear, Arizona, has abruptly closed its doors.

Via Chalkbeat: “Rocketship becomes latest charter network to pull the plug on Tennessee’s Achievement School District.”

Via NPR: “In D.C., 34 Percent Of Graduates Received A Diploma Against District Policy.”

Via The Atlantic: “The Libraries Bringing Small-Town News Back to Life.”

Immigration and Education

Via NPR: “Nearly 9,000 DACA Teachers Face An Uncertain Future.”

Education in the Courts

Via The Phoenix New Times: “The Battle Isn’t Over Between ASU Professor and Cop Who Arrested Her in 2014.”

“Free College”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In West Virginia, Free Community College Would Come With a Drug Test.”

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos Wants To Put Your Student Loan Money On A Bank Card.” All the better to surveil you with, my dear.

Via The Washington Post: “Use of financial aid continues to grow, though fewer students are borrowing for college.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

“The U.S. Department of Education on Monday distributed proposals for rewriting the gainful-employment rule, which the Trump administration halted last summer,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “The department’s do-over on the vocational education rule, which applies to for-profit college programs and to nondegree programs at nonprofit colleges, continues with a negotiated rule-making session next week.” The proposal would expand the gainful employment rule to all schools that receive federal aid, but it would remove any penalties for schools that fail to meet acceptable levels.

An op-ed in The Washington Post: “On ITT and the Education Department, no more excuses.”

More on bootcamps in the job training section below.

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

It’s baaaaack: “Return of the MOOC,” The City Journal tells us.

Via The Jordan Times: “Edraak.org launches new platform for school learners, teachers.”

“The problem with online charter schools,” according to Vox.

There’s some (sorta) MOOC-related news in the venture funding section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…

The Baffler on Turning Point USA and its harassment campaigns.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Scholars Defend Stanford Professor Receiving Threats.”

Via The Triton: “White Supremacist UCSD Student Disrupts Lecture.”

Columbia Plans to Commit Unfair Labor Practice in Hopes of Denying Graduate Student Workers Their Labor Rights,” says Remaking the University. (Disclosure: I currently have a fellowship at the Columbia J School.) More on Columbia University’s dastardly move in Inside Higher Ed. Happy 50th anniversary of 1968, Columbia administrators!

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Hypothetical ‘Shark Tank’ Session Sets Off Real Worries at U. of Baltimore.”

Via the Lansing State Journal: “Some faculty leaders at Michigan State University are threatening to seek the resignations of the entire MSU Board of Trustees if it follows through with a reported plan to appoint John Engler interim president.”

Via the AP: “Two students were shot and wounded, one critically, inside a Los Angeles middle school classroom Thursday morning and police arrested a female student believed to be 12 years old, authorities said.”

MIT students are being scared straight with episodes of ‘Black Mirror’,” says The Outline. Funny that the Media Lab turns to fiction. Student could read about the actual history of MIT, if they want to think about the ethical implications of their work, and its ties to the military industrial complex.

Via The New York Times: “Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever: Happiness.”

“‘Happiness 101’ Courses Are a Necessary Stop-Gap for the Campus Mental Health Crisis,” says Slate. Ah yes, this old canard: “positive psychology” in lieu of addressing underlying structural issues.

Via NPR: “Student Journalists Launch Website After They Say School Censored Their Paper.”

Via Buzzfeed: “This Student Newspaper Let A Nazi Sympathizer Write For Them.”

(To be clear, these are two different student newspapers.)

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via The New York Times: “University of Pennsylvania Takes Away Steve Wynn’s Honors. And Bill Cosby’s, Too.”

Via Bitcoin Magazine: “Pilot Project Verifies Academic Credentials on the Bitcoin Blockchain.” Phew! Good thing Bill Cosby’s degree wasn’t on the blockchain as there’d be no adjusting it, amirite? The pilot, by the way, is at University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Higher Learning Commission has placed Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago on probation, citing financial troubles that threaten to undermine its educational programs.”

Memos from HR

Stanford researcher Candace Thille is heading to Amazon. The “pioneer in the science of learning,” as Inside Higher Ed puts it, will help the technology company with its internal training program.

Via Politico: “Families for Excellent Schools CEO fired after investigation into ‘inappropriate behavior’.” That’s Jeremiah Kittredge, who’s run one of the best funded pro-charter advocacy groups in the company.

New hires at the Department of Education.

The Business of Job Training

Inside Higher Ed on “Phase 2 for Boot Camps.”

Via Techcrunch: “Google expands Howard West to a full-year program to train more black engineers.”

Contests and Awards

Well, well, well. I was wondering when #metoo would come to education technology. The Verge reports that “GDC rescinds award for Atari founder after criticisms of sexually inappropriate behavior.” That’s Nolan Bushnell.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Hey Alexa, Can You Help Kids Learn More?asks Michael Horn in Education Next. (The “voice-activated classroom” would discriminate against some people with disabilities and against people who do not speak English, but hey.)

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

Upgrades and Downgrades

Code.org is bringing computer education to Alaska Airlines’ in-flight entertainment,” says Techcrunch. Because MOOCs on an airplane proved to be such an effective mode of instruction.

Via Techcrunch: “Sphero’s CEO discusses the company’s shift from Star Wars to schools.” The company, which has raised some $107.4 million, laid off 45 employees last week. So time for some friendly PR, I guess.

Via The New York Times: “Turn Off Messenger Kids, Health Experts Plead to Facebook.”

Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein and Phil Hill are launching a “matchmaking service” called the Empirical Educator Project. Edsurge has some of the details.

Via The New York Times: “School Shooting Simulation Trains Teachers for the Worst.”

Via Campus Technology: “One of the founders and former CEO of online proctoring company ProctorU, Don Kassner, is launching a new venture: MonitorEDU, an online proctoring service powered by technology from ProctorExam. Kassner created Proctor U in 2008 with colleague Jarrod Morgan while serving as president of Andrew Jackson University (now known as New Charter University), and left the company in 2016.” Sounds like there’s some proctoring company drama underlying this story.

Campus Technology also says that Indiana University is expanding its use of Salesforce. It’s just a rewrite of a press release, sure, but I’m noting it here so as to monitor how Salesforce attempts to “platform” education.

It’s 2018, and folks are still so desperate to make VR a thing.

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Google for Education Launches Beta for ‘Create Your Own’ Virtual Reality Experience.” And by “experience,” they mean “uploading a 360 degree image to Google and adding some explanatory content.”

How a Montessori classroom of fourth graders is like an International Baccalaureate classroom is a real article – and a good demonstration of how Montessori can be reshaped to fit any agenda. Sponsored by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, of course.

“Why Students Are Still Spending So Much for College Textbooks,” according to The Atlantic.

“Reflections on 20 Years of Open Content: Lessons from Open Source” by David Wiley.

Via Techcrunch: “Pearson is adding LittleBits kits to its STEM curriculum.”

Edsurge on “An Education ‘Intrapreneur’ on the Difficulties Innovating in a Conservative Industry.” That’s former Pearson exec Larry Singer, who now runs Open Up Resources.

Please stop making up cute variations of the word “entrepreneur.” Please stop.

You can learn a lot about how entrepreneurs view education when they’re talking with their investors about the business.

Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers. Ugh.

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Americans don’t fear artificial intelligence as much as is commonly believed, a new study by Gallup and Northeastern University has found. Officials at Northeastern say that it shows higher education should be more involved in training people for the artificial intelligence world.” More on the survey from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Elsevier on “The Augmented Researcher: What Does 2018 Hold for AI in Publishing?”

