My apologies that this is a day late. Yesterday was the first day in over a year that I didn’t make a commit to GitHub (which I use to manage all my websites). I wish I could say I was on vacation; rather, I’m moving. Or rather, yesterday I moved. And thanks to the shining brilliance of American digital infrastructure there is no Internet yet in my new place.

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.

I thought for a brief moment this morning “what if I never do another ‘Friday news roundup’ ever again?” – that day is coming soon enough, my friends.

(National) Education Politics

Via The Verge: “France bans smartphone use in schools.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “President Trump on Tuesday signed into law an update to the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which will give states more authority to determine their own goals for the $1.2 billion federal grant program.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Trump to Nominate U. of Oklahoma Weather Expert to Top Science and Tech Post.” That’s Kelvin Droegemeier.

There’s more for-profit higher ed news – and how the Trump Administration has deep, deep ties to this industry – in the for-profit higher ed section below.

DeVos Seeks To Rewrite The Rules On Higher Ed,” says NPR.

There’s more DeVos news in the “philanthropy” section below.

Via NPR: “Department Of Education Plans To Change Rules For Regulating Colleges.” – “This includes how long-distance learning programs are defined.”

There’s more accreditation news out of the Department of Education in the accreditation section below.

“To Focus On Students’ Emotional Well-Being, India Tries ‘Happiness Classes’,” says NPR.

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via the New Haven Independent: “The school board [in New Haven, Connecticut] will allow Yale University continue with a study on students struggling to read, but tighter rules will be in place for any future research.” The study includes DNA testing.

Via Chalkbeat: “Tennessee approves first-ever computer science standards for K–8 schools.”

Via The Oregonian: “Oregon allows educators to be punished in secret.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Can in-house child care keep young teachers in the classroom? These districts want to find out.”

Immigration and Education

Via ProPublica: “Immigrant Youth Shelters: ‘If You’re a Predator, It’s a Gold Mine’.”

Via The Nation: “A 6-Year-Old Girl Was Sexually Abused in an Immigrant-Detention Center.”

Education in the Courts

Via The New York Times: “Alex Jones, Pursued Over Infowars Falsehoods, Faces a Legal Crossroads.” This asshole is trying to get the parents whose children died at Sandy Hook Elementary to pay for his court costs. (They’re suing him for defamation as he peddles the lie that there was, in fact, no shooting that day.)

Via “Kyle Sandler, former Round House owner, arrested in Texas on Lee County warrants.” Sandler is also the founder of the ed-tech company Nibletz.

The Business of Financial Aid

Via The New York Times: “Sex Scandal Toppled a Silicon Valley Chief. Investors Say, So What?” I’m putting this story here as it discusses VCs’ willingness to continue to invest in Mike Cagney, the former head of the student loan company SoFi.

Via The Guardian: “Student Loans Company ‘spied on vulnerable students’ social media’.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via The Atlantic: “Emails From Trump Education Official Reveal Ties to For-Profit Colleges.” Not sure we needed emails to know this, but hey.

Via Inside Higher Ed (who got the news from Politico): “A repeal of the Obama administration’s gainful-employment rule would cost $4.7 billion over 10 years, according to an Education Department cost analysis, Politico reported this week.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Strayer and Capella Merger Finalized.”

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

Via The Washington Post: “ A South Carolina school district just abolished snow days – and will make students learn online.” JFC. Let kids have a friggin’ snow day. Or just have them read a book. It’s probably better for them than stupid worksheets on their Chromebooks.

Meanwhile on Campus…

LeBron James opened a school. Well, LeBron James and the Akron public school district, that is. Via NPR: “Principal Of LeBron James’ I Promise School Talks About Mission.” Via Education Week: “LeBron James joins other celebrities who launched schools.”

Via The Wall Street Journal: “More Schools Are Buying ‘Active-Shooter’ Insurance Policies.”

Via The New York Times: “‘All I Did Was Be Black’: Police Are Called on College Student Eating Lunch.” That’s at Smith College.

Via The Atlantic: “How History Classes Helped Create a ‘Post-Truth’ America.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As Colleges Distance Themselves From Papa John’s Founder, Ball State U. Sticks With Him.”

