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PLATO and the History of Education Technology (That Wasn't)

Audrey Watters - 25 Enero, 2018 - 08:45

The computer scientist Bret Victor gave a keynote back in 2013 that I return to again and again. (See? Keynotes need not be a waste of time and energy!) In “The Future of Programming,” he offers a history of programming – or more accurately, a history of programming developments that were never widely adopted. That is to say, not the future of programming.

The conceit of Victor’s talk: he delivers it as if it’s 1973, using an overhead projector in lieu of PowerPoint slides, and the future he repeatedly points to is our present-day. With hindsight, we know that the computer languages and frameworks he talks about haven’t been embraced, that this future hasn’t come to pass. But as Victor repeats again and again, it would be such a shame if the inventions he recounts were ignored; it would be a shame if in forty years, we were still coding in procedures in text files in a sequential programming model, for example. “That would suggest we didn’t learn anything from this really fertile period in computer science. So that would kind of be a tragedy. Even more of a tragedy than these ideas not being used would be if these ideas were forgotten.” But the biggest tragedy, says Victor, would be if people forgot that you could have new ideas and different ideas about programming in the first place, if a new generation was never introduced to these old ideas and therefore believed there is only one model of programming, one accepted and acceptable way of thinking about and thinking with computers. That these new generations “grow up with dogma.”

Victor mentions an incredibly important piece of education technology history in passing in his talk: PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations), built on the ILLIAC I at the University of Illinois. PLATO, which operated out of the university’s Computer-based Education Research Laboratory (CERL) from 1960 to 1993, does represent in some ways a path that education technology (and computing technology more broadly) did not take. But if and when when its innovations were adopted (and, yes, many of them were), PLATO remained largely uncredited for its contributions.

PLATO serves in Victor’s talk as an example, along with Douglas Englebart’s NLS, of the development in the 1960s of interactive, real-time computing. In forty years time, Victor tells his imagined 1970s audience, our user interfaces will never have any delay or lag because of Moore’s Law and because “these guys have proven how important it is to have an immediately responsive UI” – a quip that anyone who’s spent time waiting for operating systems or software programs to respond can understand and chuckle remorsefully about.

This idea that computers could even attempt to offer immediate feedback – typing a letter on a keyboard and immediately seeing it rendered on a screen – was certainly new in the 1960s, as processing was slow, memory was minute, and data had to move from an input device back to a central computer and then back again to some sort of display. But the “fast round trip” between terminal and mainframe was hardly the only innovation associated with PLATO, as Brian Dear chronicles in his book The Friendly Orange Glow. That very glow was another one – the flat-panel plasma touchscreen invented by the PLATO team in 1967. There were many other advances too: the creation of time-sharing, discussion boards, instant messaging, a learning management system or sorts, and multi-user game-play, to name just a few.

The subtitle of Dear’s book – “The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture” – speaks directly to his larger project: making sure the pioneering contributions of PLATO are not forgotten.

If and when PLATO is remembered (in education technology circles at least), it is as an early example of computer-assisted instruction – and often, it’s denigrated as such. Perhaps that should be no surprise – education technology is fiercely dogmatic. And it was already fiercely dogmatic by the 1960s, when PLATO was first under development. The field had, in the decades prior, developed a certain set of precepts and convictions – even if, as Victor contends in his talk at least, computing at the time had (mostly) not.

Dear begins his book where many histories of education technology do: with the story of how Harvard psychology professor B. F. Skinner had, in the late 1950s, visited his daughter’s fourth grade classroom, been struck by its inefficiencies, and argued that teaching machines would ameliorate this. The first mechanisms that Skinner built were not computerized; they were boxes with levers and knobs. But they were designed to offer students immediate feedback – positive reinforcement when students gave the correct answer, a key element to Skinner’s behaviorist theories. Skinner largely failed to commercialize his ideas, but his influence on the design of instructional machines was significant nonetheless, as behaviorism had already become a cornerstone of the nascent field of educational psychology and a widely accepted theory as to how people learn.

