Labor Day has long been the traditional week for back-to-school, although it seems like most schools started weeks ago. And for many folks -- teachers, parents, principals, students -- the big school-related news this week was, well, school. So regardless when you start or started: I wish you all the best for an awesome new school year!
Hacking the Academy was published this week. The project is the result of one week's worth of Tweets and blog posts from May of last year. The introduction to the book, written by Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt from George Mason University, describes the process of crowdsourcing this sort of academic publication, one that elicited over 330 submissions from 177 authors. The book is freely available online.
JSTOR, a database of academic journal articles, announced this week that it was making freely available its "Early Journal Content" -- all articles published prior to 1923 in the U.S. and 1870 elsewhere in the world. Earlier this year, Internet activist Aaron Swartz was indicted for felony hacking for downloading some 4 million documents from the JSTOR database.
Politics and Policies
The Department of Education released details on the requirements for Round Three of its Race to the Top funding program. The 9 finalists from the second round are eligible for the $200 million grant, provided they can meet the government's various buzzword-laden standards.
Care2 reports on a Catholic School student code-named "Nekochan" who has started a banned books in the library of her locker. She penned a letter to an online advice column, asking for some feedback about her actions: "Before I started [the library], almost no kid at school but myself took an active interest in reading! Now not only are all the kids reading the banned books, but go out of their way to read anything they can get their hands on. So I'm doing a good thing, right?
Fingerprint, a children's learning and entertainment company cofounded by former LeapFrog executive Nancy MacIntyre, unveiled its plans this week to build kids' mobile devices. The startup has raised some $1.2 million in funding. GeekDad's Daniel Donahoo has a great take on this news, arguing that, along with the consolidation of publishers Ruckus Media Group and Scholastic, we're seeing that the "business of children's app development is getting serious."
Daily Deals (ha)
National Louis University became the first university to offer a Groupon on tuition. This week's daily deal offered a 57% discount on an introductory graduate level teaching course. (I recommend reading the fine print, however). The deal needs 15 students to tip; so far only 8 Groupons have been purchased.
Classes, Conferences, and other Events
Google wrapped up another Summer of Code this week. The program, now in its seventh year, had participation from 1115 university students from 68 countries. As part of Summer of Code, they wrote code for 175 open source organizations began writing code for 175 open source organizations. Summer of Code gives college students a chance to do real world work and to mentor with others in the open source community.
Research and Data
Back to school for many college students means participating in the AlcoholEDU program. It's been shown to help reduce binge drinking among college students, but according to research in Inside Higher Ed, those benefits have disappeared come spring semester.
Microsoft released the results of 2 STEM surveys this week -- one among college students pursuing STEM degrees and one among parents of K-12 students. Among the findings: 93% of K-12 students believe that STEM education should be a priority in the U.S., only half (49%) agreed that it actually is a top priority for this country and less than 24% said they were "extremely willing" to spend extra money to help their children excel in math and science. Of the college students surveyed, nearly four in five STEM college students said they decided to study STEM in high school or earlier. One in five decided in middle school or earlier.
According to The Loop, iTunes U, Apple's lecture-podcast distribution network, has had more than 600 million downloads since it launched in 2007. More than 300 million of those occurred in the last year alone. The most popular downloads come from Open University and Stanford University, each with more than 30 million downloads. More than 30% of the iTunes U traffic is mobile, says Apple, and more than 60% of iTunes U users come from outside the U.S.
Education Week's Sarah Sparks reports that the long-running Educational Research Services is meeting next week to "wind down operations" for the 40-year-old research group. Although educational data is becoming increasingly important, Sparks contends that the type of research reports offered by ERS no longer meet the needs of districts, in no small part because they're not real-time.
Funding and Hirings
The Huffington Post is looking for writers for its soon-to-be-launched vertical, HuffPo High School. Forbes reports that it's a way to "provide young journalists with the opportunity to have their voices and stories heard." As with other HuffPo bloggers, there is no pay. And details about how parental agreements and editorial direction will work for the new blog remain unclear.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone announced this week that he and his wife were forming the Biz and Livia Stone Foundation to invest in California education and conservation projects.
New York City startup incubator General Assembly announced that it has raised $4.25 million in funding this week, with investors including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and TeachStreet's Dave Schappell. General Assembly isn't an education/technology space per se, but Schappell makes a compelling argument in a GeekWire article that it is, indeed an entrepreneurial education: The quality of the content that they are teaching and the relevance of the content is off the charts, he says. It is very practical education, priced fairly. And they do charge for it all, but with awesome community. By vetting the startups and lecturers and charging for the classes, you just collectively get a very serious, qualified community of people, which makes for a great petri dish for entrepreneurship in New York, specifically. Will Bezos and Schappell bring that model to Seattle?
InternMatch announced this week that it has raised a new round of funding. Internships have become an increasingly competitive as students feel like they need some sort of practical experience in order to improve their future job prospects. But traditional internships are often limited to big corporations: InternMatch offers "socially responsible" positions, many of them with non-profit organizations.
The Brazilian education company Abril Educacao has acquired a 5.9% stake in the language learning startup Livemocha. According to Reuters, Livemocha will be tasked with "setting up an English learning platform for Bazil's emerging middle clasls, which is demanding better formal education."
Updates and Upgrades
Language learning company Babbel announced this week that the startup has become profitable for the first time, doubling its paying customer base and tripling its revenue this year. In light of the news, the company says it plans to throw more resources into building out its mobile apps.
Michael Hart, the inventor of the e-book and the founder ofProject Gutenbergpassed away this week. His vision for a future where books were freely and openly and digitally accessible to all has had a huge impact on not just literature, but literacy.