You know how I wrote about LearnBoost and Grockit yesterday, well I'm writing about them again today. Because that's how I roll. Or that's how the news comes in. Or something.
LearnBoost and Open Source
The story about LearnBoost is over on ReadWriteWeb. Well, it's not about LearnBoost per se. It's an argument for why startups should involved in the open source community. But I think it is particularly important for education technology startups to do so. I think it's indicative of a broader acceptance of "open" in terms of the content and the form of the product or service companies build. For a startup whose launch was just a little over a month ago, LearnBoost is pretty exemplary in that respect, with over 1300 followers on Git Hub, a repository where developers can share the code for their projects.
And Grockit announced the launch of Grockit TV today. Some of its college admission guidance and test prep courses will be streamed online in HD. "TV" seems a bit of a misnomer, as the network that Grockit offers will be interactive, offering students the opportunity to ask questions in real time. The first two live events it has scheduled will be GMAT and SAT courses. They'll be taught by Farb Nivi, Grockit's founder and a former National Teacher of the Year at Princeton Review. Until now, comprehensive college test prep and college admission counseling - both online and in the classroom - have only been available to a select group of students because of the cost and sometimes the geographic barrier, said Nivi. With Grockit TV, we are leveling the playing field by providing students everywhere with easy and free access to world class instructors." Students can enroll for free, and the entire course package can be downloaded for $99.99 while the class is in session.
Google and Privacy
Gawker reported yesterday that David Barksdale, a 27-year-old Google engineer used his internal clearances to access the users' accounts, including the information of four minors. "It's unclear how widespread Barksdale's abuses were," says Gawker, "but in at least four cases, Barksdale spied on minors' Google accounts without their consent, according to a source close to the incidents. In an incident this spring involving a 15-year-old boy who he'd befriended, Barksdale tapped into call logs from Google Voice, Google's Internet phone service, after the boy refused to tell him the name of his new girlfriend, according to our source. After accessing the kid's account to retrieve her name and phone number, Barksdale then taunted the boy and threatened to call her." Google has confirmed the story, saying that they've fired the engineer. According to Techcrunch, this is the second time that Google has had to fire an engineer for this sort of breach, but the company won't comment if they've pressed charges or not. As Bill Fitzgerald notes, "have fun explaining this to parents" as schools transition to Google Apps.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced the formal creation of a $100 million fund to support technology integration in the classroom. The HMH Innovation Fund will be aimed at supporting emerging education initiatives and programs, as well as accelerating new technology development. The company says it also plans to invest $300 million over the next 3 years to develop its own edtech tools.
The University of Virginia has released an iPhone app that includes access to library resources, as well as an augmented reality feature that can be used on campus.
Microsoft has launched its REDU website, "a movement designed to expand and encourage the national conversation around education reform by providing information and resources to learn, a community platform to connect, and tools and initiatives to act." The site will link to articles about education, links to donate to educational projects and to recruit teachers.