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AERA, In Absentia

Sadly, I’m not at AERA today, even though I was supposed to be part of a really excellent panel, “Whither Equity in the ’21st-Century School’? Critical Perspectives on Education and Technology,” with some of my favorite educators and scholars.

The panel organizer, Ethan Chang, was nice enough to let me record a video of my 10 minute spiel, and I am embedding it below:

Here is (roughly) what I had planned to say today. I am really sorry I am not there.

My apologies for not being there in person today. I’m on a reporting trip for a story I’m currently working on. It’s actually a story associated with the paper I proposed for this panel – so I do have a good excuse for my absence. Also I’ll get paid for that story. Lines on my CV don’t pay the bills.

I’m recording this a few days early but by the time of this panel, I’ll be at the ASU-GSV Summit. It’s an event I’ve never attended before – one that I’ve been quite loathe to go to, in part because of the reports I hear back about some of the shadiest and most destructive elements in education business and politics. Here’s how the event’s sponsor GSV, the venture capital firm Global Silicon Valley, describes it:

The Summit continues to bring together the most impactful people from diverse constituencies – entrepreneurs, business leaders, educators, policymakers, philanthropists, and university and district leaders – to create partnerships, explore solutions, and shape the future of learning.

I can’t help but notice that students and parents and communities are not mentioned among those constituencies. Also absent from that list (and relevant to our purposes here, no doubt): “education researchers.” Indeed, every year (and this is its ninth), the ASU-GSV Summit seems to coincide with AERA. I don’t think this is an insignificant or even an unintentional scheduling gaffe. If nothing else, it taps into a powerful cultural trope, one that’s particularly resonant among Silicon Valley and education reform types: that education experts and expertise aren’t to be trusted, that research is less important than politics, that the “peer review” that matters isn’t the academic version. Rather that “review” in the ASU-GSV framework is a kind of networking or power brokering – it’s who you know, not what you know; it’s not how you wield your research as much as it’s how you wield your relationships. That’s not to say relationships don’t matter in academia. They do. But these networks are significantly less powerful.

But as people in Silicon Valley like to say, venture capitalists don’t invest in ideas, they invest in people.

Now, I believe that that saying overstates its case a lot. Clearly, ideas do matter. Ideology matters. Metaphors matter. The way in which one talks about education matters – the notion that it’s broken, for example, or that it needs to be fixed through market-based mechanisms. Ideas shape the products that entrepreneurs build and the policies that reformers promote. Investors might select certain people as entrepreneurs or back certain officials as reformers, but that’s because they share ideas. More importantly, I’d argue, they share networks.

I am currently wrapping up my year as a Spencer Fellow at the Columbia School of Journalism, and my proposed project involves an exploration how these networks work, how education technology investors work in particular – where and how they come up with their ideas, how their influence spreads. I’m interested in the shape of the network (who’s in it), the money (where’s the funding going), the power (how do investors and investments influence policy), and the associated narratives about the future. “The Ed-Tech Mafia,” I sometimes call this – a nod to “The PayPal Mafia,” those early employees and executives at PayPal who’ve gone on to shape recent Silicon Valley history and business and politics (as investors or entrepreneurs). Reid Hoffman (the founder of LinkedIn). Elon Musk (the founder of Tesla and SpaceX). Peter Thiel (vampire and enemy of the free press). Chad Hurley (the founder of YouTube). Pierre Omidyar (the founder of eBay) and so on.

Venture capitalists are important, increasingly so as Silicon Valley technologies play a more and more powerful role in our personal lives and in our political (and education) system. But when I use the word “investors,” I also mean the influence of philanthropists. And it’s worth pointing out that several of the philanthropies founded by tech executives are not the classic “family foundation,” they’re venture capital firms – some are non-profit and some are for-profit. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, for example – founded by Facebook’s founder – is a venture capital firm. It’s often talked about like it’s a philanthropy. But it’s a company. The Emerson Collective – founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple’s co-founder – is a venture capital firm. As LLCs, they have fewer requirements for transparency than do foundations about where their money goes. You can see, for example, on the Gates Foundation website, who’s received its education grants, dating all the way back to 1994. (I’m guessing that includes many many people in the room right now.) But we don’t really know where CZIs dollars are going. The organization has promised to spend billions in the coming decade on “personalized learning.” Last time I checked, “personalized learning” is an idea, and not a person; but who gets that money is still worth considering. How that idea takes shape and takes hold in people and in policies is important.

So, here’s an example of how these investor networks operate – and this is what I’m trying to investigate in more detail while I’m at the ASU-GSV Summit. One of GSV’s co-founders is Deborah Quazzo. She is one of the most active investors in ed-tech. She was briefly on the Chicago Public Schools board – that is, until a Chicago Tribune story found that since her appointment, the district had tripled its spending on companies in her investment portfolio. GSV’s investments include Dreambox Learning, Coursera, ClassDojo, and Edsurge. (Edsurge is a really important node here as its investors include almost every firm who’s actively investing in ed-tech in Silicon Valley, as well as the major philanthropies and venture philanthropies like Gates and CZI. And as such, it is clear the publication promotes certain narratives about the future of schools. Ideas do matter.) Another co-founder of GSV is, of course, Michael Moe. Moe has a long, long history in education financing. When he worked at Merrill Lynch in the 1990s, for example, he helped the school management company Edison Schools prepare for its initial public offering.

