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Quotes: K12 Education Fended Off Venture Capital Until 2011?

Quotes2No self-respecting venture capitalist would touch the K-12 education segment from 2000 to 2010-2011. -- QSV Advisors' managing partner (and CPS Board of Ed member) Deborah Quazzo in EdWeek

Media: Bullying, A Federal Civil Rights Complaint, & A Wealthy District's Response

ScreenHunter_03 Apr. 17 23.08You might have missed this series of stories from Palo Alto Weekly about student bullying, a district's flawed response -- I certainly did -- but the Society of Professional Journalists gave the Northern California outlet one of its top awards for small media outlets.

Read more about the stories given the award here, or how the stories came about here. Interesting to note that the reporters unearthed a federal Office of Civil Rights case about halfway through the process, and in the end the complaint was made public (by the child's parents).

"The Weekly coverage included two cover story packages researched and written by Lobdell,"Out of the Shadows," (June 14, 2013) about bullying, and "Power to Hurt," (Aug. 16, 2013) on the use of social media by teens, and numerous news stories by Kenrick and Lobdell on the school district's handling of bullying complaints, federal investigations and the development of bullying policies."

The full list of SJP awardees is here -- I didn't see any other education-related stories but I might have missed some.

Quotes: Duncan Responds To Criticism Of Data Privacy Guidance

Quotes2We created a new Chief Privacy Officer. We've put out guidance recently, and where it needs to be strengthened going forward -- and not just us, but everybody, states, districts, schools, myself as a parent trying to figure it out everyday with my kids. This is not one that you're going to issue some guidance and that's the Bill of Rights for the next 100 years. -- Arne Duncan (Arne Duncan Responds to Criticism Over Student Data Privacy EdWeek)

Afternoon Video: EdTech Frenzy But Business Models Unclear

Bloomberg video from last week about the potential and pitfalls of selling edtech to schools. Via RCE. "Bloomberg’s Ari Levy looks into who’s backing education tech startups. He speaks with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)"

Morning Video: White House Pushes Tech Solutions


Here's a clip from Politico's edtech event yesterday, featuring Kumar Garg from the OSTP. Full video here. Story link here.


EdTech: Startups On Track To Raise $2B Despite Challenges

HiresWhat's super-hard to pull off but really attractive to venture capitalists? Edtech, apparently. 

Creating and sustaining a successful startup is not nearly as easy as it may look, as described recently in EdWeek, focusing on Edthena & Autism Expressed. 

And yet, edtech startups raised over $500M in just the first quarter of 20014, according to TechCrunch, which mentions AltSchool, Schoology,as well as TeachersPayTeachers.

Image courtesy TechChrunch.

People: Young Joins GreatSchools [Plus Unsolicited Advice]

image from m.c.lnkd.licdn.comMeet Caprice Young, though you probably knew her already. She's a former LAUSD school board member who helped right the ship at LA's troubled ICEF charter network then went to work for the Arnold Foundation. She also worked as a Deputy Mayor and for a distance learning company along the way, and was a Coro Fellow.

Young left the Arnold Foundation fulltime last year and did some consulting but then decided to join GreatSchools as a senior advisor because she things the site is fascinating and as yet under-used. You might not hear a lot about GreatSchools, but it's got impressive pageviews, according to Quantcast -- 5-6 million pageviews a month (much higher than Kahn Academy and other big-name sites, according to Young).

Now 15 years old, GreatSchools keeps adding features and collaborations like this week's Detroit rollout in partnership with Excellent Schools Detroit.  Not too long ago, the site began producing its own stories (Diversity: "When The Melting Pot Boils Over"). They've partnered with real estate site Zillow and are fending off competitors like Niche and Education.com that do similar things just not as well, says Young.  Next up after Detroit is an effort to deepen the school profiles using social media and qualitative data, and a spinoff dubbed GreatKids that is intended to help parents understand what it looks like when their children can do, say, 2nd grade math. 

What would be really cool -- in the category of unsolicited suggestions -- would be if GreatSchools partnered with big-city districts who are doing universal/streamlined application and admissions processes, so that parents could see ratings, user reviews, and apply all in one place. Yeah, sort of like HealthCare.gov, I guess.  Would make NSA spying on parents easier. Loaner tablets for parents who don't have computers? 