Edsurge predicts the future of ed-tech. Or at least the year in ed-tech.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Via The Washington Post: “Koch network laying groundwork to fundamentally transform America’s education system.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Liveedu.TV has raised $10 million in an initial coin offering. Liveedu.TV is a learn-to-code platform. ICOs are… something else indeed.

The digital reading platform Ellabook has raised $6.3 million from Qingsong Fund, QF Capital, and Vtron Investment.

Packback has raised $4.2 million from University Ventures, Mark Cuban, and Hyde Park Angels. The digital textbook provider has raised $8.2 million total.

Lambda School has raised $4 million from Y Combinator and Tandem Capital. The coding school has raised $4.1 million total and plans to use the money to expand its income-sharing agreement program.

LearnPlatform, the startup formerly known as Learntrials, has raised $3.2 million from New Markets Venture Partners and Emerson Collective. The company, which helps schools evaluate their ed-tech usage, has raised $4 million total.

TeacherGaming has raised $1.6 million from Founders Factory and Makers Fund. The company sold MinecraftEDU to Microsoft in 2016.

Edovo has raised $250,000 from Twilio. The company provides “tablet-based educational content for incarcerated individuals.”

LivingTree has acquired Edbacker.

ASSIST has acquired the online school Advantages School International.

Asteria Education has acquired ECS Learning Systems.

Taskstream, Tk20, and LiveText have merged to launch a new company: Watermark.

The former for-profit higher ed chain Laureate Education – it’s now a “public benefit company” – is selling off a number of its schools, Inside Higher Ed reports.

Coursera co-founder “Andrew Ng officially launches his $175M AI Fund,” says Techcrunch. It isn’t really a fund per se. But that’s okay. MOOCs weren’t really MOOCs either.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin has released a new study on the many security and privacy issues with school (and school district and department of education) websites. More coverage in Edsurge and in Boing Boing.

“It’s Time to Make Student Privacy a Priority,” says the EFF.

Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s What Happens When Your Mom Or Dad Steals Your Identity.”

Via The Guardian: “Amazon patents wristband that tracks warehouse workers’ movements.” Worth thinking about, I’d say, in light of the Candace Thille news (see above), as well as the announcement that the technology giant is working with Berkshire Hathaway and Chase to form a new healthcare company.

Via The Guardian: “Fitness tracking app Strava gives away location of secret US army bases.” The story is not directly education-related, of course, except for all those ridiculous arguments that we need some sort of “FitBit for education.”

“The Latest Data Privacy Debacleby Zeynep Tufekci

FERPA, COPPA and the myths we tell each other” by Jim Siegl.

The GM of a “situational awareness technology company” offers thoughts on “Preventing Problems with Predictive Analyticsin the Getting Smart blog. This article is mostly about fire extinguishers, oddly. Might I suggest, one way you can avoid problems – something not mentioned in the article – is by not using predictive analytics.

More predictive analytics PR.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

I’ve run the numbers on ed-tech funding for the month of January – details available on funding.hackeducation.com.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Roughly three million Americans live more than 25 miles from a broad-access public college and do not have the sort of high-speed internet connection necessary for online college programs, according to a new report from the Urban Institute’s education policy program.”

From Educause: “Higher Education’s Top 10 Strategic Technologies and Trends for 2018.”

Alex Usher reviews George Mason University professor Brian Caplan’s new book The Case Against Education.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “International Grad Students’ Interest in American Higher Ed Marks First Decline in 14 Years.”

Also via The CHE: “4-Year Colleges That Drew the Highest Percentages of First-Time Students From Out of State, Fall 2016.”

Via Campus Technology: “Personalized Text Messages Boost STEM Student Persistence in Community College Study.”

Edsource on an Aspen Institute study: “Student social, emotional and academic development becoming more intertwined in K–12 classrooms.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Nearly three-quarters of ninth graders tracked in a major federal study had received some kind of postsecondary education or training within seven years – and nearly a quarter of them had left their programs without a credential of any sort.”

The Atlantic’s Melinda D. Anderson on “What Kids Are Really Learning About Slavery.” Historian Angus Johnston posted a series of questions on Twitter about the claims made in the Teaching Tolerance report about what students do and do not know about slavery.

“‘White Supremacists Are Targeting College Campuses Like Never Before’,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education. More on the report from the Anti-Defamation League in Inside Higher Ed.

Via Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum: “Did new evaluations and weaker tenure make fewer people want to become teachers? A new study says yes.”

And Matt Barnum is my journalist hero this week for poking some holes in the claims made in Bloom’s famous “2 Sigma” study – a study that gets trotted out all the time to justify various education technology projects: “Why ‘personalized learning’ advocates like Mark Zuckerberg keep citing a 1984 study – and why it might not say much about schools today.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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(Re-Introducing) The Ed-Tech Funding Project

When I post an article to Hack Education, it’s (typically) something I’ve thought about and researched and written and re-written. But this site also has a number of subdomains where I am working on other research that isn’t necessarily accompanied by well-wrought prose or analysis.

I spent part of the day today, for example, updating the Ed-Tech Funding Project, which lives at funding.hackeducation.com. (Some $336 million was invested in education companies in the month of January and 14 education companies were acquired, in case you were curious.)

Since 2015, I have been tracking in detail which companies are raising venture capital and from who. While, sure, you can find quarterly and annual reports from a variety of investment analysis firms that will give you the numbers, I wanted the details. I wanted to be able to play with the data, not just copy-and-paste someone else’s line graph tracking year-over-year investment patterns and trust that their definition of “education technology” matched my own.

The Ed-Tech Funding Project has details about investments, acquisitions, mergers, IPOs, and spinoffs, as well as “the ed-tech startup dead pool.” I also track who’s received Gates Foundation money and who’s funding Edsurge (and paying for content to appear on that site).

As part of my Spencer Education Fellowship, I am also examining various investment firms – what they invest in as well as who works there – all in at attempt to understand how powerful networks operate in education technology (and education reform) and how the stories we are told about the future of education technology are shaped. If you visit another subdomain – data.hackeducation.com – you can see some of that work-in-progress.

I update the Ed-Tech Funding Project once-a-month. There’s a blog attached to that project, and if you want to subscribe, there is an RSS feed. The project is hosted on GitHub, so the data is readily available to be downloaded, forked, re-used, scrutinized, etc.

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Hack Education Weekly News

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

(National) Education Politics

The US government shut down. Then it re-opened.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Education Tuesday named Kent Talbert, a former general counsel and acting under secretary during the George W. Bush administration, as senior policy adviser.”

There’s more information about lawsuits against Betsy DeVos in the courts section below. And there’s more about how the Trump Administration is catering to for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below. There’s also some financial aid proposals that sound bloody awful in the financial aid section below.

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via Jack Schneider in The Atlantic: “What School-Funding Debates Ignore.”

Via The Verge: “New York governor signs executive order to keep net neutrality rules after the FCC’s repeal.” Montana also plans to enforce net neutrality.

Via Chalkbeat: “As low-income families exit Denver, charter network KIPP is looking to follow.” Gentrification is forcing poor people out of the city; segregated school systems follow them to new locations.

Florida may make it easier to qualify for voucher program,” says the AP.

Via The Conversation: “What we can learn from closure of charter school that DeVos praised as ‘shining example’.” The school in question: the Excel Academy Public Charter School in DC which was closed for poor performance.

Immigration and Education

Via WBUR: “Dismantling DACA Could Also Destroy These Harvard Med Students’ Dreams.”