Edison Schools is another one of those interesting nodes in the ed-tech network. And I mention this one because the privatization and financialization of education – an idea – has a lengthy history. These networks are well established, even as Silicon Valley prefers to associate itself with “the new.” Edison was co-founded by Chris Whittle, whose other companies include Channel One, the advertising-filled TV news provider for schools. Edison Schools’ founding partners include Chester Finn and John Chubb. The President of its LearnNow division was Jim Shelton, who from Edison went on to work as a Program Director at the Gates Foundation. He then worked as Assistant Secretary of Education at the Obama Department of Ed. (An aside: Arne Duncan is also a venture capitalist now; he works for the Emerson Collective.) After the Department of Education, Shelton went to work at 2U, an online program management company co-founded by John Katzman who previously founded the Princeton Review – another key node, another investor (surprise, surprise) in Edsurge. Shelton is now the head of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s education program.

CZI has also hired Bror Saxburg, formerly the chief learning officer at Kaplan (owned by Graham Holdings, once the owner of The Washington Post and – yup – an investor in Edsurge) as its Chief Learning Officer. It’s also hired Katrina Stevens, who worked at the Department of Education under Jim Shelton and who worked at Edsurge, as its director of learning sciences. I believe these folks are all at ASU-GSV and not at AERA.

A “director of learning sciences” in the business of ed-tech needn’t be interested in the research as much as she need navigate and perhaps even propitiate the investor network.

And that’s where one future – a dystopian one, I’d argue – of education technology lies: in a place where scholarship and research can be ignored unless it explicitly endorses the ideas and the politics and the “impactful people” and the networks of capital.

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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

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress this week about privacy, data, monopoly power, and regulations. I’ll have more to say about this in my newsletter tomorrow. But for now, here are a couple of education-related stories: one from Education Week and from Edsurge.

And there’s more Facebook-related news in several of the sections below.

Via NPR: “Justice Dept. Investigating Early-Decision Admissions At Elite Colleges.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via People: “Oklahoma Mom ‘Embarrassed’ After Her Daughter Checks Out Textbook Once Used By Blake Shelton.” The singer was once a student in Ada, Oklahoma and checked out the reading textbook in 1982.

Teacher strike stories are in the “labor and management” section below.

Via Chalkbeat’s Colorado news desk: “$35 million for school safety will go toward training, but not hiring, of school resource officers.”

Via The Verge: “Facebook-backed lawmakers are pushing to gut privacy law.” Privacy law in Illinois, that is.

Via The Seattle Times: “Seattle School Board selects first Native American superintendent in city history.” Her name: Denise Juneau.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The governor of Virginia has approved a bill requiring all public higher education institutions in the state to take steps to adopt open educational resources – freely accessible and openly copyrighted educational materials.”

Via NPR: “California’s Higher Ed Diversity Problem.”

Immigration and Education

Via ProPublica: “Teen Who Faced Deportation After He Informed on MS–13 Gets Temporary Reprieve.”

Via The Washington Post: “ICE is moving to deport a veteran after Mattis assured that would not happen.” This part about a government-created “fake university” caught my eye:

Xilong Zhu, 27, who came from China in 2009 to attend college in the United States, enlisted in the Army and was caught in an immigration dragnet involving a fake university set up by the Department of Homeland Security to catch brokers of fraudulent student visas.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday that immigrant students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status are not eligible for lower in-state tuition rates.”

Education in the Courts

Via The Washington Post: “Student loan servicer asks court to settle spat between Education Dept. and Connecticut over licensing dispute.” The servicer in question: the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.

Via Splinter: “Stoneman Douglas Teacher Who Pushed for Guns in Schools Arrested for Leaving His Gun in a Bathroom.”

Via KMOV, news from Montville High in Montville, Connecticut: “Substitute teacher arrested for starting ‘fight club’ in classroom.”

Via Buzzfeed: “ A Lawsuit Says This Private Religious High School Protected An Accused Rapist.” The school: Holland Christian High School in Holland, Michigan, whose most famous alumnus is probably Betsy DeVos.

“Publishers Wiley, Cengage, Pearson and McGraw-Hill Education have won a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against a seller of fake textbooks,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The seller: Book Dog Books.

Via The Washington Post: “Howard student sues school amid financial aid scandal.” The student in question: Tyrone Hankerson Jr, of meme fame.

There’s more legal news in the “immigration” section above.

The Business of Financial Aid

Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons this week announced that it would eliminate student loans with scholarships for all students who qualify for financial aid,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

There’s more financial aid news in the “research” section below and in the “courts” section above.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

More on the accreditation of for-profits in the accreditation section below.

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

The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at Western Governors University and its “mentor-based model.”

Via KPVI: “Idaho Department of Education Offering Online Pre-K.”

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “ Virtual charter high school serving 2000 students closing in June.” That’s Graduation Achievement Charter High School.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In Wake of Sit-In, Howard Faculty Members Vote No Confidence in President.” More on the protests via NPR.

Still more Howard news, via The Washington Post: “Howard University reveals that fired employees misappropriated $369,000.”

The Guardian looks at the relationship between the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and elite universities, including Harvard and MIT.

Via the Times Higher Education (and reprinted by Inside Higher Ed): “China Tries Private University Model.” That’s at Westlake University in Hangzhou.

Mount Ida will close, and its campus will be part of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Via The Atlantic: “When a College Employee Shoots a Student.”

