Hack Education Weekly News

Each week, I gather a wide variety of links to education and education technology articles. All this work feeds the review I write each December on the stories we are told about the future of education.

(National) Education Politics

Perhaps the disappearance (and reported murder) of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi doesn’t seem like an education technology story. But it matters. In part, I am including it here at the top of my weekly news roundup because, as a journalist, I find the political climate right now to be incredibly frightening for people in my profession.

But it is also, I’d argue, a story that is deeply connected to many of the people that I write about regularly. And that’s because, Silicon Valley has courted Saudi wealth. “Silicon Valley’s Saudi Arabia Problem,” as Anand Giridharadas puts it in The New York Times. “Technology companies can no longer turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses of one of their largest investors.” SoftBank’s Vision Fund is funded in part by Saudi billions. Among the fund’s ed-tech investments: WeWork, SoFi, and perhaps soon Zuoyebang. When the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman toured the US recently, he hung out with Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Sergey Brin, for example. Among those involved in bin Salman’s $500 billion megacity project, Neom, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

Speaking of billionaires shaping the future, “Betsy DeVos was in Wichita,” says The Wichita Eagle, “but not many people knew about it.” She was, apparently, at Koch Industries.

“The U.S. Department of Education at a convening here yesterday awarded recognition to 10 educational technology projects aiming to expand access to education and pipelines to the work force,” Inside Higher Ed reports. Edsurge was there too. And there’s a blog post on Medium, because I guess someone thinks it’s a good idea for the Office of Ed Tech to outsource its website to a for-profit company. (You can sorta see this attitude – the future is for-profit – in the winners of its grant challenge too.)

(State and Local) Education Politics

Montana vote becomes a national referendum on public confidence in higher ed,” says The Hechinger Report.

Via The Mercury News: “Turn schools into teacher housing? Unique idea sparks backlash in Bay Area community.”

Via Chalkbeat: “With union’s blessing, students at 15 schools in the Bronx will take courses taught remotely.”

Immigration and Education

Via the AP: “Deported parents may lose kids to adoption.”

Via The New Yorker: “The Five-Year-Old Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights.”

Via The New York Times: “Migrant Children in Search of Justice: A 2-Year-Old’s Day in Immigration Court.”

Evil.

Education in the Courts

Via The New Yorker: “The Rise and Fall of Affirmative Action.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A new lawsuit against UW Madison calls into question whether students can participate in the campus sexual adjudication process without implicating themselves in criminal proceedings.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “American Grad Student, Barred From Entering Israel, Remains in Custody Over Alleged Activism.”

The Business of Financial Aid

Via The New York Times: “How a Potential $1 Billion Student Loan Settlement Collapsed After Trump Won.”

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

Edsurge profiles Stephen Kosslyn, a former Harvard dean, and his new for-profit university (as of yet unaccredited), Foundry College.

As Sears looks to go bankrupt, DeVry University is moving into an old Sears store. The circle of life, or something.

Via The Financial Review: “Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs tapped as BGH Capital bids for Navitas.” Navitas is a for-profit education company that runs courses in Australia (and elsewhere).

There’s more for-profit higher ed news in the accreditation section below.

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

From the edX blog: “Fully Online, Top-Ranked Master’s Degrees Now Available on edX.”

Via Edsurge: “5 Ways MOOC-Based Degrees Are Different From Other Online Degrees.” Not listed: other online degrees simply aren’t hyped the way MOOCs are.

FutureLearn Looking To Raise £40m, Announces a MOOC-based BA,” says Class Central.

WeWork Helps Online Learning Take its Next Step Forward,” according to the Clayton Christensen Institute’s Michael Horn. WeWork, let us recall, is funded in part by the Softbank Vision Fund. See the top of this article for why that matters.

Via The Hechinger Report: “Experts call for an end to online preschool programs.”

Meanwhile on Campus…

Inside Higher Ed on “The Scooter Wars of 2018.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Michigan Disciplines Professor Who Refused to Recommend a Student Heading to Israel.”

Via WUSA9: “Transgender student barred from shelter in locker rooms during school safety drill.” A follow-up via ThinkProgress: “Mother of transgender daughter kept out of locker rooms during lockdown drill speaks out.”

Via NPR: “Trying Not To Break Down – A Homeless Teen Navigates Middle School.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Anonymous Website Aims to Out Sexual Assaulters at U. of Washington.”

Via ProPublica: “Confusion for Prairie View A&M Students on the Last Day for Voter Registration.”

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, an embattled national accrediting agency, has sanctioned Niels Brock, a Danish business college, over concerns that the college lacks approval from the Danish government to issue bachelor’s degrees.”

“Most states are failing to address a fundamental driver of teacher discontent: A teaching re-licensure system that doesn’t encourage career growth,” says Pacific Standard.

There’s more on the GED, that very old competency-based learning exam, in the research section below.

Go, School Sports Team!

There’s a court case involving a University of Wisconsin football player up in the courts section above.

The Business of Job Training

Edsurge on “The Flipped Hiring Revolution,” which if I understand the idea correctly means getting people to work for you before you actually hire them.

Inside Higher Ed continues to investigate problems with the career services company Handshake: “University of Delaware is changing its policies after a student was able to fool career-services platform Handshake and the institution with a blatantly fraudulent job posting.”

Via The Verge: “Amazon reportedly scraps internal AI recruiting tool that was biased against women.” Of course, the technology is biased because the data that Amazon used to “train” the algorithm was biased, which likely means that Amazon’s recruiting practices were biased in the first place.

