11
Mar

8 Education Commence-Up Tips

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

Blog: 
StratEDgy

Entrepreneurial ideas related to education have flourished of late, and business plan competitions can surface some of these initial ideas. Here are eight education-related start-up ideas appearing on several lists of finalists.

Wharton Business Plan Competition
They recently selected 26 semi-finalists out of 140 teams, and the following two teams presented businesses related to education.

Certiorari: Certiorari is a comprehensive educational resource that closes the knowledge gap between lawyers and their clients.

Textbook Friend: Textbook Friend is an online platform, personalized to different schools with different subdomains, student networks, and marketing teams, in which students can communicate directly to buy and sell textbooks on campus, cutting out the traditionally large intermediary fees of bookstores and other services

MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneurs Series (MUES) Business Plan Competition
One of the ten finalists has an idea focused on education.

Excelegrade: A company that developed online software that replaces paper-based tests in K-12 classrooms with assessments on tablets, smart phones, and laptops.

Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition
At least one of the finalists is trying to solve an educational problem.

iSolv3: mobile application that allows users to solve complicated math problems by taking a picture (no typing into the calculator necessary!)

NYC Next Idea
Two out of the six finalists presented education-related ideas.

Glovico.org: A peer-to-peer online language learning platform (USA and Germany)

Cortex International: Medical Ethics Virtual Experience, a module-based, interactive ethics education program for use at medical schools and hospitals (USA and China)

Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition at Purdue
The ten finalists in the undergraduate and graduate student categories included two education ideas.

Cornucopia Farm: an agritourism business in Scottsburg, Ind., focused on educating the public about agriculture and how to interact with it in their daily lives.

Skyepack: which is a content-focused educational software environment designed to facilitate the delivery of learn-anywhere mobile content as an alternative to texts, course packs and class handouts.

Which one would get your vote if you were a judge?

 

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

11
Mar

Bill Gates Has a Remedy for Larger Education: Yoda

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Increased Ed | Site U

Weblog:&nbsp
Just Going to

Bill Gates has diagnosed what ails increased education, and the cure is all about technologies, and also Yoda.

Speaking at the SXSW engineering conference, as reported by CNN Income, “Gates&rsquo major theme was customized learning, which can be enhanced by new technological innovation.&rdquo

And Yoda.

Yet again according to CNN Funds, Gates maintains that, “Yoda was a excellent instructor since the Jedi master understood when Skywalker is dropping interest.&rdquo

In Gates&rsquo personal words, “With this wave of application that&#39s becoming designed that personalizes to the pupil … there&#39s genuine promise here that the youngsters can go back and engage in a way they couldn&#39t ahead of.&quot

So Bill Gates and I, and just about every person else I&rsquom mindful of, agree on two huge items: one. That massive lecture classes are non-perfect atmospheres to engender learning. two. The much better different is personalized studying supervised by a mentor capable of nurturing pupil curiosity.

Gates&rsquo reply to this dilemma is “personalized software.&rdquo

As I read this, I recognized this computer software presently exists, and in some cases (mine) it&rsquos a little as well soft, about the middle specifically.

I&rsquom talking about human beings, or in Yoda&rsquos case, an indeterminate species of three-foot tall green factors with oversized ears and gravelly Miss Piggy voices.

I like Gates&rsquo Yoda analogy. Yoda is without a doubt a fine instructor. When Luke is coaxed by Obi-Wan&rsquos ghost to the swamp planet Dagobah to understand beneath Yoda&rsquos tutelage, rather than lecturing Luke Skywalker on how to harness the Force, Yoda encourages youthful Luke to search within himself.

I have to say, I at times come to feel like Yoda in my job, every student a various youthful Jedi in require of the right words of encouragement.

Most of the time I&rsquom communicating two factors, that what I am asking them to do matters, and that they are certainly capable of undertaking it.

Or, as Yoda puts it, “Do or do not&hellipthere is no attempt.&rdquo

Apparently, Gates&rsquo concept is to place Yoda on pc screens as component of the school of tomorrow, “in which college students observe lessons on the web, delivered by the brightest minds in the field.&rdquo

As Gates says, &quotIf you want the extremely greatest lectures, if you want the value efficiency, you have to break down and say, you know, allow&#39s get someone else&#39s materials.&quot&nbsp

I feel about this, and I wonder, provided a Jedi-master&rsquos capacity to undertaking his thoughts across galaxies and star techniques in an instant, why did Obi-Wan encourage Luke to look for out Yoda in person?

Possibly since software and humans are the same issue, not.&nbsp Yes, hmmm.

The assumptions that Gates and other folks like him deliver to these discussions is that education, as is, is as well costly. Soon after all, tuition is rising more quickly than inflation and university is threatening to turn into a bad investment. Technology, Gates argues, has the likely to make college cheaper, for instance by not needing as numerous professors given that, what the heck, we&rsquove received Yoda on tape!

Like Gates, I&rsquom distressed by growing tuition and the strain it puts on my students. Many more of them are taking on shocking amounts of debt, or trying to operate total-time jobs even though also getting full-time students.

But I get distressed when the discussion turns immediately towards the corporate buzzwords of “efficiency&rdquo and “productivity.&rdquo In the 90&rsquos, when unemployment was four% and we have been all acquiring wealthy on our shares of Pets.com, I don&rsquot keep in mind people falling in excess of themselves criticizing our system of larger education.

Not that we can&rsquot get greater, but the truth is, we&rsquore in fact quite great at it. The educating/learning model is not particularly mysterious. College students benefit from becoming in the presence of their Jedi-masters. Occasionally a hologram is okay, but it isn&rsquot a substitute for the real, little green factor.

Surely, universities share some of the blame for increasing tuition as they&rsquove chased amenities, increased the amount of administration, and yes, pursued the most recent technologies, but the deep economic downturn and state government reductions in funding have completed far more to improve tuition rates than any other factor.

When the Bantha dung hit the fan in the 2008 monetary crisis, the government responded by recapitalizing the banks, bailing out the auto industry, and acquiring toxic assets, probably conserving us from a devastating economic meltdown. As of March 4th, the government has been paid back $ 461 billion of the $ 605 billion it handed out, with a very good opportunity more than time to at least break even or flip a profit.

Why can&rsquot we do one thing related with colleges? Do we doubt that there will be economic (and other benefits) to enhancing education, as opposed to creating it a lot more “efficient?&rdquo

And it doesn&rsquot even have to be the government alone that does it.

Because 2008, funding to greater education in Louisiana has been cut by $ 425 million dollars.

In 2011 alone, the Gates Basis spent $ 426 million offering grants to education-relevant organizations.

