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Funding

School social network Edmodo announced this week that it has raised $25 million in its Series C, bringing the total raised for the startup to $47.5 million. My thoughts here.

littleBits, an open source hardware startup with electronics modules that snap together with magnets (and one of the startups I chose as my favorites of 2011) has raised $3.65 million in its Series A.

Top Hat Monocle, which lets students use their cellphones in lieu of clickers in class, has raised $8 million in Series A funding.

Techcrunch’s Sarah Perez covers Coursemodo, a new “student engagement”/learning management platform that’s raising $500,000 to $1 million in seed funding.

The investment bank Berkery Noyes has released its report on mergers and acquisitions in the education industry from the first half of the year.

Classes and Competitions

MITx has released some of what it’s calling “lessons learned” from its first course, 6.002x Circuits and Electronics. Among the interesting results, a student-generated 6.003z, an online course for what is typically the follow-up course 6.003 Signals and Systems. 6.003z uses MIT OpenCourseWare materials that are already available online.

Big news from online learning startup Coursera which announced 12 new partner universities that will offer courses on its “MOOC” platform. And the world goes a little crazy

So far the MTT2K “Khan-test” has 14 entries. Education Week’s Justin Reich has more on the contest.

The Department of Education and Creative Commons have announced the names of the winners of their “Why Open Education Matters” video contest.

Politics

President Obama announced a $1 billion effort to create a “master corps of teachers” in math and science. The Educated Reporter notes that the federal government already has some 80 teacher quality programs. But none have a name like “master corps of teachers,” do they.

6 more states have been granted NCLB waivers: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia.

The Department of Education is revamping its rules for disabled student loan borrowers, following an investigation by ProPublica last year that found that the system was failing to recognize and discharge loans for those who legitimately claimed disabilities prevented them from working and repaying.

Legalities

The ACLU has filed what it calls a “groundbreaking” lawsuit against the state of Michigan on behalf of some 1000 Highland Park, Michigan elementary school students, charging that the state is denying children their the constitutionally guaranteed “right to read.”

Civil rights groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, have filed a lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Education, alleging that it has not done enough to address special education in the Jackson Public Schools (specifically noting that the MDE has not done anything to fix problems from a 2010 complaint).

Launches

Adam Bellow’s latest project eduClipper (which I covered here last week) has opened the doors of its beta.

Updates and Upgrades

Microsoft held a press conference this week to unveil its new version of Office (Office 2013). (Here’s The Verge’s write-up on its new and updated features.) Bad timing for Microsoft, however, as just after its press conference wrapped up, news broke that Marissa Mayer, Google employee #20 and the company’s first female hire, would be the new CEO of Yahoo. In more bad news for Microsoft, the company also posted its first ever quarterly loss this week. Some weeks just suck, Microsoft. Bummer huh.

Lore, the startup formerly known as CourseKit, has updated the look, feel and functionality of its site. The emphasis is on the news feed and on the calendaring system for this free alternative to the more bloated LMS. Lore aims for professor adoption rather than trying to sell to entire schools.

Skout, a mobile/social app, has re-opened its doors to teens following its decision last month to close down its teen community following news that predators had been using it to sexually assault minors. The company says it will do a better job of tracking users’ ages.

YouTube has added a new feature that allows for the blurring and obscuring of faces. Although ostensibly for human rights concerns (so as to protect the identities of protestors, for example), I wonder if we’ll see teachers use this to share videos of their classrooms without revealing their students’ identities.

Research and Data

The results of a study by the National Education Policy Center are prompting it to urge states not to expand the growth of full-time virtual schools, particularly after finding particularly poor performances by students in the company K12’s online schools. Less than 28% of its schools meet the Adequate Yearly Progress during the 2010–2011 school year (as opposed to 52% of brick-and-mortar schools).

A new study by Professors Adam Maltese of Indiana University and Craig Hochbein of the University of Louisville finds that rising scores on state exams do not correlate with better performance on the ACT. In some cases, students at schools whose state test scores were rising actually did worse on the ACT. A little test prep goes a long way – except when it doesn’t.

According to student loan provider Sallie Mae, students are paying more for of their own education than they have for the past 4 years. That’s because parents’ share of the bill is on the decline, in part because they simply can’t afford as much.

RIP

Donald Sobol, the author of the wonderful Encyclopedia Brown series, passed away last week. GeekDad has a terrific tribute to an author I adored as a young reader. Sobol’s last book is due out this fall.

Image credits: ginza_line

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Audrey Watters


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