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

Compare and contrast the Department of Education’s government shutdown plans – Secretary John King’s versus Secretary Betsy DeVos’s. Among the changes: removing en dashes and replacing them with em dashes and deleting Oxford commas. Monstrous, really.

Via Chalkbeat: “DeVos criticizes Bush-Obama policies, saying it’s time to overhaul conventional schooling.” Here are the “Prepared Remarks by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to the American Enterprise Institute,” from the Press Office. Here’s Edsurge’s take on the AEI event.

“The U.S. Department of Education is looking for nonprofit organizations to help support its #GoOpen campaign to nurture state and district take-up of ‘open’ educational resources,” says EdWeek’s Market Brief.

From the Department of Education Press Office: “Secretary DeVos Announces Approval of 11 ESSA Plans.”

Via The Huffington Post: “Ministers Turned Down 5 ‘Appointable’ People To Give Toby Young A Job.” I believe this is what one calls “meritocracy,” – is that right, Toby’s dad?

From Liberia, “Government to crackdown on unlicensed schools,” New Vision reports. This includes Bridge International academies, which the country has said cannot operate in the country.

Via Politico: “How China Infiltrated U.S. Classrooms.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via the Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Free community college bill would require staying in WV 2 years.” WV is West Virginia, of course.

Via WLRN: “National Charter School Chain Favored by House Speaker Heads For Miami, Amid Performance Concerns.” The chain: KIPP. The concerns: the only other KIPP school in Florida, in Jacksonville, is one of the lowest performing schools in the state. The House Speaker, Richard Corcoran, wants to run for governor and is a fan of charter chains, apparently.

Via NPR: “Students Across D.C. Graduated Despite Chronic Absences, An Investigation Finds.”

From the Governor of Iowa’s press office: “Gov. Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Gregg announce new research on state’s regulatory framework.” I’m including this here because the research comes from the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and I want to keep an eye on how “dark money” includes research and policy.

Immigration and Education

Via Chalkbeat: “As Washington decides their fate, ‘Dreamers’ preparing for college are stuck in limbo.”

There’s DACA-related PR in the venture philanthropy section below.

Education in the Courts

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “State Attorneys General Sue to Block FCC’s Repeal of Net Neutrality.”

Via the Hartford Courant: “The state Supreme Court has overturned a Superior Court judge’s controversial ruling that would have upended the state’s educational-funding scheme and mandated a vast overhaul of teacher evaluations, educational standards and special-education services.” That’s the Connecticut state Supreme Court.

Via The New York Times: “Horror for 13 California Siblings Hidden by Veneer of a Private Home School.” An op-ed in The LA Times: “The Turpin child abuse story fits a widespread and disturbing homeschooling pattern.”

Via Techcrunch: “The nanny of former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski has filed an excruciatingly detailed lawsuit.” (Remember, this guy the founder of a church of AI. But I’m including it here because I still hear people talking about “Uber for Education,” goddammit.)

“Free College”

There’s some “free college” news in the state education political section above.

The Business of Financial Aid

There’s an article in the venture philanthropy section below about how private student loans are being pitched as “impact investing.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Via The New York Times: “Black Colleges Swept Up in For-Profit Crackdown Find Relief From DeVos.”

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

“Online and the Color Line” – Chris Newfield on students of color and online education in California.

Indiana Virtual School has the lowest graduation rate of any public school in the state,” says Chalkbeat.

Doane University has joined edX.

There’s more MOOC news in the job training section below. And more online education news in the “Betteridge’s Law of Headlines” section and in the research and data section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Sara Goldrick-Rab on food insecurity on college campuses: “It’s Hard to Study if You’re Hungry.”

Edsurge explains “How a Master’s Program From the ’80s Quietly Keeps Up With Coding Bootcamps.” The program, an MA in Interdisciplinary Computer Science, is at Mills College. Apparently it’s “from the 80s” because it was founded in the 1980s. So you could, I suppose write a headline about Harvard teaching computer science that goes “How a College from the 17th Century Quietly Keeps up with Coding Bootcamps.” But that would be silly, wouldn’t it. (Of course, Harvard doesn’t keep quiet about anything, does it.)

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Richard Spencer, the inflammatory white supremacist who has unsettled college campuses with his appearances, will speak at Michigan State University in March.”

Budgets Suffer After A Drop In International Student Enrollment,” says NPR. College budgets, that is.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “UT Austin says it will not accept funding from a foundation after concerns were raised about its connections to the Chinese Communist Party.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Johns Hopkins Just Got the Largest Donation Ever Given to a Philosophy Department.”

“How Colleges Foretold the #MeToo Movement,” according to The Atlantic.

More on University College London and its eugenics conferences via DC’s Improbable Science.

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via the BBC: “‘Staggering’ trade in fake degrees revealed.” “Staggering” equals 3000.


“PISA for personality testing – the OECD and the psychometric science of social-emotional skillsby Ben Williamson.

Personality Tests Are Failing American Workers,” says Cathy O’Neil in a Bloomberg op-ed.

A new project from the Learning Policy Institute and EducationCounsel: “Reimagining College Access: Performance Assessments From K–12 Through Higher Education.”

More news about a data breach at a testing company in the infosec section below.

