Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.
(National) Education Politics
I’ll lead off this week’s roundup of education news with this from England, from The Guardian: “Toby Young resigns from the Office for Students after backlash.” More from The Guardian. And more Toby Young (and eugenics) news in the “meanwhile on campus” section below.
Still more education news from the UK: “Sam Gyimah replaces Jo Johnson as universities minister,” The Times Higher Education reports. “Damian Hinds is new education secretary, replacing Justine Greening,” says the BBC.
Of course, the US can’t let the UK lead for too long when it comes to terrible people and terrible ideas in education. So here’s an early contender for “Worst Education ‘Take’ of 2018’” by Gary Wolfram in Education Week: “Make Public Education a Market Economy – Not a Socialist One.”
Speaking of market economies, more financial aid news in the financial aid section below.
Congratulations, STEM folks and learn-to-code evangelists, for being featured in President Trump’s list of his 2017 accomplishments. You must be so proud.
Via The New York Times: “Texas Illegally Excluded Thousands From Special Education, Federal Officials Say.” The Department of Education’s press release has more. Kudos to the Houston Chronicle for the original reporting on this in 2016.
Via Education Week: “Trump Signs Orders on Rural Broadband Access.”
It’s pretty terrible to report on how a “President Oprah” would shape education policy and not talk about how she has actively promoted pseudoscience. But maybe a lot of education policy is based on pseudoscience, so that’s why we can just let that slide… Via Chalkbeat: “President Winfrey? Here’s what we know about Oprah’s education outlook.”
(State and Local) Education Politics
Vox on segregation in US public schools: “We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated. This is how well your district does.”
Via NPR: “Outcry After Louisiana Teacher Arrested During School Board Meeting.”
Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In New Budget Proposal, California Higher Ed Gets Modest Funding and a Big Online College.”
Via Inside Higher Ed: “Despite enthusiasm for four-year degrees offered by California community colleges, a state report calls for more time before expanding the programs.”
More on California community colleges in the online education section below.
Lots of very excited and uncritical reporting on the new charter school on Oracle’s campus.
Via Chalkbeat: “Charter and online schools report the largest increase in students in Colorado.”
Via The LA Times: “LAUSD chief Michelle King won’t return from medical leave for cancer, plans to retire.”
Immigration and Education
Via The LA Times: “Federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocks Trump’s decision to end DACA program.”
Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Berkeley Breaks Silence on Arrest of Undocumented Student.”
Education in the Courts (and in the AGs’ Offices)
Via The Verge: “James Damore sues Google for allegedly discriminating against conservative white men.” 69% of Google’s employees are men. 56% are white. Clearly it’s tough there for white guys.
Via The New York Times: “Former Financial Aid Chief at Columbia Is Accused of Taking Kickbacks.”
“A Wisconsin school district has settled a discrimination lawsuit filed by a transgender high school student for $800,000,” the AP reports. The student “alleged staff at Tremper High School monitored his use of the bathroom and made him wear a special bracelet to single him out from other students.” “Special bracelets” are, of course, ed-tech.
Via The Washington Post: “Richard Spencer supporter sues university, calling security fee for campus speech unconstitutional.” The school in question: University of Cincinnati.
Via The New York Times: “Big Tech to Join Legal Fight Against Net Neutrality Repeal.”
Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether the ethics code of the National Association for College Admission Counseling violates federal antitrust law.”
Via Inside Higher Ed: “A Pennsylvania judge has banned fraternity Pi Delta Psi from the state for a decade, a punishment for a hazing death in 2013, and an unprecedented step likely to rock the national Greek system.”
More legal wrangling in the immigration section above.
The Business of Financial Aid
Via The Washington Post: “Education Dept. awards debt collection contract to company with ties to DeVos.” That would be Windham Professionals and Performant Financial Corp, which DeVos has invested in (but divested since her nomination as Secretary of Education).
Via Inside Higher Ed: “Department of Education officials said Monday that they do not have any estimates of how many borrowers would clear new, tougher standards proposed for claims of loan relief when a student is defrauded or misled by their college. The department’s proposed language would require a student borrower to demonstrate clear and convincing evidence that their college intended to deceive them or had a reckless disregard for the truth in making claims about job-placement rates, credit transferability and other outcomes.”
Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s How A Student Loan Debt Relief Company Preyed On Its Customers.” The company: the Student Loan Assistance Center.
“The looming student loan default crisis is worse than we thought,” says Brookings.
“Where student loan debt is a real problem,” according to Jeff Selingo.
More financial aid news in the “courts” section above.
The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed
“It’s not every day that a university fires nearly all of its faculty. But that’s what happened last week at the American University of Malta, a start-up institution operated by a Jordanian construction and tourism company without a track record in higher education,” Inside Higher Ed reports.
Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Grand Canyon U. Will Again Try to Become a Nonprofit.” More via Inside Higher Ed.
Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “VA Backs Off Threat to Cut GI Bill Funding for Ashford University.”
The interview in Logic deals with more than just for-profit higher ed, but always read Tressie McMillan Cottom on the topic of “lower ed” (and coding schools).
More on the for-profit formerly known as Kaplan University in the online education section below. More funding for coding schools in the venture capital section below.
Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)
From the press release: “Purdue announces name for new public university: Purdue University Global to serve working adults, online.” This new school is a result of Purdue’s acquisition of the for-profit Kaplan University. PUG. Woof.
“California Could Soon Have Its First Fully-Online Community College,” Edsurge says excitedly.
Speaking of online higher ed in California, Udacity’s blog says that “Udacity and Baidu Announce Groundbreaking Self-Driving Car Partnership at CES.”
Via the AP: “The sponsor of one of the nation’s largest online charter schools says it’s cutting that tie, which could halt the Ohio e-school’s operations for its roughly 12,000 students within days.” The school: the Electronic Classroom of the Future. The sponsor: the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West.
Meanwhile on Campus…
“Public school buildings are falling apart, and students are suffering for it” by Rachel Cohen.
“Under Trump, a Hard Test for Howard University” by Jelani Cobb.
“The Fight to Rebuild a Ravaged University” – The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz on the University of Puerto Rico.
Via the Naples Daily News: “FGCU police presence planned for start of ‘White Racism’ class.” That’s Florida Gulf Coast University.
“UCL to investigate eugenics conference secretly held on campus,” says The Guardian. That’s University College London, and apparently Toby Young (who just resigned from his appointment as the head of the Office of Students) was a “prominent attendee.”
“No College Kid Needs a Water Park to Study,” says James Koch in a NYT op-ed, criticizing schools spending money on lavish amenities. I wonder what costs more: water parks or big-time college sports? (See the sports section below for one calculation.)
The Guardian on the Open University’s vice-chancellor, Peter Horrocks: “A visionary” or “the man who will run it into the ground?” Those are the choices?!
“Don’t Expect a Wave of Private Nonprofit College Closures” says Seton Hall University professor Robert Kelchen.
“Has UMUC Turned Enrollment Woes Around?” asks Inside Higher Ed. Edutechnica has more thoughts: “The Real Reason Behind UMUC’s Recent Success.” That’s University of Maryland University College, by the way.
Via the Dallas Morning News: “Abilene Christian University urges students: Don’t work at Hooters.” No word if students are discouraged from going to Hooters. I guess we’re just policing women’s bodies.
Via Hacker Noon: “$3.5k to $80k: Pay for Business School with Cryptocurrency Investments.” (Don’t make me start a section for blockchain news, guys.)
Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies
“Stackable Credentials May Not Boost Earnings,” says Campus Technology.
“Why Requiring Daycare Workers to Head Back to School Hurts the Working Class,” The Pacific Standard argues.
Every once in a while, there’s a headline in the form of a question to which Betteridge’s Law – see below – does not apply. Like this one in Edutopia: “Will Letter Grades Survive?”
“Can a Test Ever Be Fair?” asks Edsurge. “How Today’s Standardized Tests Get Made.”
Go, School Sports Team!
An op-ed in The LA Times by Victoria L. Jackson: “Take it from a former Division I athlete: College sports are like Jim Crow.”
Via USA Today: “College football coaching moves costing schools at least $110 million.”
Memos from HR
Via The LA Times: “Five women accuse actor James Franco of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior.” I’m including this story here because four were his students.
Via The Root: “Substitute Teacher Fired After Private High School Discovers He Works for Richard Spencer’s White Supremacist Think Tank.”
Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Rochester’s President Resigns as Report Supports Handling of Harassment Case.” More on the University of Rochester via Inside Higher Ed.