Via Edsurge: “With a Year of Crisis Text Line Data, California Community Colleges Launch Mental Health Program.”

Via The LA Times: “Donation from prominent L.A. politician roils USC, which referred case to federal prosecutors.”

Via The Huffington Post: “Tokyo Medical School Allegedly Gave Women Lower Scores To Give More Spots To Men.” That would be Tokyo Medical University.

“What Happens When a College Flip-Flops on Using Race in Admissions?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“How can small colleges survive the 21st century?” asks Bryan Alexander.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via Inside Higher Ed: “DeVos Delays Decision on Troubled Accreditor ACICS.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Credential Registry is several months into its mission to document all U.S. credentials, but the finish line is further than ever.”


There’s some testing-related news in the “research” section below.

Go, School Sports Team!

Here’s another headline that’s probably better-suited for the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section, via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Ohio State Suspended Its Head Football Coach. Does That Show Universities Are Taking a Stronger Stand on Domestic Abuse?”

Via The Detroit Free Press: “University of Michigan alumnus Donald C. Graham helped pay for the university’s football team trip to France. His contribution came after U-M invested $102 million in his son’s private equity funds.”

Labor and Management

Via Buzzfeed: “Lawrence Krauss, Celebrity Scientist, Is Replaced At Top University Job Amid Harassment Allegations.” That job: head of the Origins Project at ASU.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Texas System Picks Former CUNY Leader as Its Next Chancellor.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Virginia Center Defends Hiring of Former Trump Official, Over Faculty Resistance.” That would be Marc Short. Later in the week, also via CHE: “2 Scholars Quit UVa Center Over Appointment of Former Trump Administration Official.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Georgia Tech’s Finance Chief Is Out After Campus Gave ‘Boat Load of Money’ to Company That Paid Him.” The official: Steven G. Swant, executive vice president for administration and finance. The company: RIB Software SE. More via AJC.

The Business of Job Training

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Teaching Tech-Based Farming: Microsoft Backs Program for Ag Group’s 650,000 Students.”

Via The Wall Street Journal: “Employers Eager to Hire Try a New Policy: ‘No Experience Necessary’.”

Contests and Awards

Via The New York Times: “Fields Medals Awarded to 4 Mathematicians.” Nope, no women. Again.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Are Diplomas in Your DNA?asks Wired.

Hey, Alexa, Should We Bring Virtual Assistants to Campus?asks The Chronicle of Higher Education.

(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

Apple is now a $1 trillion company,” says The Verge. “Apple Reaches $1 Trillion Valuation. Does the Profitable Glow Extend to Education?” asks EdWeek’s Market Brief. (Perhaps a headline better suited for the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section below.)

Another headline in the form of a question: “Makerspaces Nationwide Face the Question: Can Users 3D Print a Gun?” asks Edsurge. I wish some of these stories about this would reference the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 signed by one Ronald Reagan. But I wish a lot of things about tech journalism, I guess.

As a lover of pens and moleskin notebooks, I get the impulse behind this story in The Outline – “An ode to back to school shopping” – but when families are spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars buying school supplies for their children, I’m not sure we should be celebrating.

Blackboard’s Defense of its Finances is not Persuasive,” writes Michael Feldstein.

Also from Feldstein: “Moodle and Blackboard Cut Ties.”

Via Edsurge: “When School Districts Buy From Amazon, Are They Getting the Best Deal? Maybe Not.” EdWeek’s Market Brief also wrote about Amazon this week. Coincidence? Or press release?

Perhaps this story fits better in the “human resources” section below, but I’ll stick it here. Why not. This is where all the press releases and press release rewrites go. Via Techcrunch: “Duolingo hires its first chief marketing officer as active user numbers stagnate but revenue grows.”

Via Techcrunch: “Facebook launches a digital literacy library aimed at educators.”

Campuswire launches to redesign classroom communications,” writes Techcrunch.

Via Techcrunch: “LittleBits enlists the Avengers for its latest kit.”

Via Edsurge: “Behind Closed Doors: Edtech Entrepreneurs’ Biggest Challenges in 2018.” The words “privacy,” “security,” and “equity” appear nowhere in this article.

