I’m publishing this week’s Hack Education Weekly News a little early this week. I plan to be offline tomorrow, January 20, so as to avoid any news about the Trump Inauguration. I join Representative John Lewis in insisting Trump is an “illegitimate President.” Trump is illegitimate because of the Russian intervention in the election, and the Trump team’s close ties with Russia. Trump is illegitimate because he lost the popular vote by 3 million. Trump is illegitimate because of voter suppression in light of the Supreme Court’s dismantling of the Voting Rights Act. Trump is illegitimate because he refuses to divest from his business interests and as such will be in violation of the Constitution the minute he takes the oath of office. Trump is illegitimate because he has indicated nothing but disdain for the Constitution.

So I can’t watch or listen to the news tomorrow, as it’s a dark day for democracy – one of the darkest in my lifetime and perhaps even in this nation’s history. I’m heading out in the desert for a day or two, but when I return I will do everything in my power to resist the corporate fascism that Trump seems eager to usher in, with many in ed-tech cheering him all along the way.

Education Politics

Despite not completing all her ethics paperwork, failing to disclose political donations, and not paying off election-related fines – accountability!Betsy DeVos, the billionaire Donald Trump has nominated to head the Department of Education had her confirmation hearing this week. It was a disaster. I’ve never seen an education story receive quite as much attention from non-educators on social media. Among the highlights: stating that schools need guns to protect against grizzly bears. (A lie.) She seemed to fail to grasp some of the basics of education policy – the difference between “proficiency” and “growth,” for example, and the federal rules surrounding disability rights and education. She would not commit to refusing to privatize public education. Of course, some education reform proponents want to frame DeVos as “mainstream,” but she’s far from it. (Ed-tech proponents seem excited about her too – “a champion for ed-tech,” says Education Dive – ignoring her longstanding commitment to inequality, injustice, and discrimination.) “Did Education Nominee Betsy DeVos Lie to Senate About Ties to Anti-LGBT Foundation?” asks Jeremy Scahill on Democracy Now.

Via The Washington Post: “David Gelernter, fiercely anti-intellectual computer scientist, is being eyed for Trump’s science adviser.” Gelernter, a target of the Unabomber, says that American culture is on the decline because of “an increasing Jewish presence at top colleges.”

“Trump team prepares dramatic cuts,” The Hill reports, suggesting the incoming administration’s plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities and to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Make America dull again. “Targeting the arts is the laziest, stupidest way to pretend to cut the budget,” argues Alyssa Rosenberg.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Obamacare Repeal Could Bring Relief for Colleges, Uncertainty for Adjuncts.” “Relief for colleges,” but people will die. WTF, CHE. WTF.

Monica Crowley, Trump’s pick for director of strategic communications for the National Security Council, has decided to not take a position with the new administration following revelations about her plagiarizing her dissertation and her 2012 book.

“Help Us Map TrumpWorld,” asks Buzzfeed. This is really similar to the work I do mapping the relationshipsfinancial and otherwise – among various players in the ed-tech industry. Does this make me a legit journalist? Or a “failing pile of garbage”?

Via CNN: “Rewrite the Constitution? Here’s how a convention could do it.” The latest machinations from ALEC. (And this prompted me to update my list of education / technology companies that are ALEC members.)

Via the Arizona Capitol Times: “Arizona bill to ban school ‘social justice’ courses dies quickly.”

Rhose Island’s governor Gina M. Raimondo has proposed the state offer two tuition-free years to students at public universities and colleges. “Dean Dad” Matt Reed’s reaction: “Buy Two, Get Two Free.”

“The U.S. Department of Education has withdrawn a proposal that could have fundamentally changed the flow of federal dollars to schools that serve low-income students,” NPR reports. “[Senator Lamar] Alexander and [Secretary of Education John] King disagreed on how to enforce the new law governing Title I. It says that, to get federal money, districts have to prove a few things – among them, that they’re using state and local dollars to provide roughly the same services to kids in poor and non-poor schools alike.”

From the press release: “Treasury and Education Announce Progress Toward Multi-Year Income Certification System for Student Loan Borrowers in Income-Driven Repayment Plans.”

The Department of Education has launched a “developer hub.” Yes, the department is now on GitHub.

The Department of Education, under the auspices of “transparency,” promises more access to data about financial aid.

The New York Times Magazine interviews the new Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

Ed-tech ruins everything everywhere. Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary will run to head Canada’s Conservative Party. His rather disastrous business history in ed-tech includes SoftKey and The Learning Company.

