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(National) Education Politics


“Who Is Betsy DeVos?” asks New York Magazine. “And how did she get to be head of our schools.”

“Not An Advocate for Students or the Public Interest” – historian Sherman Dorn onBetsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.”

Via Politico: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has increased her financial stake in a ‘neurofeedback’ company that says its technology treats attention deficit disorder and the symptoms of autism. DeVos reported a new investment of between $250,001 and $500,000 in the Michigan-based Neurocore, according to a financial disclosure form that was certified by government ethics officials on Wednesday.”

From the Department of Education press release: “Secretary DeVos Accepts President Trump’s Q2 Salary as a Donation for STEM-Focused Camp.” $100,000. Trump’s budget, of course, cuts $9.2 billion from the Department of Education.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education has placed restrictions on access to federal student aid for West Virginia public universities after the state was late submitting required annual financial statements for the third year in a row. The restrictions, known as heightened cash monitoring, mean that for five years higher ed institutions in the state must disburse aid to students first and then ask the feds for reimbursement.”

More on the politics of student loans in the business of student loan section below.

President Trump spoke to the Boys Scouts’ annual Jamboree, and his talk was, to put it nicely, “rambling.” “The president of the Boy Scouts needs the Trump administration to approve his mega-merger,” Quartz reports – that’s Randall Stephenson, also the CEO of AT&T. The Boy Scouts have apologized for Trump’s speech – sorta. It was one of those “I’m sorry you were offended” sorts of fauxpologies.

Poor Pickle.

Via CNN: “Cabinet members beware: What Trump is doing to Sessions can happen to you.” The story contains some machinations at the Department of Education in which the White House tried to fire a Jeb Bush-supporting staffer.

Bloomberg reports that “Trump Administration Tapping Tech CEOs for STEM Policy Approach.” Those involved: investor Laurene Powell Jobs, Apple’s Tim Cook, and representatives from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – so all the country’s best experts on STEM education clearly.

Via The Washington Post: “ NAACP: School choice not the answer to improving education for black students.”

(State and Local) Education Politics


Via The Salt Lake Tribune: “Lawmaker: Utah‘s veteran educators may need to ’die off’ before technology fills classrooms.” The lawmaker in question: Republican State Senator Howard Stephenson.

Education in the Courts


Via Education Week: “Supreme Court sets Sept. 5 hearing on charter school funding.”

Apple has been ordered to pay the University of Wisconsin $506 million for patent infringement.

Via The New York Times: “Foster Care as Punishment: The New Reality of ‘Jane Crow’.”

More legal cases in the for-profit higher ed section below.

“Free College”


“Dean Dad” Matt Reed on “Promises, Promises” – the free college programs in Oregon and New York.

The Business of Student Loans


Via the AP: “Records: Student-loan forgiveness has halted under Trump.”

Via The Student Loan Report: “Halfway Through 2017, Here Are the Best & Worst Student Loan Servicers.” Congrats, Navient. You’re the worst.

Via Bryan Alexander: “Student loans are cramping the American economy: what this could mean.”

More on student loans and for-profits in the for-profit higher ed section below.

OK, OK. It’s not necessarily student loan debt, but the story features swordsmen loan collectors, so I’m sharing it nonetheless. Via The Wall Street Journal: “Spain Has a Debt Problem, and So Now It Has a Zorro Problem.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed


“The Lower Ed Ecosystem: Bootcamps Edition” by sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom.

“Why Are Coding Bootcamps Going Out of Business?” by me.

One thing I didn’t talk about in that story: what’s going to happen about the venture capital wing of The Iron Yard. I’m also curious how this news – again, I’m not sure two closures are really a “trend” – will affect student loan startups.

The Flatiron School has released its latest “outcomes report.”

On Tuesday a court dismissed a petition by Ashford University (owned by Bridgepoint Education) to allow its online programs to be eligible for GI Bill benefits. But as Inside Higher Ed reports later in the week: “In the latest development in an eventful saga, Ashford University on Wednesday announced that it is closer to preserving access to Post–9/11 GI Bill benefits.”

Via the Twin Cities Pioneer Press: The Minnesota “Supreme Court says Globe U and MN School of Business made illegal loans.”

National American University Holdings has acquired Henley-Putnam University.

“Graduate student enrollment is declining at for-profit institutions, but the sector continues to resonate with one particular demographic – black women,” according to Inside Higher Ed, drawing on a report from the Urban Institute.