At its outset, the Computer-based Education Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois did not hire instructional technologists to develop PLATO. The lab was not governed by educational psychologists – behaviorists or otherwise. The programming language that was developed so that “anyone” could create a lesson module on the system — TUTOR — did not demand an allegiance to any particular learning theory. As one education professor told Brian Dear, CERL did not operate “under any kind of psychological banner. They just didn’t seem to be driven by psychological underpinnings. They were driven by a more pragmatic approach: you work with students, you work with content, you work with the technology, you put it together in a way that feels good and it will work. Whether it’s consistent with somebody’s psychology is a quickly irrelevant question.”

But it seems more likely, if we examine the history of PLATO (and perhaps even the histories of education technology and of computing technologies), that this is not really an irrelevant question at all – not in the long run at least. Certainly, the open-ended-ness of the PLATO system, as well as the PLATO culture at UI, fostered the myriad of technological innovations that Dear chronicles in The Friendly Orange Glow. But the influence of psychology on the direction of education technology – and to be clear, this was not just behaviorism, of course, but cognitive psychology – has been profound. It shaped the expectations for what instructional technology should do. It shaped the expectations for what PLATO should be. (I’d add too that psychological theories have been quite influential on the direction of computing technology itself, although I think this has been rather unexamined.)

The Friendly Orange Glow is a history of PLATO – one that has long deserved to be told and that Dear does with meticulous care and detail. (The book was some three decades in the making.) But it’s also a history of why, following Sputnik, the US government came to fund educational computing. Its also – in between the lines, if you will – a history of why the locus of computing and educational computing specifically shifted to places like MIT, Xerox PARC, Stanford. The answer is not “because the technology was better” – not entirely. The answer has to do in part with funding – what changed when these educational computing efforts were no longer backed by federal money and part of Cold War era research but by venture capital. (Spoiler alert: it changes the timeline. It changes the culture. It changes the mission. It changes the technology.) And the answer has everything to do with power and ideology – with dogma.

Bret Victor credits the message and content of his keynote to computer scientist Alan Kay, who once famously said that “the best way to predict the future is to build it.” (Kay, of course, appears several times in The Friendly Orange Glow because of his own contributions to computing, not to mention the competition between CERL and PARC where Kay worked and their very different visions of the future). But to be perfectly frank, the act of building alone is hardly sufficient. The best way to predict the future may instead be to be among those who mythologize what’s built, who tell certain stories, who craft and uphold the dogma about what is built and how it’s used.

To a certain extent, the version of “personal computing” espoused by Kay and by PARC has been triumphant. That is, PLATO’s model – networked terminals that tied back to a central machine – was not. Perhaps it’s worth considering how dogmatic computing has become about “personal” and “personalization” – what its implications might be for the shape of programming and for education technology, sure, but also what it means for the kinds of values and communities that are built without any sort of “friendly glow.”

Hack Education Weekly News

Audrey Watters - 19 Enero, 2018 - 13:45

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.

Testing

“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

Hack Education Weekly News

Audrey Watters - 12 Enero, 2018 - 14:45

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

I’ll lead off this week’s roundup of education news with this from England, from The Guardian: “Toby Young resigns from the Office for Students after backlash.” More from The Guardian. And more Toby Young (and eugenics) news in the “meanwhile on campus” section below.

Still more education news from the UK: “Sam Gyimah replaces Jo Johnson as universities minister,” The Times Higher Education reports. “Damian Hinds is new education secretary, replacing Justine Greening,” says the BBC.

Of course, the US can’t let the UK lead for too long when it comes to terrible people and terrible ideas in education. So here’s an early contender for “Worst Education ‘Take’ of 2018’” by Gary Wolfram in Education Week: “Make Public Education a Market Economy – Not a Socialist One.”

