US Presidential Campaign Politics

There was a Vice Presidential debate this week. Among the education highlights: Republican VP candidate Mike Pence made up a name for the university hosting the event. Actually, I think that was the only education highlight.

Via Edsurge: “Experts Look Into the Crystal Ball of the Next Administration’s Ed Policy.” Nothing says “experts” like “crystal ball.”

The Other US Clown Crisis

Via The Independent: “13-year-old girl arrested after contacting clown on social media and asking him to kill her teacher.”

Via EdWeek: “Student arrested for clown threats at Washington high school.”

Via The AP: “Police in Vermont say a 15-year-old student was cited after approaching a classroom wearing a clown mask and banging on the windows as clown sightings are viewed as potential public safety threats throughout the country.”

And in Delaware, “Authorities have arrested two Smyrna high school students in connection with threats involving clowns and bombs,” the AP reports.

Via WJLA: “Multiple threats, some involving clowns, made to schools in DC area; security heightened.”

Clown College Calls National Rash of Rumored Clown Scares ‘Troubling’,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Creepy Clowns Explained, Folklore-Style” by Sarah M. Gordon.

Education Politics

Via The Washington Post: “Education Department slammed for charter school oversight – by its own watchdog office.”

Via The Houston Chronicle: “The federal government on Monday ordered Texas state officials to eliminate an 8.5 percent benchmark on special education enrollment enforced in the state’s 1,200 school districts unless they can show that it had not kept children with disabilities from receiving appropriate educational services.”

Via The Guardian: UK Home Secretary “Amber Rudd has announced major new restrictions on overseas students, including two-tier visa rules affecting poorer quality universities and courses, a crackdown on work visas and the introduction of a £140m ‘controlling migration fund’.”

In other Brexit news, via The Independent: “Government ‘bars foreign academics from advising on EU withdrawal’.”

The Washington Post reports that Facebook is trying to convince the Obama Administration that it should be allowed to offer its “free Internet” service in the US. It’s not really “free Internet,” of course – it’s Facebook as Internet.

From the FCC: “Fact Sheet on Broadband Consumer Privacy Proposal.”

“The Internet Finally Belongs to Everyone,” says Wired, as the US has handed over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to ICANN.

Via ProPublica: “New Jersey’s Student Loan Agency Has Started Getting Good Reviews – By Giving Free Stuff.” The agency, the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, is known for the onerous terms on its student loans. Now it’s giving away flash drives for positive online reviews. The Pacific Standard also has a story on HESAA and efforts to reform it.

AllAfrica reports that the Kenyan government will begin distributing some 1.2 million laptops to all public primary schools.

Education in the Courts

SCOTUS is back and, according to EdWeek at least, there are “significant” K–12 education cases on its docket. These include cases about special education, service dogs in schools, and religion in schools. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling surrounding college athletes and the NCAA’s “amateurism model.” More on that in the sports section below.

Via The Washington Post: “Teen accused of stealing 65-cent carton of milk at middle school to stand trial.”

Via The Chicago Sun Times: “Lawsuits seek elected school board in Chicago.”

Via Buzzfeed: “NYU’s Asian Campus Was An ‘Educational Scam,’ Lawsuit Says.”

Via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “The Supreme Court will not lift its $100,000-a-day fine against the state, and on Thursday signaled very limited patience with the Legislature to come up with a plan to fully pay for K–12 public schools in Washington. … The state has until September 1, 2018 ‘to fully implement its program for basic education’ and it must have a plan for funding and implementing ‘by the final adjournment of the 2017 legislative session,’ the court said in a ruling written by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen.”

Via The Pacific Standard: “More Transgender Students Sue to Use the Bathrooms They Want.”

Testing, Testing…

Via Reuters: “College Board says upcoming SATs won’t contain questions exposed in breach.”

Via The Christian Science Monitor: “Louisville’s experiment: Can teaching empathy boost math scores?” Note: it’s not “can empathy make us more caring and compassionate people” – it’s always about those goddamn test scores.

Online Education (The Once and Future “MOOC”)

This week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines: Via The Washington Post’ Jeff Selingo: “After gaining legitimacy, can online higher education replace traditional college?” “Aftermath of the MOOC wars: Can commercial vendors support creative higher education?” by Chris Newfield.

