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

From the US Department of Education’s Press Office: “U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today congratulated both Scott Stump and James Blew on being confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education and Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, respectively.”

There’s more news from the White House in the job training section below. And the immigration section below is full of monstrosity from this administration.

“The FCC Is Threatening to Gut a Program That Provides Internet Access to Minorities,” Pacific Standard reports.

Via Wired: “Juul’s Lobbying Could Send Its Public Image Up in Smoke.” At least the e-cigarette company (which targets teens) offers a social-emotional learning curriculum, right? I mean, clearly that’s what all the responsible corporations do.

Via The Washington Post: “‘They are shooting at a church’: Inside the 15-hour siege by Nicaraguan paramilitaries on university students.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via The Boston Globe: “Four decades after court-ordered busing, Boston’s education gap remains.”

Via the AP: “District of Columbia Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has issued her first-ever veto, rejecting legislation that would allow high school seniors absent for more than six weeks of class to graduate.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Denver superintendent Tom Boasberg is stepping down after nearly 10 years.”

Via Poynter: “As local newsrooms shrink, college journalists fill in the gaps.”

Education in the Courts (Education and the Cops)

Via the AP: “Black students wrongly accused of leaving without paying.” Leaving an IHOP, that is. Incoming freshmen at Washington University, that is.

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Curriculum Provider Loses Court Fight With FedEx Over Copying ‘Open’ Materials.” (Not sure why the quotation marks around “open” here.)

Via The New York Times: “E.U. Fines Google $5.1 Billion in Android Antitrust Case.”

Immigration and Education

Via Buzzfeed: “‘I Feel Like I Am Trash’: Immigrant Children Describe Squalid Conditions In Detention Centers Along The US Border.”

Via ProPublica: “Immigrant Shelters Drug Traumatized Teenagers Without Consent.”

Via Wired: “Nonprofit for Migrants Declines a Donation from Salesforce.” That would be Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), which refused the money after Salesforce declined to stop working with the CPB. It would be great to see education technology organizations also turn away this money, knowing that – if nothing else – children and families are harmed by anti-immigration policies and practices. (Those who’ve taken money from Salesforce this year include Edsurge and

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A Russian national who was charged Monday with conspiracy to act as an agent of Russia without registering as a foreign agent entered the U.S. in 2016 on a student visa.”

“Free College”

“Why Are Free College Programs So Successful?” asks Pacific Standard.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The nonprofit National University System announced today that it plans to acquire the for-profit Northcentral University, which specializes in online education in graduate and doctoral-level programs.” (Related: George Veletsianos makes a keen observation about an acquisition National University announced last week – one that relates to the new buzzword “precision education.”)

Via AZ Central: “Grand Canyon University non-profit status will cost K–12 schools, Phoenix millions in tax revenue.”

“For-Profit Bridgepoint Says Its Colleges Will Become Non-Profit (But It Won’t),” says David Halperin.

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

“The cost of maintaining an online course for several years can eventually outstrip the launch cost – but the investment might just pay off,” says Inside Higher Ed.

Via The New York Post: “Education department investigating high school’s online courses.” That’s Westchester Square Academy in the Bronx.

There’s more MOOC news in the credential section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of California is on the brink of eliminating an 11-year-old $60 tuition surcharge in what would be the system’s first year-over-year decrease in almost 20 years.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Illinois at Chicago is poised to acquire the nearby John Marshall Law School after the University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved a plan Thursday that puts the transaction on track to close by next fall.”

As part of his new show, Sacha Baron Cohen posed as a Reed College professor to dupe conservatives. Because of course.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via Class Central: “Analysis of 450 MOOC-Based Microcredentials Reveals Many Options But Little Consistency.”


The New York Times on NYC’s Specialized High Schools Admissions Test: “Does Admissions Exam for Elite High Schools Measure Up? No One Knows.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “College Board backtracks on plan to begin the AP World History exam in the year 1450, saying it will now begin in 1200.”

“After a wild testing year, Tennessee student scores mostly dip – but there are a few bright spots,” says Chalkbeat.

Go, School Sports Team!

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Louisville Will Change Stadium Name After Papa John’s Founder Used a Racial Slur.” Racist. It was racist.