Via The Washington Post: “ Trump supports path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million ‘dreamers’ in new White House proposal.”

Via the AP: “Border Patrol Arrests ASU Instructor who gave food, water to immigrants.”

Education in the Courts

Via The New York Times: “Former Baltimore County Schools Leader Charged With Perjury.” That’s Dallas Dance, who was the subject of another story the NYT’s Natasha Singer wrote last year, “How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom.” From this week’s article:

The prosecutor also said that Mr. Dance concealed about $12,000 in payments he received through his consulting work in 2015, including $4,600 from an organization called the Education Research and Development Institute – ERDI for short – that pays superintendents to attend meetings with educational tech companies.

Yes, “that pays superintendents to attend meetings with educational tech companies.” Here’s a list of the companies that work with ERDI. Shady.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Blind students this week won a discrimination lawsuit against the legal education company BarBri – one of the country’s largest providers of bar exam preparation courses.”

Via Reuters: “A Chinese citizen accused of posing as someone else to take a graduate school entrance exam on her behalf pleaded guilty on Tuesday in a criminal case that arose from U.S. prosecutors investigating international students who use imposters to gain admission to American universities.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Justice is backing a suit by conservative students against the the University of California, Berkeley. The suit charges that the university imposes tougher requirements on those seeking to host conservative speakers than it does for those seeking to host other speakers.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Civil Rights Groups Sue DeVos Over Title IX Policies.”

I’ve put all the stories related to Michigan State, Larry Nassar, and Women’s Gymnastics in the sports section below. There are also stories about settles related to for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below.

“Free College”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The restaurant group that operates the Chili’s and Maggiano’s chains announced an arrangement Monday by which it will, through Pearson Education, offer employees cost-free educational programs from language skills through associate degrees.”

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Politico: “ The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to test a new way to disburse federal student loan and Pell grant funds to students. The Education Department, in the coming weeks, plans to solicit offers from companies that would manage a federal prepaid card that allows students to directly access refunds of their student loan or grant money – the money that’s left over after covering tuition and that’s typically used to pay for books, off-campus housing and other living expenses.” All the better to surveil and control you with…

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via Inside Higher Ed: “DeVos Waters Down Disclosure Requirements of Gainful-Employment Rule.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A group of former ITT Technical Institute students reached an approved settlement Wednesday that would allow them to participate in bankruptcy proceedings with the institution’s parent company.” More via The Washington Post.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The former owner and chief executive officer of Alden’s School of Cosmetology and Alden’s School of Barbering, Alden Hall, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison last week for a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Education and steal Pell Grant funds.”

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

Via Mother Jones: “The GOP’s Biggest Charter School Experiment Just Imploded.” It’s a story on ECOT, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, the online charter school in Ohio which lost its sponsor and was shut down last week after a long string of scandals and lawsuits.

Via Class Central: “A Product at Every Price: A Review of MOOC Stats and Trends in 2017.”

There’s more MOOC news in the certification section below. I’m also putting some MOOC news in the job training section.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via The New York Times: “School Shooting in Kentucky Was Nation’s 11th of Year. It Was Jan. 23.” More on the shooting via the AP.

Via the AAUP: “ A New Reality? The Far Right’s Use of Cyberharassment against Academics.”

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

I love the use of “quietly” in headlines. Translation: no press release. It doesn’t mean there was any investigative journalism involved. Here’s Edsurge, for example, announcing that “EdX Quietly Developing ‘MicroBachelors’ Program.” MicroBachelors were apparently on one of Anant Agarwal’s slide at a recent conference.

Also via Edsurge: “In Evolving World of Microcredentials, Students, Colleges and Employers Want Different Things.”

Udacity opens applications for its Flying Car Nanodegree program,” says Techcrunch. How is a flying car nanodegree different than an aerospace engineering degree? Well, the former only takes six months to complete, for starters.

There are links to “research” about the accreditation system in the “research” section below.


Via Chalkbeat: “Why one Harvard professor calls American schools’ focus on testing a ‘charade’.” The professor in question: Daniel Koretz, who has a new book out The Testing Charade.

There are details about a couple of test-related legal cases in the courts section above.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The New York Times: “With Larry Nassar Sentenced, Focus Is on What Michigan State Knew.” After pressure from trustees and others, MSU’s President Lou Anna Simon has resigned (with a remarkably bad statement).

We Need To Be A Lot Angrier About The Larry Nassar Scandal,” says Jessica Luther.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Southern California has fired associate head basketball coach Tony Bland for his connection to an alleged corruption scandal under investigation by federal officials.”

VR is the US Olympic ski team’s secret weapon,” says MIT Technology Review. I’m just making note of this so, down the road, we can talk about VR and sports training and how well the US Olympic ski team does or doesn’t perform in Pyeongchang.

Memos from HR

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “James Comey Continues Second Act as a College Instructor.”

Via Techcrunch: “Twitter COO Anthony Noto resigns to become SoFi CEO.” SoFi is a student loan company whose former CEO had to resign because of a sexual harassment scandal last year.

Via Techcrunch: “Sphero lays off dozens as it shifts focus to education.” Sphero has raised some $107 million in venture funding.

Lots of sports-related firings in the sports section above. And there was a new hire announced at the Department of Education this week – that’s in the national politics section above.

The Business of Job Training

WeWork has partnered with 2U. Inside Higher Ed has a story. Edsurge has a story. Keep an eye on WeWork as it attempts to become a platform – one that controls K–12 education, workspaces, freelancing, meetups, and now higher ed degrees.

Katie Notopoulos paid $54 to take YouTube star Jake Paul’s video series on how to become a YouTube star. And then she wrote about it for Buzzfeed, as one does.

Want to code?asks MIT Technology Review. “You better start teaching yourself.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

“What’s the Next Step for AltSchool?” asks Edsurge. “Paid Partnerships With Public Schools.” More via Education Week.

The future of education is virtual,” Vivek Wadhwa claims in a Washington Post op-ed. There is so much wrong with this essay I hardly know where to begin. But then again, Wadhwa was a supporter of GamerGate. So it’s not really a shock that his vision of the future is fucking terrible (and dead wrong).

There’s a lot of VR-related hype in this week’s round-up. What gives?! Like this one: “Future surgeons could be trained by VR doctors,” says MIT Technology Review.

There were also a number of stories on banning technology this week. One in The Washington Post. One on NPR. “What If Children Should Be Spending More Time With Screens?” asks The Wall Street Journal.

Via Techcrunch: “Apple partners with Malala Fund to help girls receive quality education.”

Inside Higher Ed has a quick blurb about Flockademic, a new non-profit publishing platform that aims “to put academics in charge of scholarly publishing.”

OpenScholar, an open source website-publishing system specifically for higher education, has publicly separated from Harvard University to become a private company,” says Campus Technology.

Via Campus Technology: “Knewton Releases $44 Adaptive Digital Textbooks.”

Learning Agency, Not Analyticsby April Hathcock.

Via Edsurge: “Smithsonian Forms ‘Strategic Alliance’ With Carnegie Learning to Build New STEM Products.”

Via Techcrunch: “Facebook expands ‘Community Boost’ digital skills training program to Europe.”

Edsurge on the Google press release: “Google’s Education Suite is Still Free, but New Add-Ons For Administrators Come With a Fee.”

Edsurge also has an article on Microsoft’s press release: “Microsoft’s Many EDU Updates – and a Window of Opportunity to Win K–12 Market Share.”

(Press releases were all timed with BETT, the giant education technology tradeshow, held this week in London.)

