“It is now two and a half minutes to midnight,” according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:
For the first time in the 70-year history of the Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board has moved the hands of the iconic clock 30 seconds closer to midnight. In another first, the Board has decided to act, in part, based on the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States.
The vote for Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, has been delayed. Via The Washington Post: “Sen. Franken: No Democrat will vote for Betsy DeVos as education secretary – and we’re seeking Republicans to oppose her.”
“Betsy DeVos’ Alternative Facts” by Jennifer Berkshire.
Via Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy: “For A Glimpse At The Billionaire Class, Check Out Betsy DeVos’s Finances.”
You can read Betsy DeVos’s massive 108-page disclosure form here.
Via Education Week: “DeVos-Backed Company Makes Questionable Claims on Autism, ADHD.” “Betsy DeVos Won’t Shed Stake in Biofeedback Company, Filings Show,” The New York Times reports.
Via New America: “Why Does Betsy DeVos think Federal Student Loan Debt has Grown by 1,000 percent?”
Via Inside Higher Ed: “Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty University’s president, said he would work with President Trump in an ‘official capacity’ but that he could not yet announce what that role would be.” Maybe he can run the Office of Ed Tech.
Via Politico: “A controversial field organizer for Donald Trump’s campaign appears to have abruptly left her new Education Department job – three days after her hire was announced. Teresa UnRue of Myrtle Beach, S.C., was named in an investigation by The Associated Press last year for sharing racially charged content on social media.”
Via The Verge: “Trump’s new FCC chief is Ajit Pai, and he wants to destroy net neutrality.”
Via The Baltimore Sun: “Jason Botel, KIPP school founder and education advocate, said to become White House adviser.”
Via Politico: “Stanley Buchesky, formerly a managing partner at the venture capital firm The EdTech Fund, will work [at the Department of Education] on budget and finance issues.” Among The EdTech Fund’s investments: Teachboost and Citelighter.
Via the NY Mag: “Potential Trump Science Adviser Says 90 Percent of U.S. Colleges Will Disappear.” That’d be computer scientist David Gelernter. He believes the future of education means all STEM, no arts and no humanities.
Via The Guardian: “Trump bans agencies from ‘providing updates on social media or to reporters’.” This ban has been targeted at scientists at the EPA and USDA in particular. He’s also gone after the Interior Department, after some tweets that questioned the size of the crowd at his inauguration. Via Buzzfeed: “A National Park Deleted Tweets On Climate Change After Trump Silenced Federal Scientists.” No surprise, now scientists are planning a march on DC.
“Trump’s Inaugural Speech Reading Level Was ‘Extremely Low’,” says Edsurge. Part of that speech described schools in the US as “American carnage.” But also “flush with cash.”
Vox has “leaked drafts of 4 White House executive orders on Muslim ban, end to DREAMer program, and more.” I tweeted that the DACA database is one of the most important issues in ed-tech right now, and if you’re an ed-tech entrepreneur who says “nobody in ed-tech tracks immigration data,” you need to GTFO. More from The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed on how Trump’s proposed changes to visas might affect education.
Via Inside Higher Ed: “Higher Ed and the Wall.”
“The California State Legislature is now considering two bills that would build a database firewall to block the flow of personal information from state and local government to federal efforts to deport immigrants and register people based on their religion, ethnicity, or national origin,” according to the EFF.
Via Engadget: “Trump signs executive order stripping non-citizens of privacy rights.” “Policy-based Privacy is Over,” says Eric Hellman.
Some (education policy) history from Sherman Dorn: “The pendulum and the ratchet.”
Via The 74: “As Trump Pauses on ESSA Accountability, Advocates Look for Signal on Whether New Rules Will Stick.”
“3 Reasons Federal Aid for College Is Not the Same as K–12 Vouchers,” according to the Center for American Progress’ Ben Miller.
Via The Washington Post: “Obama administration spent billions to fix failing schools, and it didn’t work.”
Via The Wall Street Journal: “Obama’s Student-Loan Fiasco.”
Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Education Dept. Releases Latest List of Title IX Investigations, After Failing to Do So.”
Via Real Clear Education: “Connecting Schools to the Future: Rethinking E-Rate.”
Via The LA Times: “Federal agents raided the offices of a network of Los Angeles charter schools Wednesday as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of fraud and fiscal mismanagement.” The chain in question: Celerity Educational Group.