Previous posts: Was Bloomberg Article Fair To Bullis Charter?Is GreatSchools Helping, Or Hurting? A Yelp (Or Facebook) For Schools?New NYT-WNYC Site [SchoolBook] To Cover New York City

Afternoon Video: Can Home Visits & Portable Gadgets Help Close The Word Gap?

This video from Motoko Rich's NYT home visits story today shows a cloud-based device that tracks word use at home.

Morning Video: Google & Microsoft Duking It Out Over Schools


This scene from CNN's Chicagoland documentary series showing Google's Eric Schmidt visiting a Chicago school with Mayor Rahm Emanuel illustrates the battle over the education marketplace that includes more and more "free" versions of software. This is not OK with union president Karen Lewis (or some privacy advocates concerned about data mining). Or watch a new interview with Bill Gates on education reform.

Afternoon Video: First, Kill All The [Elected] School Boards, Says Netflix Founder


Here's Reed Hastings speaking to CCSA Charter Conference 2014 last week, via Politico, during which he rails against the the vagaries of local elected school boards and urges aggressive charter expansion. (He's not the first to make this argument.  Matt Miller's 2008 Atlantic piece, First, Kill All the School Boards, is another notable example.) Don't agree with Hastings? Show your commitment by canceling your Netflix subscription immediately, even if you have episodes of House of Cards still to watch. 


Afternoon Video: Watch The New Cosmos Here!


via Kottke @mrpabruno

Afternoon Video: The Woman Behind That Math Textbook


Here's the trailer for "Take Away One," about the story of educator and author Mary Baratta-Lorton, whose revolutionary ideas about hands-on learning "transformed nearly every classroom in America" and whose murder remains a mystery. Screening in NYC next week. More about it here.

EdTech: Five Smart Ways to Do 1:1 Tablet Deployments

Tablets_mg_0418edit_261My latest piece -- about ways districts can make smart decisions before giving everyone tablets -- is out from the Harvard Education Letter. 

Basically, the advice I got from places like Roslyn, Mooresville, McAllen, and Burlington (MA) boiled down to getting very clear about why you're doing this and what you expect to be different in classrooms because of the devices, holding off (or at least piloting) before making big purchases, and making sure to have enough bandwidth and WiFi access to let all those devices work at roughly the same time.

Click here if you feel like checking it out.

Morning Video: Teaching Low-Income Kids To Code

PBS NewsHour: Seeking tech genius among disadvantaged teens.

Charts: Teachers Use Technology (For What?)

Unnamed (5)Here's some more information from the Gates/Scholastic survey of teachers, focused on uses of technology. Looks like teachers still really love them some YouTube.


Quotes: What Are Online Courses Good For?

Main-qimg-0b7d7f1c033b714e82cd214d47052db6Online courses can be excellent and often more suitable than classroom for Knowledge level... Without huge investment, online courses are usually unsuitable for Comprehension, Analysis, and Evaluation.  - NASA engineer Robert Frost (Will online courses ever be more powerful and effective than a classroom course? via Quora)

Afternoon Video: Girl-Focused Toy Startup Won SuperBowl Ad Spot From Intuit


Read more about the contest and the possible implications from MSNBC here.

Charts: Venture Capital & Education Innovation

image from educationnext.orgProfiles of founders of Wireless Generation, SchoolNet, and K12 from Education Next (For Education Entrepreneurs, Innovation Yields High Returns)


Update: It All Began Ten Years Ago

Jacob riss dana goldstein Hard to believe that I started the weekly email roundup that became "This Week In Education" in November '03, starting with AOL, then moving to GMail (remember when it was so), then Blogger/Blogspot (your eyes still hurt).  

What I'd forgotten along the way is the blog moved over to EdWeek in January '07 -- about six months after I moved to New York City and much later than I had remembered.   The Chicago blog moved over to Catalyst and ChicagoNow a little earlier. 

Way back then, blogs were still strange and new -- now they're strange and old.  Being able to comment immediately rather than write a letter to the editor was new -- now most folks simple Tweet or Facebook what they've got to say.

There was no Politics K-12 or Teacher Beat, no Huffington Post, no Answer Sheet, no GothamSchools/Chalkbeat. Rotherham didn't allow comments. Hess didn't even know what a blog was, much less have his own.

