under my umbrella

RIP Stuart Hall

Cultural theorist Stuart Hall passed away this week. He was 82. His work on race, power, culture, class, gender, and identity had an immense effect on my own scholarship, but also shaped how I think of myself as a beneficiary of “Empire.” I thank him immensely for that.

Before we all get too gleeful with the hype of “coding,” let’s not forget “encoding/decoding.”

Year of Code, UK Style

Of course, nothing puts a dent in “learn to code” hype like a BBC interview like this one. Lottie Dexter, the head of the UK’s Year of Code initiative, doesn’t know how to code. (And that’s really just the start of it…)


Copy-and-pasted from the press release here without comment: “Soundview Executive Book Summaries®, the leader in executive education and corporate training, announced today the launch of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) via its sister company, SoundviewPro.”

According to Bloomberg, “Massive Online Education Gets Less Massive.” You know, sorta like “online education” or something.

Similarly, I never know if I should put the online education startup NovoEd in this MOOC category as it focuses on small private online groups and courses. Anyhoo. It announced that it was expanding its partnerships this week to 16 new institutions, including Stanford, Princeton, University of Michigan, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Students at Cornell University and UT Austin aren’t so keen on MOOCs, reports Inside Higher Ed, which draws on stories in student newspapers. “The university hasn’t laid out long-term goals for the MOOCs, and the numbers don’t bode particularly well for the courses’ overall success,” one editorial reads. “We’re confused as to why an unproven and unused educational experiment that isn’t even aimed at UT students is something the system feels they should continue funding.”

HarvardX will launch MOOCs exclusive to Harvard alumni this spring, says The Harvard Crimson. Because “open.”

Elsewhere on Campus…

Buzzfeed tries to scare kids out of majoring in the liberal arts. Probably because kids that develop good critical thinking skills are less likely to click on dumb listicle posts.

Then there’s this gem: “Bruce Leslie, chancellor of the Alamo Colleges, is hoping that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will approve his bid for a course heavily influenced by the popular self-help book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to become part of the core curriculum, in place of a humanities course,” writes Inside Higher Ed.

The University of Akron is considering shuttering 55 academic programs, the majority from the humanities. More via Bryan Alexander’s blog.

The University of the People has received accreditation, reports The New York Times. Accreditation comes via the Distance Education and Training Council and means that the non-profit, which offers free online education globally, can officially award degrees.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has rejected the request by the City College of San Francisco to reverse the decision revoking the community college’s accreditation.

A new consortium called the California Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate has been formed to increase the diversity of students in STEM fields. Consortium members include UC Berkeley, UCLA, Caltech, and Stanford.

School vs. Weather

Another week of terrible weather across the planet. But hey, it’s an opportunity to make a viral video when your school closes, so there’s that.

This Week in 1:1

Miami-Dade County says that it’s moving forward with the school district’s plans for a massive 1:1 computing roll-out, starting this spring. The $200,000 initiative will distribute Hewlett Packard and Lenovo Windows 8 devices. More via Education Week. highlights the move of Penn Manor High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to laptops that run Ubuntu. “We encourage our students to install software and lift the hood of the system to better understand what makes it tick,” says the district’s IT director.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles… bwa ha ha ha ha! Oh, and LAUSD school officials “have failed for now in their efforts to get full access to a digital curriculum that the school system purchased in June,” reports The LA Times.

From the HR Department

New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf is stepping down… and taking a job at News Corp’s Amplify. Nothing to see here. Move along...

Geoffrey Canada is resigning as head of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a non-profit which runs Promise Academy Charter Schools.

Rutgers University has suspended anthropologist Robert Trivers after he allegedly told his students that he knew nothing about the “Human Aggression” class but that his department was forcing him to teach it anyway. “I don’t want to sound immodest, but I am one of the greatest social theorists in evolutionary biology alive, period,” Trivers told the college newspaper. So great, I guess, that he’s unable to learn anything new with and for his students.

Education, Politics, and The Law

The New York State Board of Regents announced this week that it plans to delay full implementation of the Common Core State Standards until 2022. It also delayed the state’s launch of inBloom-powered data dashboards.

Meanwhile, New York Supreme Court Judge Thomas Breslin has dismissed a parent-led lawsuit against inBloom. Edsurge covers the decision.

The Orange County district attorney’s office has filed charges against Jeremy Landau, a former board member of the California Virtual Education Partners, accusing him of stealing $750,000 from the charter school organization.

Upgrades and Downgrades

It’s time once again for Google’s annual Science Fair, its online competition for students age 13 to 18.

Google’s also teaming up with GetSchooled to offer “Helpouts” (that is, help via Google Hangouts) for those trying to complete their federal financial aid applications.

The code-sharing site GitHub announced GitHub for Education with discounts for students and teachers.

Boston-based ed-tech accelerator program LearnLaunchX has named its Winter 2014 cohort of startups.

The Badge Alliance” – a group of non-profits, universities, and technology companies – announced they’re working together to support a “badging ecosystem.” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Pearson will offer a product called Acclaim, “a proprietary badge platform based on Mozilla’s standards.” Wheee.

It’s ed-tech Mad Libs time. Fill out this headline from the press release: “Blackboard and Pearson ____ in an Effort to Better ____ K–12 Schools.”

Following the crazy success of his mobile game Flappy Bird, developed Dong Nguyen pulled the game from app stores. But fear not! Sesame Street has created Flappy Bert.

Editorially, a collaborative online writing tool, will be shutting down May 30. Bummer, and best of luck to the talented team working on this startup.

Funding and Acquisitions

Comcast announced its plans to buy Time Warner Cable. Terrible news for customers. Terrible news for competition. Another blow for net neutrality. Well, this whole WWW thing was pretty fun while it lasted, guys.

Three Ring, a startup that digitizes student work to aid with assessment, has raised $1 million in funding, reports Edsurge

Levo League, which Recode describes as a “career coaching site for young women and Lean In’s Gen Y partner,” has raised $7 million in funding.

Curious, a start-up that allowed teachers to sell “bite-size lessons” “on topics that range from proper sewing technique and Pilates classes for beginners to advanced MS Excel wrangling” has raised $15 million, reports Techcrunch (which always amazes me, incidentally, for its ability to churn out thousands of words in its education articles without really saying anything interesting).

“Research” and Data

The Pew Research Center released a report on “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College.” “The economic analysis finds that Millennial college graduates ages 25 to 321 who are working full time earn more annually—about $17,500 more—than employed young adults holding only a high school diploma. The pay gap was significantly smaller in previous generations.”

Here’s Part 2 of P2PU’s look at “Assessment on the Web,” and includes a look at “folks who do it well.” (Yup. Those folks do exist.)

The Huffington Post reports on a study by Public Agenda that found that 65% of students at for-profit colleges are not familiar with the term “for-profit college.”

I’m pleased to see that e-Literate bloggers will be writing more education data journalism posts, particularly using open data. Here’s “a case study using IPEDS for online education.”

Image credits: Gisela Giardino and The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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