Education Politics

The FCC released details this week on its plans for “Net Neutrality” – that is, how it will regulate broadband.

President Obama announced a $100 million TechHire initiative that “aims to convince local governments, businesses, and individuals that a four-year degree is no longer the only way to gain valuable tech skills,” says Wired.

Also from the White House: [The Student Aid Bill of Rights](The Student Aid Bill of Rights: Enhancing Protections for Student Loan Borrowers). More via The Chronicle of Higher Education and The New York Times on changes to student loans.

SXSWedu-Related Headlines

Optimism Returns to Student Data Privacy Debate” (probably because I wasn’t there, yo.)

Europe a Tantalizing, if Hard-to-Crack, Ed-Tech Market

School Districts Wield Major Influence Over K–12 Marketplace

Pearson and Makerversity Launch Maker Tools for Teachers at SXSWedu

Zaption Wins 2015 LaunchEDU” (See also: Aron Solomon’s “The Four Biggest Problems I Have with This Kind of Startup Pitch Competition”)


Accredible Partners with Udacity to Provide Context to Nanodegrees

EdX and Microsoft Launch IT Development MOOCs

“Cut Through the Hype, and MOOCs Still Have Had a Lasting Impact,” insists The Chronicle of Higher Education, which is loathe to find something else to write about, I reckon, as long as we can squeeze out a few more stories on the topic.

Inside Higher Ed on MIT physics professor Walter Lewin’s legacy, following the accusations of him engaging in sexual harassment of women in his MOOCs.

Yale is partnering with 2U to offer a blended Master’s Degree for physician’s assistants.

Testing, Testing

Chalkbeat Indiana reports that Indiana has switched its testing vendor, dumping CTB-McGraw Hill for Pearson.

California schools will have an extra year to prepare for the new Common Core tests before accountability measures set in, the Board of Education has decreed.

Florida’s problems with its online testing last week were partly caused by “cyber attacks,” which is definitely the new “dog ate my homework” excuse.

Colorado also faced technical problems administering its PARCC assessments.

Meanwhile on Campus

Video of University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members singing a racist chant has prompted the school to sever ties with the organization and expel two of students. That expulsion in turn has some debating whether or not the move was unconstitutional. Related: Bloomberg News founds that “5 [SAE] chapters were closed or suspended over the past three years. Their investigation turned up 10 deaths tied to SAE events since 2006 - more than any other fraternity.” Racism at college is widespread, researcher says. Ya think?

Via The Atlantic: “The Unfortunate Fate of Sweet Briar’s Professors.” “Nearly a third of the college’s hourly workers are descendants of the Fletcher plantation’s original slave community,” so we should probably talk about them too, not just the profs, eh?

How to spot a college about to go out of business

What’s next for City College of San Francisco?

AIB College of Business is shutting down and donating its campus to the University of Iowa.

Charter School in Miami Fails, but Proves Useful on Jeb Bush’s Résumé

This whole American flag thing at UC Irvine is bizarre.

According to LA School Report, LAUSD’s new student information system is finally operational.

Data breach at the University of Chicago – is there a place that keeps track of all of these?

Community colleges offer welding classes, and The New York Times is on it.

Go, School Sports Team!

Florida State Files Motion To Dismiss Title IX Lawsuit From Jameis Winston’s Accuser

“NCAA nearly topped $1 billion in revenue in 2014,” reports USA Today. Because, you know, “amateur status.”

The Syracuse basketball team and its coach Jim Boeheim have been penalized by the NCAA for a variety of infractions. The New York Times reports that “Members of the athletic staff forged classwork. Players were handed cash for appearances as volunteers. Others were allowed to skirt the university’s drug policy without consequence.”

A school district in New York recently canceled a lacrosse game versus a team whose mascot is the Redskins. The superintendent said that the decision was “made in support of Native Americans who view the rival team’s nickname as offensive.”

From the HR Department

“Brian Whitmer No Longer in Operational Role at Instructure,” reports Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill. +1 to this line: “I wish Brian the best with his new venture – he is one of the truly good guys in ed tech.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

Apple had a press thingy, announced new shiny, spendy gadgets and personal data collection – excuse me, medical “research,” – software. (The best coverage comes via Anil Dash and Paul Ford.) In other Apple news, the company is rumored to be revamping its iPad in Education program to make the administration of the devices easier for schools.

Instructure announced this week that it’s partnered with Pearson to integrate its SIS PowerSchool into the Canvas LMS. News has EduKwest’s Kirsten Winkler speculating if Instructure aims to acquire PowerSchool, which Pearson has put up for sale. Blackboard was rumored to be interested in the SIS.

Via The Register: “Toymaker Mattel has unveiled a high-tech Barbie that will listen to your child, record its words, send them over the internet for processing, and talk back to your kid. It will email you, as a parent, highlights of your youngster’s conversations with the toy.” What could go wrong?

Once Unique, LeapFrog Has Rivals in the Educational Toy Market.” Like Mattel’s Surveillance Barbie, I guess, right?

Rutgers University is one of the customers of ProctorTrack, a tool that many schools use for online classes. “ProctorTrack records face, knuckle and personal identification details during online courses. …[T]he system ‘keeps track of all activity in the monitor, browser, webcam and microphone’ throughout each session.”

Literacy app Curriculet has partnered with USA Today to offer students readings based on the latter’s news stories. More details via Edsurge.

The Gates Foundation has a new higher ed agenda, according to Inside Higher Ed, including to “create a national data infrastructure that enables consistent collection and reporting of key performance metrics for all students in all institutions that are essential for promoting the change needed to reform the higher education system to produce more career-relevant credential” – which hopefully isn’t too inBloom-y, eh?

“Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly,” says NYT’s Natasha Singer, in a story that examines the move to B2C (or at least, B2Teacher) in ed-tech.

Funding and Acquisitions

“Classkick Raises $1.7 Million To Tackle The Student Achievement Gap,” reports Techcrunch. With Classkick’s iPad app, “students can get at home more of the individual attention they’re lacking from their teachers during the school day.” Um. Investment comes from Kapor Capital, Lightbank, Adam Pisoni, and Great Oaks Venture Capital. has raised $1 million from Udi Netzer, Shai Rephaeli, Yochy Investments, and Seed Fund 1776. The language-learning app has raised $1.5 million total.

Barnes & Noble has made an investment in Flashnotes, reports Geekwire, a startup that lets students sell their classnotes.

ThinkCERCA has raised $3.2 million from Follett Knowledge Fund, Math Venture Partners, Amicus Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and Chuck Templeton. The startup, which offers “critical thinking tools,” has now raised $4.7 million.

Test-prep company Embibe has acquired test-prep company 100Marks. Terms were not disclosed.

“Research” and Data

Congratulations, Blackboard, for coming in at number 281 out of 293 companies ranked based on customer experiences. More unpleasant than Blackboard: Spirit Airlines, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable.

No significance difference” between the learning outcomes in face-to-face and hybrid courses, according to research by Ithaka S+R.

“Computer programs may help predict students’ grades in school as well as determine successful pathways for completing assignments,” says Education Week, covering a new study out of Stanford.

McGraw-Hill has surveyed college students about their technology usage. 81% said they studied via a mobile device; 66% said it was important to be able to do so.

From George Kroner: “LMS Data – Spring 2015 Updates”


Former University of Oregon president Dave Frohnmayer passed away this week. I can think of no one – well, except Phil Knight – that did more to reshape the UO into the beast it is now.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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