One thing hasn't changed, which is the basic aim of what I'm doing, which I summarized in the 2007 welcome message at EdWeek: "Too often, educators don't understand politics, politicians don't understand education, and education journalists don't understand -- or find ways to capture -- the interactions of these two different worlds. Everyone suffers as a result."

Jacob Riis image via Dana Goldstein's blog.

Weekend Reading: Houston Goes Laptop, DC Streamlines Testing

There's always good reading that comes in over the weekend (or that I miss during the week), but I know that some of you have lives and/or don't take your jobs seriously enough to check the Internet 24/7, so here are some of the best things you might want to check out or at least know about:

Houston Launches Ambitious 1-to-1 Computing Initiative - @BenjaminBHerold @EdWeekEdTech http://ht.ly/sW6EI 

DC Public schools are exploring ways to streamline, make best use of standardized tests http://ht.ly/sVFkf  via @Morning_Edu [also via @washingtonpost! http://wapo.st/1c8J0Pm]

For Kids With Low Self-Esteem, Praise Has Unintended Consequences - @PacificStand http://ht.ly/sXzLj 

How Tumblr and GitHub could be the future of education | Reuters @felixsalmon #edtech http://ht.ly/sXzjs 

Will A Computer Decide Whether You Get Your Next [Teaching] Job? : Planet Money : NPR http://ht.ly/sXDrS 

Against the Rage Machine http://ht.ly/sXxCi  Why so many of us are outraged so often, and feel the need to say so via n+1

From Jay Mathews: Students won’t learn? Go visit their parents: D.C. is trying to see if visiting parents at h... http://tinyurl.com/krcektz 

Young Catholics at Eastside High Revolt, Ctd: http://wp.me/p33JF9-Ue7  via @DishFeed

A week later, I'm still not much national coverage of unlawful teacher dismissal lawsuit in NOLA. Also, no one's biting on my prediction that if the new Ezra Klein / Matt Yglesias endeavor has an education component, Dana Goldstein is most likely to head it.   

EdTech: Tablets, MOOCs -- Now Rocketship

Flickr hey rocker angry starWhat's going on in edtech and innovation these days?  Growing pains?  Overly ambitious timelines?  Credulous media suddenly turned skeptical?  Or are there lots of people who've simply taken the wrong path?  

A few weeks ago MOOC enthusiast Sebastiaun Thrun admitted that the model wasn't working (largely due to high attrition rates).  A handful of iPad deployments have blown up or seem unlikely to result in student learning increases.

Now, Rocketship -- the highly blended charter school model -- is having to revamp its programs for a second time (see Edweek here) and apparently rolled back its expansion plans, too (via Caroline Grannan). Image via Flickr.

Morning Video: WorkKeys [Yes, They Still Use It]

From PBS NewsHour: "WorkKeys, developed by ACT,uses actual workplace scenarios to measure how well individuals can decipher charts, graphs and other visual information, convert ratios, measurements, and make calculations across a variety of situations, and effectively comprehend memos, instructions and other authentic workplace documents." Click here to read the transcript.

Update: Schools' Ever-Expanding Uses Of TED Talks


TED Talks may or may not be the world's most intellectually rigorous form of idea-sharing for adults, as several recent blog posts and articles have suggested, but the format -- in full or just parts of it -- still has some appeal and potential benefits for teachers and students who want to try it out in schools.

image from hepg.org

This new Harvard Education Letter story I wrote explores schools' small but growing use of TED Talks. Classroom and in-school uses of TED Talks are turning into whole-school TEDx events and even (in at least one case) whole-district TED Talks

"Hosting a standalone TEDx event is no easy feat. For student organizers, the event requires the ability to organize and coordinate, to think through logistics and ideas, and to work with adults as well as other students... Organizers' duties include finding speakers and a venue that's appropriate, creating a program and TEDx event logo, deciding which TED Talks to play in between live presentations, scripting and shaping presentations, recruiting an audience, and arranging with teachers and administrators for students to attend. TEDx events are supposed to be filmed from three different angles, streamed live online, and uploaded to the Internet. (The head-mounted microphone, use of buzzwords, and dramatic pauses are optional.)"  
What do you think?  What do your schools do with TED Talks, if anything? From TED-ifying Schools Harvard Education Letter.  

Media: Blogs Are Dead (Long Live Blogging!)