Virtually all of that funds went to groups operating on integrating engineering into the classroom. They argue the technology helps teachers better do their jobs by freeing them to engage more personally with the students. That feels like the Dark Side to me, as we preserve throwing cash at technologies attempting to produce a substitute for one thing we previously have in abundance, prepared and devoted teachers.

Why can&rsquot we just have a lot more teachers educating? Smaller sized courses, much more personalized instruction, much better studying.

Not one particular Yoda on display, an army of them in the flesh.

To me this helps make sense. Hmmmmmm.

Good for spreading the word, twitter is.&nbsp Herh herh herh.

&nbsp

Stick to @biblioracle
!function(d,s,id)var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[]if(!d.getElementById(id))js=d.createElement(s)js.id=idjs.src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs)(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”)

&nbsp

Inside Greater Ed | Site U

03
Mar

Changing A/P George at Nanyang Technological University?

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

Blog: 
GlobalHigherEd

Like many social scientists with ties and genuine affection for Singapore, I was shocked when I heard Nanyang Technological University (NTU) recently denied tenure to Dr. Cherian George (pictured to the right). See here for a Storify-based compilation of stories about this ongoing debacle, and here for a 1 March University World News story. Keep in mind this is the second time he was denied tenure – the first occurred in 2009.

Cherian George has a truly rare capacity to shed light on the nature of state-society-economy relations in Southeast Asia (especially Singapore and Malaysia) via an analysis of media systems and practices. He is also a public intellectual, with an ability to write in a fashion free from the jargon all too often associated with media studies worlds.

I first heard about Cherian George's work when I worked in Singapore in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and then every year after, usually via colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who work in the media and communications fields. While I've never met him I can state, with confidence, he would have been tenured here at UW-Madison. Indeed, given his record and in demand areas of expertise matched with actual experience as a journalist, he'd most likely be a tenured full Professor by now. But there you go – the powers that be who govern NTU have decided to send George on his way.

Rather than speculate as to why NTU, led by President Bertil Andersson (a Swedish national, and former Chief Executive of the European Science Foundation, 2004-2007) and Provost Freddy Boey, chose to sanction this decision, I decided to think laterally and pondered what a position description for a replacement hire in George's areas of expertise would be like. It's worth reflecting on the value of having a non-expatriate professor with these capabilities in a school of communication and information, and in a university that seeks to support the media sector in a city-state that ostensibly desires to become a 'vibrant and robust' media hub.

 

~~~~~

HYPOTHETICAL POSITION DESCRIPTION

Media Politics: Following the denial of tenure to Dr. Cherian George (who has a PhD in Communication from Stanford University, a Masters from Columbia University’s School of Journalism, and a BA in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University), we are looking for an even more innovative, collaborative, and forward-thinking teacher-scholar who is interdisciplinary inclined. The successful candidate should have a PhD with an active research agenda, and teaching and advising experience. Preference will be given to candidates who study the diverse politics of the media, including the norms and practices of journalism in Singapore and Southeast Asia more broadly; the sociocultural dimensions of the production, circulation and consumption of various forms of media; the formal and informal regulation of the media; and the nature of 'alternative' media vis a vis emerging social media platforms such as weblogs, Twitter, and so on. We are particularly interested in candidates who have deep regional expertise combined with international perspectives. It is also important that all candidates have 5-10 years of journalism experience in the media industry. The candidate needs to understand and be able to teach about the complex forces and diverse perspectives shaping debates in Singapore and Southeast Asia about issues like censorship, 'intolerant' speech, 'free' speech, and the nature of state influence on media systems. The candidate should committed to enhancing the role of NTU as a place where faculty are "excited about ideas,” where "risk taking" and "breaking conventional mindsets" is the new norm, and where faculty increasingly need to encourage students to "ask questions" so as to inculcate more creative and agile mindsets.

~~~~~

Those leading NTU (such as President Bertil Andersson) have stated that they have a "responsibility to Singaporean society."  It might be worth asking President Andersson if students at a "leading institution of higher education in the Asia-Pacific region" need to know about the phenomenon of media politics. And if so, who could realistically fill Dr. Cherian George's shoes?

Kris Olds

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

23
Feb

Internalizing the External Evaluation Approach

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

Blog: 
Library Babel Fish

I’m finishing up a draft of a department self-study for an external review of our library. It’s the third time I’ve been involved in one of these, and the second time I’ve been primary author. It’s making me feel reflective about this enterprise we are part of, the nature of change, and questions of purpose and agency.

Deep thoughts, in other words.

External reviews are an interesting practice. Our first review in the early 1990s brought a number of overheated issues to the surface, not unlike a volcanic event. I don’t recommend bottling everything up until a review team arrives. It’s hard on the reviewers and a mess to clean up. Some good things came out of it, ultimately. The review amplified what an accreditation team concluded at approximately the same time: the library’s budget has to be increased. I’d forgotten what a huge difference a few years of budget growth makes. The review also kicked off a few years of difficult internal discussions that led to a complete redefinition of the librarians’ roles (adopting a more holistic and shared set of duties) and the development of a collegial management model for our library organization, something I still find exciting. It works for us, and it mystifies me that more libraries don’t try it.

The second external review in 2003 was less eventful. No skeletons tumbled out of closets, no Gordian knots had to be whacked apart. We got answers to some questions we posed, we got an endorsement for the things we wanted, and we felt many of our efforts affirmed, particularly in terms of what we did to promote and support student learning.

Working on the documentation for the third external review reminds me that some of the projects we’re working on now got their start ten years ago. The reviewers noted our shelving was near capacity and warned us that we’d have to start planning accordingly. The library was packed to bursting with students who clearly felt ownership of the place and were occupying every available space. We would have to figure out how to preserve that space for students to interact in groups, study in solitude, or spread out as they worked on research. The weeding we’ve been doing wholeheartedly for the past few years stems from this recommendation.

But it also reminds me that some things are in our control, and some are not. Those budget increases leveled off and have been flat for over a decade. (Our staff costs, particularly for health care, have no doubt increased, though our staff is smaller and younger than it was.) Having ever-increasing subscription costs and a stagnant budget makes us constantly tinker with our collection, trying to cut anything that isn’t necessary. In some ways this is a healthy form of simplicity. You really need to know what your priorities are, and you have to involve the entire faculty in defining them. In good times, there’s no real need to be so analytical or reflective. We’ve gotten good at both. And we've gathered a lot of data.

A team of librarians, staff, and students conducted large-scale ethnographic study of our virtual and physical space, which also drove many of the changes we've made since the last review. We redesigned our website, we reorganized space, we created a new reference desk where we could sit side-by side with students to talk through their questions. We have a trove of information, from student and faculty surveys, to seating pattern studies, to interviews and focus groups, to picture associations and photo diaries. Lots and lots of lovely data, and it has been really useful.