Via the BBC: “All 500 teachers of Millcreek School District near Erie got a 16in (41cm) bat in the wake of the Parkland, Florida high school attack in February.” A baseball bat, to be clear.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

ACICS, a flashpoint for debate over accountability of the for-profit sector, has another chance at federal recognition. But some higher ed observers see tough odds for its long-term survival,” says Inside Higher Ed.



Education Next on “Interpreting the 2017 NAEP Reading and Math Results.”

Just remember: “interpretations” of “the nation’s report card” are often “confirmations” of people’s education politics.

“Did computer testing muddle this year’s NAEP results?” asks Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum. “Testing group says no; others are unconvinced.”

Via Chalkbeat: “A decade of stagnation: What you should know about today’s NAEP results.”

The Secretary of Education issued a press statement on the NAEP results.

Via Chalkbeat: “Two years after massive testing snafus, Tennessee will test more students online than ever.”

Via MIT Technology Review: “DNA tests for IQ are coming, but it might not be smart to take one.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The faculty union at Eastern Michigan University is blasting administrators there for cutting four sports while football – a money- and game-losing program – remains intact.”

Labor and Management

Via Politico: “Teachers Are Going on Strike in Trump’s America.”

This story – “Oklahoma Teachers Continue Strike” – is from last weekend, and as I type up these notes while listening to the radio, it sounds like the strike might be over.

Via NPR: “Walkouts And Teacher Pay: How Did We Get Here?”

Via NPR: “Arizona Teachers ‘Walk-In’ To Protest Low Pay And Low Funding.”

Via The Washington Post: “Strike avoided: Teachers at California online charter schools reach landmark union agreement with K12 Inc.” More via The Atlantic and via NPR.

The Guardian headline says, “Secret rightwing strategy to discredit teacher strikes,” but it’s not that secret. The State Policy Network has a plan to counter union activism with anti-union PR.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Union Organizer at Penn State’s Grad School Cites University’s ‘Veiled Threat’ to Foreign Students.”

The Business of Job Training

Via Chalkbeat: “Newark looks to build school-to-work ‘pipeline’ by boosting vocational education.”

Via Campus Technology: “NYC Data Science Academy Launches Online Bootcamp.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Can AI Help Students – and Colleges – Determine the Best Fit?asks Edsurge.

Apple and Microsoft Now Offer $100 Styluses. But Do Schools Need – or Want – Them?asks Edsurge.

Can a For-Profit, Venture-Backed Company Keep OER Free – and Be Financially Sustainable?asks Edsurge.

Can a ‘Family of Bots’ Reshape College Teaching?asks Edsurge.

Do Online Courses Really Save Money?asks Edsurge.

Can Artificial Intelligence Make Teaching More Personal?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.” And a big thank you for the editors who consistently run with this sort of ridiculous headline and make writing this section such a joy.)

Upgrades and Downgrades

Chris Gilliard onHow Ed Tech Is Exploiting Students.” (Note: there’s a response to this article by Georgia Tech professor Ashok Goel, who builds teaching chat-bots, in the “robots” section below. Edsurge also interviewed Goel this week. That story’s in the “Betteridge’s Law” section.)

Edsurge’s coverage of Top Hat’s OER news is also in the Betteridge’s Law section above.

Via Techcrunch: “Tencent and education startup Age of Learning bring popular English-learning app ABCmouse to China.”

Via The Verge: “YouTube will reportedly release a kids’ app curated by humans.”

Via Reveal: “When virtual reality feels real, so does the sexual harassment.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education lists “Pros and Cons of Virtual Reality in the Classroom.”

Via US PIRG: “‘You might want to tell your instructors about this:’ students as sales reps?” “This” in this headline is a product from Cengage, which markets directly to students asking them to push the product to their teachers.

Stanford’s Larry Cuban on “Whatever Happened to Ebonics?”

Via The Verge: “Duolingo overhauled its fluency system to make it harder for advanced users.”

From the Scratch Team’s Medium blog: “3 Things To Know About Scratch 3.0.”

Via Edsurge: “Transcription and Accessibility – New Partnerships from Microsoft and Amazon.”

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

A letter to the editor in The Chronicle of Higher Editor asserts thatAI Project at Georgia Tech Does Not Exploit Students.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “How A.I. Is Infiltrating Every Corner of the Campus.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education also wants you to know that you can major in “drones.”

Techcrunch says thatRobo Wunderkind wants to build the Lego Mindstorms for everyone.” (Why is Lego Mindstorms not the Lego Minstorms for everyone?)

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Via The Washington Post: “Billionaire offered $25 million to high school alma mater. What he wanted in return was too much for the district.” The billionaire in question: Stephen A. Schwarzman. The school: Abington High School in Abington, Pennsylvania. Imagine that: strings attached when someone gives you money.

“Philanthropic” sponsored content on Edsurge, paid for by Salesforce.org and by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

School administration software-maker Connexeo has raised $110 million from Great Hill Partners.

Edovo has raised $9 million from Kapor Capital, Ekistic Ventures, Lumina Foundation, SustainVC, Impact Engine, Evolve Foundation, IDP Foundation, and Series Change Investment. The company sells a tablet for use in prison. Here’s how Techcrunch describes it:

Edovo works with facilities to bring in secure wireless networks and tablets that access Edovo’s educational platform. The incentive-based learning program covers a variety of areas, including literacy, college course work, cognitive behavioral therapy and vocational training. Upon completion of certain lessons, incarcerated individuals can receive certificates and entertainment options. They can also use Edovo to stay in touch with their loved ones.

