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

Via Politico: “National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning delivered dozens of letters to President Donald Trump from her students on Wednesday afternoon, with one of the letters urging the president to ‘take care’ with his language about immigrant and refugee communities.”

Some thoughts on the anniversary of “A Nation at Risk”:

Via NPR’s Anya Kamenetz: “What ‘A Nation At Risk’ Got Wrong, And Right, About U.S. Schools.”

“‘A Nation at Risk’ and the Re-Segregation of Schoolsby John Warner.

Via Chalkbeat: “Betsy DeVos’s first Detroit visit featured Girl Scouts, robots, and talk of beluga whales.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

“Meet The New California Counterculture: College Republicansby the incredible Scaachi Koul.

Via “Mystery pooper at N.J. high school’s track turned out to be superintendent, cops say.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District has a new superintendent: former investment banker Austin Beutner.

And speaking of LAUSD superintendents, John Deasy will now run the school district in Stockton, California.

Via Chalkbeat: “Indiana education officials are taking another look at regulating virtual charter schools.”

“American Higher Education Hits a Dangerous Milestone,” says The Atlantic. “As younger generations become more racially diverse, many states are allocating fewer tax dollars to public colleges and universities.”

Why Are New York’s Schools Segregated? It’s Not as Simple as Housing,” says The New York Times.

There’s more on labor issues in Arizona (and elsewhere) in the “labor and management” section below.

Immigration and Education

Via The Financial Times: “Home Office told thousands of foreign students to leave UK in error.” The story involves the Educational Testing Service (ETS) which used an algorithm to determine whether or not students had cheated on an English-language exam. Turns out the algorithm was only accurate in about 80% of cases, meaning some 7000 students had their visas revoked in error.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “New Student Visa Data Show Overall Declines.”

Education in the Courts

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “American U. Student Sues Neo-Nazi Website Over Online Harassment.” That’s Taylor Dumpson, “American University’s first female, black student-government president,” who’s filed a lawsuit against Andrew Anglin, who runs the website The Daily Stormer.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Several years after Mid-Continent University shut down and filed for bankruptcy, the institution is suing former students for unpaid student loans.”

Via the East Valley Tribune: “ Goldwater Institute mulls suing districts over closures as walkout enters third day.” As the strike in Arizona has ended, I’m guessing this threat will dissipate … for the time being.

The Business of Financial Aid

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Private Lenders Eye Graduate Loan Market.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Department of Education told a federal judge Thursday that it would terminate a January contract award to two debt collection firms as it reassesses its strategy for serving borrowers in default on their federal student loans.”

There’s more financial aid news in the privacy section below – because, you guessed it, data breach.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

There’s for-profit news down in “the business of education” section below.

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

EdX posted a blog post this week, announcing “Furthering the edX Mission, Forging a Future Path.” In the tenth paragraph, the organization says,

We believe that we need to move toward a financial model that allows edX and our partners to achieve sustainability and we acknowledge that means moving away from our current model of offering virtually everything for free.

So much MOOC news! (Or “news,” I suppose is more apt.)

MOOCs Are Global. So Where Do They Stand With New European Privacy Laws?” asks Edsurge.

Also via Edsurge: “How Harvard Is Trying to Update the Extension School for the MOOC Age.”

Meanwhile on Campus…

Trump’s Lawyer Went to the Worst Law School in America,” says Politico. That is the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan.

Holy shit – this story on the Noble Charter Schools in Chicago:

One described an issue raised by others at some Noble campuses, regarding girls not having time to use the bathroom when they get their menstrual periods.

“We have (bathroom) escorts, and they rarely come so we end up walking out (of class) and that gets us in trouble,” she texted. “But who wants to walk around knowing there’s blood on them? It can still stain the seats. They just need to be more understanding."

At certain campuses, teachers said administrators offer an accommodation: They allow girls to tie a Noble sweater around their waist, to hide the blood stains. The administrator then sends an email to staff announcing the name of the girl who has permission to wear her sweater tied around her waist, so that she doesn’t receive demerits for violating dress code.

Via The AP: “Mom Suspects Racism After Sons Are Pulled From College Tour.” The two were Native American teens from New Mexico; the school in question: Colorado State University.

