Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution

Student Protests

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the arrest of Jack Weinberg for distributing leaflets about the civil rights movement on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. Weinberg sat in the back of a police car for over 32 hours while thousands of students gathered around it, blocking it from moving and from taking him to jail. Students used the car as a podium to protest the restriction of free speech on campus. This was the birth of the Free Speech Movement.

In this week’s “What You Should Know This Week” over on Educating Modern Learners, I look at student protests at UC Berkeley, in Hong Kong, and in the Jefferson County Public School District in Colorado. (I did not cover the protests over the beard ban at BYU or the recent sit-in at Colgate University.)

Elsewhere in Education Law and Politics

Despite student and teacher protests, the Jefferson County school board is moving forward with its plans to review the AP History course to make sure students learn all about the proud US tradition of compliance.

The CEO and three employees of the for-profit FastTrain College were indicted this week, charged “with one count of conspiracy and multiple counts of theft of government money.”

Lots of muttering and grumbling but few clear statements from LAUSD about the future of Superintendent John Deasy. It does appears as though the school board will begin talks on what his departure might look like.

And speaking of LAUSD, the district has paid $3.75 million to settle a lawsuit with Maximus Inc, the company hired to build its new student information system. The district spent $112 million to build the system but never implemented it.

Undocumented students in California will now be able to take out student loans via a new program, thanks to a law signed by Governor Jerry Brown this week. Brown also signed the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act, improving some of aspects of student privacy in the state, as well as a bill that allows some 2 year colleges in the state to offer 4 year degrees. He also signed a law that “that explicitly requires colleges and universities that receive state funds to define consent in students’ sexual encounters in terms of ‘yes means yes’ rather than the traditional ‘no means no.’”

The Department of Justice is investigating Corinthian Colleges for defrauding the federal government, one of many investigations of the for-profit currently underway.

“The Education Department has fallen short in evaluating risks when it reviews applications from competency-based learning programs to receive federal student aid, the department’s Office of Inspector General charged in an audit report released this week.” More via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The trial has begun of 12 educators involved in the Atlanta Public Schools’ cheating scandal.

“The Oregon Department of Education has fined Portland Public Schools for disciplining African American special education students at a higher rate than other students.” More via The Oregonian.

Bill Gates loves the Common Core, wants a common curriculum in the US, and says “kids should be taught what they’re going to be tested on.” Roger Schank, in excellent form, responds.

In news that should surprise no one, “Common-Core Testing Contracts Favor Big Vendors.” (That is, Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and ETS.)

A helpful #teamharpy FAQ for those looking for information on the defamation lawsuit filed by librarian Joseph Murphy against two other librarians nina de jesus and Lisa Rabey.

Dispatches From EDUCAUSE

Higher education had its big ed-tech industry event this past week in Orlando. Some of the highlights from EDUCAUSE:

Clayton Christensen was the keynote speaker, but in my imagination he performed as Steve Ballmer, getting the crowd all worked up about DISRUPTION DISRUPTION DISRUPTION DISRUPTION!

The 2014 Campus Computing Project

3 ‘Game Changing’ Ideas From an Ed-Tech Start-Up Competition

Phil Hill grilled the Kuali Foundation about its shift to a for-profit company and its plans for its open source code.


Marmosets apparently find video content educational too. And if it’s good enough for monkeys…

Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen will offer a MOOC called Giving 2.0 in an “effort to democratize philanthropy.” The MOOC will run on Coursera. (Her husband Marc Andreessen, incidentally, is an investor in Coursera competitor Udacity.)

The Tokyo Institute of Technology joins edX.

edX is getting into the "professional education" business to "better serve those learners who use our courses to advance their careers, or organizations that wish to support continuing learning for their workforce."

Coursera Named Top 10 Bay Area’s Most InDemand Startup” Meanwhile “Optimism About MOOCs Fades in Campus IT Offices

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What You Need to Know About Companies That Run Online Programs for Colleges”

On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re the ‘Wrong’ Professor

Oregon State University, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Minnesota have joined Unizin. (WTF is Unizin, you ask?)

Meanwhile on Campus

Students on meal plans at George Mason University must be registered for the iris scanner. I’d love to know if this data is connected to the learning management system and if the university has plans to use students’ biometric data to prevent cheating in online courses.

German universities scrap all tuition fees

Draven Rodriguez, the Schenectady High School senior who petitioned his school to allow him to use a photo of him holding his cat against a laser background as his yearbook photo, has been joined by his principal and her dog for pretty much the greatest photo ever.

Free (local) community college for graduates of Chicago Public Schools and San Luis Obispo high schools.

The MIT Media Lab announced the creation of the Laboratory for Social Machines, funded by a five-year $10 million investment from Twitter. (Twitter will give MIT access to the firehose and the archive of all public tweets.)

The University of Southern California and Wired Magazine are partnering for a new degree program. Wired insists, “it’s a real credential, not just a certificate with the WIRED logo stamped on it.” Sounds legit.

Columbia University has made a 17.5% return on its endowment, beating Harvard’s return. Congrats!

Goddard College has selected death row inmate and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal as its commencement speaker.

The University of Massachusetts will review its policy that enlists students as drug informants following the death of an informant from a heroin overdose.