Via The Columbus Dispatch: “On top of the more than $60 million they may seek to recover from ECOT, the Ohio Department of Education also could demand about $23 million more from eight other online schools for inflated attendance.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Jeffrey Young interviews the head of FutureLearn, Simon Nelson: “Online Education Is Now a Global Market.”

Coursera highlights its mentors – its volunteer mentors – on its blog. Raise $146.1 million in venture funding; ask people to work for you for free.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Less than a year after the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s M.B.A.-through-MOOCs program launched, its College of Business says it is seeing the contours of a model it can use to promote the university abroad, enroll previously untapped groups of students and attract corporate partners.”

Coding Bootcamps (The Once and Future “For-Profit Higher Ed”)

Via PBS NewsHour: “Why high-tech boot camps are appealing to students and lenders.” (Note that last word there: lenders.)

ITT Tech Campuses Up for Sale in School’s Bankruptcy,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

NPR asks, “Where Are The 40,000 Students ITT Tech Left Behind When It Closed?”

More on for-profits in the accreditation section below.

Meanwhile on Campus

Buzzfeed continues its investigative journalism into higher ed stories that others just won’t touch: “Junk mail took on a new meaning when four philosophy professors received envelopes of feces last summer. Now, the hunt is on for the poopetrator. ”

Via The Kansas City Star: “White nationalist group, seeking young recruits, targets college campuses.”

Via Fusion: “White students in blackface mocked Black Lives Matter and black women and put it all on Snapchat.” More incidents of white students in blackface reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education and by Inside Higher Ed.

“The Desegregation and Resegregation of Charlotte’s Schools” by Clint Smith in The New Yorker.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “With Campus Carry in Place, Some Texas Grad Students Make Bars Their Offices.”

Via KATU2: “New PSU program offers qualifying Oregon residents four years tuition-free.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The vice chancellor and principal of the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, on Monday issued an unusual plea for help to ‘save the 2016 academic year.’”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What a $2-Billion Loss Really Means for Harvard and Its Endowment.” I bet it means it can still afford to offer better pay for its striking dining hall workers. (See the HR section below.)

Via The New York Times: “Racial Bias Claim Looms Over Bronx School as Administrators Exit.”

Moody’s Investors Service pushed the debt of the Chicago public schools further into junk territory on the same day last week the district’s teachers threatened to strike,” reports the AP. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that “Chicago’s Struggling Schools Made Wall Street $110 Million From $763 Million in Bonds.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Smartphone Explodes in Rowan College Classroom.” The phone was not a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which have been recalled because of battery explosions, but an iPhone 6 Plus.

Accreditation and Certification

“Hundreds of colleges have begun seeking a new accreditor after the U.S. Department of Education last month backed a federal panel’s decision to terminate the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via KPCC: “Students of for-profit colleges worry about loss of accreditation.”

The Center for American Progress has released a report calling for an alternate form of accreditation.

Go, School Sports Team!

The US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of O’Bannon v NCAA, leaving questions surrounding college athletes and pay unresolved. More on this via CHE’s Brad Wolverton and Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann.

Via ThinkProgress: “Tracking the Kaepernick Effect: The anthem protests are spreading.” Even The New York Times has noticed: “Protest Started by Colin Kaepernick Spreads to High School Students.”

“Why a Radio Station Censored the East Carolina University Band and Deepened a Backlash” – The Nation’s Dave Zirin on what happened when the band members took a knee during “The Star Spangled Banner.” More on ECU and a professor’s plans to open carry a firearm to class in response to the band’s protest via WNCT.

Via The Washington Post: “ High school teams in Washington are forfeiting rather than play school with NFL-sized talent.” The school in question: Archbishop Murphy High School, which has six players who weigh at least 250 pounds and three who weigh 300 pounds.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Baylor’s Former Title IX Coordinator Says She Was Set Up to Fail.”

From the HR Department

Via Edsurge: “MasteryConnect Cuts 30 Percent of Staff, Brings Co-Founder Mick Hewitt Back as CEO.”

Via the Deseret News: “Utah schools slowly begin hiring teachers without experience.”

Via The Harvard Crimson: “Harvard Dining Services Picket in Historic Strike.”

“If free college required a dramatically higher adjunct percentage, should we do it?” asks “Dean Dad” Matt Reed.

It’s always fascinating to look at ed-tech companies’ job postings – this one is from Khan Academy. It’s looking for someone with an “entrepreneurial mindset” to help build out its world history content.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Sound the “universities haven’t changed in a thousand years” klaxon: “Why the university of the future will have no classrooms, no lectures, and lots of tech.”