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Via Quartz: “One of the world’s biggest firms is spending $450 million to solve a world problem created by robots.” The firm: KPMG. The expenditure: “a 55-acre learning, development, and innovation center in Lake Nona, a master-planned community in Orlando, Florida. It can accommodate 1,000 people at a time and has 800 single-occupancy rooms. It also has a four-star environment which includes multiple dining options, a coffee and wine bar, and a pub-like venue as well as ‘total wellness’ amenities such as a sizable fitness facility and hiking and biking paths.” Some “fix.”

Ziro’s robotics kit for kids now works with Alexa,” says Techcrunch.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

TeacherGaming has raised $1.6 million from Makers Fund and Founders Factory. The company made MinecraftEDU which was acquired by Microsoft.

The predictive analytics company Degree Analytics has raised $1 million from Rick Dalzell, David Palumbo, and and Larry Benz.

School management company Rubix108 has raised $1 million from Polaris Fund.

Curriculum maker Magpie Education has raised $416,000 from the British Robotics Seed Fund.

Brainly has acquired Bask.

9 Story Media Group has acquired Out of the Blue Enterprises.

Founding Years has acquired Intellitots.

It’s not ed-tech related – yet – but Facebook has acquired biometric ID verification startup Confirm.io.

This is also tangentially related to ed-tech: Blackboard founder Michael Chasen’s new startup, PrecisionHawk has raised $75 million for drone analytics.

“Who Bankrupted Toys ‘R’ Us? Blame Private Equity and Millennial Parents,” says The Atlantic.

Speaking of private equity, here are some rumors via Reuters: “Private equity firm Vista Equity Partners Management LLC is exploring options for two software companies it owns, PowerSchool and PeopleAdmin, that could involve combining them in a deal worth between $2 billion to $3 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

From the Future of Privacy Forum: “New US Dept of Ed Finding: Schools Cannot Require Parents or Students to Waive Their FERPA Rights Through Ed Tech Company’s Terms of Service.” “FERPA Ruling Provides Privacy Advocates and Educators with Clearer Interpretation of Rights,” says Edsurge.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why Don’t Professors Make More Money? The Flexibility They Enjoy, a Study Argues.”

A new report from the American Enterprise Institute: “Saving the Associate of Arts Degree: How an A.A. Degree Can Become a Better Path to Labor Market Success.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Report: Bundled Textbooks a Bad Deal for Students.” Duh.

Psychology Today looks at perfectionism among today’s college students.

Via Pacific Standard: “New research suggests we aren’t born bigots. Racial prejudice is something we learn.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Virtual Reality ‘Class Kits’ Expected to Gain Foothold in U.S. Schools.” Here’s the forecast from the market research firm Futuresource: “More than 15 percent of U.S. schools are forecast to have a VR class kit by 2021, and globally more than 70 million K–12 students are expected to have a VR experience in school in that year.” I love it that we’ve lowered expectations now to just “a VR experience.”

Via The New Childhood: “Millions of ‘Under-Connected’ American Families Experience A Whole Different Internet.”

Via Techcrunch: “Phone-addicted teens aren’t as happy as those who play sports and hang out IRL, new study suggests.”

The GAO has released a new report on the the accreditation system.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Outlook for Higher Ed in 2018 Is Bleak, Ratings Agency Says.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “States’ financial support for higher education grew only slightly between the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, with more than a third of states decreasing their funding and another dozen increasing it only slightly, according to an annual survey released today.”

“Preliminary Data on K–12 LMS Marketfrom Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill.

“A Root Cause of the Teacher-Diversity Problem,” by The Atlantic’s Melinda D. Anderson.

Via Education Week: “Experts Agree Social-Emotional Learning Matters, and Are Plotting Roadmap on How to Do It.” LOL. “Experts agree.” Which experts are those? Oh. Ones summoned by the Aspen Institute. I see.


Via The Atlantic: “NASA’s Lovely Tribute to the Teacher Who Perished on Challenger” – “Two astronauts will carry out the original lessons Christa McAuliffe had planned for her time in orbit in 1986.”

And I’ll write about her more in my newsletter tomorrow, but Ursula K. Le Guin passed away this week. I’ll note here that she’s the author of one of the great science fiction/fantasy series on education: the Earthsea series.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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PLATO and the History of Education Technology (That Wasn’t)

The computer scientist Bret Victor gave a keynote back in 2013 that I return to again and again. (See? Keynotes need not be a waste of time and energy!) In “The Future of Programming,” he offers a history of programming – or more accurately, a history of programming developments that were never widely adopted. That is to say, not the future of programming.

The conceit of Victor’s talk: he delivers it as if it’s 1973, using an overhead projector in lieu of PowerPoint slides, and the future he repeatedly points to is our present-day. With hindsight, we know that the computer languages and frameworks he talks about haven’t been embraced, that this future hasn’t come to pass. But as Victor repeats again and again, it would be such a shame if the inventions he recounts were ignored; it would be a shame if in forty years, we were still coding in procedures in text files in a sequential programming model, for example. “That would suggest we didn’t learn anything from this really fertile period in computer science. So that would kind of be a tragedy. Even more of a tragedy than these ideas not being used would be if these ideas were forgotten.” But the biggest tragedy, says Victor, would be if people forgot that you could have new ideas and different ideas about programming in the first place, if a new generation was never introduced to these old ideas and therefore believed there is only one model of programming, one accepted and acceptable way of thinking about and thinking with computers. That these new generations “grow up with dogma.”

Victor mentions an incredibly important piece of education technology history in passing in his talk: PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations), built on the ILLIAC I at the University of Illinois. PLATO, which operated out of the university’s Computer-based Education Research Laboratory (CERL) from 1960 to 1993, does represent in some ways a path that education technology (and computing technology more broadly) did not take. But if and when when its innovations were adopted (and, yes, many of them were), PLATO remained largely uncredited for its contributions.

PLATO serves in Victor’s talk as an example, along with Douglas Englebart’s NLS, of the development in the 1960s of interactive, real-time computing. In forty years time, Victor tells his imagined 1970s audience, our user interfaces will never have any delay or lag because of Moore’s Law and because “these guys have proven how important it is to have an immediately responsive UI” – a quip that anyone who’s spent time waiting for operating systems or software programs to respond can understand and chuckle remorsefully about.

This idea that computers could even attempt to offer immediate feedback – typing a letter on a keyboard and immediately seeing it rendered on a screen – was certainly new in the 1960s, as processing was slow, memory was minute, and data had to move from an input device back to a central computer and then back again to some sort of display. But the “fast round trip” between terminal and mainframe was hardly the only innovation associated with PLATO, as Brian Dear chronicles in his book The Friendly Orange Glow. That very glow was another one – the flat-panel plasma touchscreen invented by the PLATO team in 1967. There were many other advances too: the creation of time-sharing, discussion boards, instant messaging, a learning management system or sorts, and multi-user game-play, to name just a few.

The subtitle of Dear’s book – “The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture” – speaks directly to his larger project: making sure the pioneering contributions of PLATO are not forgotten.

If and when PLATO is remembered (in education technology circles at least), it is as an early example of computer-assisted instruction – and often, it’s denigrated as such. Perhaps that should be no surprise – education technology is fiercely dogmatic. And it was already fiercely dogmatic by the 1960s, when PLATO was first under development. The field had, in the decades prior, developed a certain set of precepts and convictions – even if, as Victor contends in his talk at least, computing at the time had (mostly) not.