Education in the Courts

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is suing Navient, the country’s largest servicer of federal and private student loans, for failing borrowers during every stage of repayment.” More via The New York Times and Inside Higher Ed.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A former IT employee for the American College of Education, a for-profit college based in Indianapolis, locked thousands of students out of email and course materials by changing the password of a Google account after he was fired, according to a lawsuit filed by the institution.”

Via The New York Times: “Mark Zuckerberg, in Suit, Testifies in Oculus Intellectual Property Trial.” More via Business Insider.

The Department of Justice, 21 states, and the District of Columbia have reached a $864 million settlement with Moody’s Investors Service over the company’s role in faulty credit ratings that led to the financial crisis of 2008. Just a heads-up, I guess, for those who regularly tout Moody’s insights on the financial well-being of schools.

Testing, Testing…

Immaculata University will no longer require applicants submit SAT or ACT scores.

Justin Reich on “assessment” versus “evaluation.”

Via EdSource: “U.S. Education Department rejects California’s science testing plans.”

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”

MOOC enrollment drops at HarvardX and MITx after free certifications disappear,” says Techcrunch.

Via the IEEE Spectrum: “How the Pioneers of the MOOC Got It Wrong.” Let’s all point out how this article gets “the pioneers of the MOOC” wrong.

Via Udacity: “Introducing Siraj Raval’s Deep Learning Nanodegree Foundation Program!” The exclamation point means this is something.

“Equipping people to stay ahead of technological change,” according to The Economist.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

More on for-profits in the courts above. More on hirings and firings at for-profits in the HR section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Milo Yiannopoulos, the controversial Breitbart author and public speaker, was scheduled to speak at the University of California, Davis, Friday, but the event was called off amid protests against his appearance,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “Critics note his many anti-feminist and anti-multicultural statements and his tendency to make personal comments about students and faculty members who disagree with him.” He brought along “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, who was hit in the face with dog poop.

Via The New York Times: “Donations Pour In to Band From Black College That Will Play at Inauguration.” That’s Talladega College.

Via The Detroit News: “Sex assault question part of math homework assignment.”

Via the Edmonton Journal: “University of Alberta culling 14 programs from arts faculty.” On the chopping block: Latin American Studies and Computer Science.

Via Wired: “Tech’s Favorite School Faces Its Biggest Test: the Real World.” Before you click – actually, you don’t have to click – try to guess what is “tech’s favorite school” and why.

The University of Mumbai will open a US campus.

Accreditation and Certification

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “City College of San Francisco, Which Fought Accreditor, Wins Back Full Recognition.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The New York Times: “Big Ten Universities Entering a New Realm: E-Sports.”

Via The Oregonian: “Multiple Oregon Ducks football players hospitalized after grueling workouts.” Pay these students; don’t kill them.

From the HR Department

Via WHIO: “School social media director fired after correcting student’s misspelled tweet.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The now former president of Vatterott College in Kansas City, Mo., said he was fired after five years of leading the for-profit institution after allowing a homeless student to sleep overnight in the college’s library to escape cold weather.”

Via The Washington Post: “UC President Janet Napolitano hospitalized with cancer.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “On Eve of Trump Inaugural, Harvard Official Takes Key Title IX Post at Education Dept.” That’s Mia Karvonides, who was Harvard’s first Title IX office.

Contests and Awards

Via the BBC: “Chinese billionaire offers biggest education prize.” “The Yidan Prize will award nearly $8m (£6.64m) every year to two research projects that have the potential to ‘transform’ global education.” The prize is sponsored by Charles Chen Yidan, co-founder of Tencent.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Via The Guardian: “Sesame Street’s Count von Count and the lack of foreign voices on children’s TV.”

“No More ‘Beall’s List’,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “An academic librarian’s lists of ‘predatory’ journals and publishers on Sunday vanished from the internet without explanation. His business partners now say he was forced to shut down the website.”

Via Campus Technology: “Pearson to Lower Cost of E-Books, Textbooks.”

More on Pearson’s business in the business of ed-tech section below.

Via eCampus News: “Cengage launches MindTap ACE, an OER-based solution for higher ed.”

Via the press release: “The Digital Public Library of America is thrilled to announce that the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded DPLA $1.5 million to greatly expand its efforts to provide broad access to widely read ebooks. The grant will support improved channels for public libraries to bolster their ebook collections, and for millions of readers nationwide to access those works easily.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation now requires all its grant recipients to make their published, peer-reviewed work immediately available to the public, the latest development in a larger push to make research more accessible.”