BloggingBlogger extraordinaire Jason Kottke penned this post for the Nieman Journalism Lab (R.I.P. The Blog, 1997-2013) recently, echoing what I've been telling you guys for years now: The blog is dead, long live the blog.  

Kottke predicts that the blog has been dead for a while now, and that more folks will notice this in 2014 than in the past. It's true -- the blog format with its comments and such is old and creaky.  No argument there.  

But blogging -- the broader activity of sharing useful information and opinions with the world -- is if anything on the rise.  With Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Tumblr, everyone's blogging now.  It's just not called that.  

What to call it?  I have no idea.  Meantime, you can find me on Twitter (@alexanderrusso), Facebook (personal profile or official page), and Tumblr (HotForEd).  And I'll continue and try to bring social media onto this site for all of you who are still not into it.

Afternoon Video: White House Seeks Classroom Videographers

 Find out more about the White House Film Fest -- then submit your entry


The White House is looking for student filmmakers to share short films about " the power of technology in classrooms" -- the deadline is January 29.

#EdGIF Of The Day: Edmodo Co-Founder Nic Borg Talks Timing

Edmodo's Nic Borg is one of several education-related folks in Forbes' 30 Under 30 compiled by @CarolineLHoward. Plus SFER, Jeremiah, folks from NYCDOE, Khan Academy, and more.  In this video-turned-gif, Borg is talking about how successful startups are sometimes the product of lucky timing and have to innovate to figure out how to succeed in the long run. Indeed, I'm wondering how many of the 2007 version of this feature are still around, if there even was such a thing.

Afternoon Video: Computer Scientist Argues For "More Wizards & Witches"

This is a talk from a school-hosted TEDx event at Silicon Valley's Gunn High School about how computers and magic aren't all that far apart.

Media: VentureBeat's New EdTech Channel (& How It's Sponsored)

Screen shot 2013-12-19 at 3.23.39 PMThe way thinsgs are these days, nearly the first thing that came up in response to the news that VentureBeat was starting a new education channel was the issue of sponsorship / editorial control.

Indeed, there's a Apollo Education Group icon on the page, though it's not mentioned in the announcement itself. They're the parent company for University of Phoenix.

The arrangement is described elsewhere, in a post that also claims that VentureBeat is "the first major technology news organization to dedicate a channel to how technology is transforming the global education market."

The VentureBeat announcement includes lots of enthusiasm for edtech activity.  No surprise -- there's lots of action in edtech (and lots of money in education, generally speaking). Recent stories from them include How data is driving the biggest revolution in education since the Middle AgesThe President’s ‘gaming guy’ tells us that educational games fascinate Obama.

Of course, there's very little media out there that's not paid in some form -- by advertising, subscriptions, philanthropy-- or free but ideologically driven.  So caveat lector and all that.  Always been that way, probably always will be.  The recently announced NPR expansion is being sponsored by Gates and Wallace foundations, for example. Politico's education page is funded through subscriptions, advertisers, and sponsors like Power Jobs!.  This site is sponsored by Scholastic Administrator. 


Afternoon Video: Misunderstood?

I'm not sure this has much to do with education or school reform, or even technology, but it's everywhere and it's pretty interesting for an ad. 

Morning Video: Predictions For The Future Of Education

"4. Every student will have a customized learning experience, with no grades or syllabus." (Five surprising things that will happen in the next five years Sploid)

Afternoon Video: Can Apps Help Ease ADD, Too?

From Fast Company: Can Your Brain Really Be Retrained? 


Charts: Lemov, Lexile Scores, and Lord Of The Flies

image from blogs.kqed.org

KQED's MindShift checks in with Doug Lemov about his new book, lexile scores, and Lord of the Rings.

Morning Video: "Flipped" Classrooms - Do They Really Work?

Afternoon Video: Oscar-Worthy Anti-Bullying Video?


"A day at work doesn't look like this. What about a day at school?" [Also from Upworthy -- they're so good at the headlines! -- and possibly not new (but I don't remember).]  PS -- It's in French. 

EdTech: Chicago Goes All-In For Computer Coding

image from farm8.staticflickr.comThere's a big national push to get US kids to learn how to code computer programs going on, as you may have noticed (see Google News roundup here).  

You know, there are lots of programming jobs out there, and we need more American kids to program the drones and teachbots of the future.

