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

The US government shut down. Then it re-opened.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Education Tuesday named Kent Talbert, a former general counsel and acting under secretary during the George W. Bush administration, as senior policy adviser.”

There’s more information about lawsuits against Betsy DeVos in the courts section below. And there’s more about how the Trump Administration is catering to for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below. There’s also some financial aid proposals that sound bloody awful in the financial aid section below.

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via Jack Schneider in The Atlantic: “What School-Funding Debates Ignore.”

Via The Verge: “New York governor signs executive order to keep net neutrality rules after the FCC’s repeal.” Montana also plans to enforce net neutrality.

Via Chalkbeat: “As low-income families exit Denver, charter network KIPP is looking to follow.” Gentrification is forcing poor people out of the city; segregated school systems follow them to new locations.

Florida may make it easier to qualify for voucher program,” says the AP.

Via The Conversation: “What we can learn from closure of charter school that DeVos praised as ‘shining example’.” The school in question: the Excel Academy Public Charter School in DC which was closed for poor performance.

Immigration and Education

Via WBUR: “Dismantling DACA Could Also Destroy These Harvard Med Students’ Dreams.”

Via The Washington Post: “ Trump supports path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million ‘dreamers’ in new White House proposal.”

Via the AP: “Border Patrol Arrests ASU Instructor who gave food, water to immigrants.”

Education in the Courts

Via The New York Times: “Former Baltimore County Schools Leader Charged With Perjury.” That’s Dallas Dance, who was the subject of another story the NYT’s Natasha Singer wrote last year, “How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom.” From this week’s article:

The prosecutor also said that Mr. Dance concealed about $12,000 in payments he received through his consulting work in 2015, including $4,600 from an organization called the Education Research and Development Institute – ERDI for short – that pays superintendents to attend meetings with educational tech companies.

Yes, “that pays superintendents to attend meetings with educational tech companies.” Here’s a list of the companies that work with ERDI. Shady.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Blind students this week won a discrimination lawsuit against the legal education company BarBri – one of the country’s largest providers of bar exam preparation courses.”

Via Reuters: “A Chinese citizen accused of posing as someone else to take a graduate school entrance exam on her behalf pleaded guilty on Tuesday in a criminal case that arose from U.S. prosecutors investigating international students who use imposters to gain admission to American universities.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Justice is backing a suit by conservative students against the the University of California, Berkeley. The suit charges that the university imposes tougher requirements on those seeking to host conservative speakers than it does for those seeking to host other speakers.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Civil Rights Groups Sue DeVos Over Title IX Policies.”

I’ve put all the stories related to Michigan State, Larry Nassar, and Women’s Gymnastics in the sports section below. There are also stories about settles related to for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below.

“Free College”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The restaurant group that operates the Chili’s and Maggiano’s chains announced an arrangement Monday by which it will, through Pearson Education, offer employees cost-free educational programs from language skills through associate degrees.”

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Politico: “ The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to test a new way to disburse federal student loan and Pell grant funds to students. The Education Department, in the coming weeks, plans to solicit offers from companies that would manage a federal prepaid card that allows students to directly access refunds of their student loan or grant money – the money that’s left over after covering tuition and that’s typically used to pay for books, off-campus housing and other living expenses.” All the better to surveil and control you with…

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via Inside Higher Ed: “DeVos Waters Down Disclosure Requirements of Gainful-Employment Rule.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A group of former ITT Technical Institute students reached an approved settlement Wednesday that would allow them to participate in bankruptcy proceedings with the institution’s parent company.” More via The Washington Post.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The former owner and chief executive officer of Alden’s School of Cosmetology and Alden’s School of Barbering, Alden Hall, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison last week for a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Education and steal Pell Grant funds.”

Online Education (and the Once and Future “MOOC”)

Via Mother Jones: “The GOP’s Biggest Charter School Experiment Just Imploded.” It’s a story on ECOT, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, the online charter school in Ohio which lost its sponsor and was shut down last week after a long string of scandals and lawsuits.

Via Class Central: “A Product at Every Price: A Review of MOOC Stats and Trends in 2017.”

There’s more MOOC news in the certification section below. I’m also putting some MOOC news in the job training section.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via The New York Times: “School Shooting in Kentucky Was Nation’s 11th of Year. It Was Jan. 23.” More on the shooting via the AP.