Steve Kolowich is such a great reporter. Here’s his latest on “How a tiny protest at the U. of Nebraska turned into a proxy war for the future of campus politics.”

Via Politico: “UC Berkeley panel blasts motives of conservative speakers.”

Here’s the real threat to “free speech” on campus: The AP on ties between the Koch Brothers and George Mason University. Via Inside Higher Ed: “Uncovering Koch Role in Faculty Hires.” Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “George Mason’s President Says Some Donor Agreements Fell ‘Short’ of Academic Standards.” Also via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why George Mason’s Agreements With the Koch Foundation Raised Red Flags.” “Some Thoughts on the Kochlings at GMU” by L. D. Burnett.

Via The Atlantic: “Cosby’s Honorary Degree Is the First Yale Has Rescinded in 300-Plus Years.”

The New York Times on allegations at Fordham University: “They Revealed Harassment Claims Against a Professor, and Were Disciplined.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Famed Cancer Researcher Placed on Leave After Sexual-Harassment Accusations.” That’s Inder Verma at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Via Chalkbeat: “Meet the NYC principal in the spotlight for defending desegregation against angry parents.” That’s Henry Zymeck of the Computer School.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “4 Months Into His Tenure, a Flagship’s President Proposes 50 Faculty Layoffs.” That’s Seth Bodnar, age 38, the head of the University of Montana.

Alex Usher onMay ’68 - May ’18?”

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools seeks a second chance. Over the years it’s accredited some questionable institutions that have been likened to visa mills.”

“Why Competency-Based Education Stalled (But Isn’t Finished)” – according to Edsurge and SNHU’s Paul LeBlanc, that is.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Infractions committees in all three National College Athletic Association divisions have imposed punishments in recent weeks, on sports programs at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, the University of Southern Indiana and California State University at Sacramento.”

Labor and Management

Via NPR: “Arizona Teachers End Walkout But Vow To Keep Fighting: ‘Now We Must Win The War’.”

Via The Harvard Crimson: “Harvard Will Bargain With Grad Union.” Your turn, Columbia.

Via The New York Times: “Teacher Pay Is So Low in Some U.S. School Districts That They’re Recruiting Overseas.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “A Stunning Ouster in Tennessee Gets Ugly and Feels Like Political Payback.” That is, the firing of Beverly Davenport, the chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Via The New York Times: “Success Academy Chairman, Daniel Loeb, Is Stepping Down.”

Scott Morgan is stepping down from his role as the head of Education Pioneers.

The Business of Job Training

Bloomberg on WeWork: “WeWork Accounts for Consciousness.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Is Liberty the Largest Christian University?asks Inside Higher Ed.

Are Etextbooks Affordable Now?asks Inside Higher Ed.

Amazon’s Alexa is about to get a lot smarter – could it help teach?asks Donald Clark.

Are Edtech Companies Doing Enough to Protect Student Privacy?asks The Tech Edvocate.

(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

Facebook had its big developer conference this week, and honestly I couldn’t bear to pay attention. I have no idea if there were education-related announcements. I did see this headline though: “Facebook’s Free Basics program ended quietly in Myanmar last year.”

Via The Verge: “Amazon is launching a $23 subscription book box for kids.”

Via The New York Times: “Boy Scouts Will Drop the ‘Boy’ in Its Namesake Program, as It Welcomes Girls Next Year.”

“A Landslide of Classic Art Is About to Enter the Public Domain,” says The Atlantic.

Via GeekWire: “Project Unicorn signs first companies to help schools handle the hairball of edtech data.”

Speaking of unicorns, Martin Weller onSensible Ed Tech.”

“More Growth for Handshake” (a career services company that’s had some privacy issues in the past), says Inside Higher Ed.

Via Techcrunch: “Thousands of academics spurn Nature’s new paid-access Machine Learning journal.”

The BBC on “The YouTube stars paid to promote cheating.”

Edsurge columnist Gordon Freedman says “The Lone Ranger Rides Again at ASU+GSV.” Don’t be fooled by the headline; there isn’t really anything in the article recognizing imperialist nostalgia or racist TV tropes.

Lots of suggestions this week for new academic disciplines where there may already be academic disciplines.