Via the BBC: “Young women should model themselves on Shakespeare’s heroines instead of reality stars like Kim Kardashian West, says a leading head teacher.” Um, like Juliet? (Dead) Cordelia? (Dead) Lady Macbeth? (Also dead) Ophelia? (Dead)

Via Venture Beat: “Facebook and Oculus promise millions in funding for diverse apps, education, and more for VR.” From the article:

Zuckerberg revealed that he wants to ensure that education has a chance to flourish in VR. That led to him announcing a $10 million fund specifically for learning applications.

“Education is going to be a powerful example of the potential of VR,” he said. “Already today, 10 percent of the experiences in the Oculus Store are education.”

On top of the funding, Oculus will get a specific spot in its store just for education. This could transform how teaching works going forward, and Facebook will stand at the center of that change.

Google had a big press event this week too, unveiling shiny stuff to a cheering crowd of stenographers. A phone. A Wi-Fi system. VR headsets (well, it’s really just a mask that holds your Google phone up to your face).

Google has also rebranded Google Apps for Education as G Suite for Education.

Investor Fred Wilson onChromebooks in K–12.”

Via Techcrunch: “Duolingo’s chatbots help you learn a new language.” Well, maybe they do; maybe they don’t.

Via Edsurge: “Salesforce Announces Mobile App for Advising at Dreamforce.” For those not up on corporate conference speak, Dreamforce is Salesforce’s big annual event.

In other Salesforce news, “The University of Texas System teams up with Salesforce to turn its learning platform into a learning relationship management system,” Inside Higher Ed reports. It includes all the buzzwords: competency-based education, personalized learning, and even blockchain!

Funding and Acquisitions (The Business of Ed-Tech)

No ed-tech startups raised venture funding this week. Oh well, it’s never too late to pivot towards “disrupting the premium pet food space.” Investors seem to love that.

McGraw-Hill Education has acquired Redbird Advanced Learning.

Schoolzilla has acquired Decision Science Labs.

Amplify continues its dismantling, as Edsurge reports that some of its educational games division will merge with StoryToys. The new company will be called Touch Press (which was the name of another company that StoryToys acquired last year).

Data, Privacy, and Surveillance

ProPublica has released the second in its series on algorithms and bias, this one – “When Algorithms Decide What You Pay” – looks, in part, at differential pricing for tutoring services.

Via the Stanford press office: “Stanford explores case for code of ethics to tackle big data’s deluge in higher ed.” Definitely no one I trust more on this topic, no siree.

A Techcrunch op-ed: “Why edtech can’t grow as much as healthtech.” Spoiler alert: not enough access to data. Of course.

More on data and privacy in the politics section above.

Data and “Research”

Via Vox: “A bot crawled thousands of studies looking for simple math errors. The results are concerning.”

“The Weak Evidence Behind Brain-Training Gamesby The Atlantic’s Ed Yong.

A report from Education International: “Schooling the Poor Profitably: The Innovations and Deprivations of Bridge International Academies in Uganda.”

From the EdTech Researcher blog: “Project Based Learning as Mindset.” Mindset all the things.

Pearson has issued a report on students’ attitudes toward digital course materials.

iNACOL has released a report on advocacy for competency-based education.

SRI has released a report on “maker educators.”

Deloitte Publishes 2016 Digital Education Survey,” says Edsurge.

Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “About That Cengage OER Survey.” And his partner Michael Feldstein: “Student-Centered Educational Software.”

From the Pew Research Center: “The State of American Jobs.” There are some interesting insights here on how those surveyed view continuing education – 54% say it’s essential.

Also from Pew: “Younger adults more likely than their elders to prefer reading news.” Good thing no major publications have gone “all in” on video lately, amirite.

According to data from Techcrunch, “Stanford, MIT lead in graduating funded startup founders.”

Via Education Week: “Textbook Costs Hurt Student Achievement, Study Finds.”

Via The Atlantic: “How ‘Daycare’ Became ‘School’.”

Via Edutechnica: “4th Annual LMS Data Update.”

Do market research firms just straight up make up numbers for their reports? Anyway, via Venture Beat: “Juniper Research: VR hardware market will hit $50 billion by 2021.”

Toward a Constructive Technology Criticism” – a report from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism’s Sara M. Watson.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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