Education Politics

The US House of Representatives voted to reauthorize/rewrite No Child Left Behind.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Oregon now is poised to follow Tennessee as the second state with a plan on the books to provide free two-year college. And Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives introduced bills Wednesday that seek to make Obama's federal proposal a reality. The proposed legislation lacks any Republican support, however, so the bills are unlikely to go anywhere.” (More on the latter in The Chronicle of Higher Education.)

Democratic Presidential candidate and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley unveiled his plan for debt-free college.

Education Department to Propose Expanded Student-Loan Repayment Program.”

New Jersey’s Board of Education has named former education commissioner Chris Cerf as the superintendent of the Newark school district.

Texas’ New History Textbooks Are a Disaster.” “Louisiana schools gain greater oversight, can now select textbooks.” Gee, what could go wrong. Elsewhere in textbooks: “The Great Common Core Textbook Swindle.”

The US Army will no longer embed scholars with military units in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Testing, Testing…

Pearson Loses Another Major Testing Contract.” This time, a $44 million contract in New York state.

The Arkansas Board of Education has voted to drop PARCC and use ACT Aspire tests instead.

How Standardized Tests Are Scored (Hint: Humans Are Involved)


Udacity will soon give all Nanodegree graduates half of their tuition back.”

Via Justin Reich: “Practical Guidance from MOOC Research: Flexibility and Stickiness.”

Why Did Learners Enroll in Duke U MOOCs?

Four Ways Universities Make Money From Online Courses.” Shockingly, actually charging for the courses is one quite popular way.

Meanwhile on Campus

[Florida] “School Libraries: Closed For Business, Open For Testing

Institutions Receiving the Most Graduate-Student Loan Disbursements, 2013–14.”

Staffordshire school bans short skirts because they’re ‘distracting’ to male teachers and pupils.” Because not hiring perverts wasn’t an option I guess.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The average amount that college students spend on course materials appears to be declining. But not necessarily because textbooks are cheaper. A growing number of students, surveys show, simply skip buying required course materials.”

Go, School Sports Team!

The NCAA will lift its ban on basketball tournaments in South Carolina now that the Confederate flag has been removed from the state capitol grounds.

From the HR Department

Nate Otto will be joining the Badge Alliance as Interim Director.

Science Leadership Academy principal Chris Lehmann is taking on additional duties with the Philadelphia School District – he’ll also serve as Assistant Superintendent of the Innovative Schools Network.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Moodle introduces “MoodleCloud.” LMS in "the cloud" - by golly all the ed-tech innovation these days!

Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill has obtained a copy of the Unizin contract and “There is nothing to see here.”

Edsurge reports that one of its investors, NewSchools Venture Fund, has “announced the launch of ‘NewSchools Catapult,’ a program that provides school model development teams with direct financial investment, a cohort experience and targeted assistance. The goal? For all teams to launch new school models in the fall of 2016.”

The recent explosion of an unmanned SpaceX rocket headed for the International Space Station meant “Loss of Outer Space Experiments For Ed. Nonprofit,” Education Week reports.

“LegalZoom Wants To Be ‘The Good Guys’ In Shady World Of Student Debt Relief,” says Buzzfeed.

Vortex Is A Toy Robot That Teaches Kids How To Code.”

Jewelbots, programmable friendship bracelets, prompted this headline: “Will ‘Girly’ Tech Attract More Girls to Computer Programming?

The BBC reports that “The BBC has revealed the final design of the Micro Bit, a pocket-sized computer set to be given to about one million UK-based children in October.”

Funding and Acquisitions

Language learning company Babbel has raised $22 million from Scottish Equity Partners, Reed Elsevier Ventures, Nokia Growth Partners, and VC Fonds Technology Berlin. It has raised $32 million total.

Language learning company CultureAlley has raised $6.5 million from Tiger Global Management, KAE Capital, and 500 Startups. It has raised $6.8 million total.

CampusLogic has raised $4.1 million from University Ventures, Continental Investors, Matt Pittinsky (Blackboard co-founder and CEO of Parchment), Deborah Quazzo, and others. The startup promises to help students navigate financial aid; its funding round is a convertible note – that is, a loan.

Copley Retention Systems has raised $1.5 million from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Tom DiBenedetto (a limited partner in the Boston Red Sox), Bob Dowdell, Steve Fireng, Jack Larson, and Education Ventures LLC. The startup, which as the name suggests promises to alert college officials when they might not retain a student, has raised $2.2 million total.

Blackboard has acquired predictive analytics tool X-Ray Analytics.

Edsurge rewrites the news from TechCrunch Japan which says that “Recruit Holdings, the largest recruiting and staffing company in Japan, has acquired London-based Quipper for ¥4.77 billion (approximately US $39 million).”

Uversity, a recruitment tool formerly known as Inigral, has been acquired by CRM company TargetX. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

A school district in Iowa will put body cameras on principals. “The district spent about $1,100 to purchase 13 cameras at about $85 each. They record with a date and time stamp, can be clipped onto ties or lanyards, and can be turned on and off as needed. For now, they won't be used to record all interactions with adults,” says The Atlantic. Body cameras on cops and body cameras on principals – go ahead and make the connection about what that makes schools…

Carnegie Mellon University plans to install sensors all over its campus, thanks to $500,000 in funding from Google. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, “campus could be wired with temperature sensors, cameras, microphones, humidity sensors, vibration sensors, and more in order to provide people with information about the physical world around them. Students could determine whether their professors were in their offices, or see what friends were available for lunch.” Gee, how did universities ever survive without this.

Data and “Research”

According to Edsurge, US ed-tech companies raised $240 million in June. (I haven’t run my numbers yet for the first half of the year; look for them soon.)

Why Education Does Not Need Marc Andreessen.” (I can think of other reasons in addition to this analysis of investment in ed-tech startups.)

Televisions Are No Longer the Screen of Choice for Kids.”

Intelligent tutoring systems – decades after their introduction, ed-tech folks are still insisting these are “promising.”

“Moody’s is considering changing the approach it uses to rate the financial health of more than 500 colleges and universities,” Inside Higher Ed reports. Meanwhile, Moody’s also reported that universities’ financial health seems to be stabilizing. Elsewhere in investor servicing, Moody’s downgraded for-profit chain and Coursera investor Laureate Education.

“Colorado’s Effort Against Teenage Pregnancies Is a Startling Success,” says The New York Times. (It’s really only startling if you thought abstinence-only education was a good idea, I reckon.)

From iNACOL: “Blending Learning: The Evolution of Online and Face-to-Face Education from 2008-2015.” Because nothing happened in ed-tech before 2008.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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