Online Education and the Once and Future “MOOC”


Lots of MOOC PR appeared in the news this week. Not sure where you plot this on the “hype cycle.”

“What if MOOCs Revolutionize Education After All?” asks Edsurge.

“Now that MOOCs are mainstream, where does online learning go next?” asks The Next Web.

More questions about MOOCs in the Betteridge’s Headlines section below. And more on MOOCs in the credentialing section below as well.

Via The Daily Times: “Blount County Schools building new options to personalize learning.” Boy, it seems as though “personalized learning” is really just code for “virtual charter schools.”

Meanwhile on Campus…


There are currently over 100 HBCUs in the US, but an article in HBCU Digest predicts “About 50 HBCUs Will Survive the Next Decade. It’s Time to Start Investing in Them.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Warning, a Crusade, and a Public Reckoning at the U. of Florida.”

The Wall Street Journal looks at the free textbook initiative at CUNY.

Via The WSJ: “How a Catholic School Turned $15,000 Into $34 Million Thanks to Snapchat.” How Saint Francis High School plans to spend the money it earned from the Snap IPO – provided Snap shares are still worth anything.

STAT on telemedicine in schools: “At a growing number of schools, sick kids can take a virtual trip to the doctor.”

Accreditation and Certification


Via The New York Times: “Proposal Would Let Charter Schools Certify Their Own Teachers.” This proposal is for some New York charters.

Analysis from Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein: “‘Alternative Pathways:’ How to Rethink Vocational Education.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “MIT Deems MicroMasters a Success.”

Research from Ithaka S+R on “non-college credentials,” as reported by Inside Higher Ed.

Go, School Sports Team!


Via The New York Times: “110 NFL Brains.” “A neuropathologist has examined the brains of 111 N.F.L. players – and 110 were found to have C.T.E., the degenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head.” In addition to looking at NFL players’ brains, the researchers also look at those of high school players and found evidence of CTE there too.

Via ESPN: “Ravens OL John Urschel, 26, retires abruptly, two days after CTE study.” Urschel is getting his PhD in math at MIT.

Are folks in Texas paying attention to the danger they’re exposing their kids to? Probably not. Via The LA Times: “After Texas high school builds $60-million stadium, rival district plans one for nearly $70 million.”

Meanwhile in that other big football state, Nebraska, the World Herald reports that “Sherwood Foundation buys data-tracking helmets for every OPS high school football player.” OPS = the Omaha Public Schools

From the HR Department


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Steven Salaita, Whose Revoked Job Offer Inflamed Higher Ed, Says He’s Leaving Academe.”

USC says it will fire Carmen Puliafito, the former dean of its medical school and the center of a LA Times investigation into his drug use and partying.

Ed-Tech Magazine asks “How Diverse Is the Higher Ed IT Workforce?” Spoiler alert: not very.

Every once in a while – well actually, pretty often – someone has to trot out a Steve Jobs quote in order to justify their vision for the future of education. So this, from the American Enterprise Institute, is completely unsurprising: “School-choice advocate Steve Jobs in 1995: ‘The unions are the worst thing that ever happened to education’.”

The Business of Job Training


“Big Venture Investments in HR Startups & What it Means for Education” by Learn Capital’s Tom Vander Ark.

Contests and Awards


Via Techcrunch: “Microsoft’s Imagine Cup crowns its 15th winner, the X.GLU smart glucose meter for kids.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines


Are MOOCs, Bootcamps and Other Alternative Education Options Effective?asks US News & World Report.

Should big data be used to discourage poor students from university?asks ZDNet.

Are iPads and laptops improving students’ test scores?asks the Pioneer Press.

Can personalized learning prevail?asks Chester E. Finn, Jr.

Is higher ed creating the next dropout factories?asks Education Dive.

(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


Via Ed Week’s Market Brief: “African Ed-Tech Incubator Aims to Set Companies, and Students, on Winning Path.” The incubator, which claims to be the first on the continent, is led by Jamie Martin, an advisor to former UK education secretary Michael Gove so this all sounds awful.

Speaking of imperialism, The Guardian covers a report from Global Media which describes Facebook’s Free Basics program as “digital colonialism.” “Facebook is not introducing people to open internet where you can learn, create and build things. It’s building this little web that turns the user into a mostly passive consumer of mostly western corporate content,” says Ellery Biddle, Global Voices’ advocacy director.

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg travels around the US to “learn about people’s challenges,” one of his employees, living out a a garage, suggests maybe Zuck pay attention to inequalities in his own backyard.