Ed-tech as surveillance and punishment and behavioral management. It’s not just for schools. Anyway. Edovo, which describes itself as “the most innovative carceral technology solution on the market,” has raised $12.3 million total.

Holberton School has raised $8 million from daphni, Trinity Ventures, and the Omidyar Network. The coding bootcamp has raised $12.5 million total.

BookNook has raised $2 million from Better Ventures, the Urban Innovation Fund, Reach Capital, Impact Engine, Kapor Capital, Redhouse Education, and Edovate Capital. The reading software-maker has raised $3.2 million total.

The big “business of ed-tech” news of the week: Edmodo has been acquired by Chinese game-maker NetDragon. NetDragon will pay $137.5 million for the company – but of that just $15 million is cash; the rest is equity in NetDragon. Edmodo had raised some $77.5 million in venture capital according to Crunchbase ($100 million according to Edsurge). Either way, it’s not a good look, and not a good ending. As The Financial Times puts it, “EdTech fails to pay, again.”

Coding bootcamp Thinkful has acquired coding bootcamp Bloc.

Credly has acquired Pearson’s badge platform, Acclaim.

Campus Labs has acquired Chalk & Wire.

Reuters looks at Springer Nature’s upcoming IPO.

It’s not venture capital, but it’s funding news. I guess. Techcrunch reports that “Sesame Street turns to Kickstarter to fund autism book.”

More business news from Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Moody’s Downgrades Blackboard Debt, Focuses On Learn Ultra Delivery.”

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via The Washington Post: “The new lesson plan for elementary school: Surviving the Internet.”

Via Edscoop: “Personal information of 1 million potential college applicants ‘exposed inadvertently’.” The data in question was from Target Direct Marketing.

Via the Windsor Star: “‘Personal and private’ info of Essex school students stolen from teacher’s home.”

Via MIT Technology Review: “YouTube may be illegally collecting kids’ data.” Indeed. “Over 20 advocacy groups complain to FTC that YouTube is violating children’s privacy law,” Techcrunch reports.

The Verge asks, “How much VR user data is Oculus giving to Facebook?”

Via Education Week: “Schools Choose Not to Delete Facebook Despite Data-Privacy Worries.”

Schools prove soft targets for hackers,” says The Hechinger Report.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

The Atlantic versus "learning styles."

Via The New York Times: “Holocaust Is Fading From Memory, Survey Finds”: “Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million. Forty-one percent of Americans, and 66 percent of millennials, cannot say what Auschwitz was.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “For Students in Debt, Bitcoin on Their Minds.” The Chronicle of Higher Education responds, “No, Students Probably Aren’t Blowing Their Student Loans on Bitcoin.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “New Study on Income-Driven Repayment Plans.”

“The U.S. could see a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030, according to a report published Wednesday by the Association of American Medical Colleges,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

From Science Alert: “ Evidence Shows Students Still Learn More Effectively From Print Textbooks Than Screens.”

Edsurge looks at a report called “Making Digital Learning Work,” but as it’s gone – once again – with a headline in the form of a question, that story is in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section above. More on the report via Bryan Alexander.

Pew Research onBots in the Twittersphere.”

Education Next on “Studying a Large-Scale Voucher Program in Colombia.”

Via Gizmodo: “Teen Monitoring Apps Don’t Work and Just Make Teens Hate Their Parents, Study Finds.” I wonder what “studies” say about these apps at school and how they make teens feel about teachers and principals?

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why Researchers Shouldn’t Share All Their Data.”

From the press release: “Facebook Launches New Initiative to Help Scholars Assess Social Media’s Impact on Elections.” Financial backers: the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Education Week on a new Gallup poll: “Teachers on Tech: Good for Student Learning, Bad for Student Health.”

Via PBS News Hour: “Millions of U.S. adults live in education deserts, far from colleges and fast internet.”

Survey finds more teachers are clicking on marketing emails. Congrats, everyone. Good work.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

from Hack Education https://ift.tt/2qtxlHE

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

In the long list of things the POTUS doesn’t “get,” we can add this (via The Atlantic): “Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand Community Colleges.”

Via The Washington Post: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asked whether leakers could be prosecuted, internal report shows.”

New America on “The Department of Deregulation: DeVos’ New Regulatory Agenda to Roll Back Protections for Students.”

Via Buzzfeed: “17 Colleges Fell Short On Campus Safety, But The Education Department Didn’t Tell The Schools.”

There’s some accreditation news out of the Department of Education in the accreditation section below.

Via Education Week: “FCC Chair Moves to Block E-Rate Funds for Companies Deemed ‘Security Risk’.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

From The New York Times’ Dana Goldstein: “Teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky Walk Out: ‘It Really Is a Wildfire’.”

Via NPR: “Oklahoma’s Teachers Continue Walkout As Lawmakers Vote On More Education Funds.”

There are a few more stories about teachers’ strikes in the HR section below.

Via Chalkbeat: “In Betsy DeVos’ home state, a program that steers public dollars to private school students is under fire from the governor.” That’s Michigan, for what it’s worth. Add those are vouchers.

Via Detroit Free Press: “More Michigan schools are failing: Most are charters.”