Apparently Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel thinks that CPS should join in -- by making computer coding a core academic offering.  Or at least so sayeth the Tribune and Sun Times.  

What do you think?  Excited? Fearful? A little of both?  Me, too.

I don't know of any other big city school district making this kind of announcement.

Image via Flickr HackNY 

#EdGIF Of The Day: Schools Crushing Creativity

Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 11.57.28 AMKen Robinson's TED Talk about schools and creativity is one of the most-watched videos online.

Click below for some gifs from the speech to remind you of what makes it so good.

It's one big series of GIFs so it goes on for a while.

Otherwise the post would stretch way down.

Continue reading "#EdGIF Of The Day: Schools Crushing Creativity" »

Quotes: Schools' Bandwidth No Better Than Your Puny Home Setup

The average American school has about the same bandwidth as the average American home, even though obviously there are 200 times as many people at school as there are at home. -- President Barack Obama in a recent speech

Afternoon Audio: Custom Learning in the Digital Age

In this hourlong radio documentary, American Radio Works explores the potential power -- and peril -- of individualized education technology efforts. Can it match a watchful tutor?  Listen above, and/or click here to read and/or see some visual extras: One Child at a Time: Custom Learning in the Digital Age.

EdTech: Drones For Everyone!

image from blog.zap2it.comLast night on 60 Minutes, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced drone delivery in the not too distant future, which set the Internet on fire (so to speak) and reminded me to remind you that drones are coming to schools, too (or at least I think they will and am fasci-horrified by the possibilities).

Previous posts: Drone HighClassroom Drones;If Gossip Site TMZ Gets One, Can LAUSD Be Far Behind?How Long Until Drones PatrolBack To School Drones.

Other tidbits from the 60M segment?  Bezos knows that he's just as likely to be disrupted as previous industries were, and is fighting hard not to let happen to him what happened to Blockbuster, etc.  Also: Cloud computing is Amazon's fastest-growing revenue source.  Like Google, they're not really making money off what you think they're making money off of.

Technology: Laptops Vs. Tablets

Are you pro-tablet, pro-laptop, or against them both? Gary Stager and a Long Island (NY) superintendent talk pros and cons of tablets/laptops (Day of the Tablet). One thinks it's the right tool for the job. The other, not so much (For the Love of Laptops). I'll let you guess which is which. 

Afternoon Video: Goldieblox Makes Good Use Of "Girls"

The Beastie Boys aren't happy about it (or maybe they're being gamed), but you'll probably like this viral video to promote Goldieblocks and girls' interest in making things.

Quotes: The Limits Of "Big Data" Hiring & Evaluating

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comA real, live person looks at every résumé [Google] receives. Hiring decisions are made by committee and are based in no small part on opinions formed during structured interviews. -- The Atlantic (They're Watching You at Work)

Afternoon: Google Launches Play For Education

Via Techchrunch

Charts: One Course's Disappearing MOOC Students

image from cdn.theatlantic.comLast week, MOOC founder Sebastian Thrun told Fast Company that, well, things weren't working out as well as he'd hoped three years ago.  Today at the Atlantic Eduction page Owen Youngman describes how 56,000 students turned into 1,200 course passers. 

Morning Video: Creepy iPad App Monitors' Preschoolers' Development

Parent's Pad from Kidaptive on Vimeo.

Maybe it's just me -- I was the only one creeped out last weekend when the bouncer scanned the bar code on my driver's license at the door instead of just checking the date -- but this kind of thing gives me the willies. Via Fast Company

Morning Video: GED Makeover - Will It Help?

From PBS

Afternoon Video: Blended Learning, Explained (Sorta)

The Learning Accelerator via the Hechinger Report

Quotes: MOOC Developer Reversing Course

Quotes2We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don't educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product.

- Udacity's Sebastion Thrun in Fast Company.

Afternoon Video: What're They Doing? No Idea.


But at least they're not asking you for money or using a 3D printer to make a gun, right?  (Spotify and New York City Schools Get Together To Hack on Music Education). 

Morning Video: Twitter Bell-Ringer

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

It's not directly about education, but see the video and read the article in which Fast Company tells us about the idealistic (entrepreneurial) student who got to ring the opening bell at yesterday's Twitter IPO launch. Or, watch Degrassi Tyson call Bill Nye from onstage during a speech.



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.