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Education Law and Politics


The FCC voted 3–2 that broadband Internet will be regulated as a public utility. A win for Net Neutrality and the open Internet (but let's remember, none of this is really "neutral").

The US House of Representatives is working its way through the 40-some-odd amendments tacked on to the No Child Left Behind re-write. (It was initially scheduled to vote on the bill today. The White House has threatened a veto.) The House also voted to expand the college savings plan that President Obama had (at least in his State of the Union address) indicated he wanted to scrap.

Fears arise that Alberta's Athabasca University will be lost as tough budget looms.”

From The Onion, “Arne Duncan Spends Visit To Local Elementary School Looking At UFO Books In Library.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not win enough votes to secure a second term in office. He’ll face Jesus “Chuy” Garcia – a candidate backed by the teachers’ union – in a run-off.

The US Department of Education released model Terms of Service guidance “aimed at helping schools and districts protect student privacy while using online educational services and applications.” (It’s, um, interesting that the “best practice” guidelines suggest that TOS should say schools – not students – own the data, including all IP.)

Much like its neighbor state Wyoming, Colorado is now looking at allowing concealed weapons at K–12 schools, repealing a law that makes schools “gun-free zones”.

A lawsuit was filed this week charging LAUSD superintendent Ramon Cortines of sexual harassment.

ISIS has burned the Mosul Library, which housed over 8000 rare ancient books and manuscripts. ISIS also released video footage of them destroying Assyrian and Akkadian artifacts in Mosul, some that date back to the 7th century BC.

MOOCs and UnMOOCs


From The Chronicle of Higher Education, “How [Jerry Falwell’s] Liberty Ubecame an unexpected model for the future of higher education.” Um. “A standard syllabus, even in a course with no obvious religious connection, encourages students to pray in online forums.” Prayer and grit. That’s all you need, kids.

Well here’s another business opportunity for MOOC providers: the Corrective Education Company offers online courses for those busted for shoplifting. Via Slate:

Imagine you're browsing at Bloomingdale's when a security guard taps you on the shoulder and accuses you of shoplifting. He takes you to a private room, sits you down, and runs your name through a database to see if you have any outstanding warrants. Then he tells you that you have two options. The first involves him calling the police, who might arrest you and take you to jail. The second allows you to walk out of the store immediately, no questions asked - right after you sign an admission of guilt and agree to pay $320 to take an online course designed to make you never want to steal again.

If learning how to not shoplift isn’t your thing, perhaps this: “Want to hone your school reformer skills? Jeb Bush’s foundation has a MOOC for you.”

Michigan State University is experimenting with using telepresence robots for distance ed students so that they can participate in face-to-face classes.

“A global network of fraudulent online universities is using high-pressure sales tactics and phony scholarships to extract money from students who end up with worthless degrees,” reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. MUST University, which boasts that it’s the “world’s largest university,” lists its address in San Francisco. Because of course, where else would you run a scam like that, eh.

Meanwhile on Campus


Sam Chaltain writes about a new program in Hartsville, South Carolina “where a school bus is more than a bus.”

For the “technology will never replace teachers” set: “Quebec school has no French teacher, using Rosetta Stone instead.”

Erskine College has banned gay sexuality at its school.

Bloomberg reports that the Canadian government has shut down for-profit Corinthian's 14 schools in the country. (Meanwhile, Rolling Jubilee’s Debt Collective is helping students with their loans – and with elimination of and reprieve against repayment.)

Alliant International University, a non-profit institution in California, has changed its tax status to become for-profit benefit corpotation.

Kean University is the latest to send admissions letters in error. 3000 people were mistakenly notified that they’d been accepted to the school.

Colorado schools “face a dilemma,” says NPR, now that pot is legal in the state.

Inside Higher Ed reports that “Eleven Wesleyan University students were hospitalized this weekend with symptoms consistent with use of the club drug known as Molly,” that is a form of Ecstasy.

Stanford Discourages Students From Viewing Their Admissions Files.”

A student named Dean ordered some fake IDs from China. They were supposed to be delivered to him on campus. Instead they went to the dean at his school, who shares his last name. LOL.

“Ivy League Grads Are Turning Their Backs On The Peace Corps.” (The number of Ivy grad volunteers has fallen by 63% in the last decade, reports Vocativ. This story is sorta odd as the number of volunteers from other schools has stayed about the same and far surpasses those from Ivy League schools. But ya know, the arc of education reporting is long and it bends towards the Ivies.)

Inside Higher Ed’s Ry Rivard examines the promises and side deals that colleges, struggling with debt, are making to their investors.

Go, School Sports Team!