Speaking of market economies, more financial aid news in the financial aid section below.

Congratulations, STEM folks and learn-to-code evangelists, for being featured in President Trump’s list of his 2017 accomplishments. You must be so proud.

Via The New York Times: “Texas Illegally Excluded Thousands From Special Education, Federal Officials Say.” The Department of Education’s press release has more. Kudos to the Houston Chronicle for the original reporting on this in 2016.

Via Education Week: “Trump Signs Orders on Rural Broadband Access.”

It’s pretty terrible to report on how a “President Oprah” would shape education policy and not talk about how she has actively promoted pseudoscience. But maybe a lot of education policy is based on pseudoscience, so that’s why we can just let that slide… Via Chalkbeat: “President Winfrey? Here’s what we know about Oprah’s education outlook.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Vox on segregation in US public schools: “We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated. This is how well your district does.”

Via NPR: “Outcry After Louisiana Teacher Arrested During School Board Meeting.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In New Budget Proposal, California Higher Ed Gets Modest Funding and a Big Online College.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Despite enthusiasm for four-year degrees offered by California community colleges, a state report calls for more time before expanding the programs.”

More on California community colleges in the online education section below.

Lots of very excited and uncritical reporting on the new charter school on Oracle’s campus.

Via Chalkbeat: “Charter and online schools report the largest increase in students in Colorado.”

Via The LA Times: “LAUSD chief Michelle King won’t return from medical leave for cancer, plans to retire.”

Immigration and Education

Via The LA Times: “Federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocks Trump’s decision to end DACA program.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Berkeley Breaks Silence on Arrest of Undocumented Student.”

Education in the Courts (and in the AGs’ Offices)

Via The Verge: “James Damore sues Google for allegedly discriminating against conservative white men.” 69% of Google’s employees are men. 56% are white. Clearly it’s tough there for white guys.

Via The New York Times: “Former Financial Aid Chief at Columbia Is Accused of Taking Kickbacks.”

“A Wisconsin school district has settled a discrimination lawsuit filed by a transgender high school student for $800,000,” the AP reports. The student “alleged staff at Tremper High School monitored his use of the bathroom and made him wear a special bracelet to single him out from other students.” “Special bracelets” are, of course, ed-tech.

Via The Washington Post: “Richard Spencer supporter sues university, calling security fee for campus speech unconstitutional.” The school in question: University of Cincinnati.

Via The New York Times: “Big Tech to Join Legal Fight Against Net Neutrality Repeal.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether the ethics code of the National Association for College Admission Counseling violates federal antitrust law.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “A Pennsylvania judge has banned fraternity Pi Delta Psi from the state for a decade, a punishment for a hazing death in 2013, and an unprecedented step likely to rock the national Greek system.”

More legal wrangling in the immigration section above.

The Business of Financial Aid

Via The Washington Post: “Education Dept. awards debt collection contract to company with ties to DeVos.” That would be Windham Professionals and Performant Financial Corp, which DeVos has invested in (but divested since her nomination as Secretary of Education).

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Department of Education officials said Monday that they do not have any estimates of how many borrowers would clear new, tougher standards proposed for claims of loan relief when a student is defrauded or misled by their college. The department’s proposed language would require a student borrower to demonstrate clear and convincing evidence that their college intended to deceive them or had a reckless disregard for the truth in making claims about job-placement rates, credit transferability and other outcomes.”

Via Buzzfeed: “Here’s How A Student Loan Debt Relief Company Preyed On Its Customers.” The company: the Student Loan Assistance Center.

“The looming student loan default crisis is worse than we thought,” says Brookings.

“Where student loan debt is a real problem,” according to Jeff Selingo.

More financial aid news in the “courts” section above.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

“It’s not every day that a university fires nearly all of its faculty. But that’s what happened last week at the American University of Malta, a start-up institution operated by a Jordanian construction and tourism company without a track record in higher education,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Grand Canyon U. Will Again Try to Become a Nonprofit.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “VA Backs Off Threat to Cut GI Bill Funding for Ashford University.”

