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Happy Polar Bear

Happy 3rd anniversary to DS106 Radio, a live-streaming station that grew out of the University of Mary Washington DS 106 course.

Law and Politics

Maryland schools will need $100 million in technology upgrades in order to be prepared for the new online testing required by the Common Core State Standards.

The White House has launched an initiative to end rape and sexual assault on college campuses.

138 educators in Philadelphia have been implicated in test score cheating, according to Education Week.

Suspensions

5 Newark principals have been suspended indefinitely (allegedly) for speaking out against proposed changes to the school district (which is run by the state).

After penning a letter to the campus protesting proposed budget cuts, CSU sociology professor Tim McGettigan had his email suspended by the university. McGettigan’s email compared the budget cuts to the Ludlow massacres (the massacre in 1914 of striking coal miners in the region). The university said the email was a threat and compared McGettigan to the shooters at Columbine and Virginia Tech. By the end of the week – after a huge outcry about academic freedom and the administration’s inability to grasp analogy, McGettigan’s email was restored. More via Inside Higher Ed.

Upgrades and Downgrades

LEGO has added a new curriculum pack to its Mindstorms robotics kit that focuses on space exploration. The Space Challenge kit was developed with the help of NASA engineers.

Johnson & Johnson has released a new version of its “No More Tears” baby shampoo. This one, without formaldehyde. Uhhhhh.

Last week, two Yale students got in trouble for creating a website to help other students plan their course schedule. In response to the university shutting down that site, another student Sean Haufler made an “unblockable replacement.” The URL for his blog post is great: “i-hope-i-dont-get-kicked-out-of-yale-for-this/” – and I don’t think he will. Yale later admitted that it had made a mistake in banning the website.

Edsurge has the names of the 6 startups participating in the Emerge Education ed-tech accelerator program.

Edsurge also reports that the startups that participated in the Kaplan accelerator program have raised over $10 million in funding. The program is accepting applications for its next cohort. “TechStars will invest $20K in each company in return for 6% equity (a fairly standard term). They will also each receive from Kaplan a $150K convertible debt note–up from $100K last year.”

Apple has expanded access to iTextbooks and iTunes U Course Manager to more countries.

At BETT (the British Education Technology Tradeshow), Microsoft announced “XBox 360 for Education.”

The Digital Reader reports that Intel will release a new educational tablet and laptop.

Unglue.it has released its first “buy-to-unglue” book: Lagos_2060, a collection of science fiction stories. Unglue.it recently changed its model. Now you can buy and download the e-book, and if enough folks do so, the e-book becomes free and openly licensed for everyone.

MOOCs

EdX has published research from the first full year of its courses. The research includes 16 working papers. You can read more on HarvardX researcher Justin Reich’s blog, in The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as a review of the research from Tony Bates.

Surgery Academy has launched a crowdfunding campaign for a surgery MOOC. Because learning surgery on your iPhone sounds like a brilliant idea (right up until you actually need surgery, I reckon).

Dartmouth joins edX.

Coursera unveiled “Specializations,” a sequence of courses in certain topics. These specializations will offer a certificate via Coursera’s Signature Track and will require students take a series of classes as well as complete a capstone project.

Regent University has launched a “Christian MOOC platform” called Luxvera, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. “The initial offerings are limited to three courses asking ‘Who Is Jesus?’ and a series of ‘great talks’ by conservative figures connected to the university, including Pat Robertson, the university’s chancellor and the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network.”

Inside Higher Ed reports that the Coursera course “Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World” faced a major challenge when the discussion forums for the class “‘very quickly disintegrated into a snakepit of personal venom, religious bigotry and thinly disguised calls for violence.’ But some students have accused him of abusive and tyrannical behavior in his attempts to restore civility.” (How will MOOCs handle controversial classes and controversial subject matter?)

Harvard plans to offer 3 versions of its Introduction to Computer Science course this spring: Version 1: a HarvardX version (free, self-paced, for no credit). Version 2: Harvard Extension School (cost of $2050). Version 3: a hybrid version: HarvardX plus biweekly online office hours (cost of $350 and you get a certificate for successful completion).