The University of Oregon filed a counter-suit against “Jane Doe,” the woman who was allegedly raped by three of its basketball players last year. She’s filed a lawsuit charging the university of violating Title IX, in part by not investigating the rape charges. WTF, Ducks. Thankfully, by the end of the week, the university had backed away from the countersuit.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “NCAA Blamed for Baylor’s Dismissal of Once-Homeless Athlete”

Western Nevada College is scrapping its athletics program.

From the HR Department


Wednesday was National Adjunct Walkout Day, an attempt to call attention to the work of precarious labor in the universty.

Valerie Dean has been named the next president of Swarthmore.

Why are women leaving the tech industry in droves?” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Upgrades and Downgrades


Snapchat has launched a “Safety Center” which, among other things, reminds teens not to use the app to send nude photos. CYA.

Anonymous messaging app Yik Yak says it’s improved its reporting process for abusive posts.

Barnes & Noble announced that it was splitting off its ~700 college bookstores into a separate but wholly owned company, B&N Education.

Chegg is expanding its partnership with Ingram announced last year. The textbook distributor will no longer distribute textbooks – Ingram will handle that. Chegg will instead focus on digital services. Its stock price is up with this news, trading currently at $8.14 a share.

Google has launched YouTube Kids, which is a curated set of “family friendly” videos, available on iOS and Android. (A “hands on” with Techcrunch’s Sarah Perez.)

Google updated Classroom with some new features, including – revolutionary – the capability to add images to teacher pages. Edsurge reports that emoji are also available on the Classroom Android app (Psst. Edsurge: (^‿^) is not an emoji.)

Android Kids’ Tablets Full of Dangerous Security Flaws.”

Via The New York Times: “A team of Google researchers has created a machine that can figure out how to play and win video games.”

One Education, an Australia-based spinoff of One Laptop Per Child, has released details about its XO-Infinity laptop project. It says it’s “delivered 50,000 XO computers to disadvantaged children around Australia and in the process became a leading provider of technology for primary school aged children.”

IBM is working with Elemental Path to build toys that use its Watson AI technology. The toys “will be capable of engaging in age-appropriate conversations with children.” What could possibly go wrong.

The Crow Machine: automating Skinner’s work, with crows instead of pigeons. Think of the ed-tech possibilities.

From Phil Hill: “LoudCloud Systems and FASTRAK: A non walled-garden approach to CBE.” (That is, competency-based education – what will be the over-hyped acronym of 2015, I betcha.)

Also from Phil Hill: a first look at Instructure’s new corporate learning management system, Bridge.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As High-Tech Teaching Catches On, Students With Disabilities Can Be Left Behind.”

Funding and Acquisitions


GuideSpark has raised $22.2 million from Meritech Capital Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Storm Ventures, and IDG Ventures. The company, which turns paper-based HR training materials into digital training materials, has raised $42.2 million total.

WriteReader has raised $800,000 in seed funding from Egmont. The company makes literacy apps.

Mediacore has raised $4.5 million from Vanedge Capital. The lecture-capture company has raised $6.5 million total.

Locomotive Labs has raised $4 million from Softbank Ventures Korea, TAL Education Group. K9 Ventures, Kapor Capital, NewSchools Venture Fund, Joe Gleberman, D3Jubilee, and Jerry Colonna. The company, which makes apps for children with special needs, has raised $4.6 million total.

Ardusat has raised $1 million in seed funding from Space Florida, Fresco Capital, Spire, and other undisclosed investors. The startup makes satellites that students can send into space to conduct experiments.

An online booking service for field trips, edtrips has raised $1.9 million in funding. Investors were not disclosed.

Hobsons has acquired Starfish Retention Solutions. More via Inside Higher Ed.

“Research” and Data


A study by Jonathan Supovitz, Alan Daly and Miguel del Fresno looks at how Twitter has shaped debates about the Common Core. #thankstwitter

Yup, college students still prefer reading print over digital textbooks.

A study by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA looks at out-of-school suspension rates across the US. Among the findings: “Missouri elementary schools have highest rate of suspending black children.”

The Ever-Growing World of College Rankings.

From the National Student Clearinghouse, data on college graduation, broken down state-by-state.

Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy looks at a report from In the Public Interest on the (low low low) graduation grades of the online K–12 provider California Virtual Academies. (That is, just 36%.)

Learning styles don’t exist, teachers still believe in ’em, and The New York Times is on it.

According to a report by FutureSource Consulting, Chromebooks took took 39% of the K–12 market share in the US.

Via Vox: “American millennials are literally the worst (at math).”

Also via Vox: “The more people say they know about the Common Core, the less they actually do.”

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Audrey Watters


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