Dear begins his book where many histories of education technology do: with the story of how Harvard psychology professor B. F. Skinner had, in the late 1950s, visited his daughter’s fourth grade classroom, been struck by its in efficiencies, and argued that teaching machines would ameliorate this. The first mechanisms that Skinner built were not computerized; they were boxes with levers and knobs. But they were designed to offer students immediate feedback – positive reinforcement when students gave the correct answer, a key element to Skinner’s behaviorist theories. Skinner largely failed to commercialize his ideas, but his influence on the design of instructional machines was significant nonetheless, as behaviorism had already become a cornerstone of the nascent field of educational psychology and a widely accepted theory as to how people learn.

At its outset, the Computer-based Education Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois did not hire instructional technologists to develop PLATO. The lab was not governed by educational psychologists – behaviorists or otherwise. The programming language that was developed so that “anyone” could create a lesson module on the system — TUTOR — did not demand an allegiance to any particular learning theory. As one education professor told Brian Dear, CERL did not operate “under any kind of psychological banner. They just didn’t seem to be driven by psychological underpinnings. They were driven by a more pragmatic approach: you work with students, you work with content, you work with the technology, you put it together in a way that feels good and it will work. Whether it’s consistent with somebody’s psychology is a quickly irrelevant question.”

But it seems more likely, if we examine the history of PLATO (and perhaps even the histories of education technology and of computing technologies), that this is not really an irrelevant question at all – not in the long run at least. Certainly, the open-ended-ness of the PLATO system, as well as the PLATO culture at UI, fostered the myriad of technological innovations that Dear chronicles in The Friendly Orange Glow. But the influence of psychology on the direction of education technology – and to be clear, this was not just behaviorism, of course, but cognitive psychology – has been profound. It shaped the expectations for what instructional technology should do. It shaped the expectations for what PLATO should be. (I’d add too that psychological theories have been quite influential on the direction of computing technology itself, although I think this has been rather unexamined.)

The Friendly Orange Glow is a history of PLATO – one that has long deserved to be told and that Dear does with meticulous care and detail. (The book was some three decades in the making.) But it’s also a history of why, following Sputnik, the US government came to fund educational computing. Its also – in between the lines, if you will – a history of why the locus of computing and educational computing specifically shifted to places like MIT, Xerox PARC, Stanford. The answer is not “because the technology was better” – not entirely. The answer has to do in part with funding – what changed when these educational computing efforts were no longer backed by federal money and part of Cold War era research but by venture capital. (Spoiler alert: it changes the timeline. It changes the culture. It changes the mission. It changes the technology.) And the answer has everything to do with power and ideology – with dogma.

Bret Victor credits the message and content of his keynote to computer scientist Alan Kay, who once famously said that “the best way to predict the future is to build it.” (Kay, of course, appears several times in The Friendly Orange Glow because of his own contributions to computing, not to mention the competition between CERL and PARC where Kay worked and their very different visions of the future). But to be perfectly frank, the act of building alone is hardly sufficient. The best way to predict the future may instead be to be among those who mythologize what’s built, who tell certain stories, who craft and uphold the dogma about what is built and how it’s used.

To a certain extent, the version of “personal computing” espoused by Kay and by PARC has been triumphant. That is, PLATO’s model – networked terminals that tied back to a central machine – was not. Perhaps it’s worth considering how dogmatic computing has become about “personal” and “personalization” – what its implications might be for the shape of programming and for education technology, sure, but also what it means for the kinds of values and communities that are built without any sort of “friendly glow.”

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Hack Education Weekly News

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

(National) Education Politics

Compare and contrast the Department of Education’s government shutdown plans – Secretary John King’s versus Secretary Betsy DeVos’s. Among the changes: removing en dashes and replacing them with em dashes and deleting Oxford commas. Monstrous, really.

Via Chalkbeat: “DeVos criticizes Bush-Obama policies, saying it’s time to overhaul conventional schooling.” Here are the “Prepared Remarks by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to the American Enterprise Institute,” from the Press Office. Here’s Edsurge’s take on the AEI event.

“The U.S. Department of Education is looking for nonprofit organizations to help support its #GoOpen campaign to nurture state and district take-up of ‘open’ educational resources,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief.

From the Department of Education Press Office: “Secretary DeVos Announces Approval of 11 ESSA Plans.”

Via The Huffington Post: “Ministers Turned Down 5 ‘Appointable’ People To Give Toby Young A Job.” I believe this is what one calls “meritocracy,” – is that right, Toby’s dad?

From Liberia, “Government to crackdown on unlicensed schools,” New Vision reports. This includes Bridge International academies, which the country has said cannot operate in the country.

Via Politico: “How China Infiltrated U.S. Classrooms.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via the Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Free community college bill would require staying in WV 2 years.” WV is West Virginia, of course.

Via WLRN: “National Charter School Chain Favored by House Speaker Heads For Miami, Amid Performance Concerns.” The chain: KIPP. The concerns: the only other KIPP school in Florida, in Jacksonville, is one of the lowest performing schools in the state. The House Speaker, Richard Corcoran, wants to run for governor and is a fan of charter chains, apparently.

Via NPR: “Students Across D.C. Graduated Despite Chronic Absences, An Investigation Finds.”

From the Governor of Iowa’s press office: “Gov. Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Gregg announce new research on state’s regulatory framework.” I’m including this here because the research comes from the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and I want to keep an eye on how “dark money” includes research and policy.

Immigration and Education

Via Chalkbeat: “As Washington decides their fate, ‘Dreamers’ preparing for college are stuck in limbo.”

There’s DACA-related PR in the venture philanthropy section below.

Education in the Courts

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “State Attorneys General Sue to Block FCC’s Repeal of Net Neutrality.”

Via the Hartford Courant: “The state Supreme Court has overturned a Superior Court judge’s controversial ruling that would have upended the state’s educational-funding scheme and mandated a vast overhaul of teacher evaluations, educational standards and special-education services.” That’s the Connecticut state Supreme Court.

Via The New York Times: “Horror for 13 California Siblings Hidden by Veneer of a Private Home School.” An op-ed in The LA Times: “The Turpin child abuse story fits a widespread and disturbing homeschooling pattern.”

Via Techcrunch: “The nanny of former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski has filed an excruciatingly detailed lawsuit.” (Remember, this guy the founder of a church of AI. But I’m including it here because I still hear people talking about “Uber for Education,” goddammit.)

“Free College”

There’s some “free college” news in the state education political section above.

The Business of Financial Aid

There’s an article in the venture philanthropy section below about how private student loans are being pitched as “impact investing.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via The New York Times: “Black Colleges Swept Up in For-Profit Crackdown Find Relief From DeVos.”

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

“Online and the Color Line” – Chris Newfield on students of color and online education in California.

Indiana Virtual School has the lowest graduation rate of any public school in the state,” says Chalkbeat.

Doane University has joined edX.

There’s more MOOC news in the job training section below. And more online education news in the “Betteridge’s Law of Headlines” section and in the research and data section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Sara Goldrick-Rab on food insecurity on college campuses: “It’s Hard to Study if You’re Hungry.”

Edsurge explains “How a Master’s Program From the ’80s Quietly Keeps Up With Coding Bootcamps.” The program, an MA in Interdisciplinary Computer Science, is at Mills College. Apparently it’s “from the 80s” because it was founded in the 1980s. So you could, I suppose write a headline about Harvard teaching computer science that goes “How a College from the 17th Century Quietly Keeps up with Coding Bootcamps.” But that would be silly, wouldn’t it. (Of course, Harvard doesn’t keep quiet about anything, does it.)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Richard Spencer, the inflammatory white supremacist who has unsettled college campuses with his appearances, will speak at Michigan State University in March.”

