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 State of the Union is a right mess. President Trump gave the annual speech to Congress on Tuesday night. (Thankfully, I had class and didn’t have to listen.) Some of the education-related moments: “Less Community, More Vocational,” as Inside Higher Ed put it. “What Trump Didn’t Say About Education,” according to The Atlantic.

More on the Department of Education and for-profit higher ed in the for-profit higher ed section below. And more on the Department of Education and its plans for financial aid in “the business of financial aid” section below.

From the press release: “U.S. Department of Education Launches New English Learner Data Story.” “Data story” is a fancy way of saying “website.”

There’s news about Department of Education hires in the HR section below.

Via The New York Times: “Republicans Stuff Education Bill With Conservative Social Agenda.”

Religious colleges would be able to bar openly same-sex relationships without fear of repercussions.

Religious student groups could block people who do not share their faith from becoming members.

Controversial speakers would have more leverage when they want to appear at colleges.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Top Official at Justice Dept. Says More Colleges Should Punish Hecklers.” Because “free speech” matters, right up until someone laughs at a Keebler Elf during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Trump’s 5G proposal is destructive nonsense,” says The Verge. “Let’s socialize wireless networks in America. Just keep Trump out of it,” says The Outline.

Via the Broadcast Law Blog: “Time for the FCC to Review Children’s Television Educational Programming Obligations of Broadcasters? Commissioner O’Rielly Thinks So.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Newark has control once again of its public school system, which the state took away from the city 22 years ago.

Via BocaNews: “Parents throughout South Palm Beach County are using iReady on behalf of their children, possibly skewing scores – and usefulness – of the $6-Million diagnostic computer system.” iReady is owned by Curriculum Associates.

Discovery Creemos Academy – formerly known as the Bradley Academy of Excellence – a charter school in Goodyear, Arizona, has abruptly closed its doors.

Via Chalkbeat: “Rocketship becomes latest charter network to pull the plug on Tennessee’s Achievement School District.”

Via NPR: “In D.C., 34 Percent Of Graduates Received A Diploma Against District Policy.”

Via The Atlantic: “The Libraries Bringing Small-Town News Back to Life.”

Immigration and Education

Via NPR: “Nearly 9,000 DACA Teachers Face An Uncertain Future.”

Education in the Courts

Via The Phoenix New Times: “The Battle Isn’t Over Between ASU Professor and Cop Who Arrested Her in 2014.”

“Free College”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In West Virginia, Free Community College Would Come With a Drug Test.”

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Buzzfeed: “Betsy DeVos Wants To Put Your Student Loan Money On A Bank Card.” All the better to surveil you with, my dear.

Via The Washington Post: “Use of financial aid continues to grow, though fewer students are borrowing for college.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

“The U.S. Department of Education on Monday distributed proposals for rewriting the gainful-employment rule, which the Trump administration halted last summer,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “The department’s do-over on the vocational education rule, which applies to for-profit college programs and to nondegree programs at nonprofit colleges, continues with a negotiated rule-making session next week.” The proposal would expand the gainful employment rule to all schools that receive federal aid, but it would remove any penalties for schools that fail to meet acceptable levels.

An op-ed in The Washington Post: “On ITT and the Education Department, no more excuses.”

More on bootcamps in the job training section below.

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

It’s baaaaack: “Return of the MOOC,” The City Journal tells us.

Via The Jordan Times: “ launches new platform for school learners, teachers.”

“The problem with online charter schools,” according to Vox.

There’s some (sorta) MOOC-related news in the venture funding section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…

The Baffler on Turning Point USA and its harassment campaigns.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Scholars Defend Stanford Professor Receiving Threats.”

Via The Triton: “White Supremacist UCSD Student Disrupts Lecture.”

Columbia Plans to Commit Unfair Labor Practice in Hopes of Denying Graduate Student Workers Their Labor Rights,” says Remaking the University. (Disclosure: I currently have a fellowship at the Columbia J School.) More on Columbia University’s dastardly move in Inside Higher Ed. Happy 50th anniversary of 1968, Columbia administrators!

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Hypothetical ‘Shark Tank’ Session Sets Off Real Worries at U. of Baltimore.”

Via the Lansing State Journal: “Some faculty leaders at Michigan State University are threatening to seek the resignations of the entire MSU Board of Trustees if it follows through with a reported plan to appoint John Engler interim president.”

Via the AP: “Two students were shot and wounded, one critically, inside a Los Angeles middle school classroom Thursday morning and police arrested a female student believed to be 12 years old, authorities said.”

MIT students are being scared straight with episodes of ‘Black Mirror’,” says The Outline. Funny that the Media Lab turns to fiction. Student could read about the actual history of MIT, if they want to think about the ethical implications of their work, and its ties to the military industrial complex.