But there are limits to what you can do with data. You can say “;look, students say they need more space, they need more places for solitary study, more group study areas. They’ve been saying this for 25 years. Can’t we do something about it?” Well, here’s what we can do: we can scour campus storage areas for tables that can be scrubbed up and used in place of underutilized carrels. We can create nooks in the stacks that are a little like study rooms, though never quite as popular. We can move furniture around and empty some shelves and patch things up. Because that’s in our control and requires time and imagination, but not money.

We can nip and tuck and cancel this and that to cover budget gaps. We can stop buying anything that isn’t a high priority and patch holes by canceling a thousand journal dollar subscription, making up for it by buying one $ 40 article at a time. Every time a vendor promises a cheaper version of an essential database, we can make a switch and hope the savings last longer than the time it takes to fix all the broken links. But data doesn’t lead to a bigger budget.

We academics have a habit of using the term “;bean counters” when condemning those soulless individuals in administration buildings who don’t invest in programs that aren’t performing, who run the numbers before they make decisions. How I wish more administrators were bean counters!  How I wish they cared about data, about evidence, about careful stewardship of scarce resources. It’s useful stuff, data. Every improvements we’ve made in this library was a response to the data we’d gathered. But outside the library? Decisions seem to be made by some other means.

I remember thinking during the University of Virginia debacle, a power struggle that seems to be happening all over higher education, that what rankles the most when watching those who have a bit of power try to reserve it all to themselves, is that they’re so bad at using it. The things we care about in higher education -; ethics, the logical consequences of actions, the use of evidence in decisions, the virtues of equality and a belief that rational people can make decisions for the common good, that stuff we started believing during the Enlightenment, is being replaced by something else. Something blind and careless and full of confidence in the righteousness of power. 

I suppose we could end each department meeting with the serenity prayer, but there are things that need changing, no matter how powerless we feel. So on we go, trying to introduce students to values that have been around a long, long time and may still, some day, come back in fashion. We can hope.  

Barbara Fister

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

15
Feb

Substantial Top quality On the internet Understanding: A Discussion with USC’s Karen Gallagher

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

Blog: 
Technology and Learning

Karen Symms Gallagher, Dean of USC Rossier School of Education, caught my eye for two reasons.   

First, I read a couple of opinion pieces in which she argued that we need to look beyond MOOCs to the potential of providing extremely high quality and intimate for-credit degree programs that leverage new options in technology and new opportunities in non-profit / for-profit partnerships.   These columns, including Higher Ed Leaders Must Lead Online and Rethinking Higher Ed Open Online Learning stand apart for their combination of a progressive call for innovation in online education and skepticism that the locus of this innovation is limited to the world of MOOCs.

The second reason that Karen ended up on my radar screen was her designation as a  Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow.   This prestigious fellowship, which is given to only two dozen educators a year, is designed to "support extraordinary entrepreneurial leaders who are committed to transforming public education." 

The fact that Karen is a strong voice for innovation in new online learning models within the context of high quality degree programs makes her selection as a Pahara-Aspen Fellow a noteworthy development.   Discussions about online education have largely bifurcated around the MOOCs or the for-profit world, with too little attention paid to advances in the quality of online and blended programs offered at highly selective institutions.  The Pahara-Aspen Fellowship may prove to be an ideal platform in which to introduce new ideas and models into the larger conversation.

Karen graciously agreed to participate in an e-mail discussion to explore her ideas around how higher ed leaders can advance both our thinking and our models around online education.

Question:  Can you briefly describe what USC has been up to with online education?

When USC President Max Nikias announced that online education must be a priority for graduate programs, we saw the rest of the university catching up with us.  Every school has been charged with moving forward with an online program, and I’m proud that the USC Rossier School was three years ahead of many others.  We launched our online Master of Arts in Teaching ([email protected]) in June of 2009, and believe me we had our skeptics at the time! How can you possibly teach teaching online?   But we are mission-driven:  all our work is designed to further our mission to improve learning in urban schools locally, nationally and globally.   Our vision is that every student, regardless of personal circumstance, can learn and succeed.  We are not a boutique school with a few students and faculty; true impact in education requires thoughtful scale.  

The only way to scale up was to take the program online.  That’s one difference between us and most of the other schools at USC. The need in this country for more high quality teachers has never been greater.  Besides receiving the masters degree from USC, students also earn a California teacher credential.  This is important to note because we have to meet the high standards of both USC and the California Commission for Teacher Credentialing.  So, students must not only meet every week via live classes using such tools as Adobe Connect, but each student is placed in a school in his or her local community from the beginning of the program  Since the online MAT started, we have graduated over 1200 students living in all 50 states and over 40 countries.  We have partnered with over 1400 school districts. And we are expanding with new online programs this year.
 
 Question:  What was your rationale to partner with 2U rather than do everything internally?
 
The issue was capacity.  We knew the content and curriculum, we had the best faculty, and we had a track record of preparing high quality teachers, but we also knew knew we did not have the expertise to build and maintain the type of Learning Management System (LMS) that would adequately support our program.  We were not going to shortchange our students in any way.  We wanted a robust, interactive, synchronous, live experience for our students and we also wanted the back-end infrastructure to be maintained by experts, so that the functioning of the technology was always sound.  John Katzman and his team at 2U (then 2Tor) worked with us hand-in-hand until we had a platform that we knew was worthy of our quality program.
 
 Question:  You have been somewhat skeptical of MOOCs in your writing, and I gather that this is not the strategic direction that USC is going.  Can you elaborate?
 

I am actually taking a MOOC course myself right now through Coursera.  Me and 260,000 of my closest friends!  I wanted to experience for myself what all the hype is about.  And as I’ve said before, I can’t help comparing them to The Great Courses, audio tapes of wonderful classes from top universities, which my husband and I always enjoyed.  I’m absorbing information, but I’m certainly not interacting in any meaningful or face-to-face discussions. Now there is a certain amount of interactivity with my MOOC experience, I’ll admit. You can post comments through many different social media during the MOOC course which, because of the number of participants, is a bit like drinking through a fire hose.  If you think of the credits rolling by at the end of a movie, that is how fast comments roll by while reading content or watching UTube videos.  I find it almost impossible to gain anything of substance from my fellow students’ postings because they are coming so fast and furiously, and often superficially.

The kind of robust interactivity and quality demanded by a hybrid degree program like Rossier’s Master of Arts in Teaching does not come cheaply, and it certainly doesn’t come for free, like the MOOC I’m taking.
This is the difficulty with a broad term like “;online”. We’re talking about apples and oranges.  But the language we use currently to categorize online education is not refined enough to differentiate experiences or signify quality.
 