Budgets Suffer After A Drop In International Student Enrollment,” says NPR. College budgets, that is.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “UT Austin says it will not accept funding from a foundation after concerns were raised about its connections to the Chinese Communist Party.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Johns Hopkins Just Got the Largest Donation Ever Given to a Philosophy Department.”

“How Colleges Foretold the #MeToo Movement,” according to The Atlantic.

More on University College London and its eugenics conferences via DC’s Improbable Science.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via the BBC: “‘Staggering’ trade in fake degrees revealed.” “Staggering” equals 3000.


“PISA for personality testing – the OECD and the psychometric science of social-emotional skillsby Ben Williamson.

Personality Tests Are Failing American Workers,” says Cathy O’Neil in a Bloomberg op-ed.

A new project from the Learning Policy Institute and EducationCounsel: “Reimagining College Access: Performance Assessments From K–12 Through Higher Education.”

More news about a data breach at a testing company in the infosec section below.

Go, School Sports Team!

This is digusting on many levels. (And compare all this to what happened at Penn State with the Sandusky abuse case.) Via the Detroit News: “What MSU knew: 14 were warned of Nassar abuse.” Dr. Larry Nassar is the ex-USA Gymnastics team physician who has been accused of sexually assaulting over 140 women. He was a faculty member at Michigan State.

The Business of Job Training

Via Techcrunch: “Google and Coursera launch program to train more IT support specialists.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Will Online Ever Conquer Higher Ed?asks Edsurge.

“Relationships Are Central to the Student Experience. Can Colleges Engineer Them?asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

(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 covers Clever’s new product “Clever Goals,” which takes the data that the company gleans about student usage of technology and sells it back to schools. Very clever indeed.

“Why big tech thinks voice control will conquer the world” by Navneet Alang.

“Irish startup SoapBox Labs is building speech recognition tech for kids,” says Techcrunch.

“Who Is Pulling The Muppet Strings?” asks Alison McDowell.

Via The Outline: “Pyramid schemes target Snapchat teens.”

More on teen social media usage, this time from Buzzfeed: “‘Tweetdecking’ Is Taking Over Twitter. Here’s Everything You Need To Know.”

The Atlantic on what it’s like being a parent of a social media star.

Google is jeopardizing African-American literature sites,” says The Outline.

From the press release: “Knewton Launches Alta, Fully Integrated Adaptive Learning Courseware for Higher Education, Putting Achievement in Reach for Everyone.” There is no mention here about mind-reading robo tutors in the sky, but there are some questionable claims about what the software can do.

Via Techcrunch: “Education quiz app Kahoot says it’s now used by 50% of all US K–12 students, 70M users overall.” The article features this edutainment gem: “According to Kahoot’s CEO Erik Harrell, Disney is working with Kahoot on ways of incorporating some of its iconic brands into its quizzes, as another way of engaging students to use them.”

Via Techcrunch: “The BecDot is a toy that helps teach vision-impaired kids to read braille.”

Via KQED’s Mindshift: “Setting School Culture With Social And Emotional Learning Routines.”

I’m not sure I’d call the launch of a product from a for-profit research management company (Digital Science) “Democratizing Research Funding Data,” but there you go.

I don’t recall if I talked about Elsevier when I wrote about platforms as part of my 2017 review. That’s certainly it’s aspiration. Anyway, here’s Richard Smith on Elsevier and “A Big Brother future for science publishing.”

Henry Jenkins interviews Justin Reich on “ed tech and equity.”

A fascinating photo essay in The New York Times goesInside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories.”

The Pacific Standard explains “How Educational Podcasts Are Making Us Smarter Citizens,” but I hear people are eating Tide Pods so I’m a little skeptical.

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

No, machines can’t read better than humans,” says The Verge. That’s despite all the headlines you saw this week that claimed that now they can.

Via Geek Dad: “Little Robot Friends Teach Kids to Code With Empathy.” Empathy?!

College Rankings Revisited: What Might an Artificial Intelligence Think?” asks Metametrics’ Steve Lattanzio.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A New Home for AI: The Library.” That’s at the University of Rhode Island.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

From the Stanford Social Innovation Review: “A New Impact Investing Model for Education.” Private loans for students in the Global South to attend private schools. JFC.

I’m not sure where to put this story, but again, I want to make note of it – this loving profile of Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man. Bezos was in the news with a philanthropic effort this week, I suppose. “After Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Comment, Amazon CEO Donates $33 Million To DACA Students,” Buzzfeed reports. You know what’s better than making a $33 million donation? Paying taxes.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

ParentPowered has raised $2.7 million in seed funding from the Omidyar Network for an “on-demand library of parenting tips.”

Centre Lane Partners has acquired Infobase Holdings.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via The Chicago Tribune: “Google’s art selfies aren’t available in Illinois. Here’s why.” (If you used the app and handed over your biometric data to Google, don’t worry. You can just get a new face.)

Via the Harvard Business Review: “How Georgia State University Used an Algorithm to Help Students Navigate the Road to College.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Personal data of 52 New York students is compromised after testing-company breach.” The company: Questar Assessment, Inc.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

It’s not directly education-related but there’s so much talk about predictive analytics in education (see above), I thought I’d include this nonetheless. Via The Atlantic: “A Popular Algorithm Is No Better at Predicting Crimes Than Random People.”

Predictions from investor Tom Vander Ark: “Not Much New in EdTech in 2017; 3 Things Could Change That in 2018.”

From Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Fall 2016 Top 20 Largest Online Enrollments In US – With Trends Since 2012.” Also from Hill: “Fall 2016 IPEDS Data: New Profile of US Higher Ed Online Education.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Less money for schools after the recession meant lower test scores and graduation rates, study finds.”

According to a new survey from Gallup and Strada Education (the loan guarantor formerly known as USA Funds), “Current College Students Do Not Feel Prepared for the Workforce.”

A report from RAND: “Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life.”

From Rick Hess: “The 2018 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings.”

Nation Earns a C on Quality Counts Report Card,” says Education Week.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

from Hack Education http://ift.tt/2mX6OAI

Hack Education Weekly News

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

(National) Education Politics

I’ll lead off this week’s roundup of education news with this from England, from The Guardian: “Toby Young resigns from the Office for Students after backlash.” More from The Guardian. And more Toby Young (and eugenics) news in the “meanwhile on campus” section below.

Still more education news from the UK: “Sam Gyimah replaces Jo Johnson as universities minister,” The Times Higher Education reports. “Damian Hinds is new education secretary, replacing Justine Greening,” says the BBC.

Of course, the US can’t let the UK lead for too long when it comes to terrible people and terrible ideas in education. So here’s an early contender for “Worst Education ‘Take’ of 2018’” by Gary Wolfram in Education Week: “Make Public Education a Market Economy – Not a Socialist One.”

Speaking of market economies, more financial aid news in the financial aid section below.

Congratulations, STEM folks and learn-to-code evangelists, for being featured in President Trump’s list of his 2017 accomplishments. You must be so proud.

Via The New York Times: “Texas Illegally Excluded Thousands From Special Education, Federal Officials Say.” The Department of Education’s press release has more. Kudos to the Houston Chronicle for the original reporting on this in 2016.

Via Education Week: “Trump Signs Orders on Rural Broadband Access.”