Via The New York Times: “Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever: Happiness.”

“‘Happiness 101’ Courses Are a Necessary Stop-Gap for the Campus Mental Health Crisis,” says Slate. Ah yes, this old canard: “positive psychology” in lieu of addressing underlying structural issues.

Via NPR: “Student Journalists Launch Website After They Say School Censored Their Paper.”

Via Buzzfeed: “This Student Newspaper Let A Nazi Sympathizer Write For Them.”

(To be clear, these are two different student newspapers.)

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via The New York Times: “University of Pennsylvania Takes Away Steve Wynn’s Honors. And Bill Cosby’s, Too.”

Via Bitcoin Magazine: “Pilot Project Verifies Academic Credentials on the Bitcoin Blockchain.” Phew! Good thing Bill Cosby’s degree wasn’t on the blockchain as there’d be no adjusting it, amirite? The pilot, by the way, is at University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Higher Learning Commission has placed Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago on probation, citing financial troubles that threaten to undermine its educational programs.”

Memos from HR

Stanford researcher Candace Thille is heading to Amazon. The “pioneer in the science of learning,” as Inside Higher Ed puts it, will help the technology company with its internal training program.

Via Politico: “Families for Excellent Schools CEO fired after investigation into ‘inappropriate behavior’.” That’s Jeremiah Kittredge, who’s run one of the best funded pro-charter advocacy groups in the company.

New hires at the Department of Education.

The Business of Job Training

Inside Higher Ed on “Phase 2 for Boot Camps.”

Via Techcrunch: “Google expands Howard West to a full-year program to train more black engineers.”

Contests and Awards

Well, well, well. I was wondering when #metoo would come to education technology. The Verge reports that “GDC rescinds award for Atari founder after criticisms of sexually inappropriate behavior.” That’s Nolan Bushnell.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Hey Alexa, Can You Help Kids Learn More?asks Michael Horn in Education Next. (The “voice-activated classroom” would discriminate against some people with disabilities and against people who do not speak English, but hey.)

(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 is bringing computer education to Alaska Airlines’ in-flight entertainment,” says Techcrunch. Because MOOCs on an airplane proved to be such an effective mode of instruction.

Via Techcrunch: “Sphero’s CEO discusses the company’s shift from Star Wars to schools.” The company, which has raised some $107.4 million, laid off 45 employees last week. So time for some friendly PR, I guess.

Via The New York Times: “Turn Off Messenger Kids, Health Experts Plead to Facebook.”

Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein and Phil Hill are launching a “matchmaking service” called the Empirical Educator Project. Edsurge has some of the details.

Via The New York Times: “School Shooting Simulation Trains Teachers for the Worst.”

Via Campus Technology: “One of the founders and former CEO of online proctoring company ProctorU, Don Kassner, is launching a new venture: MonitorEDU, an online proctoring service powered by technology from ProctorExam. Kassner created Proctor U in 2008 with colleague Jarrod Morgan while serving as president of Andrew Jackson University (now known as New Charter University), and left the company in 2016.” Sounds like there’s some proctoring company drama underlying this story.

Campus Technology also says that Indiana University is expanding its use of Salesforce. It’s just a rewrite of a press release, sure, but I’m noting it here so as to monitor how Salesforce attempts to “platform” education.

It’s 2018, and folks are still so desperate to make VR a thing.

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Google for Education Launches Beta for ‘Create Your Own’ Virtual Reality Experience.” And by “experience,” they mean “uploading a 360 degree image to Google and adding some explanatory content.”

How a Montessori classroom of fourth graders is like an International Baccalaureate classroom is a real article – and a good demonstration of how Montessori can be reshaped to fit any agenda. Sponsored by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, of course.

“Why Students Are Still Spending So Much for College Textbooks,” according to The Atlantic.

“Reflections on 20 Years of Open Content: Lessons from Open Source” by David Wiley.

Via Techcrunch: “Pearson is adding LittleBits kits to its STEM curriculum.”

Edsurge on “An Education ‘Intrapreneur’ on the Difficulties Innovating in a Conservative Industry.” That’s former Pearson exec Larry Singer, who now runs Open Up Resources.

Please stop making up cute variations of the word “entrepreneur.” Please stop.

You can learn a lot about how entrepreneurs view education when they’re talking with their investors about the business.

Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers. Ugh.

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Americans don’t fear artificial intelligence as much as is commonly believed, a new study by Gallup and Northeastern University has found. Officials at Northeastern say that it shows higher education should be more involved in training people for the artificial intelligence world.” More on the survey from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Elsevier on “The Augmented Researcher: What Does 2018 Hold for AI in Publishing?”