 Question:  Tell us about the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship.  What will this designation allow you to accomplish?  What are your goals to leverage this honor?   
 
It was a true honor to be selected for this Fellowship, and I’m eager to meet with my new colleagues and begin this two-year experience.   We will meet for the first time next month, so our goals as a group will be formed then.  It is flattering that for the first time they brought a dean from a School of Education to this prestigious table.  I think that programs like our online MAT and our new LAUSD charter school, USC Hybrid High School, speak loudly about us.  Our work is bold.  It can be risky.  Our mission demands that of us.  Or as I like to say, the Rossier School of Education is not your grandmother’s school of education.

What questions do you have for Karen?

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

07
Feb

The creating of a MOOC at the University of Amsterdam

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Within Larger Ed | Website U

Website:&nbsp
GlobalHigherEd

Editor&#39s note: The guest entry beneath was written by Arie K. den Boon (PhD), visiting professor of the Department of Communication Science and organizer of the first MOOC of the University of Amsterdam.&nbspArie K. den Boon (pictured to the correct) is also founder of StartupPush (with Paul Eikelenboom), GfKDaphne, and June Methods. My thanks to Dr. den Boon and the senior leadership of the University of Amsterdam for enabling our readers to greater understand some of the developmental dynamics of MOOCs outside of the US. This entry need to also be viewed in the context of nascent debates about the uneven international geographies of MOOCs — a theme dealt with in GlobalHigherEd by means of &#39Memo to Trustees re: Thomas Friedman&rsquos &lsquoRevolution Hits the Universities,&rsquo &#39Are MOOCs turning out to be mechanisms for global competitors in international greater ed?,&#39 &#39On the territorial dimensions of MOOCs,&#39 and &#39The MOOCs fad and bubble: please tell us yet another story!&#39.&nbsp See, as nicely, Elizabeth Redden&#39s &#39Multinational MOOCs&#39 and the Observatory on Borderless Larger Education&#39s &#39Would you credit score that? The trajectory of the MOOCs juggernaut&#39 (though the latter is behind a paywall).

You can see the MOOC discussed beneath by way of this site and adhere to the linked Twitter feed by means of https://twitter.com/UvAMOOC.&nbsp

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The making of a MOOC at the University of Amsterdam

by Arie K. den Boon

The sun is coming out from behind the clouds and tends to make the lake blindingly white. Skaters have come out in huge numbers on the very first tour of the year on normal ice, commencing uneasily but finding out swiftly with developing self-confidence. Skating is 1 of those things you only find out by performing.

Although I am enjoying the gorgeous landscape and concentrate on staying away from the sudden fissures in the ice, my mobile is obtaining mails from the MOOC crew, some 13 people functioning feverously to get their 1st MOOC out to the audience. We started out with two: Rutger de Graaf, lecturer of the course Introduction to Communication Science and me, lobbying and attempting to get individuals help the notion of an MOOC. We never ever anticipated we would have so several colleagues operating on the venture. It appeared very straightforward to set up a program with video.

When I did the Artificial Intelligence program of Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvik in late 2011, I was immediately conscious that this was much more inspiring than any online or offline college I had before. This was so rich, so demanding and gratifying, that I knew this was going to alter the planet. The movies were basic and therefore feeling intimate. They were taken in their garage and Sebastian and Peter had been clumsily shuffling pieces of paper to right handwritten formulas and photos. It looked like they spoke to you personally in a very straightforward set up. But later on I grew to become aware that it took plenty of energy and time to produce the video. Sebastian&rsquos voice was giving away and later on he was absent for a handful of lessons, and I understood he was exhausted of getting ready the MOOC at evening in his garage with standard classes and other obligations in daytime. Now I also saw that the program video clips and quizzes have been nicely orchestrated and followed a cautiously created path that ultimately brought me and my tens of thousands of fellow college students to the last exam. I obtained the certificate and could not cease talking about it this was some thing we had to do at the University of Amsterdam too. My expectations were quite large. It could carry us a lot higher high quality in our education, with a significantly richer experience simply because of the student&rsquos interaction that presented added feedback, with new explanations, examples and references on something in or associated to the course. Maybe it would also be considerably much more efficient, liberating lecturers to do far more analysis and give any amount of men and women around the planet with a browser accessibility to increased education. It would do some very good branding as properly, showing Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam is innovative in education and study.

UvAlogoQuickly I discovered that it was not so simple right after all. We started in Might 2012, with almost no price range, only the believe in that the concept of a MOOC would be so compelling that we would win fans and spending budget holders along the way. And, really, we did the Graduate College, the University, the Faculty and also the best level decision makers at the University of Amsterdam liked the idea and managed to get us funding. The preparing was to get the course out in September, Okay, probably October. We bought a graphical tablet, some computer software and started experimenting. The 1st 30 seconds of the introduction took us a total day just to get proper. The program was a replicate of the off line course Rutger was providing, but a MOOC is various, considerably more compact, and in require of a distinct narrative. It took us several months to find out how to produce a relative efficient process. Peter Neijens, director of the Graduate College estimated we would be working the MOOC in January. I believed that was ridiculous, be I kept silent. Boy, we had been going to present we had been a lot quicker. But quickly I learned far better. Creating a MOOC is like moving a mountain. We now have a production group of 4, an editorial board of four, designers and PR men and women, venture managers, personnel of the College of Communication and the Graduate College, the IT crew with Frank Benneker our MOOC guru, etc. We have inner folks on the job, but also some external people, which I feel is quite healthful for both velocity and thoroughness. We have opened registration and plan to start off with the program on February 20th. I promise: we will. Soon after attending AI and a Statistics course, I now use the MOOC of Steve Blank on Udacity to coach and train pupil startups in a flipped classroom setting. The type of flipped classroom performs very properly, and employing other MOOC&rsquos assists to determine the very best ways to setup a MOOC. 1 essential part of the electrical power of MOOC&rsquos would seem to be the volume of interaction amongst students, not among students and teacher. So what a MOOC should do, especially with smaller sized numbers of students, is stimulate the interaction amongst students. The far more MOOCs we get and the fewer college students per MOOC, the a lot more essential that becomes.