Via Campus Technology: “Students using Instructure’s Canvas learning management system will now be able to connect their learning with career opportunities via the Portfolium e-portfolio platform.” The LMS as gateway to a job application. Blech.

The Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus is shutting down, and omg WTF is this article.

Via Reuters: “A major Chinese education company that was subsidising a project to verify transcripts of Chinese students applying to U.S. colleges has pulled out after Reuters reported that the firm itself stands accused of widespread application fraud.” The company in question: Dipont Education Management Group.

NPR interviews John Hattie about5 Big Ideas In Education That Don’t Work.” (Tim Stahmer responds with “What Doesn’t Work In Education Reporting.”)

The New York Times profiles fake news entrepreneur (and Davidson alum) Cameron Harris.

Ed-tech is always poised to profit from a crisis. “For Ed-Tech Company Newsela, ‘Fake News’ a Big Challenge – and Opportunity,” says Education Week.

More on “fake news” in the research section below.

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

Via Campus Technology: “Clemson U, Carnegie Mellon to Develop Robots for Advanced Manufacturing.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

Almost every time Pearson issues a quarterly report or projects its future profits, the news is bad. So the headline from Bloomberg shouldn’t come as a surprise: “Pearson Forecasts Years of Textbook Gloom; to Sell Penguin.” Its shares dropped the most in the company’s history. More via Education Week’s Market Brief.

The New York Times profiles “The Other Kushner Brother” – that’s Joshua, brother of Jared (husband of Ivanka Trump and beneficiary of a President who seems to not believe anti-nepotism rules apply to him). Joshua Kushner is the co-founder of Thrive Capital, a VC firm whose ed-tech portfolio includes Neverware and the Flatiron School.

This isn’t an “ed-tech” company per se, but it is fascinating to watch the adoption of language about human learning by those promoting their AI products. Neurala has raised $14 million for its “deep learning neural network” from Pelion Venture Partners, 360 Capital Partners, Draper Associates, Idinvest Partners , Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, and Sherpa Capital. The co-founder is Max Versace. Yes, from that Versace family. The company has raised $14.75 million total.

Student loan company Credible has raised $10 million in Series B funding from Carthona Capital, Ron Suber, and Regal Funds Management. The company has raised $24.3 million total.

My 1st Years has raised $6.07 million from Beringea and Hargreave Hale for “personalized gifts for babies.” I’m not sure why this counts as “tech,” other than the adjective “personalized,” which in this case means “monogrammed.” The bar for innovation is so fucking low, clearly. The company has raised $9.03 million total.

Lingo Live has raised $5.2 million from Owl Ventures, Alpine Meridian Ventures, Fresco Capital, and Entrepreneurs Expansion Fund. The company has raised $6.34 million total.

SecureSet Academy has raised $4 million for its cybersecurity bootcamp program from The Colorado Impact Fund.

Macmillan Learning has acquired Intellus Learning.

Interfolio has acquired Data180.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via the Lowell Sun: “Dracut schools hacked.”

Via Education Week: “Ransomware Attacks Force School Districts to Shore Up – or Pay Up.”

Via Teach Privacy: “When Do Data Breaches Cause Harm?”

Via Slate: “The Best Way to Protect Students’ Personal Data” – and that’s to make sure teachers are choosing good apps, apparently. I’d say the best way to protect students’ personal data is to not capture it at all. But hey. Gotta sell that tech.

Data and “Research”

Via The New York Times: “Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60. Find Yours.”

Via Educause: “Top 10 IT Issues.” The top issue: information security.

Via The Hechinger Report: “Most students go to a school that meets federal standards for internet speed.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “At Long Last, Agency Completes Overhaul of Rules on Use of Humans in Research.”

Via NPR: “More People Over 60 Are Struggling To Pay Off Student Loans, Report Finds.”

“The U.S. Department of Education has fixed a mistake in the data for its College Scorecard that substantially inflated loan repayment rates for most colleges,” Inside Higher Ed reports. Robert Kelchen on “How Much Did A Coding Error Affect Student Loan Repayment Rates?”

“Of Analogies, Learning, and Weather” – David Wiley on the sciences of learning, medicine, and weather.

In the ongoing debates about the “science” of “screen use,” now we hear – according to the BBC – that “Moderate screen use ‘boosts teen wellbeing’.”

“Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election” by NYU’s Hunt Allcott and Stanford’s Matthew Gentzkow.

Via The Conversation: “ How virtual reality technology is changing the way students learn.” #fakenews, right?


Via The New York Times: “Lois Dickson Rice, Trailblazing Executive Behind Pell Grants, Dies at 83.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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