It’s pretty terrible to report on how a “President Oprah” would shape education policy and not talk about how she has actively promoted pseudoscience. But maybe a lot of education policy is based on pseudoscience, so that’s why we can just let that slide… Via Chalkbeat: “President Winfrey? Here’s what we know about Oprah’s education outlook.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Vox on segregation in US public schools: “We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated. This is how well your district does.”

Via NPR: “Outcry After Louisiana Teacher Arrested During School Board Meeting.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In New Budget Proposal, California Higher Ed Gets Modest Funding and a Big Online College.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Despite enthusiasm for four-year degrees offered by California community colleges, a state report calls for more time before expanding the programs.”

More on California community colleges in the online education section below.

Lots of very excited and uncritical reporting on the new charter school on Oracle’s campus.

Via Chalkbeat: “Charter and online schools report the largest increase in students in Colorado.”

Via The LA Times: “LAUSD chief Michelle King won’t return from medical leave for cancer, plans to retire.”

Immigration and Education

Via The LA Times: “Federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocks Trump’s decision to end DACA program.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Berkeley Breaks Silence on Arrest of Undocumented Student.”

Education in the Courts (and in the AGs’ Offices)

Via The Verge: “James Damore sues Google for allegedly discriminating against conservative white men.” 69% of Google’s employees are men. 56% are white. Clearly it’s tough there for white guys.

Via The New York Times: “Former Financial Aid Chief at Columbia Is Accused of Taking Kickbacks.”

“A Wisconsin school district has settled a discrimination lawsuit filed by a transgender high school student for $800,000,” the AP reports. The student “alleged staff at Tremper High School monitored his use of the bathroom and made him wear a special bracelet to single him out from other students.” “Special bracelets” are, of course, ed-tech.

Via The Washington Post: “Richard Spencer supporter sues university, calling security fee for campus speech unconstitutional.” The school in question: University of Cincinnati.

Via The New York Times: “Big Tech to Join Legal Fight Against Net Neutrality Repeal.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether the ethics code of the National Association for College Admission Counseling violates federal antitrust law.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A Pennsylvania judge has banned fraternity Pi Delta Psi from the state for a decade, a punishment for a hazing death in 2013, and an unprecedented step likely to rock the national Greek system.”

More legal wrangling in the immigration section above.

The Business of Financial Aid

Via The Washington Post: “Education Dept. awards debt collection contract to company with ties to DeVos.” That would be Windham Professionals and Performant Financial Corp, which DeVos has invested in (but divested since her nomination as Secretary of Education).

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Department of Education officials said Monday that they do not have any estimates of how many borrowers would clear new, tougher standards proposed for claims of loan relief when a student is defrauded or misled by their college. The department’s proposed language would require a student borrower to demonstrate clear and convincing evidence that their college intended to deceive them or had a reckless disregard for the truth in making claims about job-placement rates, credit transferability and other outcomes.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s How A Student Loan Debt Relief Company Preyed On Its Customers.” The company: the Student Loan Assistance Center.

“The looming student loan default crisis is worse than we thought,” says Brookings.

“Where student loan debt is a real problem,” according to Jeff Selingo.

More financial aid news in the “courts” section above.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

“It’s not every day that a university fires nearly all of its faculty. But that’s what happened last week at the American University of Malta, a start-up institution operated by a Jordanian construction and tourism company without a track record in higher education,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Grand Canyon U. Will Again Try to Become a Nonprofit.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “VA Backs Off Threat to Cut GI Bill Funding for Ashford University.”

The interview in Logic deals with more than just for-profit higher ed, but always read Tressie McMillan Cottom on the topic of “lower ed” (and coding schools).

More on the for-profit formerly known as Kaplan University in the online education section below. More funding for coding schools in the venture capital section below.

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

From the press release: “Purdue announces name for new public university: Purdue University Global to serve working adults, online.” This new school is a result of Purdue’s acquisition of the for-profit Kaplan University. PUG. Woof.

California Could Soon Have Its First Fully-Online Community College,” Edsurge says excitedly.

Speaking of online higher ed in California, Udacity’s blog says thatUdacity and Baidu Announce Groundbreaking Self-Driving Car Partnership at CES.”

Via the AP: “The sponsor of one of the nation’s largest online charter schools says it’s cutting that tie, which could halt the Ohio e-school’s operations for its roughly 12,000 students within days.” The school: the Electronic Classroom of the Future. The sponsor: the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Public school buildings are falling apart, and students are suffering for itby Rachel Cohen.

“Under Trump, a Hard Test for Howard Universityby Jelani Cobb.

“The Fight to Rebuild a Ravaged University” – The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz on the University of Puerto Rico.

Via the Naples Daily News: “FGCU police presence planned for start of ‘White Racism’ class.” That’s Florida Gulf Coast University.

“UCL to investigate eugenics conference secretly held on campus,” says The Guardian. That’s University College London, and apparently Toby Young (who just resigned from his appointment as the head of the Office of Students) was a “prominent attendee.”

“No College Kid Needs a Water Park to Study,” says James Koch in a NYT op-ed, criticizing schools spending money on lavish amenities. I wonder what costs more: water parks or big-time college sports? (See the sports section below for one calculation.)

The Guardian on the Open University’s vice-chancellor, Peter Horrocks: “A visionary” or “the man who will run it into the ground?” Those are the choices?!

“Don’t Expect a Wave of Private Nonprofit College Closuressays Seton Hall University professor Robert Kelchen.

“Has UMUC Turned Enrollment Woes Around?” asks Inside Higher Ed. Edutechnica has more thoughts: “The Real Reason Behind UMUC’s Recent Success.” That’s University of Maryland University College, by the way.

Via the Dallas Morning News: “Abilene Christian University urges students: Don’t work at Hooters.” No word if students are discouraged from going to Hooters. I guess we’re just policing women’s bodies.

Via Hacker Noon: “$3.5k to $80k: Pay for Business School with Cryptocurrency Investments.” (Don’t make me start a section for blockchain news, guys.)

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Stackable Credentials May Not Boost Earnings,” says Campus Technology.

“Why Requiring Daycare Workers to Head Back to School Hurts the Working Class,” The Pacific Standard argues.

Every once in a while, there’s a headline in the form of a question to which Betteridge’s Law – see below – does not apply. Like this one in Edutopia: “Will Letter Grades Survive?”


“Can a Test Ever Be Fair?” asks Edsurge. “How Today’s Standardized Tests Get Made.”

Go, School Sports Team!

An op-ed in The LA Times by Victoria L. Jackson: “Take it from a former Division I athlete: College sports are like Jim Crow.”

Via USA Today: “College football coaching moves costing schools at least $110 million.”

Memos from HR

Via The LA Times: “Five women accuse actor James Franco of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior.” I’m including this story here because four were his students.

Via The Root: “Substitute Teacher Fired After Private High School Discovers He Works for Richard Spencer’s White Supremacist Think Tank.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Rochester’s President Resigns as Report Supports Handling of Harassment Case.” More on the University of Rochester via Inside Higher Ed.

Subsidized Housing May Help School Districts Retain Teachers,” says NPR. Or. And it’s a strange idea, I know. Bear with me. Or, you could just pay teachers more.

Via Chalkbeat: “In many large school districts, hundreds of teaching positions were unfilled as school year began.”

From the press release: “Blackboard Announces Organizational Changes to Better Serve Clients Worldwide.” It’s creating two new divisions: Global Client Operations & Success, and Global Markets. Lee Blakemore will lead the former; Mark Gruzin, the latter. Blackboard’s Chief Financial Officer, Lisa Mayr, is also leaving the company.

