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Students Outsmart iPad Security

Students in Indiana managed to bypass the security on their school-issued iPads within hours of receiving them, reports Education Week.

Student in Los Angeles managed to bypass the security on their school-issued iPads within hours of receiving them, reports the LA Times.

In both cases, students were able to GASP! surf the web, access Facebook, listen to music, and play games. The nerve! LAUSD officials are mulling a number of responses: “One would limit the tablets, when taken home, to curricular materials from the Pearson corporation, which are already installed. All other applications and Internet access would be turned off.” [Insert "schools are broken" / "students kick ass" quip here.]

Education Law and Politics

The Randolph County (North Carolina) school board has reversed its decision to ban Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.

Legislation has passed the California state assembly and senate that would allow two year colleges to charge more tuition for “high demand classes.” Pretty goddamn unfair for students, I’d argue, to require certain classes for graduation then label them high demand and then charge more to get a seat. Pretty goddamn unfair for working class students and those on financial aid who can’t afford to pay more. Hey California. Fund public education. That’s how you fix the problem of over-enrollment.

Robert Small, a Baltimore County parent, was arrested at a public meeting on the Common Core after an altercation with an off-duty police officer.

California has passed a law (SB 568) that would require websites and apps aimed at minors to give them the ability to erase their personal data or any information they post. Although it might sound like a win for privacy, there are lots of concerns about how exactly this will be implemented. A critical look at why the bill won’t work via Forbes.

The Department of Education has shuttered the “Doing What Works” website, a site that gathered slides, videos and other presentations based on its What Works Clearinghouse.

The European Commission has launched its “Opening up Education” initiative which will encourage more usage of open educational resources and better technology infrastructure for all schools. More details here.

Information Week’s David Carr looks at the roll-out inBloom’s student data warehouse in New York state (although the focus now seems to be on data dashboards). The project has faced a lot of criticisms, and it’s still not clear if it will survive the controversy, let alone deliver on its promise of better data services.

Guns and Schools

Indiana state lawmakers are weighing whether to expand “Stand-Your-Ground” laws to schools, “changing the law to protect a person who may resort to deadly force to prevent a school massacre.” WTF.

Darnell Hamilton, age 17 with a 4.0 GPA, has been charged as an adult with two felonies – unlawful use of a weapon and possession of a firearm in school – for bringing a gun to his Chicago school on Tuesday. Hamilton's mother said that he felt he needed the gun to protect himself from the gangs he must pass through in order to commute to and from his school. That's Urban Prep, a charter school that boasts all its seniors get into college. Hamilton has already been promised a scholarship to Ohio State; no word from the school if they will take disciplinary action.

MOOCs

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has partnered with the startup NovoEd to offer a MOOC for remedial math students. NovoEd does boast more student support with its online offerings, and the Cargenie Foundation claims it has a good track record with its developmental math offerings. So we’ll see…

The hype-man for the MOOC movement this week is The Wall Street Journal – shocking, I know – which argues that “Job Market Embraces Massive Online Courses,” even though there really isn’t any indication of an "embrace," other than two or three companies that are investing in or sponsoring programs.

Accreditation

Phil Hill continues to keep a close eye on accreditation issues, reporting this week that the “ACCJC, the accrediting commission behind the City College of San Francisco crisis, issued an warning to Honolulu Community College.” The school is apparently in trouble for “lack of evaluation of the effectiveness of their online courses versus the comparable face-to-face courses.”

Launches and Upgrades

JSTOR, the academic journal database, launched individual subscriptions this week, for researchers who do not have library access to materials. The pricetag: $19.50 a month or $199 a year.

Apple has launched a new “Kids App Store,” a special section of its App Store with kid-oriented content broken down by age. Techcrunch’s Sarah Perez takes a closer look.

Demonstrating that we still haven’t used up all the .ly domain names that can be associated with education, Admitted.ly launched this week. The college counseling service gathers students data and makes college recommendation, such as “If a student identifies as non-religious, Admitted.ly isn’t going to match them with a Christian university.” Big data is pretty awesome, huh.

Never wanting to be too late to a super-hyped-trend, the University of Virginia is launching an ed-tech incubator. Edsurge is on it, along with coverage as well of the Education Design Studio at the University of Pennsylvania.

Funding and Acquisitions

The web-based gradebook and lesson management tool Learnboost, which recently pivoted after the departure of CEO and founder Rafael Corrales, has been acquired by Automattic, the team behind Wordpress. I shed a tear or two when Learnboost pivoted away from education, but all told, I’m pretty pleased with this outcome, as the folks at Learnboost (now Cloudup) have consistently built amazing tech, and I’m glad to see that continue under the umbrella of a company that also supports open source.

Academia.edu, a “social networking” platform for scholars and researchers, has raised $11 million (bringing the total the company has raised to $17.8 million), reports Techcrunch.

Synergis Education has raised $33 million in Series A investment from University Ventures Fund, Bertelsmann SE, and the University of Texas Investment Management Company. According to the press release, Synergis is “a premium, full-service provider of educational services designed for college and university leaders who are not satisfied with the status quo.” Definitely sounds worth $33 million to me.