The New York Times profiles the Horowitz family: son Ben is part of the famous venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, father David is a right-wing activist.

The New York Times continues its coverage of the awfulness of tech companies’ employee policies: “Abuses Hide in the Silence of Nondisparagement Agreements.”

Inc lists “5 Entrepreneurs That Are Shaking Up Education” and includes the CEO of Blackboard. Oh Inc. Never change.

“A Tech Bubble Killed Computer Science Once, Can It Do So Again?” asks IEEE.

Microsoft plans to axe Microsoft Paint.

Adobe plans to axe Flash.

As schools move to digital-only, encouraged of course by the ideology of “innovation,” it’s important to remember how fragile this makes resources. The Harvard Library Innovation Lab on link rot: “A Million Squandered: The ‘Million Dollar Homepage’ as a Decaying Digital Artifact.”

Related: Michael Caulfield makes “A Call to Info-Environmentalism.”

Elsewhere in media literacy, the AP reports thatTexas educators work to use technology to fight fake news.”

Via Edsurge: “Google and Digital Promise Reimagine Teacher Tech Training with New National Program.”

Via Education Week: “Google Launches $50 Million Effort on the Future of Work.”

Virtual Reality and education: some thoughts” from Tony Bates.

Via Campus Technology: “2017 Ed Tech Trends: The Halfway Point.” VR, AI, etc.

Via the press release: “Canvas Announces Skill for Amazon Alexa.” Because everyone’s just dying to interact with the LMS through their home surveillance device.

Bloomberg interviews the CEO of SnapAsk: “Bringing the Uber Model to Online Tutoring.” At this stage, any company that compares themselves to Uber is out of their mind.

“These Kids Are Learning CRISPR At Summer Camp,” Motherboard reports. What could possibly go wrong?

Via Edsurge: “Global STEM Alliance is Encouraging Students to be a New Kind of Billionaire.” “A new kind of billionaire” is this bullshit: “The new definition of a billionaire is a person or group of people, that can touch, teach or influence a billion people.”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF


Artificial intelligence holds great potential for both students and teachers – but only if used wisely,” say Simon Knight and Simon Buckingham Shum writing in The Conversation.

From the Raspberry Pi blog: “IoT Sleepbuddy, the robotic babysitter.”

Via Campus Technology: “Carnegie Mellon Debuts Initiative to Combine Disparate AI Research.”

Also via Campus Technology: “Stanford Launches Platform Lab for Centralized Control of Autonomous Cars, Drones.”

Also via Campus Technology: “2 Cornell U Teams Land up to $15 Million to Study AI, Autonomous Systems.”

More details on the funding news below by here’s the headline from the press release: “Liulishuo raises approximately $100M in Series C funding to extend its lead in building smart AI English teachers.”

Tutorbots are here,” says Donald Clark, listing “7 ways they could change the learning landscape.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform


Non Profit Quarterly looks at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s plans for education. (Or what we can glean about the plans, considering the investment company’s lack of transparency.)

Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Steve Jobs) has bought a majority stake in The Atlantic, so I guess there’ll be a lot more stories there about how awesome ed-tech is.

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech


BYJU’s has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Tencent. The test prep company has raised at least $204 million in funding.

Liulishuo has raised $100 million in Series C funding from China Media Capital, Wu Capital, Cherubic Ventures, GGV Capital, Hearst Ventures, IDG Capital Partners, and Trustbridge Partners. It’s not known how much the English language-learning company has previously raised.

Duolingo has raised $25 million in Series E funding from Drive Capital. The language learning app has raised $108.3 million total.

Signal Vine has raised $2 million in Series A funding from New Markets Venture Partners. The messaging company has raised $2.25 million total.

PlayAblo has raised $600,000 from ABI-Showatech for its “gamified learning experience.”

Frontline Education has acquired the School Improvement Network. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Not an ed-tech update, but it’s a business of tech update so I’ll include it here. Via The New York Times: “Facebook’s Profit and Revenue Surge, Despite Company Predictions of a Slowdown.”

Also not an ed-tech update, but also a story that’s relevant to the business of tech and the business of ed reform: “Move Over, Bill Gates. Jeff Bezos Gets a Turn as World’s Richest Person,” The New York Times reports. Briefly. Just briefly. As Amazon’s stock price fell below $1063 a share, Gates took the top spot back.

More details on Betsy DeVos’s investment in Neurocore in the politics section above.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security


Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Measuring Clicks, Emotions, and Brain Waves: Student Recruitment Keeps Evolving.” So, it’s like advertising but with even more privacy invasion.