Via the AAUP: “ A New Reality? The Far Right’s Use of Cyberharassment against Academics.”

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

I love the use of “quietly” in headlines. Translation: no press release. It doesn’t mean there was any investigative journalism involved. Here’s Edsurge, for example, announcing that “EdX Quietly Developing ‘MicroBachelors’ Program.” MicroBachelors were apparently on one of Anant Agarwal’s slide at a recent conference.

Also via Edsurge: “In Evolving World of Microcredentials, Students, Colleges and Employers Want Different Things.”

Udacity opens applications for its Flying Car Nanodegree program,” says Techcrunch. How is a flying car nanodegree different than an aerospace engineering degree? Well, the former only takes six months to complete, for starters.

There are links to “research” about the accreditation system in the “research” section below.


Via Chalkbeat: “Why one Harvard professor calls American schools' focus on testing a ‘charade’.” The professor in question: Daniel Koretz, who has a new book out The Testing Charade.

There are details about a couple of test-related legal cases in the courts section above.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The New York Times: “With Larry Nassar Sentenced, Focus Is on What Michigan State Knew.” After pressure from trustees and others, MSU’s President Lou Anna Simon has resigned (with a remarkably bad statement).

We Need To Be A Lot Angrier About The Larry Nassar Scandal,” says Jessica Luther.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Southern California has fired associate head basketball coach Tony Bland for his connection to an alleged corruption scandal under investigation by federal officials.”

VR is the US Olympic ski team’s secret weapon,” says MIT Technology Review. I’m just making note of this so, down the road, we can talk about VR and sports training and how well the US Olympic ski team does or doesn’t perform in Pyeongchang.

Memos from HR

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “James Comey Continues Second Act as a College Instructor.”

Via Techcrunch: “Twitter COO Anthony Noto resigns to become SoFi CEO.” SoFi is a student loan company whose former CEO had to resign because of a sexual harassment scandal last year.

Via Techcrunch: “Sphero lays off dozens as it shifts focus to education.” Sphero has raised some $107 million in venture funding.

Lots of sports-related firings in the sports section above. And there was a new hire announced at the Department of Education this week – that’s in the national politics section above.

The Business of Job Training

WeWork has partnered with 2U. Inside Higher Ed has a story. Edsurge has a story. Keep an eye on WeWork as it attempts to become a platform – one that controls K–12 education, workspaces, freelancing, meetups, and now higher ed degrees.

Katie Notopoulos paid $54 to take YouTube star Jake Paul’s video series on how to become a YouTube star. And then she wrote about it for Buzzfeed, as one does.

Want to code?asks MIT Technology Review. “You better start teaching yourself.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

“What’s the Next Step for AltSchool?” asks Edsurge. “Paid Partnerships With Public Schools.” More via Education Week.

The future of education is virtual,” Vivek Wadhwa claims in a Washington Post op-ed. There is so much wrong with this essay I hardly know where to begin. But then again, Wadhwa was a supporter of GamerGate. So it’s not really a shock that his vision of the future is fucking terrible (and dead wrong).

There’s a lot of VR-related hype in this week’s round-up. What gives?! Like this one: “Future surgeons could be trained by VR doctors,” says MIT Technology Review.

There were also a number of stories on banning technology this week. One in The Washington Post. One on NPR. “What If Children Should Be Spending More Time With Screens?” asks The Wall Street Journal.

Via Techcrunch: “Apple partners with Malala Fund to help girls receive quality education.”

Inside Higher Ed has a quick blurb about Flockademic, a new non-profit publishing platform that aims “to put academics in charge of scholarly publishing.”

OpenScholar, an open source website-publishing system specifically for higher education, has publicly separated from Harvard University to become a private company,” says Campus Technology.

Via Campus Technology: “Knewton Releases $44 Adaptive Digital Textbooks.”

Learning Agency, Not Analyticsby April Hathcock.

Via Edsurge: “Smithsonian Forms ‘Strategic Alliance’ With Carnegie Learning to Build New STEM Products.”

Via Techcrunch: “Facebook expands ‘Community Boost’ digital skills training program to Europe.”

Edsurge on the Google press release: “Google’s Education Suite is Still Free, but New Add-Ons For Administrators Come With a Fee.”

Edsurge also has an article on Microsoft’s press release: “Microsoft’s Many EDU Updates – and a Window of Opportunity to Win K–12 Market Share.”

