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Despite the doom & gloom, Morgen, Robin, and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge today. The Bike Laners were insane.

Politics and Policies

Last weekend, Republican Party Presidential nominee Mitt Romney named his running mate, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan. While some folks are saying that the selection “doesn’t matter a lot for education,” others point to Ryan’s record and suggest otherwise. In particular, Ryan has gone after Pell Grants and the National Endowment of the Humanities, proposing their budgets be slashed (or in the case of the NEH, eliminated altogether).

The Department of Education unveiled its latest Race to the Top competition, this time pitting district against district (as opposed to state against stage) to compete for some $400 million in grants to be used for programs that “personalize learning, close achievement gaps and take full advantage of 21st century tools that prepare each student for college and their careers.”

Georgia State Superintendent of Schools has come out in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment in the state that would allow for a state board to fund charter schools even if local officials and school board members. “I cannot support the creation of a new and costly state bureaucracy that takes away local control of schools and unnecessarily duplicates the good work already being done by local districts, the Georgia Department of Education, and the state Board of Education object,” says John Barge.

The Department of Education is taking its show on the road again this fall with Arne Duncan’s third back-to-school bus tour.

Launches and Updates

The big news this week was the launch of Khan Academy’s new Computer Science curriculum. It’s not surprising since the creator of JQuery, John Resig, is part of the KA team that the first language students will tackle is JavaScript. Here’s Resig’s post on the news, in which he points to last year’s demo by Bret Victor as inspiration. I haven’t had a chance yet to dive into the offering, but early reports from my-main-math-man Dan Meyer are positive. CS education prof Mark Guzdial notes that it’s a “very cool text editor. But it’s a text editor.” He also questions whether scaffolding in the new offering is really scaffolding.

Math learning startup Motion Math has released its latest app, Hungry Guppy (iTunes) to help teach numbers to 3–7 year olds.

Techcrunch’s Sarah Perez covers the launch of “YogiMeter,” a new app-rating system for kids’ learning apps from the startup YogiPlay.

Brain Hive, a pay-as-you-go e-book service for K–12 libraries, has moved out of beta. The startup charges $1 per e-book that’s circulated and currently boasts about 3000 titles in its catalog. The School Library Journal has more details.

Textbook rental company Chegg is open-sourcing Bromine, a tool it built to test some of the JavaScript it uses in its apps.

Textbook app-maker Kno has released its first Android app.

Scandals and Kerfuffles

A cheating scandal has erupted at the Scrabble Nationals where a player was evicted from the tournament for hiding tiles. The player was only age 13 but had been touted as one of the rising stars in the Scrabble world.

Staff at the University of Georgia’s student newspaper, The Red and Black, have quit en masse following what they claim is editorial interference by the non-student employees who’d recently been hired by the newspaper’s publishing company.

Words and Books

New digital textbooks, many of which are free and openly-licensed, are on store shelves (app shelves?) and/or coming soon from Garden Valley State University (calculus), Kansas State University (nutrition), 20MM and Highlighter (sociology), and Georgia College (ed-tech).

The state of Nebraska is building its own virtual library system for schools.

An animation teacher at the Art Institute of California is facing firing due to his refusal to make his students buy a textbook.

Among the new words that’ll appear in the next version of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: F-bomb and sexting.

Research and Data

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce has released a new report detailing the relationship between job gains and education level immediately before and after this recent recession, and the differences between those with and without college degrees are pretty stark. According to a headline in The Atlantic this proves “beyond a doubt the value of a college degree.”

Investment firm GSV Advisors have issued a new white paper on education investing and "innovation" titled “American Revolution 2.0.” The metaphor of warfare runs throughout. Yuck.

A recent study published in Pediatrics seems to confirm what many reformers hoped (healthy-food-at-school reformers, that is): that keeping vending machines out of middle schools helps curb obesity. The effects aren’t huge – kids in states with strong laws forbidding junk food sales at schools just gained on average 2.2 pounds less, but hey.

Funding and Acquisitions

DC-based EverFi, which offers blended learning classes for higher ed and K–12 schools on topics like financial literacy, alcohol abuse, cyberbullying, and dating violence, announced that it has raised $10 million in a Series B round. Investors include Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams. (I covered the company here)

Interactive whiteboard app-maker Educreations has raised $2.2 million in a Series A. (My story on the startup’s launch late last year is here.)

Behavior management app-maker Class Dojo announced that it’s raised $1.6 million in seed funding. (I wrote about the startup way back in 2011).

rSmart, a company that handles open source technology systems including the LMS Sakai, announced that it has raised $10.75 million in its Series B round.

HASTAC, the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory based at Duke University, has won a $294,000 NSF grant to study “interplay of cyberinfrastructure and scholarly communication.” The plans are to analyze the 6 years of data from the HASTAC site in order to examine how communication, mentorship, and interdisciplinarity affect scholarship.

Classes and Degrees

Pearson, the largest education company in the world, announced this week that it’s taking the for-profit university business to the UK and will open Pearson College there. The school will offer a “business and enterprise degree.”

And in other accreditation news, Penn State has received a warning that its status may be in jeopardy due to its negligence in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

#MOOCMOOC has been trending on my Twitter feed, as the Hybrid Pedagogy folks have held their week long meta-mini-MOOC.

Photo credits: Eli Duke

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Audrey Watters


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