We have made a decision to see if we can join forces with Coursera, but at the identical time create on Sakai as well. Sakai is an open source environment that is produced by a huge group of universities. It has some outdated fashioned quirks, but also some new developments that make it suitable for a pilot like this one particular. Apart from, it is not however clear in which the American ventures like Coursera, edX, Udacity and other people are heading to. What is their business model? What takes place to the information of &lsquoour&rsquo students, how nicely are their private information protected the way we Europeans want it? Probably it is smart to organize a European platform as well a little bit of choice for college students and some competitors would not be hazardous. On the other hand it is clear that the greatest platform will attain the largest audience and will get the most college students. Coursera is developing faster than Facebook and seems to have closed its gates for new universities due to the fact of its tremendous development, at least temporarily. So we are content to produce on our personal platform. The fire is on, other faculties and other universities are interested and want to join the platform and find out from our experiences. The UvA MOOC crew is extremely energetic and dynamic, they know they have some thing new and exciting and want to make it perform. So I really feel a little bit guilty to be on the ice and end now and then to solution mails and hold the speed and spirit up. All goes well. Do I now have distinct expectations from MOOCs? No, except that it is a great deal of operate to make 1. Strange, why is generating a video still so complex and so considerably operate and feels so primitive? Probably this is an chance for a startup. Some 17.000 individuals have joined me on the lake, all understanding to skate again for the very first time this 12 months. It feels like a enormous open outside course!

Kris Olds

Within Increased Ed | Site U

30
Jan

Adobe Connect and the Limits of EdTech Outsourcing

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

Blog: 
Technology and Learning

This post is intended to open up a dialogue with the leadership at Adobe. I hope that people at Adobe read this post in the context of a larger discussion that is going on about the merits of outsourcing, a discussion that The Economist captures really well in its recent Special Report: Outsourcing and Offshoring.

Please do not mistake these concerns about outsourcing e-learning product development and support with any negative arguments partnering with colleagues from India. As I've written in other places, I very much believe that India is positioned for a source of strength in e-learning in the years to come.

Further, my experience has been that Adobe Connect is a fine synchronous collaboration / teaching platform, and that the people working in the Adobe Education Division are highly skilled and service oriented professionals.   

However, my years of experience with Connect has caused me to develop serious concerns about Adobe's strategy toward, and investments in, this platform. This concern is largely driven by my experience with the Connect product and support team, a team that has been outsourced to India.   

I would recommend that any of my higher ed colleagues who are looking to adopt a web / mobile synchronous learning platform include an evaluation of the parent company's product and support strategy. In other words, potential customers should ask Adobe leadership questions about the points that I raise below.

Adobe Connect is our platform for synchronous web based (and increasingly mobile) virtual teaching and collaboration.  We chose Connect because it most closely meets the following requirements:

  • Works through a browser, with no software download requirement.  (Connect does have an add-in built on the Flash 11 player that needs to be installed for full meeting tools to be utilized.)
  • Supports multiple webcam views, as we run classes with up to 30 participants.
  • Integration with a landline phone bridge and VOIP for meeting recording and management, with full international toll-free calling support.
  • Meeting room persistence, where uploaded content stays from one session to another.
  • Dedicated mobile apps for iOS and Android.
  • Features such as breakout rooms, polling, whiteboards, and meeting recording.

At this point I have not found another synchronous collaboration platform that meets all these teaching and learning needs.  

We are confident that our students are receiving a premium synchronous learning and collaboration experience with Adobe Connect.

I am, however, actively looking (and would be happy to speak with you if your platform does meet these requirements), as a result of the challenges experienced with Adobe around this platform.

These challenges include:

Poor Communication Around System Downtime and Product Bugs:  Over the past two years we have experienced a number of occasions where our Adobe Connect service degraded (we are on a hosted instance), or that key features (such as video feeds) stopped working. In each case these problems were eventually resolved and corrected. The problem is that Adobe Connect team, based in India, has been less than proactive in communicating when technical problems are occurring. Nor has the Connect product team adequately communicated about server or application issues with Adobe's support professionals or U.S based sales force or solutions engineers.  In my experience, the Adobe Connect team is slow to report problems, and reticent to offer a full technical accounting of the root causes of the issues or steps taken to guard against future issues. This has not been a one-time event, but has occurred multiple times, most recently around the upgrade to Connect 9.

Inadequate Investment in Product Evolution:  The fact that Connect still most closely meets our synchronous e-learning and collaboration needs is testament to the amazing work performed by the original Macromedia Breeze team (which Adobe acquired and re-branded as Connect). I've been using this platform (first Breeze and now Connect) since 2004, and the platform change has been at best evolutionary. Connect is surely a much better platform than it was five years ago, but the full potential of this synchronous learning tool is nowhere near realized. Connect remains overly complicated for inexperienced users, with audio controls and troubleshooting still way too complicated and fragile. Adobe has not invested enough resources in simplifying the user experience, or in making meeting running and management more robust. Nor have basic features, such as the ability for meeting hosts to record and export meetings from within the meeting UI been implemented, and the meeting recording is only available in a less than useable flash (FLV) format.  The location of the product team in this instance, whether in the U.S. or India, is less of an issue than the level of corporate commitment for R&D for the platform.  I wonder, however, if a product team that is closer to both its customers (at least its US educational customers) and the company's leadership team would be better able to understand the market challenges and opportunities.

Lack of Ability to Collaborate with the Product Team: The lack of communication and collaboration with the Connect product team is I think the most significant cost for sourcing this platform to India. Adobe has not provided any channel (or at least one that I've been able to take advantage of) to enable direct feedback and dialogue with the Connect designers and engineers.   It is not clear to me that the Connect product team participates in edtech conferences or events. Nobody that I know from the Connect team is providing any leadership around learning innovation.

Adobe has enormous strengths to build on with Connect. Adobe has a dedicated, experienced, and highly skilled services and sales team. Adobe has a very strong core product with Connect in which it can innovate. Adobe has been a long-term trusted partner within higher education, with products that are widely used by faculty, staff and students. Adobe has considerable resources and a large number of talented engineers.

What Adobe needs to do, in my opinion, is signal a strong commitment to higher education via decision to invest significant resources in its synchronous learning platform.   

It may be possible to make these sorts of investments with its existing product and support team in India, as I am sure they are also dedicated professionals. That sort of investment, however, would need to be accompanied by a commitment to greater openness, platform upgrades, and tighter collaboration with customers.   

I question the feasibility of accomplishing these goals when the product team is 8,000 miles away from the majority of its education customers. 

Adobe, and other edtech firms, should be asking themselves if the savings realized by moving product and support positions outside of its main customer base are worth the costs in communication with customers, innovation, and agility. 

Is anyone in Adobe's leadership interested in examining these challenges, and perhaps working with our community to address opportunities to improve both the platform and the support model?

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

22
Jan

Ready…set…slow?