The interview in Logic deals with more than just for-profit higher ed, but always read Tressie McMillan Cottom on the topic of “lower ed” (and coding schools).

More on the for-profit formerly known as Kaplan University in the online education section below. More funding for coding schools in the venture capital section below.

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

From the press release: “Purdue announces name for new public university: Purdue University Global to serve working adults, online.” This new school is a result of Purdue’s acquisition of the for-profit Kaplan University. PUG. Woof.

California Could Soon Have Its First Fully-Online Community College,” Edsurge says excitedly.

Speaking of online higher ed in California, Udacity’s blog says thatUdacity and Baidu Announce Groundbreaking Self-Driving Car Partnership at CES.”

Via the AP: “The sponsor of one of the nation’s largest online charter schools says it’s cutting that tie, which could halt the Ohio e-school’s operations for its roughly 12,000 students within days.” The school: the Electronic Classroom of the Future. The sponsor: the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Public school buildings are falling apart, and students are suffering for itby Rachel Cohen.

“Under Trump, a Hard Test for Howard Universityby Jelani Cobb.

“The Fight to Rebuild a Ravaged University” – The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz on the University of Puerto Rico.

Via the Naples Daily News: “FGCU police presence planned for start of ‘White Racism’ class.” That’s Florida Gulf Coast University.

“UCL to investigate eugenics conference secretly held on campus,” says The Guardian. That’s University College London, and apparently Toby Young (who just resigned from his appointment as the head of the Office of Students) was a “prominent attendee.”

“No College Kid Needs a Water Park to Study,” says James Koch in a NYT op-ed, criticizing schools spending money on lavish amenities. I wonder what costs more: water parks or big-time college sports? (See the sports section below for one calculation.)

The Guardian on the Open University’s vice-chancellor, Peter Horrocks: “A visionary” or “the man who will run it into the ground?” Those are the choices?!

“Don’t Expect a Wave of Private Nonprofit College Closuressays Seton Hall University professor Robert Kelchen.

“Has UMUC Turned Enrollment Woes Around?” asks Inside Higher Ed. Edutechnica has more thoughts: “The Real Reason Behind UMUC’s Recent Success.” That’s University of Maryland University College, by the way.

Via the Dallas Morning News: “Abilene Christian University urges students: Don’t work at Hooters.” No word if students are discouraged from going to Hooters. I guess we’re just policing women’s bodies.

Via Hacker Noon: “$3.5k to $80k: Pay for Business School with Cryptocurrency Investments.” (Don’t make me start a section for blockchain news, guys.)

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Stackable Credentials May Not Boost Earnings,” says Campus Technology.

“Why Requiring Daycare Workers to Head Back to School Hurts the Working Class,” The Pacific Standard argues.

Every once in a while, there’s a headline in the form of a question to which Betteridge’s Law – see below – does not apply. Like this one in Edutopia: “Will Letter Grades Survive?”

Testing

“Can a Test Ever Be Fair?” asks Edsurge. “How Today’s Standardized Tests Get Made.”

Go, School Sports Team!

An op-ed in The LA Times by Victoria L. Jackson: “Take it from a former Division I athlete: College sports are like Jim Crow.”

Via USA Today: “College football coaching moves costing schools at least $110 million.”

Memos from HR

Via The LA Times: “Five women accuse actor James Franco of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior.” I’m including this story here because four were his students.

Via The Root: “Substitute Teacher Fired After Private High School Discovers He Works for Richard Spencer’s White Supremacist Think Tank.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “U. of Rochester’s President Resigns as Report Supports Handling of Harassment Case.” More on the University of Rochester via Inside Higher Ed.

Subsidized Housing May Help School Districts Retain Teachers,” says NPR. Or. And it’s a strange idea, I know. Bear with me. Or, you could just pay teachers more.