Via The New York Times, a profile on the Indiana charter chain Excel Schools: “A Chance for Dropouts, Young and Old, to Go Back to School.”

Via Edsurge: “Data is Good – But Not Enough – to Improve Education, Says Baltimore City Public Schools CEO.” This is my shocked face.

Immigration and Education

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The State Department is proposing to ask additional questions of visa applicants regarding their social media usage.”

There’s more visa-related news in the for-profit section below.

“Free College”

New Jersey Moves Toward Free Community College,” says The Wall Street Journal.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Missouri Has Free Tuition… for Its Legislators.”

College Affordability and the Business of Financial Aid

Via The New York Times: “Even With Scholarships, Students Often Need Extra Financial Help.”

Via The New York Times: “Middle-Class Families Increasingly Look to Community Colleges.”

Via The New York Times: “An International Final Four: Which Country Handles Student Debt Best?”

There’s more data on debt in the data and research section below.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via Republic Report: “Grassley Attacks ACICS-Approved For-Profit Colleges As ‘Visa Mills’.” That’s Senator Chuck Grassley.

There’s some ACICS accreditation news in the accreditation section below.

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

“The MOOC is not dead, but maybe it should be,” says Rolin Moe.

Via Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Online Program Management: Spring 2018 view of the market landscape.”

Meanwhile on Campus…

The first byline (I think) from The Atlantic’s Adam Harris: “How the Howard University Protests Hint at the Future of Campus Politics.” More on how the school is responding to student protests by Harris’s former employer, The Chronicle of Higher Education. And more in The New York Times.

Via The Chicago Tribune: “Video captures University of Chicago police officer shooting student near campus; charges filed against student.”

Via NPR: “Parkland Students Return To School Skeptical Of Clear Backpacks.”

Via NPR: “Professors Are Targets In Online Culture Wars; Some Fight Back.”

Inside Higher Ed looks at how the North Dakota University System is “Blocking Child Porn on Campus.”

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a signed order Tuesday that she was restoring the federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, the for-profit accreditor that had waged a fight for reinstatement since the Obama administration withdrew its recognition in 2016.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Students Want Faster Degrees,” The Chronicle of Higher Education argues. “Colleges Are Responding.”


Chalkbeat on NAEP: “The national test of students’ progress has gone digital. A state leader is raising questions about what that means.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “GMAT Drops 30 Minutes From Test.”

Via The New York Times: “For the ACT and the SAT, Pencils No Longer Required, but Sometimes Necessary.”

A hate-read from Jacobin that claims it’s making “The Progressive Case for the SAT.” Trigger warning: FdB.

Via Chalkbeat: “Here’s the list of Tennessee school districts choosing to test younger students online this year.” Sorry. You’re going to have to click for the list.

Via The New York Times: “Law Schools Debate a Contentious Testing Alternative.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via ESPN: “The Arizona Board of Regents will vote this week whether to add language to men’s basketball coach Sean Miller’s contract that would require him to return $1 million if he’s charged with a crime or found guilty of major NCAA violations.” He’d still earn $3.1 million.

Labor Issues and Other Memos from HR

“Why is the media – including the liberal media – supporting these teachers’ strikes?” asks Corey Robin.

Via The Atlantic: “The Larger Concerns Behind the Teachers’ Strikes.”

Via Edsurge (which also ran a number of stories this week to promote an event in which you can get a “gig”): “The Data Tells All: Teacher Salaries Have Been Declining For Years.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Rochester Professor at Center of Harassment Controversy Will Return to Teaching.”

Via The New York Times: “Homework Therapists’ Job: Help Solve Math Problems, and Emotional Ones.” “Homework therapist.” Well, I guess I need to keep an eye on how the tutoring industry rebrands itself what with all the investment dollars it’s receiving.

The Business of Job Training

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Colleges Enter Competition With Coding Boot Camps.”

Via Edsurge: “Leif, a fintech investment group, is giving $10 million to support future students at the online coding bootcamp Thinkful.” Warning: income sharing agreements.

Via the AP: “Wyoming begins path to computer science courses in schools.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Does Ready Player One reveal the future of VR?asks Edsurge.

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

Upgrades and Downgrades

Via Edsurge: “Padlet’s Price Update Riles Teachers, Raises Questions About Sustainability of Freemium Models.”

TenMarks joins the ed-tech dead pool. Edsurge has the story. “After Amazon’s TenMarks shuts down, what then for K–12 schools and Amazon?” asks GeekWire’s Frank Catalano.

Via Edsurge: “Still in the K–12 Jungle: Amazon Partners With Edhesive to Bring CS Education to Schools.”

Via the Google blog: “Rolling Study Halls: turning bus time into learning time.” The Verge covers the blog post: “Google is equipping more rural school buses with Wi-Fi and Chromebooks.”

Via Techcrunch: “What Apple’s education announcements mean for accessibility.”

Via The Verge: “Teachers weigh in on Apple’s push for more iPads in school.”

“Schools won’t like how difficult the new iPad is to repair,” says The Verge.

“A Response to Larry Berger’s ‘Confession’ on Personalized Learning” by New Classrooms’ Joel Rose.

Here’s a lede for you: “Once upon a time, the classrooms had four walls, dusty chalkboards and uncomfortable desks in straight little rows. Students were silent, repeated what they were told and limited by their past experiences.” I’m not sure when this was or where this was. And now there’s VR and I guess that changes everything.

