Law and Politics

The FTC unveiled the latest version of COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) this week. I covered this news a bit in my recent look at the “politics of ed-tech” because certainly some of the wording here is a result of lobbying from the Internet tech industry. The FTC says it’s updated the language to strengthen privacy protections, but it looks like Facebook, Google, and Apple are winners here.

Michican governor Rick Snyder vetoed a law this week that would have allowed concealed guns to be carried in schools.

Another legislative win for OER is pending with the State of São Paulo passing a law this week that, according to Creative Commons, “establishes a policy whereby educational resources developed or purchased with government funds must be made freely available to the public under an open copyright license. The Governor must sign the bill for it to become law.”

Penguin has settled with the U.S. Department of Justice over the e-book pricing lawsuit. Laura Hazard Owen writes that “The DOJ sued Apple, Penguin and four other publishers in April for conspiring to set ebook prices. Penguin had planned to fight the case in court, along with Apple and Macmillan, but the company’s pending merger with Random House compelled it to get the litigation out of the way.”

Launches and Upgrades

A happy holiday shout-out to Scott Leslie who got his Christmas wish early when the Saylor Foundation announced it was liberating the back catalog of Flat World Knowledge, which as of the new year will no longer make its textbooks available for free. The Saylor Foundation has made the books freely available on its site, with a BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.

Simon & Schuster have agreed to let libraries have access to an e-book, The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson. This is only the second title from the Simon & Schuster catalog that libraries can offer to their patrons as e-books. The other, Farenheit 451 which author Ray Bradbury said could only be released as an e-book if it was made available to libraries. Simon & Schuster agreed to this latest book as it was chosen as the title for The Iowa Center for the Book’s All Iowa Reads program.

The foreign language-learning app Triplingo has launched a redesigned app. (I first covered this startup in May 2011) (iTunes link)

Mindsnacks, which has a number of language-learning and test-prep iOS apps, is bringing its games to the iPad. Techcrunch’s Rip Empson has a write-up of the news.

The higher ed investment fund University Ventures announced it was launching its own company UV Labs, which according to the press release will “will partner directly with universities and other providers of higher education to build innovative products and technologies to help solve the serious issues of accessibility, affordability, quality and accountability facing higher education.” UV Labs is headed by Dr. Satish Menon, formerly the CTO for the Apollo Group (the parent company of the University of Phoenix). More on GigaOm.

Inside Higher Ed reports on a new program from New Charter University that will “provide an online education at no out-of-pocket cost to workers in three California cities whose employers provide them with tuition assistance reimbursement funds.” That means that workers in San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento might be eligible for a free college education.

Downgrades and Closures

Following complaints that its app was violating children’s privacy, Nickelodeon pulled the SpongeBob Diner Dash game from the iTunes Store. Now the company says it will resubmit the app to the store as it has reviewed the app and concluded that it does not violate COPPA.


The social learning company Grockit announced this week that it had raised $20 million in funding, including a strategic investment from Discovery Communications. Interesting to note that the quotes in the press release from Discovery execs highlight Learnist, the Pinterest-like site that Grockit launched this year. (Edsurge says it predicts a re-branding for Grockit will come soon.)


An interesting hire by online learning company, which just hired former Popcap Games CTO Frits Habermann. Perhaps more mobile social gaming in’s future?

David Wiley is taking a leave of absense from BYU to pursue projects associated with the Shuttleworth fellowship he’s just been granted. (Congrats!) Listing updates to all the various projects he works on, Wiley also notes he’s formally severed ties with Flat World Knowledge.

And on the jobs front, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that “For the first time in almost 20 years, there are likely to be more full-time jobs in 2012–13 for foreign-language scholars than for people with Ph.D.’s in English.” (No. I’m still not going to finish my dissertation.)


edX unveiled several new classes in its catalog this week, including: The Challenges of Global Poverty, Justice, The Ancient Greek Hero, Copyright, Human Health and Global Environmental Change, Introduction to Statisticsl, and Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation. I’m really interested in the Copyright class (taught by the director of the Harvard Berkman Center Professor William Fisher), but I have to apply as the class is capped at 500 students. (I’m not sure I’m a good enough MOOC student to apply.)

Google says it’s partnering with several universities in Spain to offer UniMOOC, “an online course intended to educate citizens in Spain and the rest of the Spanish-speaking world about entrepreneurship. It was built with Course Builder, Google’s new open source toolkit for constructing online courses.”

Industry Data

According to the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), the spending on non-hardware education technology in PreK–12 grew by 3.5% last year, reaching $7.76 billion. The largest category of spending: testing and assessment. YAY ed-tech.

Photo credits: Nathan Siemers

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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