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Congratulations to the European Science Agency, which this week landed the Philae spacecraft on a comet – the first such landing in history. Amazing. But a big thumbs-down to the agency and particularly to Rosetta Project scientist Matt Taylor for the sexist shirt he wore for the occasion. And gee, we wonder why women and girls feel unwelcome in science and technology. These sorts of microaggressions are pervasive – in the clothing and in comments like this from from Taylor, describing the landing: "the sexiest mission there’s ever been. She’s sexy, but I never said she was easy.’

Happy 45th birthday to Sesame Street. Thank you for everything.

Education Law and Politics

President Obama has asked the FCC to adopt the “strictest rules possible” regarding Net Neutrality.

Via The New York Times: “Members of a drug gang arrested in the investigation into the disappearance of 43 college students in [Mexico in] September told investigators that they had killed the students and burned their bodies in a pyre of tires and branches, the attorney general announced Friday.”

Also via The New York Times: “The All Pakistan Private Schools Federation, which claims to represent 150,000 schools across Pakistan, declared that Monday would be ‘I am not Malala’ day and urged the government to ban [Malala Yousafzai’s] memoir, ‘I Am Malala,’ because it offended Islam and the ‘ideology of Pakistan.’”

Via the Missoula Independent: “University of Montana law student Daniel Knudsen filed suit against UM this week over alleged violations of privacy rights. Knudsen’s complaint, filed on behalf of all students enrolled at UM from spring 2010 to the present, claims the university illegally released his and others’ personally identifiable information to Connecticut-based Higher One Holdings, a vendor that handles UM’s electronic refunds.”

At a hearing in Philadelphia over whether to revoke the charter for the Walter Palmer charter school, officials invoked the Fifth Amendment 77 times.

A suicide bomber in Nigeria detonated a bomb in front of a boarding school, killing 50 students.

Finland’s minister of education has proposed the country introduce tuition fees for non-European students, beginning in 2016.

Students Loans and Student Debt

Student debt is up 2% from last year, according to a report from the Institute for College Access and Success. Approximately 70% of students graduate with loan debt, and of those, the average debt was $28,400.

Graduate students’ debt makes up 40% of all student loan debt.

“Is this the end of the line for the Perkins Loan Program?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education. [Cue ominous music.] There’s talk the new Republican-led Congress wants to simply the federal loan program, down from six to three programs – one for undergrads, one for graduate students, and one for parents.

MOOCs and UnMOOCs

Coursera announced that it has struck a deal with the Department of Veterans Affairs, making one free verified certificate available to each US veteran. According to Coursera, “this effort will expose Veteran learners to industry relevant education and help them master new skills to succeed in today’s workforce.” It’s fascinating how the Obama Administration says it wants to crack down on for-profit universities, and then happily funnels money to another for-profit higher ed company. Tressie McMillan Cottom responds.

Move over MOOCs – Collaborative MOOC 2.0 is coming” – LOL, you mean like connectivist MOOCs? Oh, I see.

“Will MOOCs Be Flukes?” asks this New Yorker article. Shrug.

From Udacity: “Announcing the Platypus… Data Analyst Nanodegree.” That’s data scientist humor there. I guess.

Via Campus Technology: “Columbia University has launched an initiative to turn more of its traditional lecture courses into hybrid learning experiences that would incorporate the use of audiovisual materials, social media, flipped classrooms and real-time feedback from students.” My guess, the project will not be called Fathom. Might I suggest “Blended Fathom”?

The University of Florida’s new online university, UF Online, will not offer a political science degree after the department voted against it. More details on their rationale in Inside Higher Ed.

Meanwhile on Campus

“Why Does a Campus Police Department Have Jurisdiction Over 65,000 Chicago Residents?” asks Vice. In part, because of the Private College Campus Pol​ice Act in 19​92, which gives the University of Chicago PD (un-FOIA-able) powers.

Robert Jennings, the president of Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, has publicly questioned whether female students who report rape have actually been raped. Uh.

“One of two Brown University students who drank an alcoholic punch at a fraternity party at Sears House on Oct. 17 has tested positive for a common date-rape drug, the university announced in a campus-wide email late Saturday,” reports the Providence Journal.

Bryan Alexander has been tracking what he calls “the queen sacrifice” on college campuses, noting that two more have opted to do so – that is, firing faculty and closing academic programs. In this case, it’s Pennsylvania universities East Stroudsburg and Cheyney.

Muslims in Montgomery County, Maryland asked the district to close schools on their two most important religious holidays – ya know, like schools do for Christian and Jewish holy days. “Instead, the school board voted 7–1 on Tuesday to strip all mention of religious holidays from the calendar, even though Christian and Jewish holidays remain official days off,” reports Libby Nelson for Vox.

A Huntsville, Alabama school district “expelled 14 students last year based on the findings of a private contractor who monitored students’ social-media activity as part of greater school security efforts, according to a review by The Huntsville Times. Twelve of them were black, drawing concerns that the program unfairly targeted African-American students.”

Webster University is set to close three of its U.S. campuses in the coming year as a way to balance its budget,” reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

50 laptops were stolen from (and returned to) UCLA.

Microsoft is sending more help to LAUSD to deal with its disastrous student information system rollout.

Harvard’s most popular undergraduate class, Introduction to Computer Science, will now be offered at Yale.

Harvard plans to expand its faculty by 50% over the next decade, thanks in part to a donation from former Microsoft CEO and Harvard alum Steve Ballmer.

The amount of money donated to Harvard wasn’t specified, but Ballmer also gave $50 million to the University of Oregon, the second largest gift the university has ever received. The money will pay for researchers, a program for low-income students, and better marketing for “Brand O.” Oh.