Via The Atlantic: “The Downsides of America’s Hyper-Competitive Youth-Soccer Industry.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s football coach, Larry Fedora, on Wednesday said the sport is ‘under attack’ from safety advocates, with long-term stakes moving far beyond the playing field.”

“I fear the game will be pushed so far from what we know that we won’t recognize it in 10 years. And if it does, our country will go down, too.”

Labor and Management

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The President Who Helped Plot to Divide His Campuses Will Step Down.” That would be Randy J. Dunn, president of Southern Illinois University.

More hiring and retiring news in the national and state/local politics sections above.

The Business of Job Training

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers calls for an emphasis on the ‘reskilling’ of adults in their prime working years, such as through apprenticeships or by opening up federal Pell Grants to shorter-term education programs.”

I’m including this news here because 1) WeWork is making a number of education plays (acquiring bootcamps, launching a private K–12 school, for example) and 2) WeWork’s founder is Gwenyth Paltrow’s cousin (small world!), which makes these sorts of policy moves chuckle-worthy (to me, at least). Anyway, Techcrunch reports that “WeWork takes meat off the menu as part of environmental policy drive.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Schools Can Now Get Facial Recognition Tech for Free. Should They?asks Wired.

Is Blackboard dying?asks Tony Bates.

Colleges Can’t – or Won’t – Track Where Ph.D.s Land Jobs. Should Disciplinary Associations?asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Does Online Education Help Low-income Students Succeed?asks Edsurge.

Schools and Colleges Try Virtual Reality Science Labs. But Can VR Replace a Cadaver?asks Edsurge.

Can AR/VR Improve Learning?asks Edsurge.

(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 big ed-tech downgrade news this week makes an appearance in the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section. That is, the announcement from RealNetworks that they’re offering facial recognition software to schools for free. I’ve put most of the links in the surveillance section, because obviously that’s where it fits best.

Despite Magic Leap being vaporware (backed by some $2.3 billioin in venture capital), Edsurge is certain it’s going to “transform learning.” Because of course! Here’s the prediction: “Mixed Reality Will Transform Learning (and Magic Leap Joins Act One).” And do note all the hype out of Edsurge this week about VR. It’s almost as if someone is paying for the marketing. (Narrator voice: someone is.)

Bless this headline (from The 74) ’s heart: “Educators & Experts Say Personalized Learning Is Not About Technology or Money but Leadership and Relationships.”

Just grand that Facebook is running a bunch of media literacy and digital training courses for community colleges. I mean, clearly the company has a strong grasp on the politics of information. Not. From The Verge: “Mark Zuckerberg says Holocaust deniers are making an honest mistake.” From The Atlantic: “Mark Zuckerberg Is Doubly Wrong About Holocaust Denial.” More about this in my newsletter tomorrow…

Via Techcrunch: “Messenger Kids launches in Mexico.”

Compare/contrast that headline with this one, also in Techcrunch: “Facebook and Instragram change to crack down on underage children.”

The Google blog post announcingCourse Kit,” a tool that will integrate Google Drive with the LMS. And the subsequent churnalism.

Roblox responds to the hack that allowed a child’s avatar to be raped in its game,” Techcrunch reports. JFC.

Unizin is partnering with TurnItIn. “Unizin Adds Student Writing Data to its Data Platform for a Clearer Portrait of Learner Success,” says the Campus Technology headline. (Unizin, for those who keep forgetting, is a consortium of schools who are using the Instructure learning management system to build out some sort of "learning ecosystem" or something like that.)

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Via The New York Post: “Doctors slam sex robot ‘family mode’.”

“Where Are The Robot Teachers?” asks Peter Greene.

Robots in the classroom? Preparing for the automation of teaching” by Neil Selwyn.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Sponsored content on Edsurge this week, paid for by the Gates Foundation, includes this.

Abl School has received a $3.2 million grant (?) from the Gates Foundation to a new scheduling program, says fellow Gates Foundation grant recipient Edsurge.

Speaking of Gates, the AP writes about “The Billionaires Pushing Charter School Expansion in States.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Dismissed by KIPP over sexual harassment allegations, co-founder Mike Feinberg starts new organization.” The new organization is called the Texas School Venture Fund, and it will help fund charter schools.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

Chinese tutoring company Zuoyebang has raised $350 million from New Enterprise Associates, Goldman Sachs, GGV Capital, Sequoia Capital China, Coatue Management, Tiantu Capital, Primavera Capital Group, and Taihe Capital. It’s raised a total of $585 million.