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Larger Ed | Blog U

Weblog:&nbsp
StratEDgy

We lately uncovered the final results of 1 of our survey queries, “What Stunned You When You Initial Commenced Doing work in Increased Education&rdquo&nbsp&nbsp Following the most widespread response, “the politics,&rdquo following on the checklist was the slow pace of accomplishing adjust in higher education.&nbsp

This sentiment was pointed out by respondents across the board: people new to increased ed, veterans, and by folks in distinct positions. Some responses incorporated:

&ldquoIt is collaborative to a fault, major frequently to paralysis by analysis.&rdquo

&ldquoEven when new techniques/suggestions are proposed for expense reductions, adjust is painfully slow, if at all.&rdquo

&ldquoHow every thing is negotiated and has to be mentioned ahead of a decision is produced.&rdquo

Right here are some adjectives used to describe the unhurried atmosphere:

The reasonably slow fee of change inside of larger education could not be surprising to most inside greater education. It looks that the culture has always been this way. &nbspHowever, how has the far more competitive surroundings influenced this culture, if at all?

On the 1 hand, some say the rise in administrative positions in response to enhanced competitors may possibly add to the bureaucracy. This Wall Street Journal report cites US Division of Education data displaying that, “the quantity of employees employed by colleges and universities to deal with or administer people, plans and regulations increased 50% more quickly than the number of instructors among 2001 and 2011.&rdquo&nbsp

On the other hand, competitors has led to more dialogue about obtaining efficiencies, cutting through bureaucracy, encouraging innovation, and decreasing expenses.

Offered these trends, what is the net impact on the pace and culture?

Dayna Catropa
Margaret Andrews

Within Greater Ed | Website U

07
Jan

9 Factors We Learn About Understanding From Fitbit

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

Blog: 
Technology and Learning

This Hanukkah/Christmas my wife and I gave each other Fitbit Ones, a wearable digital activity tracker that measures steps, distance, calories burned, stairs climbed and sleep.  

Since 12/12/12 I have walked 334,176 steps, climbed 550 floors, and covered 172.19 miles.   

What can we learn about learning (and teaching) from the Fitbit?

1. Learning and Exercise Are Hard: Perhaps the biggest inhibitor of improving our own performance is the belief that other people are "naturals" at a given task. We say that someone is naturally good at math, or that they have a runners body. We can never be as good as they are, so why even try? The truth is that learning and exercise are hard. Nothing good comes easy.  We all need some help. The Fitbit helps me exercise. It motives me to take more steps. Recognizing that exercise, and learning, are difficult tasks can help us look for methods that might help.  We need to think about how we can use technology to encourage learning beyond what is possible with traditional methods.

2. Nudging Towards Better Habits: What the Fitbit does is provide external rewards that hopefully nudge us to adopt better exercise habits.  I run those extra minutes on the treadmill, or take the stairs and not the elevator, in order to reach my daily goal of 10,000 steps.  Eventually those actions should become habit, I'll do then without thinking.  How can we use technology to nudge students towards better learning habits? Can we find ways to provide rewards that foster both internal motivation and better study habits? If the Fitbit is truly successful at creating better exercise habits (something that I think needs verification from experimental research), can we translate the Fitbit's fitness technology to learning technology?

3. The Power of Instant Feedback: The Fitbit provides instant feedback as to how many steps, miles, stairs climbed and calories burned that I've accomplished. All of these data points are tracked in real time on the device, and captured on my own personal web based Fitbit dashboard. I don't need to wait a day or a week to see the results. And Fitbit sends me badges, in the form of e-mail and on the my Fitbit Dashboard, for every time I reach a goal (say 10,000 steps) or a particular milestone (like 500 floors climbed). Fast feedback motivates behavior.   We need to set our courses up so that we can provide fast feedback and periodic recognition of milestones. We all know that a grade at the end of a class, or a week after an exam, is too late.   What is less obvious, and what the Fitbit teaches us, is that we may be better off creating smaller assignments and deliverables in which we can provide fast feedback and turn-around.  We should also be liberal in creating formative computer graded assessments where learners can get instant feedback on their progress.

4. Setting Goals: The Fitbit allows me to set my own activity goals. The default is 10,000 steps a day (and we know the power of defaults), but we can set that goal for anything that we like. Goals can be for calories or miles, steps or stairs.  Setting our own goals is vastly more effective than having someone set them for us. We have done a good job in our course designs of including learning objectives and goals for individual modules. Have we done enough to figure out what our learners' goals are, and then to measure their performance against those individual goals? We talk a great deal about adaptive learning and personalized learning environments, but in my experience these methods remain infrequently practiced.   

5. Tracking the Data: We don't improve what we don't measure. The Fitbit is one example of the emerging Internet of things and a source for all that big data we keep hearing about.   Every minute of every day that I where my Fitbit I'm creating vast amounts of fitness related data that can be tracked, measured, indexed, and I'm sure sold to advertisers and marketers.   All this data is effective in motivating my behavior, as I can see days when I did reach my goals and try to adjust future behaviors to avoid low activity days. We are doing a better job of tracking learning (or at least assessment) data within our courses, but we are only at the beginning of connecting and aggregating learning data for the entire length of a students' higher education career.   (And forget trying to connect K-12 with post-secondary data). The digitization of learning will help us track things like time spent reading, watching course lectures and simulations, participating in collaborative platforms, and of course taking formative and summative assessments. Will we make all this data available to our students?  Will it run longitudinally across courses? Will employers or graduate schools want to see this data?

6. The Social Element: Learning is social. Every edtech company is trying to turn their learning platforms into social learning platforms. Fitbit lets me see the activity levels of my Fitbit friends via the web based dashboard. If your friends or family buy a Fitbit, and give you permission, you can see how many miles they traveled each day. So far, I have 3 Fitbit friends at work, my wife and her sister in my network. Getting crushed each day by these (apparently incredible active) colleagues and family member is amazingly motivating. Social learning may be effective if classmates can share (can opt-in) to display learning inputs. Time spent interacting with online presentations. Numbers of course blog or discussion postings. Utilization of online, computer graded formative assessments. A Fitbit community tends to set norms around levels of activity, just as a social learning community could set norms around levels of learning effort and time.   

7. The Potential of Mobile Devices: The Fitbit works to improve fitness (if it works, again we need some experimental verification), because it is a mobile technology. Clip it on and forget about it. The data syncs automatically to my web based Fitbit account. No need to plug and download anything. The Fitbit device both tracks and displays my activity, so I can check my progress as I go through the day.   The potential of mobilizing our learning is that our students will have their courses and course materials wherever they go. A set of readings, lectures, videos, collaboration opportunities and assessments on a smart phone will be available whenever a learner has a few free minutes. Our existing digital learning platforms have, for the most part, been born on the web – not on the smart phone. Do we have a learning management system that was designed first as an app, and then secondarily as a website?   What would a born mobile learning platform look like?