Flooved has raised a Series A found of funding (amount undisclosed), according to a Venture Beat story with a picture of the startup’s founders that just screams “we’re serious about disrupting the textbook industry.”

Edu data marketplace Junyo has acquired RedRock Online, which it describes in its press release as “the K12 market’s most comprehensive source for intelligence about education funding and grants.” Hmm.

Online for-profit UniversityNow has raised $20.4 million in funding (bringing the total it’s raised to over $37 million), according to Venture Beat, now apparently making “college degrees accessible to anyone with a computer.” Finally, amirite?

From the HR Department

Jamienne S. Studley, former president of Skidmore College, joins the Department of Education as a deputy under secretary of education.

DC Mayor Vincent Gray has appointed Jesus Aguirre, currently the director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, as the city's superintendent of education. Aguirre ran a now-defunct charter school in Arizona. So yeah.

“Research” and Data

According to sentiment analysis of tweets in NYC, the saddest place in Manhattan is the elite Hunter College High School.

Purdue University published a press release this week, touting that its Signals software has boosted graduation rates by 21%. Signals uses data mining and analytics to give students and instructors, well, “signals” about course performance. More details on the study will be published soon, good news since Mike Caulfield is already looking at the claims with some skepticism.

From The Daily Californian: “According to the General Social Survey, which monitors social change in the United States, the percentage of college-educated Americans who identify as “lower class” increased to 3 percent in 2012, up from 1.7 percent in 2002 and the highest rate since the survey was first taken in 1972.”

The latest “Education Insider” survey which asks Beltway insiders their thoughts on education politics and policy, finds folks feeling rather dour about the Common Core and about Obama’s higher education reform plans. 97% of respondents say they don’t think Congress will approve any of the latter. The rest of the survey results are available here.

Do You Know Where Your Ph.D.’s Are?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education, noting that pressure is mounting for colleges to track and report where their graduate students land jobs.

Standardized Tests

The latest SAT scores were released to the typical amount of handwringing about American students’ failure to be “college ready.” The scores are the same as last year, with students scoring an average of 496 on reading, 514 on math, and 488 on writing. The income and racial divides continue to grow. More details via Inside Higher Ed.

Tennessee is one of several states looking for alternatives to the GED since the non-profit that offers the exam has partnered with Pearson and hiked the fees for the test.

Florida governor Rick Scott has called for his state to pull out of PARCC, one of the two testing consortia building the new Common Core assessments. “Federal government has no constitutional authority to unilaterally set academic standards for Florida,” says Scott, who might not score so well on the standard for skillfull close-reading of non-fiction documents. 

Other Corporate Curriculum

Wired examines a “near-final draft” of intellectual property curriculum that’ll enter California elementary schools this year. “This thinly disguised corporate propaganda is inaccurate and inappropriate… It suggests, falsely, that ideas are property and that building on others’ ideas always requires permission,” says an EFF attorney consulted for the story. “The overriding message of this curriculum is that students’ time should be consumed not in creating but in worrying about their impact on corporate profits.” Thanks to the Creative Commons' Jane Park, some open curriculum alternatives.

Contests and Awards

Google has named the winners of its annual Science Fair: in the 13–14 age category, Viney Kumar (Australia) whose project looked for ways to notify drivers when emergency vehicles are approaching; in the 15–16 age category, Ann Makosinski (Canada) who’s working on building a battery-free flashlight; and in the 17–18 age category (and Grand Prize Winner), Eric Chen (USA) for his project “Computer-aided Discovery of Novel Influenza Endonuclease Inhibitors to Combat Flu Pandemic.”

The MacArthur Foundation named the recipients of its Genius Grants this week. Among them, Angela Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania who studies “grit” and educational achievement.

Teaching and Labor

In 128 to 57 vote, Tufts University’s adjunct faculty have voted to unionize with the Service Employees International Union. More details in The Chronicle.

Nearly 200 colleges and universities have cut adjunct hours in order to avoid having to pay for their employees’ healthcare as mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

Sports and Labor

New Mexico State University is offering its students incentives to attend football games, including chances to win a VIP parking pass. (Whee!) No plans to offer incentives to attend class. Go team.

Many college football players participated in a protest during games last week, scribbling or taping “APU” – All Players United – on their uniforms or equipment. The protest is part of growing pressure on the NCAA to reform its exploitative practices.

EA Sports has reached a settlement with student-athletes who are suing it, along with the NCAA, over how their likenesses are used – in video games and in broadcasts – and whether or not the students should make money on this. Players will receive $40 million, according to one source.

The NCAA has modified its sanctions against Penn State, put in place following the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal. It’s restoring the scholarships that it took away from the school. Because really, see. The NCAA cares about students.

Real Guy-Guy Literature Classes

David Gilmour, a novelist and an instructor at Victoria College at the University of Toronto, in an interview with Hazlitt:

I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I tried to teach Virginia Woolf, she’s too sophisticated, even for a third-year class. Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.

Oh, Canada. Thankfully, Holger Schott Syme, a professor at the university, responds.

Image credits: Rego Korosi and The Noun Project

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