Via The MIT Technology Review: “MIT severs ties to company promoting fatal brain uploading.”

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

“Now you can use your Echo to call the kids for dinner,” Techcrunch wants you to know. Because nothing says “disruptive innovation” like not hollering at your children.

Via The New York Times: “Schools Offering Drone Programs, but Learning to Fly Is Just the Start.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative sponsors content on Edsurge. This week, the sponsorship includes an article on self directed learning, an article on profiling students, an article on a “failing school” in Baltimore.

Salesforce also sponsors content on Edsurge. This week’s sponsored stories include several articles on student success: 1, 2.

Via Techcrunch: “Mission Bit, a nonprofit organization that teaches high school students computer science, has received a $1 million five-year grant from the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Their Families.”

Via Education Week: “Tech Giants Announce New Funding for 1-to–1 Devices, Computer Science Education.” The giants in question – and to be clear these aren’t necessarily “philanthropic” efforts but I’m not sure where to put them – are Verizon Innovative Learning and Amazon.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

3DBear has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from LearnStart (Learn Capital) and Rethink Education. The 3D modeling company has raised $2.8 million total.

New Mountain Learning has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the private equity firm CIP Capital.

Really Good Stuff, a subsidiary of Excelligence Learning Corporation, has acquired Steve Spangler Science.

Corwin has acquired Cognition Education Group.

Via Techcrunch: “Utah education technology unicorn Pluralsight files for IPO.” More from Edsurge.

Pearson’s Annual Report (2017) – my favorite part is how the numbers that are showcased on this web page are all green, even though they’re downward trending. I guessing putting them in red would be too obvious.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via The New York Times: “Facebook Says Cambridge Analytica Harvested Data of Up to 87 Million Users.”

“Protecting Student Privacy in a Time of Uncertainty” by Summit Public Schools’ Diane Tavenner. (Reminder that Facebook built the Summit Learning Platform.)

Via The Washington Post: “Facebook and the very real problem of keeping student data private.”

Via The Atlantic: “‘Free-Range’ Parenting’s Unfair Double Standard.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports

My ongoing funding research: “The Business of Ed-Tech: March 2018 Funding Data.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Procuring digital learning tools and technology to help educate students with special needs are two of 10 ‘hotspots’ in government contracting for 2018, according to an analysis of bids and RFPs conducted by GovWin+Onvia from Deltek.”

From the NCES, a look at “the homework gap”: “Student Access to Digital Learning Resources Outside of the Classroom.” Education Week talks about the study: “Students’ Home Internet, Computer Access: 10 Numbers to Know.”

Edsurge writes a headline that almost goes in the Betteridge section: “Is Technology Bad for the Teenage Brain? (Yes, No and It’s Complicated.)”

Inside Higher Ed on a new survey of KIPP alumni: “A new survey of thousands of college students – most of them low income, minority and first generation – suggests that colleges and universities should emulate historically black colleges and universities’ efforts to make students feel they belong on campus.”

Via Chalkbeat: “How are Indiana charter schools doing? 9 things to know from the state’s first study.”

A study finds it cannot reproduce the “reproducibility crisis.”

Via Campus Technology: “Online Ed Leaders Agree Top 2 Indicators of Program Quality Are Student Success Rates, Student Evaluations.” Considering what we know about student evaluations and bias, this seems like a very very bad thing to agree on.

Via The Outline: “So-called ‘intellectuals’ can’t let go of ‘The Bell Curve’.”

From the Urban Institute: “Debt in America: An Interactive Map.”

A new report from the WI Hope Lab: “Still hungry and homeless in college.” The amazing Sara Goldrick-Rab talked about the study on NPR.

A hate-read from The Next Web: “Researchers are using VR to help teachers understand autism.”

Via Education Week: “Virtual Reality and Children: ‘We Just Don’t Know That Much,’ Report Finds.”

Some history from Stanford’s Larry Cuban: “Progressivism in Schools: the Field Trip.”

From the GAO: “Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities.”

Via The New York Times: “An Expert’s View: Sir Ken Robinson.” What makes Robinson an expert?

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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What Are the Best Books about the History of Education Technology?

As many of you know, I’m working on a book proposal for Teaching Machines, a project I’ve had on the back burner for far too long now that is finally starting to come to a boil.

What do you think are the best existing works of history of the field of education technology?

Here are some titles that quickly come to mind – because I can read their titles on my bookshelf. (It’s worth noting, I suppose, that these are mostly quite dated, and they’re all by men. And I am not endorsing these as “the best.”)

  • Larry Cuban, Teachers and Machines: The Classroom Use of Technology Since 1920 (1986)
  • Brian Dear, The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture (2017)
  • Bill Ferster, Teaching Machines (2014)
  • Bob Johnstone, Never Mind the Laptops: Kids, Computers, and the Transformation of Learning (2003)
  • David Noble, Digital Diploma Mills (2001)
  • William Schramm, Bold Experiment: The Story of Educational Television in American Samoa (1981)
  • Paul Saettler, The Evolution of American Educational Technology (1990)
  • —, A History of Instructional Technology (1967)

I must be missing a ton here, so if you have suggestions (particularly books by authors of color or white women and particularly histories of ed-tech outside the US), I’d love to hear them. (And I will try to keep this article updated with new titles.)