Via Chalkbeat: “In many large school districts, hundreds of teaching positions were unfilled as school year began.”

From the press release: “Blackboard Announces Organizational Changes to Better Serve Clients Worldwide.” It’s creating two new divisions: Global Client Operations & Success, and Global Markets. Lee Blakemore will lead the former; Mark Gruzin, the latter. Blackboard’s Chief Financial Officer, Lisa Mayr, is also leaving the company.

More HR changes in the education politics and in the for-profit higher ed sections above.

This Week in Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Is Your Institution Really Ready for Predictive Analytics?asks Edsurge.

Is advertorial content really something education technology journalism should foster? asks Audrey.

(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

The annual “Consumer Electronics Show” was held in Las Vegas this week. The power went out. Perfect, really.

The Looming Digital Meltdownby Zeynep Tufekci.

Via The New York Times: “Apple Investors Warn iPhones and Other Technology May Be Hurting Children.”

From the Blackboard blog: “Advertising In Schools: This Parent Says It’s Time to Embrace It.” JFC. No.

According to Edsurge, “Amazon’s Education Hub, Amazon Inspire, Has Quietly Restored ‘Sharing’ Function.”

Oh look. It’s another great example of why people who call for “Uber for Education” are probably pretty shady.

Via The New York Times: “Facebook Overhauls News Feed to Focus on What Friends and Family Share.”

Speaking of algorithms and major technology companies… Via Gizmodo: “Google Censors Gorillas Rather Than Risk Them Being Mislabeled As Black People – But Who Does That Help?”

“What Can the CEO of a $1.6-Billion Enrollment-Services Giant Tell Us About the Student Life Cycle?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education in a profile of EAB. That student data is big bucks? I dunno…

Via Techcrunch: “IBM led on patents in 2017, Facebook broke into top 50 for the first time.”

Textbooks are expensive. News at 11.

Via Mindwire Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Top Hat Marketplace: What is it and should we care?”

Education Week has a report on the “10 Big Ideas in Education.” Among the “big ideas,” “A Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Takes on the Master Schedule” – a profile of Abl Schools’ founder Adam Pisoni, who founded Yammer.

Inside Philanthropy profiles The Conversation, a new site that encourages academics to write for the public. But it doesn’t pay its writers which sucks.

Via Techcrunch: “URB-E’s launching a scooter sharing network at college campuses and hotels.”

Also via Techcrunch: “Facebook brings Messenger Kids to Fire tablets.”

An op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Why we shouldn’t teach tech in kindergarten.”

Personalized learning gives students a sense of control over chaotic lives,” says The Hechinger Report, in a very glowing look at the Summit Public Schools’ (Facebook-built) learning management system.

Subscription boxes for teachers are somehow “personalized learning.”

So, you take the “deficit model” and you apply it to parents. Or, you take the military model – break someone down so you can rebuild them as you deem fit – and you apply it to parents. Anyway. Edsurge writes about “bootcamps” and educational retraining camps for parents.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

Voyage, a self-driving car company spun out of Udacity, has launched a self-driving taxi service in a private city in Florida. Yes. Private city. In the future there will only be private cities, and Udacity has a shot at being one of them. Or something like that.

Via The Verge: “Aflac’s toy robot for kids facing cancer is the smartest toy of all.” No camera. No Alexa or Google voice assistant.

Via Techcrunch: “The Root robot teaches kids to code through Spirograph-style drawings.”

From the Getting Smart blog, which is really heavily promoting AI in education stuff these days: “Artificial Intelligence: Implications for the Future of Education.”

(Venture) Philanthropy and the Business of Ed Reform

“Is Personalized Learning the Next Big Thing in K–12 Philanthropy?” asks Inside Philanthropy. No. It’s charter schools. But “personalized learning” sounds nicer than “privatization” and “segregation,” doesn’t it.