Go, School Sports Team!

This is digusting on many levels. (And compare all this to what happened at Penn State with the Sandusky abuse case.) Via the Detroit News: “What MSU knew: 14 were warned of Nassar abuse.” Dr. Larry Nassar is the ex-USA Gymnastics team physician who has been accused of sexually assaulting over 140 women. He was a faculty member at Michigan State.

The Business of Job Training

Via Techcrunch: “Google and Coursera launch program to train more IT support specialists.”

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Will Online Ever Conquer Higher Ed?asks Edsurge.

“Relationships Are Central to the Student Experience. Can Colleges Engineer Them?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

Edsurge covers Clever’s new product “Clever Goals,” which takes the data that the company gleans about student usage of technology and sells it back to schools. Very clever indeed.

“Why big tech thinks voice control will conquer the world” by Navneet Alang.

“Irish startup SoapBox Labs is building speech recognition tech for kids,” says Techcrunch.

“Who Is Pulling The Muppet Strings?” asks Alison McDowell.

Via The Outline: “Pyramid schemes target Snapchat teens.”

More on teen social media usage, this time from Buzzfeed: “‘Tweetdecking’ Is Taking Over Twitter. Here’s Everything You Need To Know.”

The Atlantic on what it’s like being a parent of a social media star.

Google is jeopardizing African-American literature sites,” says The Outline.

From the press release: “Knewton Launches Alta, Fully Integrated Adaptive Learning Courseware for Higher Education, Putting Achievement in Reach for Everyone.” There is no mention here about mind-reading robo tutors in the sky, but there are some questionable claims about what the software can do.

Via Techcrunch: “Education quiz app Kahoot says it’s now used by 50% of all US K–12 students, 70M users overall.” The article features this edutainment gem: “According to Kahoot’s CEO Erik Harrell, Disney is working with Kahoot on ways of incorporating some of its iconic brands into its quizzes, as another way of engaging students to use them.”

Via Techcrunch: “The BecDot is a toy that helps teach vision-impaired kids to read braille.”

Via KQED’s Mindshift: “Setting School Culture With Social And Emotional Learning Routines.”

I’m not sure I’d call the launch of a product from a for-profit research management company (Digital Science) “Democratizing Research Funding Data,” but there you go.

I don’t recall if I talked about Elsevier when I wrote about platforms as part of my 2017 review. That’s certainly it’s aspiration. Anyway, here’s Richard Smith on Elsevier and “A Big Brother future for science publishing.”

Henry Jenkins interviews Justin Reich on “ed tech and equity.”

A fascinating photo essay in The New York Times goesInside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories.”

The Pacific Standard explains “How Educational Podcasts Are Making Us Smarter Citizens,” but I hear people are eating Tide Pods so I’m a little skeptical.

Robots and Other Education Science Fiction

No, machines can’t read better than humans,” says The Verge. That’s despite all the headlines you saw this week that claimed that now they can.

Via Geek Dad: “Little Robot Friends Teach Kids to Code With Empathy.” Empathy?!

College Rankings Revisited: What Might an Artificial Intelligence Think?” asks Metametrics’ Steve Lattanzio.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A New Home for AI: The Library.” That’s at the University of Rhode Island.

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

From the Stanford Social Innovation Review: “A New Impact Investing Model for Education.” Private loans for students in the Global South to attend private schools. JFC.

I’m not sure where to put this story, but again, I want to make note of it – this loving profile of Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man. Bezos was in the news with a philanthropic effort this week, I suppose. “After Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Comment, Amazon CEO Donates $33 Million To DACA Students,” Buzzfeed reports. You know what’s better than making a $33 million donation? Paying taxes.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

ParentPowered has raised $2.7 million in seed funding from the Omidyar Network for an “on-demand library of parenting tips.”

Centre Lane Partners has acquired Infobase Holdings.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via The Chicago Tribune: “Google’s art selfies aren’t available in Illinois. Here’s why.” (If you used the app and handed over your biometric data to Google, don’t worry. You can just get a new face.)

Via the Harvard Business Review: “How Georgia State University Used an Algorithm to Help Students Navigate the Road to College.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Personal data of 52 New York students is compromised after testing-company breach.” The company: Questar Assessment, Inc.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

It’s not directly education-related but there’s so much talk about predictive analytics in education (see above), I thought I’d include this nonetheless. Via The Atlantic: “A Popular Algorithm Is No Better at Predicting Crimes Than Random People.”

Predictions from investor Tom Vander Ark: “Not Much New in EdTech in 2017; 3 Things Could Change That in 2018.”

From Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Fall 2016 Top 20 Largest Online Enrollments In US – With Trends Since 2012.” Also from Hill: “Fall 2016 IPEDS Data: New Profile of US Higher Ed Online Education.”

Via Chalkbeat: “Less money for schools after the recession meant lower test scores and graduation rates, study finds.”

According to a new survey from Gallup and Strada Education (the loan guarantor formerly known as USA Funds), “Current College Students Do Not Feel Prepared for the Workforce.”

A report from RAND: “Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life.”

From Rick Hess: “The 2018 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings.”

Nation Earns a C on Quality Counts Report Card,” says Education Week.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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