8. Ecosystems and the Danger of Lock-In: The Fitbit is not only a souped-up pedometer. It is a website. It is a smartphone app. It even includes a WiFi scale (for $ 129.95) that lets up to 8 people in your household track their weight, BMI, and body fat on the Fitbit dashboard. (I've lost 5 pounds so far!).  The value add for the Fitbit is not the little device, but the way that the ecosystem hangs together and the manner in which all the data populates the Fitbit network. The danger is of course lock-in. My Fitbit data (as far as I know) is not portable, if I switch to say the Nike FuelBand I'll lose all my fitness history. We need to learn how to build our learning ecosystem while avoiding locking our learners in to one platform. Personalized learning data should be accessible across learning platforms, exportable, and ingestible in other platforms. We need to follow Amazon Kindle and Fitbit in creating a valuable ecosystem for learning, but avoid the sins of these companies in making the data (whether e-books or fitness data) proprietary.   

9. The Need for Better Devices:  As much as I love the Fitbit ecosystem, I worry about losing my Fitbit device. A clip on Fitbit is sub-optimal for my lifestyle, I think it will get knocked off, lost or left behind too easily. What I want is a Fitbit watch. Waterproof. Something I can wear all the time and forget. Something that charges by the natural motion of my body. I'm betting (hoping) that Fitbit has this device in development (does anybody know?), until then I live in fear of misplacing the gadget. We also need better mobile e-learning platforms. I dream about Apple or Google or Microsoft putting learning at the core of their mobile operating systems.  The potential to bake in learning applications at the mobile OS level, rather than leaving these apps to the application marketplace, seems to me like the smartest long-term strategic bet that any of these company's could make. Can we imagine what an iPhone, Android, or Windows phone would act like if it was purpose built for learning?

What do you think we can learn about learning from Fitbit?

Are any of you also Fitbit devotees?

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

30
Dec

Best Ed-Tech Trends of 2012: The Politics of Ed-Tech

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

Blog: 
Hack (Higher) Education

Part 10 of my Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2012 series

Education is political — inherently so and despite the protestations from some quarters when what happens in our schools, in our textbooks, in our brains “;becomes politicized.” Education is political not simply because of the governmental role — federal, state, local — in school funding and policies. It is political because of the polis — the connections between education and community. Education is political because learning is at once personal (and, of course, “;the personal is political”) and social; it is both private and public.

But I’ll leave a round-up of all that happened in 2012 with regards to the “;politics of education” — the U.S. Presidential Elections, the Chicago Teachers Union strike, the Dream Act — for someone else to write. I’m interested here in the “;politics of ed-tech.”

Of course, if education is political, then ed-tech must be as well. As such, “;the politics of ed-tech” isn’t really a trend; it’s a truism. (And wait, “;what is ed-tech?”) So why frame this as the penultimate trend in my year-in-review series? I think it’s because, much like the first trend I examined — the business of ed-tech — we witnessed in 2012 the (education) technology sector discovering, seizing, wielding its power and influence.

The year began with the Internet’s protests against SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (the Protect IP Act). The proposed legislation would give U.S. law enforcement more authority to crack down on online copyright infringement, allowing them to ban search engines from linking to “;infringing” websites and require Internet service providers to block access to these sites as well. The technology industry was very vocal in its opposition to SOPA and PIPA (except GoDaddy. I hope you all changed domain registrars!), arguing the laws would “;break the Internet” — in technology and in spirit. Internet co-founder Vint Cerf penned a letter to the author of SOPA, Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), stating that "Requiring search engines to delete a domain name begins a worldwide arms race of unprecedented ‘censorship’ of the Web.” On January 18, the English Wikipedia, Reddit, Wired, and thousands of other websites coordinated a protest, “;going dark” to express their opposition to the bills. Access to pro-SOPA websites was difficult as Anonymous called for DDOS attacks against them. Rep. Smith put work on the legislation on hold 2 days later.

The Internet had won.

The (Ed-)Tech Lobby

The Internet — whatever we mean by that — isn’t a new political force, by any means. But in 2012, at both the grassroots and the corporate levels, the Internet flexed its political muscles. Major Internet/technology companies increased their lobbyist presence in Washington DC. According to Opensecrets.org, Google had over $ 14.3 million in lobbying expenditures this year (it was the fifth highest spender). Microsoft spent $ 5.6 million. Facebook spent $ 2.5 million, almost twice what it had in 2011. Apple spent $ 1.4 million. Compare that to $ 790,000 spent by Pearson Education, the $ 540,000 spent by the Apollo Group (parent company to the University of Phoenix), the $ 5 million spent by Ford, or the $ 9.8 million spent by Exxon.

What, if anything education-related, did these tech companies get for their efforts? For starters, an updated COPPA, just released today. The updated version of privacy law reflects changing technologies, adding geolocation data and photos to the types of “;personal information” that sites cannot capture from those under 13 without parents’ consent. The new rules also state that platforms like Google Play and the Apple App Store are exempt from liability if they sell apps that violate COPPA. Facebook had protested some of the proposed changed that would have required the “;Like” button (and similar social media plug-ins) to comply with COPPA. That language didn’t make it to the final version, which will allow sites to collect data without parental consent

”for the sole purpose of supporting the website or online service’s internal operations, such as contextual advertising, frequency capping, legal compliance, site analysis, and network communications. Without parental consent, such information may never be used or disclosed to contact a specific individual, including through behavioral advertising, to amass a profile on a specific individual, or for any other purpose.”

Allowing contextual advertising has led several blogs to speculate if this means kids under 13 can join Facebook (I don’t think it does, but I’m neither a lobbyist nor a lawyer so I could be wrong.)

Lobbying doesn’t just happen at the federal level, of course. Salon recently reported on the lobbying efforts of the University of Phoenix to defeat proposed legislation in Arizona that would have allowed some community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees.

And it’s at the state level where the efforts of ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) are focused. As I wrote in October (as part of yet-another series I penned this year — this one on “;What Educators Should Know About Tech”), ALEC is

a powerful non-profit organization whose membership is comprised of corporations and conservative politicians. This isn’t merely a lobbying group, as corporate members craft legislation introduced at the state level that promotes free-market and conservative ideals — all behind closed doors.

While ALEC has been in existence for decades now, it’s only recently found itself in the spotlight, in no small part because of the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and the invocation of the ALEC-sponsored Stand Your Ground Law as a defense by his shooter George Zimmerman. Other legislation that the organization has promoted include the spate of voter ID laws that some argue prevent voter fraud and others say are an organized campaign of voter disenfranchisement.

ALEC currently runs 9 initiatives to impact legislation at the state level, including one specifically devoted to education reform. “;The mission of ALEC’s Education Task Force,” according to its website, “;is to promote excellence in the nation’s educational system, to advance reforms through parental choice, to support efficiency, accountability, and transparency in all educational institutions, and to ensure America’s youth are given the opportunity to succeed.”