More HR changes in the education politics and in the for-profit higher ed sections above.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Is Your Institution Really Ready for Predictive Analytics?asks Edsurge.

Is advertorial content really something education technology journalism should foster? asks Audrey.

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

Upgrades and Downgrades

The annual “Consumer Electronics Show” was held in Las Vegas this week. The power went out. Perfect, really.

The Looming Digital Meltdownby Zeynep Tufekci.

Via The New York Times: “Apple Investors Warn iPhones and Other Technology May Be Hurting Children.”

From the Blackboard blog: “Advertising In Schools: This Parent Says It’s Time to Embrace It.” JFC. No.

According to Edsurge, “Amazon’s Education Hub, Amazon Inspire, Has Quietly Restored ‘Sharing’ Function.”

Oh look. It’s another great example of why people who call for “Uber for Education” are probably pretty shady.

Via The New York Times: “Facebook Overhauls News Feed to Focus on What Friends and Family Share.”

Speaking of algorithms and major technology companies… Via Gizmodo: “Google Censors Gorillas Rather Than Risk Them Being Mislabeled As Black People – But Who Does That Help?”

“What Can the CEO of a $1.6-Billion Enrollment-Services Giant Tell Us About the Student Life Cycle?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education in a profile of EAB. That student data is big bucks? I dunno…

Via Techcrunch: “IBM led on patents in 2017, Facebook broke into top 50 for the first time.”

Textbooks are expensive. News at 11.

Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Top Hat Marketplace: What is it and should we care?”

Education Week has a report on the “10 Big Ideas in Education.” Among the “big ideas,” “A Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Takes on the Master Schedule” – a profile of Abl Schools’ founder Adam Pisoni, who founded Yammer.

Inside Philanthropy profiles The Conversation, a new site that encourages academics to write for the public. But it doesn’t pay its writers which sucks.

Via Techcrunch: “URB-E’s launching a scooter sharing network at college campuses and hotels.”

Also via Techcrunch: “Facebook brings Messenger Kids to Fire tablets.”

An op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Why we shouldn’t teach tech in kindergarten.”

Personalized learning gives students a sense of control over chaotic lives,” says The Hechinger Report, in a very glowing look at the Summit Public Schools’ (Facebook-built) learning management system.

Subscription boxes for teachers are somehow “personalized learning.”

So, you take the “deficit model” and you apply it to parents. Or, you take the military model – break someone down so you can rebuild them as you deem fit – and you apply it to parents. Anyway. Edsurge writes about “bootcamps” and educational retraining camps for parents.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

Voyage, a self-driving car company spun out of Udacity, has launched a self-driving taxi service in a private city in Florida. Yes. Private city. In the future there will only be private cities, and Udacity has a shot at being one of them. Or something like that.

Via The Verge: “Aflac’s toy robot for kids facing cancer is the smartest toy of all.” No camera. No Alexa or Google voice assistant.

Via Techcrunch: “The Root robot teaches kids to code through Spirograph-style drawings.”

From the Getting Smart blog, which is really heavily promoting AI in education stuff these days: “Artificial Intelligence: Implications for the Future of Education.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

“Is Personalized Learning the Next Big Thing in K–12 Philanthropy?” asks Inside Philanthropy. No. It’s charter schools. But “personalized learning” sounds nicer than “privatization” and “segregation,” doesn’t it.

Khan Academy now Accepts Bitcoin Cash Donations,” says bitrazzi. Ah yes, a future of philanthropy where all charitable donations are anonymous and untraceable. What’s not to love.

“What are the Big Questions for 2018?” asks venture philanthropy firm NewSchools Venture Fund. Among the questions: “An increased focus on social-emotional learning opened an innovation window over the last few years. Has it closed already?” I have a question: WTF is an “innovation window”?

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

The tutoring company Zhangmen has raised $120 million from Genesis Capital and Warburg Pincus.

DadaABC has raised $100 million in a Series C from Tiger Global Management and TAL Education. The English-language-learning company has raised $608 million total.

Area9 Lyceum has raised $30 million in funding from the Danish Growth Fund. (Area9, an adaptive learning company, was acquired by McGraw-Hill in 2014, but the press release suggests that Area9 Lyceum is a new company founded by the same people with some of the same IP. IDK.)

Ellevation has raised $10 million (or so) from Reach Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Omidyar Network, and Emerson Collective. The English-language-learning company has raised $22.25 million total.

Thinkful has raised $9.6 million from Owl Ventures and Tribeca Venture Partners. The coding school has raised $16 million total.

Boomwriter Media has raised $4.1 million from Avila Venture Capital, Precorp, and Suinvex. The collaborative writing tool has raised $6.5 million total.

Student monitoring company eSafe Global has raised $2.6 million from Maven Capital Partners.

Wonderschool has raised $2.1 million from Omidyar Network, Be Curious Partners, Rethink Education, Edelweiss, and Learn Capital. The company, which helps people start daycare facilities in their homes, has raised $4.1 million total.

Math game company Sokikom has been acquired by Jumpstart World, a subsidiary of the Chinese conglomerate NetDragon.

Boomwriter Media has acquired LookUp.

Strada Education Network (formerly USA Funds) has acquired the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).

Knowledge First Financial has acquired Heritage Education Funds.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via Techcrunch: “After breach exposing millions of parents and kids, toymaker VTech handed a $650K fine by FTC.” Yeah. You read that number right.

Via Freedom to Tinker: “Website operators are in the dark about privacy violations by third-party scripts.” Many education institutions and companies implicated here.

Via The Register: “Amazon coughs up record amount of info to subpoena-happy US government.” (See also: “Amazon Is Thriving Thanks to Taxpayer Dollars,” via New Republic.)

Via the ACLU: “The Privacy Threat From Always-On Microphones Like the Amazon Echo.”

“What’s Slack Doing With Your Data?” asks Gizmodo. What are schools doing adopting things like Echo and Slack, that’s what I wanna know.

Oh, there’s a raft of privacy-violating stuff in almost every section in this article, I reckon.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

According to Metaari (formerly known as Ambient Insight), “Global Edtech Investment Surges to a Record $9.5 Billion in 2017.” That’s about $6 billion more than my calculations, but hey. Probably just a rounding error somewhere or something.

EdWeek’s Market Brief on a report by Allovue: “K–12 District Spending Analysis Raises Red Flag About ESSA School Comparisons.”

EdWeek’s Market Brief on a report from CoSN: “Snapshot of K–12 Tech Landscape: More Districts Reach 1-to–1, But Equity Gaps Persist.”

The Pew Research Center is out with a new report on STEM and workplace equity.

AEI on “The Master’s as the New Bachelor’s Degree: In Search of the Labor Market Payoff.” Shocking, I know, but the return on investment depends on what you get your degree in.

Via Edsurge (which does not disclose it shares an investor with NoRedInk, the company that this infomercial is based upon): “These Are the 10 Most Common Writing Errors Students Make.” Education Week also publishes this NoRedInk “research”: “What Are the Top Grammar and Writing Errors of 2017?” Perhaps one of the biggest writing errors is not thinking critically about the material you promote and cite. Weird. Wonder why that’s not included here.

“Here’s How People Say Google Home And Alexa Impact Their Lives,” says Fast Company, rewriting a Google blog post. So really it’s what PR says voice assistants are up to. And with that, we’re off to a good start in 2018 with technology journalism as “fake news”, I see…

Icon credits: The Noun Project

from Hack Education http://ift.tt/2FvySmF