Via The New York Times: “Google, in Post-Obama Era, Aggressively Woos Republicans” – so enjoy that Google Certification, educators.
Via The New York Times: “Canada Beckons International Students With a Path to Citizenship.”
Also chasing new citizenship, Trump’s buddy, Peter Thiel. Via Gizmodo: “Peter Thiel Gains New Zealand Citizenship as Tech Elites Prep for Doomsday.”
Education in the Courts
Via Education Week: “Mississippi Attorney General Sues Google Over Student-Data Privacy.” More on this lawsuit from Bill Fitzgerald.
Via The New York Times: “In Navient Lawsuits, Unsettling Echoes of Past Lending Crisis.”
Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Kentucky Circuit Court judge has ruled in favor of the University of Kentucky in its lawsuit against the university’s student newspaper, which had been seeking records regarding sexual-assault allegations against a professor.”
Via The New York Times: “Texas Teacher Shouldn’t Be Punished for Marijuana Use in Colorado, Judge Says.”
Via the Times of India: “Oxford University has been directed to face trial after an Indian-origin student sued the varsity for ‘hopelessly bad’ and ‘boring’ teaching which allegedly resulted in him getting a second class degree and in turn led to loss of earnings in his career as a lawyer.”
“Cengage, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson have started a new round of lawsuits against textbook sellers,” The Digital Reader reports, this time targeting those who sell through Amazon’s marketplace.
Via The Guardian: “Hawaiians call Mark Zuckerberg ‘the face of neocolonialism’ over land lawsuits.”
More on accreditation and legal issues in the courts section below.
Via Chalkbeat: “One year after TNReady collapse, Tennessee unveils plan to test online again.”
Via Education Week: “Schools Grappling With Fee Hikes for AP Exams.”
Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”
Via Edsurge: “Coursera’s New Strategy Takes Inspiration From Netflix – and LinkedIn.”
Via the Coursera blog: “Announcing Coursera for Governments & Nonprofits.”
There’s more MOOC-related research in the research section below.
Via NBC Bay Area: “Silicon Valley Company Offering Free College Degree To Every Adult Living Or Working In Its City.” The company in question is Study.com, which will work with Thomas Edison State University (the two are part of the Department of Education’s EQUIP experiment, which is experimenting with offering federal financial aid to non-traditional education providers).
Via The Hechinger Report: “Colleges are pushed to stand behind what they sell with money-back guarantees.”
Via The New York Times: “Private Colleges Suggest New York’s Free Tuition Plan Limits Choices.”
The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed
Via the MIT Technology Review: “For $14,000, a Weeklong Firehose of Silicon Valley Kool-Aid.” That price tag on a weeklong class at Singularity University.
Via The Atlantic: “The For-Profit Law School That Crumbled.” That’s the Charlotte School of Law. More on the school’s loss of federal financial aid via The NYT.
Meanwhile on Campus…
Via Inside Higher Ed: “Since losing all state funding two years ago, two large Arizona community colleges struggle with declining enrollments and budget cuts.”
“The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is engaging in a strategic review that will include weighing mergers and closings among its 14 universities,” Inside Higher Ed reports.
Meanwhile, Harvard’s concerned about its giant endowment. “Harvard Management Company to Lay Off Half Its Staff,” The Harvard Crimson reports.
Via The Atlantic: “How Money From Slave Trading Helped Start Columbia University.”
Via The New York Times: “Harlem Schools Are Left to Fail as Those Not Far Away Thrive.”
“A Libertarian Builds Low-Cost Private Schools for the Masses,” says libertarian rag Reason.com in its profile of North Carolina businessman Bob Luddy – because even charter school have too many regulations, I guess.
Via Inside Higher Ed: “Stanford University, Vanderbilt University and the University of California, Berkeley, are some of the recent institutions to see anti-Semitic fliers appear in campus printers and fax machines.”
Via The New York Times: “A High School Defaced With ‘Trump’ and Swastikas.”
Via The Seattle Times: “Shooter sent Facebook message to Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos before gunfire at UW protest, police say.” Yup. An alt-right protester shot an antifa. But please, go on with your op-eds, Nick Kristoff et al, whining how liberal students are the real fascists and how they’re the ones curbing freedom on campus.
Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A request to form an ‘alt-right’ student group at the University of Wisconsin at Madison led the chancellor, Rebecca Blank, on Thursday to issue a campuswide letter informing students and faculty members that the student who made the request has a criminal record of arson attacks on black churches.”