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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 and Global) Education Politics

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The budget bill President Trump signed Friday fixes a technical problem for private scholarship providers that rely on federal student aid data to help students pay for college.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “$1.1 Billion Federal Block Grant Makes Ed-Tech Training Higher Priority Than Software, Devices.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Professors Targeted in Iranian Cyberattack.” Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U.S. Discovery of Iranian Cyberattack Doesn’t Seem to Alarm Universities.”

There’s more on student loans in the “financial aid” section below.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio says he has changed his mind about philosophers, he tweeted. Amazing what reading a book will do for you.

This, on school shootings, absolutely gutted me.

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via Chalkbeat: “Memphis school segregation worse than 50 years ago.”

Via The Deseret News: “Utah governor signs law legalizing ‘free-range parenting’.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Over 40 percent of Newark students could attend charter schools within five years. Here’s how.”

Via The Miami Herald: “Teachers can’t afford Miami rents. The county has a plan: Let them live at school.”

Via Chalkbeat: “New York City students can now pass Spanish exam on path to graduation.”

Education in the Courts

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Obama administration’s Education Department failed to consider key evidence when it reviewed and ultimately terminated its recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools in 2016, a federal judge ruled late Friday.” That’s late last Friday, for what it’s worth.

Via Chalkbeat: “Case challenging teacher tenure in New York will go on, despite union’s objections.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “California Supreme Court has determined public colleges in the state must warn and shield their students from potential violent acts. Experts say the ruling could have nationwide implications.”

There’s more about Larry Nassar, Michigan State, and sexual harassment and assault in the “sports team” section below.

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Inside Higher Ed: “High Default Rates at New York For-Profit Colleges.”

Via NPR: “Dept. Of Education Fail: Teachers Lose Grants, Forced To Repay Thousands In Loans.”

Via Bloomberg: “Student Debt Is a Harsh Math Lesson for U.S. Graduates.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Strayer is “bucking the trend,” says Inside Higher Ed. “Strayer restarts its campus expansion amid growing enrollment, federal deregulation and increased demand for skilled workers.”

There’s more for-profit news in the “financial aid” section below and in the “courts” section above.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Edsurge profiles Wayfinding Academy, a new non-profit 2-year (and as of now, unaccredited) college in Oregon.

“This Silicon Valley High School Is the Ultimate Incubator,” says Wired. That’s d.tech.

Via The Guardian: “Open University plans major cuts to number of staff and courses.”

Via The Washington Post: “After backlash over plan to cut 13 humanities majors, U-Wisconsin campus drawing up second proposal.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Hobart and William Smith Investigates Claims That Its President Plagiarized Dissertation.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education on Mississippi Valley State University: “They Wanted Desegregation. They Settled for Money, and It’s About to Run Out.”

Via Wired: “An Alternate Reality Game That Takes Freshman Orientation to a New Level.” That’s at the University of Chicago.

Via The New York Times: “At Columbia, Revisiting the Revolutionary Students of 1968.”

The Wall Street Journal saysU.S. Colleges Are Separating Into Winners and Losers.”

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

There’s some research on credentialing in the “research” section below. And there’s news about legal challenges around accreditation in the “courts” section above.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Former Dean Who Oversaw Nassar at Michigan State Is Arrested.”

Via The Atlantic: “The Problems at Michigan State Went Far Beyond Larry Nassar.”

Via NPR: “Report: Michigan State Spent $500,000 To Keep Tabs On Nassar Victims, Journalists.”

Memos from HR

Patrick Methvin will head the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s postsecondary work.

Via The Washington Post: “Howard University fires six employees after investigation into misappropriated funding.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Edinboro President, Who Boasted of His Ability to Circumvent Faculty Resistance, Will Resign.”

Via The Guardian: “Toby Young quits New Schools Network, citing media pressure.”

Edsurge offers “A Word of Caution Before Hiring a Director of Personalized Learning.” The story was “made publicly available with support from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which had no influence over the content in this story.”

There are labor-related court cases in the “courts” section above.

Upgrades and Downgrades

From the Google blog: “Chromebook tablets for versatile learning.” Repeating the PR, Edsurge and Techcrunch.

Speaking of Google, Wired reports that “Children’s YouTube is still churning out blood, suicide and cannibalism.”

Also via Wired: “Companies Are Cashing in on Reality TV for Tots.”

Apple held one of its big media events this week, this one focused on education. Cue the “hot takes.” Cue the repetition of corporate messaging. Via Wired: “How Apple Lost Its Place in the Classroom.” Via The New York Times: “Apple Unveils New iPad to Catch Google in the Classroom.” Via The Verge: “Apple is ready to fight Google’s Chromebooks with cheaper iPads.” Also via The Verge: “Apple’s new iPad with Pencil support is just $299 for schools.” Via Edsurge: “Apple’s Strongest Case to Reclaim the Education Market Is Not the New iPad.” No one mentioned privacy as a key selling point of Apple versus Google. Weird. It’s almost like those in ed-tech don’t ever think about that issue.

Via Wired: “Why Some Schools Pay More Than Others When Buying From Apple.”

Via Techcrunch: “Comparing Apple, Google and Microsoft’s education plays.”

From the press release: “Microsoft Education and Open Up Resources announce partnership to deliver top rated math curriculum.”

The Hechinger Report profiles Siembra, an app that encourages first generation students to go to college.