Khan Academy now Accepts Bitcoin Cash Donations,” says bitrazzi. Ah yes, a future of philanthropy where all charitable donations are anonymous and untraceable. What’s not to love.

“What are the Big Questions for 2018?” asks venture philanthropy firm NewSchools Venture Fund. Among the questions: “An increased focus on social-emotional learning opened an innovation window over the last few years. Has it closed already?” I have a question: WTF is an “innovation window”?

Venture Capital and the Business of Education

The tutoring company Zhangmen has raised $120 million from Genesis Capital and Warburg Pincus.

DadaABC has raised $100 million in a Series C from Tiger Global Management and TAL Education. The English-language-learning company has raised $608 million total.

Area9 Lyceum has raised $30 million in funding from the Danish Growth Fund. (Area9, an adaptive learning company, was acquired by McGraw-Hill in 2014, but the press release suggests that Area9 Lyceum is a new company founded by the same people with some of the same IP. IDK.)

Ellevation has raised $10 million (or so) from Reach Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Omidyar Network, and Emerson Collective. The English-language-learning company has raised $22.25 million total.

Thinkful has raised $9.6 million from Owl Ventures and Tribeca Venture Partners. The coding school has raised $16 million total.

Boomwriter Media has raised $4.1 million from Avila Venture Capital, Precorp, and Suinvex. The collaborative writing tool has raised $6.5 million total.

Student monitoring company eSafe Global has raised $2.6 million from Maven Capital Partners.

Wonderschool has raised $2.1 million from Omidyar Network, Be Curious Partners, Rethink Education, Edelweiss, and Learn Capital. The company, which helps people start daycare facilities in their homes, has raised $4.1 million total.

Math game company Sokikom has been acquired by Jumpstart World, a subsidiary of the Chinese conglomerate NetDragon.

Boomwriter Media has acquired LookUp.

Strada Education Network (formerly USA Funds) has acquired the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).

Knowledge First Financial has acquired Heritage Education Funds.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via Techcrunch: “After breach exposing millions of parents and kids, toymaker VTech handed a $650K fine by FTC.” Yeah. You read that number right.

Via Freedom to Tinker: “Website operators are in the dark about privacy violations by third-party scripts.” Many education institutions and companies implicated here.

Via The Register: “Amazon coughs up record amount of info to subpoena-happy US government.” (See also: “Amazon Is Thriving Thanks to Taxpayer Dollars,” via New Republic.)

Via the ACLU: “The Privacy Threat From Always-On Microphones Like the Amazon Echo.”

“What’s Slack Doing With Your Data?” asks Gizmodo. What are schools doing adopting things like Echo and Slack, that’s what I wanna know.

Oh, there’s a raft of privacy-violating stuff in almost every section in this article, I reckon.

Research, “Research,” and Reports

According to Metaari (formerly known as Ambient Insight), “Global Edtech Investment Surges to a Record $9.5 Billion in 2017.” That’s about $6 billion more than my calculations, but hey. Probably just a rounding error somewhere or something.

EdWeek’s Market Brief on a report by Allovue: “K–12 District Spending Analysis Raises Red Flag About ESSA School Comparisons.”

EdWeek’s Market Brief on a report from CoSN: “Snapshot of K–12 Tech Landscape: More Districts Reach 1-to–1, But Equity Gaps Persist.”

The Pew Research Center is out with a new report on STEM and workplace equity.

Highlights from our child mortality study published today in @Health_Affairs:
1. In wealthy nations, children are dying less often than 50 years ago. Fantastic news, but not a surprise.
2. Of 20 similar nations, US ranks last: 70% greater chance of dying before age 19 (1/3) pic.twitter.com/M9nCqVnVIH

— Ashish Thakrar (@especially_APT) January 8, 2018

AEI on “The Master’s as the New Bachelor’s Degree: In Search of the Labor Market Payoff.” Shocking, I know, but the return on investment depends on what you get your degree in.