“The University of Oregon will not remove the name of its founder from the oldest building on the campus despite his historical ties to slavery,” Inside Higher Ed reports.
Via The New York Times: “Campuses Wary of Offering ‘Sanctuary’ to Undocumented Students.”
Accreditation and Certification
Via Inside Higher Ed: “Attorneys general from five states and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools is pursuing against the U.S. Department of Education, which last month finalized its decision to terminate the national accreditor.”
Via Inside Higher Ed: “The agency that accredits Southern colleges and universities is scrutinizing the Governor Robert Bentley’s role at the head of Alabama university boards, pushing back on what it sees as powers that are too concentrated and potentially conflicted.”
Via EdSource: “New program aims to create more uniform standards among linked learning academies.” The Linked Learning Alliance is a voluntary certification program for California’s high school career academies.
Go, School Sports Team!
Via Inside Higher Ed: “New study finds that penalties for breaking NCAA rules are largely consistent across conference membership – and that men’s basketball and football account for the vast majority of violations.”
From the HR Department
Teresa Sullivan will step down as president of UVA next year.
Via Techcrunch: “Blackboard cofounder Michael Chasen takes CEO reins at PrecisionHawk.” PrecisionHawk is a drone surveillance company, which I’m sure has nothing in common with the learning management system.
Via Chalkbeat: “UFT files labor complaint against KIPP charter school.”
Via The Root: “Calif. Teacher on Paid Leave After Confederate Flag Found Hanging in Classroom.”
Via The New York Times: “Facebook’s Virtual Reality Business Gets a New Leader.” That’d be Hugo Barra, a former Google exec.
Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill on layoffs at the LMS Schoology.
The Business of Job Training and Job Placement
A message from the FBI: “College students across the United States continue to be targeted in a common employment scam. Scammers advertise phony job opportunities on college employment websites, and/or students receive e-mails on their school accounts recruiting them for fictitious positions. This ‘employment’ results in a financial loss for participating students.”
Via Inside Higher Ed: “New nonprofit is intermediary between aviation employers and partner colleges, with tailored academic programs that could send graduates across state lines for well-paying jobs.”
Via The Christian Science Monitor: “Why Cal State L.A. turns the most low-income students into top earners.”
Contests and Awards
The American Library Association announced its youth media awards. The Girl Who Drank the Moon, written by Kelly Barnhill, is the 2017 Newbery Medal winner. Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe is the 2017 Caldecott Medal winner. The complete list of all winners is here.
This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines
“Are the Latest Baby Monitors Doing Anyone Any Good?” asks The Pacific Standard.
“Can robotics teach problem solving to students?” asks eSchool News.
“Learning technology once reserved for special needs students is now in everyone’s hands. Can teachers figure out how best to use it?” asks The Hechinger Report.
(Reminder: according to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”)
Upgrades and Downgrades
Edsurge is pivoting to focus on selling ed-tech products to schools. I’m not sure that alleviates all its ethical problems – perhaps some of the journalistic ones. But hey, after raising some $5.66 million in venture capital, I guess investors want something more than sunny write-ups about what’s in their investment portfolios.
(To continue a trend that I monitored last year, it’ll be worth watching who becomes a power-player in the business of ed-tech procurement. Edsurge? Noodle Markets (Edsurge’s investor John Katzman founded this and it raised money this week – see below)?
“The Growing Role of Technology in Personalized Learning,” according to KQED’s Mindshift.
Google has released the latest generation of Chromebooks.
Via Techcrunch: “Microsoft launches Intune for Education to counter Google’s Chromebooks in schools.”
Via Techcrunch: “Cisco debuts its own smart whiteboard priced to compete with the Google Jamboard.” Well someone has to keep paying for vendor spaces at ed-tech conferences, I guess.
Via Campus Technology: “Unizin Partners with Cengage to Offer Discounted Course Materials.” (I admit. I had totally forgotten about Unizin.)
“VR is gaining ground in the academic world and the 3D industry,” says Techcrunch, so it must be true. And a former Pearson exec is in on the business too, so what more could you ask for?
“Call for Diversity in Ed Tech Design” by Jade E. Davis.
“Dear Scholars, Delete Your Account At Academia.Edu,” writes Sarah Bond.