Edsurge predicts the future of ed-tech. Or at least the year in ed-tech.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Via The Washington Post: “Koch network laying groundwork to fundamentally transform America’s education system.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Liveedu.TV has raised $10 million in an initial coin offering. Liveedu.TV is a learn-to-code platform. ICOs are… something else indeed.

The digital reading platform Ellabook has raised $6.3 million from Qingsong Fund, QF Capital, and Vtron Investment.

Packback has raised $4.2 million from University Ventures, Mark Cuban, and Hyde Park Angels. The digital textbook provider has raised $8.2 million total.

Lambda School has raised $4 million from Y Combinator and Tandem Capital. The coding school has raised $4.1 million total and plans to use the money to expand its income-sharing agreement program.

LearnPlatform, the startup formerly known as Learntrials, has raised $3.2 million from New Markets Venture Partners and Emerson Collective. The company, which helps schools evaluate their ed-tech usage, has raised $4 million total.

TeacherGaming has raised $1.6 million from Founders Factory and Makers Fund. The company sold MinecraftEDU to Microsoft in 2016.

Edovo has raised $250,000 from Twilio. The company provides “tablet-based educational content for incarcerated individuals.”

LivingTree has acquired Edbacker.

ASSIST has acquired the online school Advantages School International.

Asteria Education has acquired ECS Learning Systems.

Taskstream, Tk20, and LiveText have merged to launch a new company: Watermark.

The former for-profit higher ed chain Laureate Education – it’s now a “public benefit company” – is selling off a number of its schools, Inside Higher Ed reports.

Coursera co-founder “Andrew Ng officially launches his $175M AI Fund,” says Techcrunch. It isn’t really a fund per se. But that’s okay. MOOCs weren’t really MOOCs either.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

EdTech Strategies’ Doug Levin has released a new study on the many security and privacy issues with school (and school district and department of education) websites. More coverage in Edsurge and in Boing Boing.

“It’s Time to Make Student Privacy a Priority,” says the EFF.

Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s What Happens When Your Mom Or Dad Steals Your Identity.”

Via The Guardian: “Amazon patents wristband that tracks warehouse workers’ movements.” Worth thinking about, I’d say, in light of the Candace Thille news (see above), as well as the announcement that the technology giant is working with Berkshire Hathaway and Chase to form a new healthcare company.

Via The Guardian: “Fitness tracking app Strava gives away location of secret US army bases.” The story is not directly education-related, of course, except for all those ridiculous arguments that we need some sort of “FitBit for education.”

“The Latest Data Privacy Debacleby Zeynep Tufekci

FERPA, COPPA and the myths we tell each other” by Jim Siegl.

The GM of a “situational awareness technology company” offers thoughts on “Preventing Problems with Predictive Analyticsin the Getting Smart blog. This article is mostly about fire extinguishers, oddly. Might I suggest, one way you can avoid problems – something not mentioned in the article – is by not using predictive analytics.

More predictive analytics PR.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

I’ve run the numbers on ed-tech funding for the month of January – details available on

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Roughly three million Americans live more than 25 miles from a broad-access public college and do not have the sort of high-speed internet connection necessary for online college programs, according to a new report from the Urban Institute’s education policy program.”

From Educause: “Higher Education’s Top 10 Strategic Technologies and Trends for 2018.”

Alex Usher reviews George Mason University professor Brian Caplan’s new book The Case Against Education.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “International Grad Students’ Interest in American Higher Ed Marks First Decline in 14 Years.”

Also via The CHE: “4-Year Colleges That Drew the Highest Percentages of First-Time Students From Out of State, Fall 2016.”

Via Campus Technology: “Personalized Text Messages Boost STEM Student Persistence in Community College Study.”

Edsource on an Aspen Institute study: “Student social, emotional and academic development becoming more intertwined in K–12 classrooms.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Nearly three-quarters of ninth graders tracked in a major federal study had received some kind of postsecondary education or training within seven years – and nearly a quarter of them had left their programs without a credential of any sort.”

The Atlantic’s Melinda D. Anderson on “What Kids Are Really Learning About Slavery.” Historian Angus Johnston posted a series of questions on Twitter about the claims made in the Teaching Tolerance report about what students do and do not know about slavery.

“‘White Supremacists Are Targeting College Campuses Like Never Before’,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education. More on the report from the Anti-Defamation League in Inside Higher Ed.

Via Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum: “Did new evaluations and weaker tenure make fewer people want to become teachers? A new study says yes.”

And Matt Barnum is my journalist hero this week for poking some holes in the claims made in Bloom’s famous “2 Sigma” study – a study that gets trotted out all the time to justify various education technology projects: “Why ‘personalized learning’ advocates like Mark Zuckerberg keep citing a 1984 study – and why it might not say much about schools today.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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