Via Edsurge (which does not disclose it shares an investor with NoRedInk, the company that this infomercial is based upon): “These Are the 10 Most Common Writing Errors Students Make.” Education Week also publishes this NoRedInk “research”: “What Are the Top Grammar and Writing Errors of 2017?” Perhaps one of the biggest writing errors is not thinking critically about the material you promote and cite. Weird. Wonder why that’s not included here.

“Here’s How People Say Google Home And Alexa Impact Their Lives,” says Fast Company, rewriting a Google blog post. So really it’s what PR says voice assistants are up to. And with that, we’re off to a good start in 2018 with technology journalism as “fake news”, I see…

Icon credits: The Noun Project

Hack Education Weekly News

Audrey Watters - 5 Enero, 2018 - 11:45
(National) Education Politics

You know it’s amazing news when The Guardian publishes it one minute after midnight in the new year: “Toby Young to help lead government’s new universities regulator.” Happy New Year, England! And congrats on being first off the blocks to fuck up education in 2018! “Who’s Toby Young?” Americans wonder. Well… Ask any of your British education colleagues. They’ll tell ya.

Via Buzzfeed: “A New Betsy DeVos Proposal Would Make It Much Tougher For Students To Get Loan Forgiveness.”

Via The Washington Post: “Elizabeth Warren wants the Education Dept.’s use of earnings data investigated.”

More on how the GOP tax plan will effect universities (particularly those with large endowments) in Inside Higher Ed.

Via Edsurge: “After Net Neutrality, Experts Expect Changes to FCC’s E-Rate.”

Former English minister of education David Laws onLiberia’s big school experiment.”

(State and Local) Education Politics

Via The Baltimore Sun: “Baltimore teachers call on city to close all schools amid heating issues.” More via NPR.

Via The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Two-plus hours on a school bus: How a Chester charter taps Philly kids to grow.”

Via CJonline.com: “Kansas GOP making moves to prepare for April vote on K–12 constitutional amendment” – this would rewrite "the state’s obligation to educate public school children."

Via The New York Times: “Met Changes 50-Year Admissions Policy: Non-New Yorkers Must Pay.”

Via The New York Times: “City of the Future? Humans, Not Technology, Are the Challenge in Toronto.”

Immigration and Education

Via The New York Times: “As Flow of Foreign Students Wanes, U.S. Universities Feel the Sting.”

Via ProPublica: “Trump Justice Department Pushes for Citizenship Question on Census, Alarming Experts.”

Education in the Courts

Via Complex: “Federal Court Says High School Football Player Can’t Be Forced to Stand for National Anthem.”

Via Education Week: “Ohio Supreme Court to Hear Online Charter School Funding Dispute.”

Via The New York Times: “School Soccer Coach in California Charged With Trafficking Teenage Girls.”

The Business of Financial Aid

The Washington Post looks at income sharing agreements.

There’s more about the politics of the business of student loans in the federal education above. And the business of student loans is off to a strong start in 2018 with fundraising news in the venture capital section below.

The “New” For-Profit Higher Ed

For-profit colleges bought and sold in the “business of education” section below. And more too on accreditation for for-profits in the accreditation section below.

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

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has joined edX.

There’s data about distance education enrollments in the US in the research section below.

Meanwhile on Campus…

Via The Atlantic: “The Future of Trumpism Is on Campus.”

Accreditations and Certifications and Competencies

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Career Education Colleges and Universities, a trade group for the for-profit college sector, this week called on the U.S. Congress to give colleges that are accredited by an agency the Obama administration terminated more time to find a new accreditor.”

Testing

“Is the Smarter Balanced National Test Broken?” asks Education Dive, which I suppose is a question that should put this story into the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines section.

Via EdWeek’s Market Brief: “Feds Set Stage for ESSA ‘Innovative’ Testing Pilots. But States, Vendors May Move Slowly.”

Go, School Sports Team!