Syracuse University erected a wall blocking the public’s view from the sit-in being staged on campus.

How Is the Most Insecure Ivy League University Also the #1 Party School in America? An Investigation.”

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the University of Phoenix announced a partnership that will enable students at HBCUs to take online courses from the for-profit university to supplement their on-campus work.

Dress code resistance

A fifth teen has died from injuries sustained in an October school shooting in Washington state.

Go, School Sports Team!

The University of Michigan’s new president, Mark Schlissel, angered the athletic department by saying “he was concerned that the university was accepting athletes who couldn’t succeed at a college as rigorous as Michigan.”

“The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has now won as many football games in the last 70 years as it has Nobel Prizes, thanks to an undefeated 8–0 season.” Um, congrats?

Michael McAdoo, a former football player at UNC, is suing the university claiming that its fake classes deprived him of an education.

Four University of Alaska Fairbanks teams – men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, and women’s swimming – will be barred from playing in the postseason this academic year due to violations of NCAA rules regarding student eligibility.

Don’t be like Kaelin Clay.

Oh look who’s stepping up to defend the NCAA: Kenneth Starr.

The Places in America Where College Football Means the Most

From the HR Department

Stacey Childress, the CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, and Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, are joining the Board of Directors of the elite-university-wannabe Minerva Project’s non-profit wing, the Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarship

News Corp-owned Dow Jones is hiring a student loans reporter.

John Pistole, who’s been the head of the TSA, will now become the president of Anderson University, a Christian college in Central Indiana.

“Administrative positions are being eliminated and 32 adjunct positions have been eliminated until full-time faculty members all have full course loads” at Kentucky State University.

John Ayers, executive director of the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, a research group at Tulane University, has resigned following the institute’s retraction of a study on the success of New Orleans students under the city’s new charter school management. Although the group isn’t saying exactly why it retracted the study – it said the methodology was flawed – the study did use VAM, value-added modeling, a model for assessing teacher performance based on students’ test scores.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Pepsi is testing a Dorito-flavored Mountain Dew on college students.

Via GeekDad: “Raspberry Pi Gets Smaller, Better, Cheaper”

Google boasted on its blog this week that the Chromebook was the bestselling K–12 device in the third quarter of 2014.

Amazon and Hachette have resolved their e-book dispute. Hachette will be able to set its own e-book prices.

ISTE is launching a new “social learning community.” No comment.

In a partnership with Nature Education and Roche, UNESCO has launched a free science education resource, World Library of Science.

Inside Higher Ed reports that “ProQuest will no longer sell the dissertations in its database through third-party retailers such as Amazon, the company announced on Monday, responding to confused scholars who found their research for sale online.”

AdmitHub Launches AboutAdmissions To Make College Counseling Available To All” (all who pay the $50-$399 fee, that is).

Amazon acquired the math education startup TenMarks late last year, and now we see some of what will come of it: “TenMarks Math Teach, a professional development, preparatory, and in-class resource for teachers.”

Funding and Acquisitions

Blackboard has acquired ParentLink, “founded in 1989, offers a suite of tools that lets schools and districts communicate with parents via phone calls, text messages, emails, and old-fashioned faxes and printed letters.”

Course Hero, a site where students can buy and sell class notes and study guides, has raised $15 million in funding GSV Capital, IDG Ventures, SV Angel, and Maveron. This brings to $17.4 million total raised by the startup.

Junyo has acquired 360Ed. Details of the deal were not disclosed.

Curiosity.com is being spun out of Discovery Communications, backed by $6 million in funding from Discovery, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Origin Ventures, Chicago Ventures, and Corazon Capital.

Echo360 has raised $18 million in a Series C round of funding for its lecture capture technology. According to the press release, the investment comes from “Duchossois Capital Management and a private family office.” All told, the company has raised $76.6 million in investment.

Edsurge and The Chronicle of Higher Education have pulled together “A Look at Ed Tech’s Biggest Money Magnets” – a list that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me as it doesn’t mention that Chegg has IPO’d, but does talk about 2U’s IPO. I mean, if we’re counting IPOs (or not), what about Blackboard or Rosetta Stone? And what about Laureate Education? Does it not count as “ed-tech” enough? What about Lynda.com? Is it not “higher ed” enough? Maybe this should be filed under “Research.”

“Research”

Clayton Christensen doubles down on his prediction that half of all universities will be bankrupt in the next 15 years.

Fostering Market Efficiency in K–12 Ed-tech Procurement: A Report from Johns Hopkins University to Digital Promise in partnership with the Education Industry Association.” And really, that title speaks volumes. Markets. Efficiency. Procurement. Industry Association. The report finds that ed-tech vendors are not happy with the procurement process. School officials say they’re mostly satisfied. The Edsurge headline: “Bringing Order and Transparency to a Dysfunctional K–12 Marketplace.”

A report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, a think-tank spun out of the conservative Thomas Fordham Institute, has released a report questioning how “rigorous” teacher education programs are. A good write-up from Inside Higher Ed, which asks questions about the research.

Goobergate goes after video games researchers because there are feminists involved.

The OECD surveyed children about their satisfaction with their lives. And apparently South Korean children are the least happy. But hey, their PISA scores are great. So there’s that.

The Pew Research Internet Project’s latest report is on people’s perceptions and concerns about privacy. Among the findings, “91% of adults in the survey ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.”

“Sixty-six percent of schools nationwide offer ebooks, up from 54 percent in 2013.” More from the School Library Journal’s annual “Ebook Usage in U.S. School (K–12) Libraries” report.

Could the Black Arrow really kill a dragon? A physics lesson from Rhett Allain.

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Audrey Watters


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