Via Mindshift: “Why It’s Time to Rethink School Science Fairs.”

Via the AP: “Self-taught rocket scientist blasts off into California sky.”

Via The Verge: “The Oregon Trail handheld game is a really fun nostalgia gadget.” I mean, I guess…

Via The San Francisco Chronicle: “Bonanza for schools as SF crypto king Ripple gives $29M to DonorsChoose.org.” Via Edsurge: “Inside the $29M DonorsChoose Gift That’s Making Teachers Very Happy.” More via Chalkbeat. Disappointingly little mention in any of these stories about the shady history of cryptocurrency, including Ripple’s own history.

Speaking of blockchain scamminess, David Gerard writes about the latest application of blockchain to education: “Woolf University: college courses literally on the Ethereum blockchain.”

The Business of Job Training

Udacity held a big PR event this week. These sorts of things are great – the tech press shows up and writes your marketing copy for you. Here’s Edsurge: “Udacity VP of Learning: ‘We Never Start Anything Out of Academic Interest’.” Here’s Techcrunch: “Udacity introduces real robots and virtual words to help students build skills.” Here’s Techcrunch again: “Udacity debuts a dedicated School of AI with three new nanodegrees.”

Coding Bootcamps Cross the Chasm,” according to Edsurge, which applies the “Hype Cycle” to the future of the business.

Apple event PR (and there’s much more in the “upgrade” section):

Via The Verge: “Apple is creating a center in Chicago where teachers can train to code.”

Via Techcrunch: “Apple’s learn-to-code app Swift Playgrounds adds AR lessons.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Can Big Data Change a Wicked School Truancy Problem?asks Edsurge.

Can the Right Nudge Help Low-income Kids Go Beyond High School?asks Mindshift.

Are K–12 data systems ready for AI?asks eSchool News.

Are You Flipping the Wrong Way?asks Inside Higher Ed.

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

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

There’s more robot news in the job training section above.

“How Could Artificial Intelligence Shape the Future of Higher Education?” asks Edsurge.

Drones help connect the dots on math, coding concepts,” says Education Dive.

Via George Veletsianos: “Bots, AI, & Education” – updates 2 and 3 on his book project.

Via Campus Technology: “Cornell Researchers Use AI to Understand Students’ Math Struggles.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

There’s some Gates Foundation HR news in the “HR” section above. And I guess the DonorsChoose news could be construed “philanthropy” (but I prefer to think of it as PR).

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Job training company BetterUp has raised $26 million from Lightspeed Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Freestyle Capital, and DFJ Growth. It’s raised $38.9 million total.

ClassWallet has raised $735,000 from Florida Founders. The company has raised $4.8 million total.

Permission Click has raised an undisclosed amount of money from an undisclosed inventor. The company has raised about $1.4 million total.

Eupheus Learning has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Sixth Sense Ventures.

Watermark has raised an undisclosed amount of money from TCV (which will take a controlling stake in the company), Quad Partners, and Exceed Capital Partners. Watermark is the company made up from the merger of Tk20, Taskstream, and Livetext.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

Ben Williamson on “Learning from psychographic personality profiling.”

Via Edsurge: “Three Reasons Academic Advisors Should Be a Go-To Resource for Student Success Efforts.” “This article is part of a Guide exploring innovations in student success, which is sponsored by Salesforce.org.” Also via Edsurge: “How Data Can Highlight the Human Touch in Student Advising.” Unlike other recent stories sponsored by Salesforce, this one is clearly marked “sponsored content” on the home page. Perhaps because it was written by Salesforce.

Apologies for linking to Reason: “University of Virginia Hires ‘Social Sentinel’ to Monitor Students’ Social Media Posts.”

From Geek Dad: “Jiobit Follows the Kids When You Cannot.”

Someone is watching you,” says Purdue President Mitch Daniels. Indeed.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via Wired: “A Brief History of Screen Panic.”

According to a report from Quality Matters and Eduventures (as covered by Campus Technology), “Adaptive Learning, Learning Analytics Are Most Wanted Tech for Online Programs.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Attainment Increases With Nondegree Credentials.”

“The University of Texas System releases a new breakdown of student earnings, an alternative – produced with U.S. Census Bureau – to a prohibited federal database,” Inside Higher Ed reports. Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A New Tool Breaks Down Earnings Potential for Different Majors. Here’s What You Need to Know.”

Via Education Week: “Personalized Learning Pilot Program Reports Gains in Literacy Scores.”

Via Fortune: “1 in 5 University Students Used Loan Money for Cryptocurrency Investments.” I’m not sure that’s actually true, but it makes for a nice headline, I guess.

Via Wired: “Teen Driving by the Numbers.”

Via Futurism: “The Typical Hoverboard Injury Happens to Exactly Who You’d Think: 11-Year-Old White Boys.”

As part of my research for my book (proposal), I’m looking for the papers – correspondences, letters, diaries, and so on – of Norman Crowder. Can you help?


The New York Times obituary: “Linda Brown, Symbol of Landmark Desegregation Case, Dies at 75.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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JOURNALISTS We have a research paper out at 1130pm tonight giving quantitative data on the poor state of disclosure of financial conflicts of interest by NHS Trusts. Ping me email if you’d like a copy of the press release. Important problem that we hope will improve. — ben goldacre, MBE LOL (@bengoldacre) March 26, 2018 {LinkToTweet}