Galvanize has raised $25 million from ABS Capital Partners, University Ventures, New Markets Venture Partners, Catalyst Investors, and The Colorado Impact Fund. The coding bootcamp (a.k.a. job training company) has raised $117.2 million total. The company also announced that it has acquired the coding bootcamp (a.k.a. job training company) Hack Reactor.

Unacademy has raised $21 million from Sequoia Capital, SAIF Partners, Blume Ventures, and Nexus Ventures. The Indian online education company has raised $38.5 million total.

Kenzie Academy has raised $4.2 million from Rethink Education, Learn Capital, Kelly Services, Gratitude Railroad, and Butler University. The coding bootcamp (a.k.a. job training company) has raised $5.8 million total.

Alma Campus, a social network for college students, has raised $1 million from Norwest Venture Partners, Felicis Ventures, and Marissa Mayer.

Volley has raised an undisclosed amount of money from JPMorgan Chase. Up til now, the “AI” textbook company has raised $7.3 million.

Showbie has acquired Socrative from MasteryConnect. (MasteryConnect acquired Socrative in 2014.)

Golden Gate Capital has acquired The Learning Experience.

GEMS Education may not go public after all, says Reuters.

Research data from Edsurge on VC investment in the US is in the “research” section below.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via Education Week: “Facial-Recognition Systems Pitched as School-Safety Solutions, Raising Alarms.” More on this terrible idea from RealNetworks via CNET and from Wired.

The reports are starting to come back from those surveilled by ISTE at its conference last month. “My Flawed ISTE 2018 Journey Report,” writes Tim Stahmer. That people were asked to surrender their privacy and security for incorrect data claiming to offer "personalized learning" is just perfect. Really.

The Wall Street Journal profiles EAB, examining how college surveil and market to prospective students.

Via The Register: “Capita strikes again: Bug in UK-wide school info management system risks huge data breach.” Capita, to be clear, is the name of the student information system used by some 21,000 schools in the UK.

Another invocation of Google Maps as a metaphor for student learning data in Edsurge. One note: Google Maps is not an “an open ecosystem for accurate, real-time geospatial and navigation data.” It’s a proprietary ecosystem, one that’s subsidized by advertising dollars, one that charges businesses to use its APIs, one that sucks data from municipalities but does not feel it has a civic responsibility to give data back to the public in return, and one that is increasingly shaping how we understand geographic space. The Google Empire. But sure sure, great metaphor for the future of education, guys.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via Education Week: “There’s No Single Profile of a Violent Student, Secret Service Says in New Report.” But fuck it. Let’s profile the hell out of students anyway, right?

“Researchers find that filters don’t prevent porn,” says Techcrunch.

“Many caregivers and policy makers consider Internet filters a useful technology for keeping young people safe online. Although this position might make intuitive sense, there is little empirical evidence that Internet filters provide an effective means to limit children’s and adolescents’ exposure to online sexual material.”

“Why are the financial rewards from higher education falling?” asks Bryan Alexander. It’s almost as though we cannot talk about wealth and income and higher ed without looking more broadly at trends and institutions outside of higher ed.

Via Edsurge: “2018 Halftime Ka’Ching Report: U.S. Edtech Raises $739M in Venture Funding.”

Mindset Marketing, Behaviorism, and Deficit Ideology” by Ryan Boren.

Research from Luci Pangrazio and Neil Selwyn: “‘It’s Not Like It’s Life or Death or Whatever’: Young People’s Understandings of Social Media Data.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Do suspensions lead to higher dropout rates and other academic problems? In New York City, the answer could be yes.”

Via Education Week: “One-Third of Parents Fear for Their Child’s Safety at School.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Council for Advancement and Support of Education has acquired the Voluntary Support of Education survey from the Council for Aid to Education and is using the annual survey to help build a clearinghouse for global advancement data.”

Via The New York Times: “Women Making Science Videos on YouTube Face Hostile Comments.”

“Who Lives in Education Deserts?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education. “More People Than You Think.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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