Via NPR: “Training For The Olympics Is Hard Enough. Try Doing That While Earning A Degree.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The University of Arizona has fired its head football coach, Rich Rodriguez, following allegations by his former administrative assistant that Rodriguez sexually harassed her.”

There’s sports-related news in the courts section above.

Memos from HR

Via The Guardian: “Google faces new discrimination charge: paying female teachers less than men.”

More hiring and firing news in the sports section above.

Contests and Awards

From Chalkbeat: “Why we decided to launch the Great American Teach-Off, and how it will work.”

“I Have Big Reservations About Chalkbeat’s Teaching Competition,” says Dan Meyer.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Via The New York Times: “How Climate Change Deniers Rise to the Top in Google Searches.”

Via Vanity Fair: “‘Oh My God, This Is So F—ed Up’: Inside Silicon Valley’s Secretive, Orgiastic Dark Side.” Good thing no one in Silicon Valley is trying to shape the future of education, otherwise this story would be even more horrific.

Teachers didn't choose a career where they expected to have bullets flying at them...unfortunately, that's becoming a reality. pic.twitter.com/bThvHTXGYD

— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) January 3, 2018

Yes, this is ed-tech. Weapons training and metal detectors are ed-tech. School furnaces are also ed-tech. Perhaps if we paid attention to more than just the venture-backed gadgetry and philanthropy-backed stories about “innovation,” we could work towards schools that were actually safer and more just.

The Atlantic on Logan Paul: “The Social-Media Star and the Suicide.”

Via The Guardian: “Neurotechnology, Elon Musk and the goal of human enhancement.”

Via Mindwires Consulting’s Michael Feldstein: “Good Enough vs. Better Enough: The Macmillan Example.”

Robots and Other Ed-Tech SF

From the Amazon PR department: “University of Oklahoma Expands Student Engagement with Alexa Skills.”

Venture Capital and the Business of Ed-Tech

The private school provider Taaleem has raised $14 million from Amanat Holdings.

Frank has raised $10 million from Reach Capital,Aleph, and Apollo Global Management. “A TurboTax for student loan applications” according to Techcrunch, the company has raised $15.5 million total.

The private equity firm KKR has sold its stake in Weld North Education to another private equity firm, Silver Lake. Edsurge reports that Weld North Education will still be run by former Kaplan exec Jonathan Grayer.

The for-profit chain of colleges Education Corporation of America has acquired the for-profit chain of colleges Vatterott Educational Centers.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Information Security

Via Ars Technica: “‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’: Every modern processor has unfixable security flaws.”

AngelSense GPS Tracker is the only monitoring solution designed by autism parents for autism parents.

Via Buzzfeed: “India’s National ID Database With Private Information Of Nearly 1.2 Billion People Was Reportedly Breached.”

Via The Times Leader: “Sutton Elementary School will be implementing a pilot program next school year that will digitally scan student fingerprints in an effort to make food lines more efficient.” The school is in Owensboro, Kentucky. Good thing is if this system gets breached, the school will just issue kids new fingerprints.

Via Edsurge: “Measuring Learning Will Be Key to Improving It in 2018.” Featuring this gem: “The most obvious sign that measuring learning is not a priority in higher-ed is that administrators and educators throw away so much data about it.”

Via The 74: “How One Program Is Closing the College Persistence Gap for Needy Students With Financial Aid, Social Supports, and a Powerful Data Tracker.”

Research, “Research,” and Reports

Via NPR: “Many Large Public Universities Don’t Collect Data On Suicides, Report Finds.”

Via Mindwires Consulting’s Phil Hill: “Fall 2016 IPEDS First Look: Continued growth in distance education in US.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “New Data on Enrollments, Employees, Libraries.”

From Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum: “What we’ve learned: 5 lessons from education research to take into 2018.”

Via The Hechinger Report: “Rival studies shed light on the merits of a Montessori education.”

Icon credits: The Noun Project

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