(Press releases were all timed with BETT, the giant education technology tradeshow, held this week in London.)

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Via Quartz: “One of the world’s biggest firms is spending $450 million to solve a world problem created by robots.” The firm: KPMG. The expenditure: “a 55-acre learning, development, and innovation center in Lake Nona, a master-planned community in Orlando, Florida. It can accommodate 1,000 people at a time and has 800 single-occupancy rooms. It also has a four-star environment which includes multiple dining options, a coffee and wine bar, and a pub-like venue as well as ‘total wellness’ amenities such as a sizable fitness facility and hiking and biking paths.” Some “fix.”

Ziro’s robotics kit for kids now works with Alexa,” says Techcrunch.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

TeacherGaming has raised $1.6 million from Makers Fund and Founders Factory. The company made MinecraftEDU which was acquired by Microsoft.

The predictive analytics company Degree Analytics has raised $1 million from Rick Dalzell, David Palumbo, and and Larry Benz.

School management company Rubix108 has raised $1 million from Polaris Fund.

Curriculum maker Magpie Education has raised $416,000 from the British Robotics Seed Fund.

Brainly has acquired Bask.

9 Story Media Group has acquired Out of the Blue Enterprises.

Founding Years has acquired Intellitots.

It’s not ed-tech related – yet – but Facebook has acquired biometric ID verification startup

This is also tangentially related to ed-tech: Blackboard founder Michael Chasen’s new startup, PrecisionHawk has raised $75 million for drone analytics.

“Who Bankrupted Toys ‘R’ Us? Blame Private Equity and Millennial Parents,” says The Atlantic.

Speaking of private equity, here are some rumors via Reuters: “Private equity firm Vista Equity Partners Management LLC is exploring options for two software companies it owns, PowerSchool and PeopleAdmin, that could involve combining them in a deal worth between $2 billion to $3 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

From the Future of Privacy Forum: “New US Dept of Ed Finding: Schools Cannot Require Parents or Students to Waive Their FERPA Rights Through Ed Tech Company’s Terms of Service.” “FERPA Ruling Provides Privacy Advocates and Educators with Clearer Interpretation of Rights,” says Edsurge.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why Don’t Professors Make More Money? The Flexibility They Enjoy, a Study Argues.”

A new report from the American Enterprise Institute: “Saving the Associate of Arts Degree: How an A.A. Degree Can Become a Better Path to Labor Market Success.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Report: Bundled Textbooks a Bad Deal for Students.” Duh.

Psychology Today looks at perfectionism among today’s college students.

Via Pacific Standard: “New research suggests we aren’t born bigots. Racial prejudice is something we learn.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Virtual Reality ‘Class Kits’ Expected to Gain Foothold in U.S. Schools.” Here’s the forecast from the market research firm Futuresource: “More than 15 percent of U.S. schools are forecast to have a VR class kit by 2021, and globally more than 70 million K–12 students are expected to have a VR experience in school in that year.” I love it that we’ve lowered expectations now to just “a VR experience.”

Via The New Childhood: “Millions of ‘Under-Connected’ American Families Experience A Whole Different Internet.”

Via Techcrunch: “Phone-addicted teens aren’t as happy as those who play sports and hang out IRL, new study suggests.”

The GAO has released a new report on the the accreditation system.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Outlook for Higher Ed in 2018 Is Bleak, Ratings Agency Says.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “States’ financial support for higher education grew only slightly between the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, with more than a third of states decreasing their funding and another dozen increasing it only slightly, according to an annual survey released today.”

“Preliminary Data on K–12 LMS Marketfrom Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill.

“A Root Cause of the Teacher-Diversity Problem,” by The Atlantic’s Melinda D. Anderson.

Via Education Week: “Experts Agree Social-Emotional Learning Matters, and Are Plotting Roadmap on How to Do It.” LOL. “Experts agree.” Which experts are those? Oh. Ones summoned by the Aspen Institute. I see.


Via The Atlantic: “NASA’s Lovely Tribute to the Teacher Who Perished on Challenger” – “Two astronauts will carry out the original lessons Christa McAuliffe had planned for her time in orbit in 1986.”

And I’ll write about her more in my newsletter tomorrow, but Ursula K. Le Guin passed away this week. I’ll note here that she’s the author of one of the great science fiction/fantasy series on education: the Earthsea series.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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