The Centre for Educational Technology, Interoperability, and Standards (CETIS) has published a research paper “Beyond MOOCs: Sustainable Online Learning in Institutions.” (PDF)

In Other Online Education News…

According to The Globe and Mail, Ontario will launch a $42 million online learning platform, “featuring a course hub where schools can post and promote their online course offerings in a central list.”

The for-profit Rasmussen College announced that it will become a Public Benefit Corporation. (This designation means it will focus on social and not just financial performance.)

California Governor Jerry Brown spoke to the UC Board of Regents this week, urging them to find the “outer limits” of online education, including developing classes that require “no human intervention.” (Maybe I can get him to write the intro to my book on this history of automating education!)

In Other Brick and Mortar Education News…

Yale College Seeks Smart Students From Poor Families. They’re out there – but hard to find.” Ugh.

The University of Cambria will accept the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as payment for the fees for two programs that deal with currencies.

Education Week examines the “growing pains” for the Rocketship chain of charter schools.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities is launching an effort to rethink how general education works, including developing a “competency-based framework.” More in Inside Higher Ed.

State higher education spending is up, according to Inside Higher Ed, although not back to pre-recession levels.

Shootings

There Has Been An Average Of One School Shooting Every Other School Day So Far This Year,” according to ThinkProgress, including one this week on campus of Widener University in Pennsylvania and one at Purdue University. There were also reports of a shooting at the University of Oklahoma.

Accreditation

A federal judge in Virginia has blocked the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges’ decision to strip a Missouri massage school of its accreditation and has also fined the accreditor for a sum equal to the school’s lost revenue (an unprecedented move). More via Inside Higher Ed.

Investments

According to The Texas Tribune, the UT system will not see any financial returns on its MyEdu investment, despite pouring $10 million into the product in 2011. (MyEdu was recently acquired by Blackboard.)

Pearson fell the most since 2002 after reporting higher costs to push into digital services,” reports Bloomberg.

Edsurge reports that Edsby has raised an undisclosed amount of investment. “Edsby helps districts deploy an array of online social learning tools–from gradebooks, attendance trackers, and parent-teacher communication tools to content management and single sign-on integration–within the existing student information system.”

“Research” and Data

Phil Hill continues his analysis of IPEDS and Babson Survey data, noting the discrepancies between the two (no big surprise there: one is a mandatory federal report and the other a voluntary survey). Hill notes that “Twice as many institutions as previously reported have no online courses.”

The Children’s Defense Fund has released its report “State of America’s Children 2014.” 1 in 5 children in the US is poor. 40% of poor children live in extreme poverty – that is, at below half the poverty level.

Microsoft Research has adopted an open access policy for its researchers’ publications.

A liberal arts major isn’t such a bad deal after all. (Go figure.) More details on the report “How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment” in Inside Higher Ed.

The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill has halted the research of learning specialist Mary Willingham. Her work into the literacy levels of college athletes has been making headlines (and prompting death threats against her too.) More in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Every year, I say “ignore the US News & World Report’s college rankings!” “It’s a rigged game!” But according to a study from the AERA, both it and the Princeton Review do effect where students do decide to apply to school. More on the study in The Atlantic.

When Elite Parents Dominate Volunteers, Children Lose.”

The blog Gas Station Without Pumps pushes back on some of the hype and hand-wringing about the diversity of those taking the AP exam in Computer Science. For example, “No females took the exam in Wyoming.” Well, turns out no one took the exam in Wyoming. So a closer look – with statistics! – at the under-representation that was reported.

Facebook will lose 80% of its users by 2017, say Princeton researchers.” And then suddenly, the tech press, which consistently reports statistics pushed out by the industry without blinking an eye, is upset that this study wasn’t peer reviewed.

Image credits: Jeff Kubina and The Noun Project

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Audrey Watters


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