Schools and Surveillance

Former Newark Star-Ledger reporter Bob Braun posted a photo of an email sent by a school superintendent this week, revealing that Pearson was actively monitoring students’ social media during PARCC exams. Cue: panic and mayhem. I wrote about this at length here. In his original story, Braun revealed the full details of this (female) superintendent’s name and contact information (phone number and email address). Later this week, in making very spurious connections between a different NJDOE official, Pearson, and the open source database company MongoDB, Braun doxxed that (female) NJDOE official. I called out via Twitter those who decided to spread this information, but according to some [not going to link because I’m working on my response], doxxing (women?) you disagree with in education politics is totally a-okay. Good work. education sector. Way to raise the bar in your efforts to protect student privacy.

But anyways, perhaps not the best timing for a Pearson blog post titled “Getting Inside Students’ Heads.” Or this industry-backed op-ed in Edsurge: “Why Opting Out of Student Data Collection Isn’t the Solution.”

St. Mary’s High School, a Catholic school in St. Louis, is “upping the game when it comes to school security, becoming one of the first in the nation to install facial recognition cameras.”

Phil Hill offers a round-up of news and analysis about Rutgers University and ProctorTrack, “which costs students $32 in additional fees, accessing their personal webcams, automatically tracks face and knuckle video as well as watching browser activity.” He adds, “Student privacy is a big issue, and students should have some input into the policies shaped by institutions.” (emphasis mine)

Via Go To Hellman: “16 of the top 20 Research Journals Let Ad Networks Spy on Their Readers.”

The University of Rochester is demanding that Yik Yak turn over “the names, email addresses and other information that would help the college identify UR students who might have posted racially offensive and threatening language.”

“Data tactics used by NYPD to weed out crime will be used to fix NYC’s worst performing schools,” says the NY Daily news. What could go wrong.

The latest Pew Research survey looks at Americans’ concerns about government surveillance.

Education and the Law

Jury deliberations have started in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial.

A bill allowing K–12 school employees to carry guns is making its way through the Florida legislature.

A bill lifting the restrictions on carrying guns on university campuses is moving through the Texas legislature.

Bar exam questioned.

School pretends boy’s leaf is marijuana, suspends him for a year.”

Elsewhere in Education (Technology) Politics

Fourth graders from Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire traveled to Concord to watch a bill they’d written be debated. They wanted to see the red-tail hawk be made the state’s raptor. Instead, they were witness to adults being awful, with Rep. Warren Groen comparing the bird to Planned Parenthood and its support for abortion. Good work, democracy.

“Education Dept. Considers Creating Not 1 but 2 College-Ratings Systems,” reports The Chronicle of Higher Education, one to lure prospective students and one to punish schools. Or something like that.

Wired Magazine claims that Arkansas is “leading the learn to code movement” as it recently passed a law requiring high schools to offer computer science courses.

Rwanda plans to revamp its One Laptop Per Child program as the country’s Attorney-General’s office says it has “long been stained by issues of poor management.” More details in The New Times.

The Walmart family is teaching hedge funds how to profit from publicly funded schools.”

Alabama does not currently have charter schools, but pending legislation could change that.

“How compatible are Common Core and technology?” asks The Hechinger Report.


This press release boasts that “MOOCs revenue to reach $1.5 billion in 2015.” cough bullshit cough.

Interesting research by Justin Reich and John Hansen on socioeconomic status and MOOC enrollees. tl;dr: “Overall, HarvardX registrants tend to reside in more affluent neighborhoods.” I’m kidding:Read the whole thing.

“Yale’s First Online Degree Gets Complaints From Alumni, Cheers From Investors,” reports Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy.

Meanwhile on Campus

Tuesday night, University of Virginia student Martese Johnson was injured as he was arrested by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control outside an Irish Pub. Law enforcement later claimed Johnson had a fake ID – whether or not that’s true, being arrested shouldn’t mean you’re bloodied. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has demanded an investigation.

Via the AP: “A Penn State University fraternity was suspended for a year Tuesday after police began investigating allegations that members used a private, invitation-only Facebook page to post photos of nude and partly nude women, some apparently asleep or passed out.”