Via Edsurge: “Pearson’s Former Product Chief Reflects on the 4 Megatrends Shaping Global Education.” Shocking, I know, but apparently “technology” is a “megatrend.”

Twitter is funding college professors to audit its platform for toxicity,” writes The Verge. Something about algorithms to track when folks are being “uncivil.” Great. What could possibly go wrong with that?

I hope all your neurobollocks warning bells go off when you read this interview Edsurge conducted with former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich on “student brains.”

Oooh, I am sensing a trend here. “Whole Brain Teaching Is Weird – and Weirdly Viral,” Edsurge wants us to know.

I also hope that folks approach “precision education” with a lot more skepticism too. (See the story above about DNA testing struggling students in New Haven.) Here’s Laura Gogia with two articles on how this might work: 1 and 2.

Via Edsurge: “As College Innovation Efforts Grow, So Do Warnings of a ‘McDonaldization’ of Higher Ed.” Perhaps this headline demonstrates why “innovation” in education is a so often a meaningless (at best) term.

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

Via The Hechinger Report: “How artificial intelligence could help teachers do a better job.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Via NPR: “DeVos Family Money Is All Over The News Right Now.”

Via Chalkbeat: “With big names and $200 million, a new group is forming to push for the ‘portfolio model’.”

Here’s a great example of how corporate philanthropy works (and works in very self-serving ways), via the Google blog: “Five new grants to support CS education research.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

DreamBox Learning has raised $130 million from The Rise Fund. The adaptive learning company has raised $175.6 million total. (And Arne Duncan has joined its board of directors – that makes it, I believe, the second ed-tech company’s board he sits on. EDITED TO ADD: Actually, it is the third. He also sits on the board of TurnItIn.)

Reach Capital has closed an $82 million round. Investors in the VC firm include Sesame Workshop, TAL Education, the Los Angeles Police and Fire Pensions fund, and Hall Capital Partners.

Perhaps this isn’t directly education-related, but I think it’s worth considering how talk of the “gig economy” is seeping into education-adjacent work. WeeCare has raised $4.2 million in funding from Wavemaker Partners, Social Capital, Amplify.LA, Fuel Capital, and Fika Ventures. The company offers a platform for people to turn their home into childcare facilities; it also offers training and licensing.

Weld North Education has acquired Reasoning Mind.

Class Central writes thatY Combinator’s Startup School MOOC To Give Out $10,000 to 100 Companies.” “Give out” here means “equity-free venture funding.”

From the Pearson website: “Pearson 2018 half-year results.” Related, this from EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Investors Pressure Pearson CEO for Details on Sale of U.S. K–12 Curriculum.”

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

The NYT’s E. K. Moore on some of the research Doug Levin has been conducting about ad trackers (and the like): “The Information on School Websites Is Not as Safe as You Think.”

Via The New York Times' Natasha Singer: “For Sale: Survey Data on Millions of High School Students.” The story prompted the College Board to respond and re-examine its data-for-sale policies, so that’s a win.

Big Data Is Getting Bigger. So Are the Privacy and Ethical Questions,” Goldie Blumenstyk writes. This includes a company called Degree Analytics that tracks students’ location data using their cellphones – “Some colleges are using [the data] to improve the kind of advice they might send to students, like a text-message reminder to go to class if they’ve been absent.”

There’s more news about spying on students in the financial aid section above.

“Will Majoring in Psychology Make You Better Off? The Government Wants to Know,” writes The Wall Street Journal.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

I ran the numbers on the amount of venture capital in education for the month of July. (But I ran them before DreamBox Learning announced its $130 million round.)

From Pew: “Most Americans say higher ed is heading in wrong direction, but partisans disagree on why.”

Via Chalkbeat: “More students are taking AP exams, but researchers don’t know if that helps them.”

Questionable survey data is questionable.

Via Wired: “How Technology Shapes the Way We Read.”

Via The Atlantic: “What Rereading Childhood Books Teaches Adults About Themselves.”

“Mea culpa: there is a crisis in the humanities,” writes Ben Schmidt.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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