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

AI will soon beat pupils taught knowledge-based curriculum,” Schools Week claims. “Soon.” repeats this old story: “Personalised learning with the help of Artificial Intelligence will change the Education System.”

The Spoon on robot delivery vehicles: “Starship’s Robots are Headed for School and Corporate Campuses.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Leap Innovations has received $14 million from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to “introduce or expand personalized learning instructional models” in the Chicago Public Schools. “Personalized learning instructional models” is just chef finger kiss perfect.

Sponsored content, paid for by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, on Edsurge includes this.

Via The Seattle Times: “Gates Foundation pledges $158 million to fight poverty in U.S.” The story includes this nice little piece of historical revisionism:

While the foundation tried to improve education by focusing on issues like class size, testing and curriculum, they kept bumping into barriers from outside the classroom – primarily persistent poverty….

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Digital training company QuizRR has raised $1.3 million from Norrsken Founders Fund and Working Capital.

EdMobile has raised $826,000 from Unitus Seed Fund. The tutoring app has raised $1.5 million total.

Edwin has received an undisclosed amount of investment from Google for its tutoring app.

It’s not venture capital, but Misty, a company spun out of the educational robot-maker Sphero is “crowdfunding its personal robot,” Techcrunch says.

Activate Learning has acquired Conceptua Math.

Bain Capital has acquired the for-profit Penn Foster.

OOHLALA and DubLabs have merged.

“Chinese Tutoring Startup VIPKID Could Be On Its Way To A $500 Million Raise,” says Edsurge. Here’s the lede:

As teacher walkouts continue across the U.S. over low salaries, one edtech startup, VIPKID, is trying to get teachers to supplement their income by virtually tutoring students in China.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

Facebook Has Fired Multiple Employees for Snooping on Users,” Motherboard reports. This includes an employee who just this week was fired for allegedly using his access to Facebook data to stalk women.

Via ProPublica: “How to Wrestle Your Data From Data Brokers, Silicon Valley – and Cambridge Analytica.”

Privacy Postcards, or Poison Pill Privacy” by Bill Fitzgerald.

Via Consumer Reports: “What Parents Need to Know About the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition.”

Ed-tech in the Daily Mail! That’s always fun. This on ClassDojo: “Parents fear app is storing private data in the US on how their children behave as it harvests photos and video footage of thousands of British pupils.” And this in The Times: “ClassDojo is harvesting data on how British schoolchildren behave.” Ben Williamson offers some commentary.

Via The Outline: “ A pair of children’s smartwatch companies are in trouble for spying on kids.” The companies in question: Tinitell and Gator Group.

Via Campus Technology: “When Learning Analytics Violate Student Privacy.”

There’s a MOOC-related privacy story in the MOOC section above.

Via The Hill: “Student loan company says 16,500 borrowers’ personal info may have been disclosed.” The vendor in question: Access Group.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via Wired: “The Most-Cited Authors on Wikipedia Had No Idea.”

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Research Guidance for Ed-Tech Industry Updated on Usage, Other Criteria for ESSA Evidence Levels.”

Via Edsurge: “Pearson Efficacy Study Highlights the Challenge of Letting Students Retest.”

Via Education Week: “Is Curiosity as Good at Predicting Children’s Reading, Math Success as Self-Control? Study Says Yes.”

The Atlantic on a new report from the Third Way: “The University of California Stands Out Among Top Schools When It Comes to Serving Poor Students.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new report from EAB shows that part-time student success in community colleges is key to closing achievement gaps for minority students.”

“Worried About Risky Teenage Behavior? Make School Tougher,” says The New York Times.

Via the Pew Research Center: “Declining Majority of Online Adults Say the Internet Has Been Good for Society.”

Via Edsurge: “Study: Why Some Children’s Apps Might Not Be as Safe as You Think.”

The lede on this Edsurge article on a new survey from the University of Chicago is quite revealing about who the publication imagines its readers to be: “When you think about the industries driving innovation, startups are probably the first come to mind. But for most Americans, it turns out, education is leading the pack.” If you believe schools are sites of innovation, know that Edsurge does not see you as its audience.

Hooray for bogus statistics getting cited in the media. Congrats to The Sydney Morning Herald for this doozy: “‘You don’t learn that at university’: 40 per cent of degrees will soon be obsolete, report finds.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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