Via Ed Week’s Market Brief: “Predictive Analytics in Ed-Tech Create New Questions in K–12, Higher Ed” – a dispatch from an Education Technology Industry Network event.

Speaking of predictive analytics, this by The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance raises a lot of questions about kids (and advertising) and algorithms: “The Algorithm That Makes Preschoolers Obsessed With YouTube.”

From the press release: “Big Data Analysis Helps Students Choose College Majors.”

Proctoring company Proctorio says it now integrates with Google Classroom – something in the press release about “complimentary exam integrity.”

Speaking of Google and surveillance, "Google Glass 2.0 Is a Startling Second Act, says Wired’s Steven Levy. The spyware will be used in factories. I guess that means it’ll be used in schools since they rely on a factory model of education?

Via Honi Soit: “University abandons Cadmus anti-cheating software.” The university in question: University of Sydney. The software would have registered students’ locations when using the app to write essays.

Via PC Mag: “FBI: Your Kid’s Internet-Connected Toys Might Be Spying on Them.”

There’s another Internet-connected spy story in the upgrade/downgrade section above – something about the LMS Canvas and Alexa.

Data and “Research”


Edsurge looks at the “Board of Directors for 20 Best Funded Private US Edtech Companies.” Shocking: there are very few women on these boards.

The investment analysts at CB Insights report that “Kid-Friendly: Baby And Children’s Tech Startups On Track To Reach Five-Year Deal High.” (It’s challenging, I think, to separate “kid tech” from “ed-tech,” in part because the latter is increasingly consumer-focused and is often not about “learning” in the first place.)

Edsurge reports that “Fueled by Big Rounds, US Edtech Funding Surges to $887M in First Half of 2017.” By my calculations, the number is higher: $1.4 billion. But I insist on including student loan startups.

Via The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “Nonprofits with large endowments are collecting more than twice as much money as they are spending on grants, facilities, and administrative and other costs, a new data analysis of 1,600 organizations by The Chronicle shows.” Among the big endowments: Liberty University and the NCAA.

Via WaPo’s Valerie Strauss: “ Neil deGrasse Tyson blames U.S. schools for flat-Earthers – and teachers aren’t amused.”

Pro tip: do not include fMRIs in your slides in order to justify whatever you want to say about education reform and education technology by what you think these images say about attention, engagement, cognition, brain activity, etc.

Via Education Week: “Social-Emotional-Learning Researchers Gather Input From Educators.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “New Guidance on Conducting Research Unveiled for Ed-Tech Companies.” The guidance comes from the Education Technology Industry Network, a division of the Software & Information Industry Association.

Like the “What Works Clearinghouse,” except not – USC’s Morgan Polikoff on “The Don’t Do It Depository.”

For $500 you can buy the report from the Serious Play Conference that outlines the future of game-based learning and predicts these products will have $8.1 billion in revenue by 2022.

Campus Technology says that that famous predictor Gartner predicts that IT spending is going to hit $3.5 trillion in 2017.

Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill offers some data on Google Classroom adoption in higher ed.

Via WalletHub: “2017’s Most & Least Educated Cities in America.”

Via Education Week: “U.S. Children Gain Ground in Home Supports, Federal Data Show.”

Inside Higher Ed on a new study on the connection between tuition and state funding: “For every $1,000 cut from per-student state and local appropriations, the average student can be expected to pay $257 more per year in tuition and fees – and the rate is rising.”

Via NPR: “College Tuition Grows At Slowest Pace In Decades.”

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson invokes T. S. Eliot. “This is the Way the College ‘Bubble’ Ends. Not with a pop, but a hiss.”

“The Online College Students 2017: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences” – a survey from The Learning House Inc and Aslanian Market Research.

More data on for-profit higher ed enrollment in the for-profit higher ed section above.

Some interesting statistics about education from The Economist’s recent article on China and Africa:

…in 2014 the number of African students in China surpassed the number studying in either Britain or America, the traditional destinations for English-speakers (France still beats all three, however). Much of the growth is because China has given tens of thousands of scholarships to African students, the academics say.

Bridge International Academies touts research by Bridge International Academies that Bridge International Academies improves student outcomes in Liberia.

“Why the Myth of Meritocracy Hurts Kids of Color” by Melinda D. Anderson in The Atlantic.

Ravens can plan for future as well as 4-year-old children can,” says New Scientist.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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