The University of Missouri chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu has been permanently disbanded after the fraternity destroyed 40+ rooms at a ski resort.

At the University of Oklahoma, “Barred Fraternity’s Lawyer Seeks to Alter Punishment.” (That is, the banishment of the SAE fraternity from campus after its members were videotaped singing a racist chant.)

NYU professor Andrew Ross, who has written critically about migrant labor issues in the UAE, was barred from traveling to Abu Dhabi, where the university has a branch. More details in Inside Higher Ed.

The Boston Globe examines the suicide rate at MIT, which continues to be “notably higher” than the national average for college campuses.

Stanford president John Hennessy no longer uses the “tsunami” metaphor, I guess.

The University of New Haven is partnering with the coding school Galvanize to launch a master’s degree program in data science.

UC System president Janet Napolitano was caught on tape saying to student protestors, “We don’t have to listen to this crap.”

Via The Atlantic: a look at high speed Internet access (or not) in US schools.

Go, School Sports Team!

March Madness blah blah blah.

Fake Female Ole Miss Fan Used Twitter To Recruit Athletes For Years.”

From the HR Department

Oxford University’s Andrew Hamilton will be the next president of NYU.

Pacific Standard has several recent articles exploring adjunct labor on college campuses: “The Professor Charity Case” and “Survey: The State of Adjunct Professors.”

Phil Hill looks at the “brain drain” at Blackboard, noting that one third of its executive team has left in the last 3 months.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Maine English teacher Nancie Atwell has won the million dollar Global Teacher Prize. She says she’ll donate the money to the school that she founded.

Beauty tips for girls, from Lego. WTF, Lego.

The domain “.college” is now available. (So, incidentally, is the “.sucks” domain.)

Learnteria – “Yelp for Educators” – claims it’s a “true world’s first” because there are simply no other places on the Internet where teachers can find reviews for K–12 products and services.

McDonald’s Teams With General Assembly For Employee Training Pilot.”

Looks like Lightspeed Systems is ending support for its LMS My Big Campus, which was used widely in Indiana. Schools have 2 months (!!!!!!) to migrate off the platform.

Here’s what ed-tech (as) imperialism looks like.

More from Clever on its efforts to “open source” its privacy policies. As the startup is using GitHub, it’s easy for others to fork the repo. And via Kickboard’s Jennifer Medbery, a good guide on what startups should consider as they think through their privacy policies and security practices.

According to Quantcast, Edsurge reports, the only education company in the “Internet’s Top 50” is Quizlet.

It took The Chronicle of Higher Education almost 600 words to describe this precious update: LinkedIn has created a button that colleges and universities can add to their websites or email so that alumni can easily add the affiliation to their LinkedIn profile. Some weeks, the innovation coming out of ed-tech just boggles my mind.

Funding and Acquisitions

FiftyThree has raised $30 million from New Enterprise Associates, Andreessen Horowitz, Highligh Ventures, and Thrive Capital and says it’ll use the funding to push into the education market with its Paper app and tablet stylus. The company has raised $45.1 million total.

Rakuten has acquired OverDrive, a platform used by many libraries to facilitate e-book checkouts, for $410 million. (The Japanese company also bought the e-reader Kobo back in 2011 for $315 million.)

Degreed has raised $7 million in funding from Signal Peak Ventures. The startup, which lets students track their skills and credits to showcase to employers, has raised $9.7 million total.

Tutoring company Upswing has raised $500,000 from Charlotte Angel Fund, NC IDEA Fund, Tech Wildcatters, and the United Way of Dallas.

The language learning site GoWell has raised $1 million from Fresco Capital and Nest Investments.

Video training company Popexpert has acquired video training company Online Marketing Institute for an undisclosed sum.

Data and “Research”

According to the latest survey by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), 1) “We’re Not Ready for Online Tests” and 2) “Gender Gap in K–12 Ed-Tech Leadership Persists.”

According to the US Department of Education, the high school graduation rate has hit an all time high, noting too that “the gap between minority and white students is closing.”

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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