“Subsidized Housing May Help School Districts Retain Teachers,” says NPR. Or. And it’s a strange idea, I know. Bear with me. Or, you could just pay teachers more.
Via Chalkbeat: “In many large school districts, hundreds of teaching positions were unfilled as school year began.”
From the press release: “Blackboard Announces Organizational Changes to Better Serve Clients Worldwide.” It’s creating two new divisions: Global Client Operations & Success, and Global Markets. Lee Blakemore will lead the former; Mark Gruzin, the latter. Blackboard’s Chief Financial Officer, Lisa Mayr, is also leaving the company.
More HR changes in the education politics and in the for-profit higher ed sections above.
This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines
“Is Your Institution Really Ready for Predictive Analytics?” asks Edsurge.
Is advertorial content really something education technology journalism should foster? asks Audrey.
(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
The annual “Consumer Electronics Show” was held in Las Vegas this week. The power went out. Perfect, really.
“The Looming Digital Meltdown” by Zeynep Tufekci.
Via The New York Times: “Apple Investors Warn iPhones and Other Technology May Be Hurting Children.”
From the Blackboard blog: “Advertising In Schools: This Parent Says It’s Time to Embrace It.” JFC. No.
According to Edsurge, “Amazon’s Education Hub, Amazon Inspire, Has Quietly Restored ‘Sharing’ Function.”
Oh look. It’s another great example of why people who call for “Uber for Education” are probably pretty shady.
Via The New York Times: “Facebook Overhauls News Feed to Focus on What Friends and Family Share.”
Speaking of algorithms and major technology companies… Via Gizmodo: “Google Censors Gorillas Rather Than Risk Them Being Mislabeled As Black People – But Who Does That Help?”
“What Can the CEO of a $1.6-Billion Enrollment-Services Giant Tell Us About the Student Life Cycle?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education in a profile of EAB. That student data is big bucks? I dunno…
Via Techcrunch: “IBM led on patents in 2017, Facebook broke into top 50 for the first time.”
Textbooks are expensive. News at 11.
Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Top Hat Marketplace: What is it and should we care?”
Education Week has a report on the “10 Big Ideas in Education.” Among the “big ideas,” “A Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Takes on the Master Schedule” – a profile of Abl Schools’ founder Adam Pisoni, who founded Yammer.
Inside Philanthropy profiles The Conversation, a new site that encourages academics to write for the public. But it doesn’t pay its writers which sucks.
Via Techcrunch: “URB-E’s launching a scooter sharing network at college campuses and hotels.”
Also via Techcrunch: “Facebook brings Messenger Kids to Fire tablets.”
An op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Why we shouldn’t teach tech in kindergarten.”
“Personalized learning gives students a sense of control over chaotic lives,” says The Hechinger Report, in a very glowing look at the Summit Public Schools’ (Facebook-built) learning management system.
Subscription boxes for teachers are somehow “personalized learning.”
So, you take the “deficit model” and you apply it to parents. Or, you take the military model – break someone down so you can rebuild them as you deem fit – and you apply it to parents. Anyway. Edsurge writes about “bootcamps” and educational retraining camps for parents.
Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF
Voyage, a self-driving car company spun out of Udacity, has launched a self-driving taxi service in a private city in Florida. Yes. Private city. In the future there will only be private cities, and Udacity has a shot at being one of them. Or something like that.
Via The Verge: “Aflac’s toy robot for kids facing cancer is the smartest toy of all.” No camera. No Alexa or Google voice assistant.
Via Techcrunch: “The Root robot teaches kids to code through Spirograph-style drawings.”
From the Getting Smart blog, which is really heavily promoting AI in education stuff these days: “Artificial Intelligence: Implications for the Future of Education.”
(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform
“Is Personalized Learning the Next Big Thing in K–12 Philanthropy?” asks Inside Philanthropy. No. It’s charter schools. But “personalized learning” sounds nicer than “privatization” and “segregation,” doesn’t it.
“Khan Academy now Accepts Bitcoin Cash Donations,” says bitrazzi. Ah yes, a future of philanthropy where all charitable donations are anonymous and untraceable. What’s not to love.
“What are the Big Questions for 2018?” asks venture philanthropy firm NewSchools Venture Fund. Among the questions: “An increased focus on social-emotional learning opened an innovation window over the last few years. Has it closed already?” I have a question: WTF is an “innovation window”?