Via Inside Higher Ed: “Several colleges that subscribe to the online education provider Lynda.com are seeing double-digit increases in subscription costs, leading many to wonder if its acquisition by LinkedIn (which in turn was acquired by Microsoft) is behind the price hikes.”
“Of OER and Platforms: Five Years Later” by Lumen Learning’s David Wiley.
Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF
Via Bloomberg: “Baby’s First Virtual Assistant.”
“Robots and drones take over classrooms,” according to the BBC.
Via Techcrunch: “Hanson Robotics built a Professor Einstein toy to teach kids science with a familiar face.”
Via Edsurge: “Report Finds Link Between Business AI Adoption and Revenue.”
More robot crap in the Betteridge’s section above.
Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech
Homework help site Xueba100.com has raised $100 million in Series C funding from China Merchants Capital, Grand Fight Investment, Anhui Xinhua Media, Qiming Venture Partners, Trustbridge Partners, Vertex Ventures, and Yada Education. The company has raised $120.5 million total.
Cuemath has raised $15 million from CapitalG (formerly Google Capital) and Sequoia India. The tutoring company has raised $19 million total.
PowerMyLearning has received $6.5 million in grant money from the Gates Foundation, the Oak Foundation, and Carnegie Foundation. (Disclosure alert.)
Noodle Companies has raised $5 million from SWaN & Legend Venture Partners. Noodle Companies is four companies: Noodle.com (a search engine), Noodle Markets (procurement tools), Noodle Partners (online education services for higher ed), and Noodle Pros (tutoring). Noodle Markets has raised $3 million. Noodle Partners has raised $4 million.
Online course marketplace Teachable has raised $4 million from Accomplice Ventures, Naval Ravikant, and Matt Brezina. The company has raised $8.5 million total.
Adeptemy, an adaptive learning company, has raised $3.48 million in seed funding from Enterprise Ireland and Folens.
Penpal Schools has raised $1.25 million from Honeycomb, Peter Holt, and Sophia Bush. Whee. Celebrity investors! The company had previously raised an undisclosed amount of funding.
Research company Chippersage Education has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the India Educational Investment Fund and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.
Speakaboos has acquired Homer. (Disclosure alert.)
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has acquired the science search engine Meta.
Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security
“Trump Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself” – a translation of an article that appeared in Das Magazin in December about Cambridge Analytica and the use of psychological profiling and Facebook. Most certainly food for thought touting the power of “learning analytics.”
“When Algorithms Come for Our Children” by Cathy O’Neil.
Via the Woodbury Bulletin: “District 833, police investigate after student accesses private employee data.”
Via the Pew Research Center: “Americans and Cybersecurity.”
Campus Technology claims that “Phishing Attacks Down 10 Percent in 2016,” but John Podesta was phished which seems to be a far more important factoid, imho.
“The New Gold Rush? Wall Street Wants your Data,” by venture capitalist Matt Turck.
A reminder to avoid Adobe products.
More on privacy-related lawsuits in the courts section above.
Data and “Research”
“6-Year-Old Girls Already Have Gendered Beliefs About Intelligence” by The Atlantic’s Ed Yong.
Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Winter Is Here: EdTech investments and M&A dropped significantly in 2016.”
But here’s a booming market, according to a survey at BETT (as reported by EdWeek’s Market Brief): “Private International Schools Surge, and Digital-Content Needs Come Into Focus.”
Via Brookings: “New data on the breadth of skills movement in education.”
The Atlantic on new research from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government: “The Simple Reform That Improved Black Students’ Earnings.”
“Who Is Really Benefiting From Early Access to Federal Student Aid?” asks Real Clear Education.
Via Education Week: “Special Education Enrollment Rose in 2015–16.”
Via Inside Higher Ed: “Study finds completing a 10-minute activity at the beginning of a MOOC can lead to significantly improved outcomes for certain at-risk learners.”
Via the LA School Report: “42 percent of LAUSD’s record graduation rate was due to credit recovery or makeup classes.”
Via ProPublica: “Teens Report Onslaught of Bullying During Divisive Election.”
Via The Pacific Standard: “Why Juvenile Prisoners Become Unhealthy Adults.”
Via Education Week: “Black Students More Likely to Be Arrested at School.” “Does Your School Arrest Students?” asks NPR.
Rest in power, Professor Coleman. You were one of the greats.
Icon credits: The Noun Project