Hack Education Weekly News: RIP Sally Ride and the Weekly Reader

Moon

RIP Sally Ride, educator, physicist, and the first American woman in outer space. Ride died of pancreatic cancer on July 23.

Politics and Legalities

The NCAA announced on Monday its fines against Penn State relating to the university’s role in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. The school will pay $60 million fines – less than the university’s profits from a year’s worth of football. The university will also no longer get a cut of Bowl Game profits and will lose football scholarships. Current athletes will be able to transfer to other schools without any penalities. And the university pulled down the symbolic Joe Paterno statue as well. Paterno’s record as the winningest coach is also gone as his 111 football victories have been expunged.

Teachers in Chicago have reached an agreement with the school district to extend the length of the school day, something that had been a major sticking point in contract negotiations: Mayor Rahm Emanuel wanted the longer day; teachers wanted more pay for such. The compromise: staffing the longer day with some 500 teachers who’d been laid off over the past 3 years.

A California court has ruled that once parents have signed a “parent trigger” petition, they cannot change their minds or rescind their signatures. “ The ruling cast the future of the targeted school, Desert Trails in Adelanto, in Southern California’s high desert, into confusion. Charter operators will now be invited to bid for the school, even though Desert Trails parents on both sides of the controversy say they don’t want the school to become a charter — disempowering them even further,” writes Caroline Grannan.

The U.S. Attorney’s office announced this week that a federal grand jury has returned a 62-count indictment against Dororthy June Brown and four fellow charter school executives, charging them defrauding three Philadelphia-area charter schools of more than $6.5 million in taxpayer funds. The charges come amidst the city’s plans to overhaul the Philadelphia School District and turn many schools over to charters.

The Department of Education unveiled its “Shopping Sheet” this week – a model financial aid award letter that aims to clarify how much one year of college will actually cost.

Launches

Amazon launched a new education initiative this week, the Amazon Career Choice Program, which will pay for 95% of the tuition for Amazon employees to take courses in fields that are in high-demand, regardless of whether the classes pertain to the jobs they currently have at Amazon.

As part of News Corp’s split into two companies – one publishing and one entertainment – we got word this week of the new branding for the education division: Amplify. My thoughts are here.

Meograph, which describes itself as a “four dimensional storytelling” application, had its official launch this week. The startup allows users to build digital storytelling projects (See Richard Byrne’s coverage, which he describes the startup as “very similar to a watching a narrated Google Earth tour.”)

Techcrunch’s Sarah Perez covers the launch of Wonderville, an educational video library built by the “eToys vets from the dotcom era.”

Updates and Upgrades

Creative Commons have added a new license selection wizard to help you choose which license is best for your content. But as Brian Lamb and David Wiley note, one of the new features of the wizard is a “not-so-subtle value judgment that is applied when people select an NC license” – “This is not a free culture license,” you’re told.

Wired Magazine explores Singularity University’s plans to move from a not-for-profit to a for-profit institution (specifically a benefit corporation).

The New York Times profiles the assistive technology app Proloquo2Go which converts text to speech. Used by those who cannot speak, the article notes that the company has just added two new voices – specifically children’s voices. The app costs $190 and is available via iTunes.

Downgrades and Closures

Scholastic is shuttering the 110-year-old Weekly Reader, a publication that it bought six months ago. According to the New York Post, “Sources speculated Scholastic may have bought Weekly Reader to get its hands on the subscriber list. Regardless, the death of the Weekly Reader is bad news for all classroom periodicals, including Scholastic News and Time For Kids.”

After his company posted a record £148 million loss, the CEO of interactive whiteboard maker Promethean has stepped down. Promethean’s revenues have dropped 22% during the first six months of the year. So much for that ed-tech revolution, eh?

Partnerships

The University of California, Berkeley announced that it is joining edX, the online education platform created by Harvard and MITx. The university will offer two classes on the platform this fall and will contribute some open source technology to the edX project.

EDUKWEST and IndieGogo are partnering so that the former can help highlight educational projects that appear on the latter’s crowdfunding site.

Research and Data

Sue Waters has published “The State of Educational Blogging in 2012” based on her recent survey of edubloggers (and bloggers using Edublogs). Among the interesting tidbits: 59% of respondents said their students had individual blogs. (Not surprising, I suppose, that blogging teachers encourage student blogging). The reasons teachers blog: “authentic audience” and reflection.

Growth in education spending slowed to a stop in the 2009–2010 fiscal year, according to a report issued by the Education Intelligence Agency. Per-pupil spending grew by 1.1%, less than the inflation rate.

Funding

The online language learning platform OpenEnglish has raised $43 million, reports Techcrunch, in order to help the company expand its efforts in South America and Brazil in particular.

The Digital Public Library of America has won a $1 million award from the NEH. (For more information on the DPLA, see this recent story in The Atlantic.)

Classes and Competitions

BYU professor and open education guru David Wiley is teaching an open course this fall called Ed Startup 101. An OG MOOC, the focus here will be on community and conversation, not on videos and multiple choice quizzes. Class starts August 27.

Google announced the winners of its 2012 Google Science Fair this week. Congratulations to Jonah Kohn, Iván Hervías Rodríguez, Marcos Ochoa, Sergio Pascua, and grand prize winner Brittany Wenger.

Photo credits: Clinton and Charles Robertson



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