Via Techcrunch: “Upskill launches support for Microsoft HoloLens.”

Contests and Conferences

There’s more about the story of Jamal Khashoggi in the politics section above, but via NBC: “Media companies pulling out of Saudi conference after Khashoggi’s disappearance.” The conference in question: The Future Investment Initiative. According to the conference website, the only participating education company is VIPKID, a Chinese tutoring company (whose investors include Learn Capital and Sequoia Capital) that is currently one of the most well-funded ed-tech startups.

Edsurge covers OpenEd: “Beyond Free Materials: OER Advocates Push For Inclusiveness in Teaching Practices.”

Edsurge writes that “New Competition Wants to Bring Ethics to Undergraduate Computer Science Classrooms” just a few days after claiming that “The Most Important Skills for the 4th Industrial Revolution? Try Ethics and Philosophy.” Really nice set up there.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Alexa, Should We Trust You?asks The Atlantic.

Does OER Actually Improve Learning?asks Edsurge.

(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

Teens Are Being Bullied ‘Constantly’ on Instagram,” writes Taylor Lorenz. You’d think all those teachers promoting their wares on Instagram would notice, eh?

Via Edsurge: “Drinking, Smoking and Sugar: How Unsavory Ads Wound Up on Edmodo.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Google Is Shutting Down Google+ After It Discovered A Bug That Exposed Personal Information.”

The Weekly Standard reviews the new book by Charlie Kirk, head of Turning Point USA, calling it a “hot mess.”

This headline – OMG – from Chalkbeat: “In a tough business, startups vie to become the Uber and Lyft of child care.”

Sponsored content on Edsurge this week paid for by Macmillan Learning includes this and this.

Microsoft says it is open-sourcing its patent portfolio.

E-cigarette maker Juul is the fastest startup in history to reach decacorn status. 4X faster than Facebook. 5X faster than Snap. 11X faster than Dropbox.Companies that sell physical products aren't supposed to scale that quickly. https://t.co/kDUKkltTvN pic.twitter.com/Z82i5Oskky— Zack Guzman (@zGuz) October 9, 2018

Um, it does help that Juul’s product is literally addictive. (The e-cigarettes, that is. Not the mindfulness curriculum.)

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Education Reform

Via Chalkbeat: “What happens when you pay students to get ready for college? One state is about to find out, with help from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.” The state in question is Rhode Island. And golly, behavior modification sure remains popular among this crowd, doesn’t it.

Summit Schools to Spin Out Learning Program,” says Edsurge. The learning management system, which the charter school chain utilizes, has been built by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Sponsored content on Edsurge, paid for by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, this week includes this.

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

RedShelf has raised $25 million from DNS Capital LLC, Tao Huang, and Rick Lane. The digital textbook company has raised $33.1 million total.

Kahoot has raised $15 million from Northzone, Microsoft, and Datum AS. The “aren’t quizzes so much fun” company has raised $58.9 million total.

Lambda School has raised $14 million from GV (Google Ventures) and Stripe. The learn-to-code company has raised $18.1 million total.

Wiley has acquired Learning House for $200 million.

Trilogy Education has acquired JobTrack and Firehose Project.

Not ed-tech, but certainly a company that gives you an idea about what Silicon Valley thinks about the future of family and work – the story via Techcrunch: “YC-grad Papa raises $2.4 million for its ‘grandkids-on-demand’ service.”

Also not ed-tech-related, I suppose (except for the story above about how DeVry University is moving into an old, abandoned department store), but “Sears Hires Advisers to Prepare Bankruptcy Filing,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

There’s more for-profit education business in the for-profit education section above.

SoftBank is considering a majority stake in WeWork,” says Techcrunch. This is part of SoftBank’s Vision Fund, which is funded in part by the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. See the very top of this article for more. And for crying out loud, be wary of people who are claiming that WeWork is the future.

Data, Surveillance, and Information Security

Amazon just filed a new patent for an Alexa system that can tell when you're sick (so it can sell you cough drops). Technical description: a voice-processing algorithm that detects when a user's emotional state is abnormal pic.twitter.com/RBpxksltrX— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) October 9, 2018

Good thing no school would be stupid enough to put one of these devices in a classroom or dorm.

Speaking of terrible ideas that get foisted onto schools, there’s more on Google+ in the upgrade/downgrade section above.

Via The Guardian: “Facebook Portal smart screen to launch amid concerns over privacy.”

Great time to launch a creepy home surveillance device, Facebook, as Buzzfeed reports that “The FBI Is Now Investigating Facebook's Security Breach Where Attackers Accessed 30 Million Users’ Personal Information.”

Larry Cuban on “Facing the Trilemma of Classroom ‘Data Walls’.”

Babysitter screening app Predictim uses AI to sniff out bullies,” says Venture Beat. What could possibly go wrong.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via The Washington Post: “Percentage of young U.S. children who don’t receive any vaccines has quadrupled since 2001.”

Falling Confidence in Higher Ed,” says Inside Higher Ed, explaining the results of the latest Gallup poll.

Via The Hechinger Report: “GED and other high school equivalency degrees drop by more than 40% nationwide since 2012.”

I’m tracking the genetics claims being made about education (what is arguably a return of eugenics). Related: this review of Robert Plomin’s new book, Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are, in The Guardian.

The latest version of How People Learn is out.

More from The Outline on that academic journal “hoax” bullshit.

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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