Venture Capital and the Business of Education
The tutoring company Zhangmen has raised $120 million from Genesis Capital and Warburg Pincus.
DadaABC has raised $100 million in a Series C from Tiger Global Management and TAL Education. The English-language-learning company has raised $608 million total.
Area9 Lyceum has raised $30 million in funding from the Danish Growth Fund. (Area9, an adaptive learning company, was acquired by McGraw-Hill in 2014, but the press release suggests that Area9 Lyceum is a new company founded by the same people with some of the same IP. IDK.)
Ellevation has raised $10 million (or so) from Reach Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Omidyar Network, and Emerson Collective. The English-language-learning company has raised $22.25 million total.
Thinkful has raised $9.6 million from Owl Ventures and Tribeca Venture Partners. The coding school has raised $16 million total.
Boomwriter Media has raised $4.1 million from Avila Venture Capital, Precorp, and Suinvex. The collaborative writing tool has raised $6.5 million total.
Student monitoring company eSafe Global has raised $2.6 million from Maven Capital Partners.
Wonderschool has raised $2.1 million from Omidyar Network, Be Curious Partners, Rethink Education, Edelweiss, and Learn Capital. The company, which helps people start daycare facilities in their homes, has raised $4.1 million total.
Math game company Sokikom has been acquired by Jumpstart World, a subsidiary of the Chinese conglomerate NetDragon.
Boomwriter Media has acquired LookUp.
Strada Education Network (formerly USA Funds) has acquired the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).
Knowledge First Financial has acquired Heritage Education Funds.
Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security
Via Techcrunch: “After breach exposing millions of parents and kids, toymaker VTech handed a $650K fine by FTC.” Yeah. You read that number right.
Via Freedom to Tinker: “Website operators are in the dark about privacy violations by third-party scripts.” Many education institutions and companies implicated here.
Via The Register: “Amazon coughs up record amount of info to subpoena-happy US government.” (See also: “Amazon Is Thriving Thanks to Taxpayer Dollars,” via New Republic.)
Via the ACLU: “The Privacy Threat From Always-On Microphones Like the Amazon Echo.”
“What’s Slack Doing With Your Data?” asks Gizmodo. What are schools doing adopting things like Echo and Slack, that’s what I wanna know.
Oh, there’s a raft of privacy-violating stuff in almost every section in this article, I reckon.
Research, “Research,” and Reports
According to Metaari (formerly known as Ambient Insight), “Global Edtech Investment Surges to a Record $9.5 Billion in 2017.” That’s about $6 billion more than my calculations, but hey. Probably just a rounding error somewhere or something.
EdWeek’s Market Brief on a report by Allovue: “K–12 District Spending Analysis Raises Red Flag About ESSA School Comparisons.”
EdWeek’s Market Brief on a report from CoSN: “Snapshot of K–12 Tech Landscape: More Districts Reach 1-to–1, But Equity Gaps Persist.”
The Pew Research Center is out with a new report on STEM and workplace equity.
Highlights from our child mortality study published today in @Health_Affairs:— Ashish Thakrar (@especially_APT) January 8, 2018
1. In wealthy nations, children are dying less often than 50 years ago. Fantastic news, but not a surprise.
2. Of 20 similar nations, US ranks last: 70% greater chance of dying before age 19 (1/3) pic.twitter.com/M9nCqVnVIH
AEI on “The Master’s as the New Bachelor’s Degree: In Search of the Labor Market Payoff.” Shocking, I know, but the return on investment depends on what you get your degree in.
Via Edsurge (which does not disclose it shares an investor with NoRedInk, the company that this infomercial is based upon): “These Are the 10 Most Common Writing Errors Students Make.” Education Week also publishes this NoRedInk “research”: “What Are the Top Grammar and Writing Errors of 2017?” Perhaps one of the biggest writing errors is not thinking critically about the material you promote and cite. Weird. Wonder why that’s not included here.
“Here’s How People Say Google Home And Alexa Impact Their Lives,” says Fast Company, rewriting a Google blog post. So really it’s what PR says voice assistants are up to. And with that, we’re off to a good start in 2018 with technology journalism as “fake news”, I see…
Icon credits: The Noun Project