Ebola Panic OMG OMG OMG

The first case of Ebola in the US has Dallas area schools (and families) in freak-out mode.

Go, School Sports Team!

University of Michigan football coach Brady Hoke kept injured quarterback Shane Morris in the game last weekend, even after Morris took an incredibly strong hit to the head and was stumbling around the field. Hoke’s decision has come under fire, particularly after he insisted that Morris was perfectly healthy. (Morris had a concussion. I mean, clearly he had a concussion. He also had a sprained ankle.)

Three high school football players died this week from brain-related injuries.

From the HR Department

Uber recognizes that teachers don’t make enough money. Its solution? Recruit them as drivers for UberX. Welcome to the (completely and utterly exploitative) “sharing economy.”

US Deputy Education Secretary Jim Shelton has announced he’ll be resigning his post at the end of the year. No word yet which former NewSchools Venture Fund or Gates Foundation employee will replace him at the Department of Ed.

Elizabeth Garrett is poised to become Cornell Unversity’s first female president.

Damon Sicore has left Edmodo and joined the Wikimedia Foundation as the VP of Engineering. (Sicore was supposed to make Edmodo an “engineering brand”. Did that happen and I missed the news?)

Steven Hodas, Executive Director of New York City Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and one of the iZone’s leaders–has officially left his post,” reports Edsurge.


The EFF reports that police departments are promoting the installation of spyware onto children’s computers, couching it as “Internet safety software” to protect kids online. Here's how to remove it. Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely responded that the “Ultra-liberal organization … is not in any way credible on this. They’re more interested in protecting predators and pedophiles than in protecting our children.” Riiiiiiight.

Funnymonkey’s Bill Fitzgerald continues his series of blog posts on ed-tech privacy policies and terms of service.

Upgrades and Downgrades

The Silicon Valley Education Foundation honors Tom Friedman as the 2014 Champion of Education.

Google Drive for Education now comes with unlimited file storage. And the crowd goes wild.

You can now run Adobe products on Chromebooks.

Pearson Launches Digital Content Platform.” (Best. Headline.)

Southern New Hampshire University is spinning off its “custom made” LMS designed for competency-based learning into a separate for-profit company. Because woohoo, the LMS market is still so damn hot.

In other exciting LMS news: More “open content repositories”, built into Blackboard and Instructure. Because ed-tech just can’t let an idea die, can it.

IBM Watson is coming to the classroom. (Thank you, IBM, for keeping my observations about teaching machines timely and not simply historical.)

Yahoo plans to close Yahoo Education, Qwiki, and Directory. I swear someone wrote “How Qwiki Will Change Education Forever,” but I can’t find the blog post, and dammit without Yahoo Directory how will I ever find it?!

Microsoft is slashing the prices for its Surface Pro 3 for Education.

Funding and Acquisitions

Remind (formerly Remind101) has raised another $40 million from its current investors. This brings to $59.5 million the total raised by the free school messaging startup. Edukwest’s Kirsten Winkler asks if this means that the startup is on a path to an IPO.

Chegg has acquired for $10 million in cash and $1 million in stock, reports Kara Swisher. “With this acquisition, Chegg is poised to disrupt the highly inefficient and fragmented $5 billion college recruiting market,” said Chegg’s CEO Dan Rosensweig. (Worth remembering that he also recently said of students: ”We’ll get the data, get the credit card, and market our other products.")

CogBooks has raised £1.75 million in funding from DC Thomson Ventures and Nesta Impact Investment. The startup uses “adaptive technology” to “personalize” textbooks.

The Digital Public Library of America has received $999,485 in funding from IMLS.

Finalists for a $20 million Gates Foundation “Next Generation Courseware Challenge” are Acrobatiq, Cerego, CogBooks, Lumen Learning, OpenStax, Smart Sparrow, and the Open Learning Initiative.


Another slew of stories predicting “the end of OLPC” after research in Uruguay finds that students aren’t using the laptops and their literacy rates aren’t improving.

Facebook says “that future research on its 1.3 billion users would be subjected to greater internal scrutiny from top managers, particularly if it focused on “deeply personal topics” or specific groups of people.” Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s CTO, announced the plans on Facebook, but declined The New York Times’ request for an interview.

The Times Higher Education’s ranking of universities goes something like 1) CalTech, 2) Harvard, 3) Oxford, 4) Stanford, 5) Cambridge.

LinkedIn is also getting in on the university rankings game: “Which schools are best at launching graduates into desirable jobs? We analyzed millions of alumni profiles to find out how schools around the world stack up across a variety of careers.”

Exploring Gender Imbalance Among STEM Doctoral Degree Recipients

Survey calls North Carolina the worst state for teachers in the US

From NPR: “A recent study from researchers at UCLA found that kids who spent a week at outdoor camp — away from all electronic devices — got a lot better at picking up emotion in other people’s faces.” Or not.

The Horizon Report Europe 2014 Schools Edition

A new report from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the National Women’s Law Center: “Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls

Via the AP: “Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they’re widening the nation’s wealth gap.”

Charts and Maps: “Latinos are driving a huge decline in the high school dropout rate.” “An interactive guide to finding your best student loan repayment option” (presented by Discover Card). “3 reasons to stop worrying about grade inflation.” “The most distinctive college major in your state.”

Image credits: Pasu Au Yeung

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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