ALEC’s legislative efforts in education include legalizing and expanding charter schools and vouchers, passing parent trigger laws, eliminating caps on virtual school enrollment, penalizing students who take longer than 4 years to graduate college, breaking teacher unions, weakening teacher certification requirements, and eliminating tenure. In short: dismantling and privatizing the U.S. public school system.

The list of education and tech-related ALEC members includes AOL, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, AT&T, Comcast, the Entertainment Software Association, the Foundation for the Excellence in Education, the Innosight Institute, iNACOL, K12 Inc, Kaplan Higher Education, Microsoft, News Corp, Reed Elsevier, Scantron, Verizon, the Walton Family Foundation, Wireless Generation, and Yahoo.

Politicians, Policies, and Pundits

2012 was an election year, but education wasn’t much of an issue in the Presidential Presidential campaign (compare Republican and Democrat Party platforms to gauge why). Education technology, even less so. Similarly, education was important in a number of state-level races (see Education Week’s Voters’ Guide for edu-related campaign results), but ed-tech was a question at stake in just one — in Idaho where voters rejected 3 measures dubbed the “;Luna Laws" (so-called for their connection to State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna).

Voters rejected a proposition that would have required students take 2 online classes to graduate and mandated they all lease laptops. They also rejected a law that would have linked teachers’ pay to standardized test scores and one that would have curbed teachers’ collective bargaining rights.

This trio of “;Luna Laws” should make it clear why it’s hard to extract the politics of ed-tech from the politics of education and/or the politics of tech. Online classes. Mandatory laptops. Performance pay. Standardized testing. Anti-union measures. It’s all part of the education reform agenda, and as such it’s near impossible to just talk about the ed-tech and not situate it in politics/policies/practices.

Five more points of interest:

New Jersey: Until December 14, and the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut I would have said New Jersey was the site of the most devastating stories of the year: Hurricane Sandy. In the wake of the storm, I think folks saw a different side of Chris Christie. I think they saw the massive vulnerabilities we face in light of climate change. And John Merrow, in a PBS NewsHour segment, highlights why in light of all this “;schools matter” — as teachers and principals help maintain the safety of their students.

Hurricane Sandy wasn’t an “;ed-tech” story per se, although there were elements — thanks to social media — of its being a “;community tech” story, particularly with real-time, crowdsourced news via mobile devices and via Twitter.

Bonus points for New Jersey for Newark mayor Cory Booker, avid tweeter, friend of Mark Zuckerberg, teen media startup founder, and part-time superhero. Also not an ed-tech story. Still somehow relevant.

Lousiana: Louisiana’s story isn’t particularly “;ed-tech-y” either, unless you link, as some folks do, charter schools to ed-tech. (There’s a sense — in some quarters at least — that charter schools, less encumbered by district bureaucracy, are more apt to adopt new computer technologies, more willing to experiment with “;blended learning” (that is, a blend of face-to-face and computer-mediated instruction), more interested in data and learning analytics.) Since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has had to rebuild much of its infrastructure, including its school system — and charter schools have proliferated. (About 80$ of New Orleans schools are charters.) New Orleans is also the site of a thriving ed-tech startup community, with the 4.0 Schools lab helping to support some of that innovation. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal also expanded a voucher program this year that allowed public funding to be used for almost any sort of “;school.” This has since been found to be unconstitutional. Phew, because if you see the list of the “;14 Wacky “;Facts” Kids Will Learn in Louisiana’s Voucher Schools,” it’s pretty clear that this was the anti-STEM initiative of the year.

Virginia: Virginia made the “;Politics of Ed-Tech” news this year with the decision at UVA to fire president Teresa Sullivan. In June, the political appointees who make up the university’s Board of Visitors (none of whom were educators) ousted Sullivan (long-time educator, sociologist, administrator), in part because they felt she was slow to hop on the MOOC bandwagon. Massive outcry from alumni, professors, students, academia followed. Sullivan was reinstated. And a few weeks later, the university announced it was joining Coursera (it had already been in discussions to do so when Sullivan was fird.) Ell Oh Ell,.

Minnesota: Insisting "this has been a longtime requirement in Minnesota (at least 20 years)” the state informed Coursera this summer its residents were not allowed to take MOOCs, prompting the startup to clarify its Terms of Service:

Notice for Minnesota Users:

Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.

After much pointing and laughing from the Internet (and suggestions that entrepreneurial-minded folks set up coffeeshops just across the state line where Minnesota folks could legally MOOC), the state said it would revisit the law. “;Obviously, our office encourages lifelong learning,” said the Office of Higher Educaiton. I mean, obviously.

Florida: See also: Jeb Bush.

(Note all the names here that come up as possible contenders for the White House in 2016.)

Plenty of ed-tech is clearly tied to education policies. You can see it in the Race for the Top competition and its requirements that states and districts comply with the administration’s demands for more testing, more data-driven decision-making, more tech. And you can see it in the Common Core State Standards — the new curriculum and the associate development of new, computer-based assessments. (It’s worth noting here too that one of the creators of the CCSS, David Coleman, was named the head of the College Board this year. You know, the highly profitable “;non-profit” that handles the SAT and AP exams.)

All this — the testing, the RTTT, the Common Core — necessitates new procurements, new technology, new apps, new (digital) textbooks, new hardware, new tests, kaching, kaching, kaching — link the business of ed-tech to the politics of ed-tech.

Workers versus Machines?

Will computers replace teachers? Can computers replace teachers? Should computers replace teachers? Folks keep asking these questions — and not just as link-bait-y blog headlines either. I think that people are genuinely concerned. Are their jobs in jeopardy? Are their relationships in jeopardy? Will education be cheaper? Better? Faster? Do we just need a handful of "superstar professors," some webcams, and an Internet connection and we can ditch everyone else?

Oh no no no, we have no plans to replace teachers, most ed-tech companies say reassuringly. But sometimes it feels like they doth protest too much. (Khan Academy, I’m looking at you here.) But then there are the folks who make that agenda overt: “;Why the Chicago Teachers’ Strike Will Help Education Entrepreneurs,” read a headline in Inc Magazine. “;If there’s a bright side to the Chicago teacher’s strike as it continues to victimize (for no good reason) hundreds of thousands of kids and parents, it’s that it will provide an opportunity for many Chicago-based entrepreneurs and education start-ups.” Or take former DC mayor Adrian Fenty who told the crowd at the Education Innovation Summit at the ASU campus in April, “;if we fire more teachers, we can use that money for more technology.”

Some trade-off.

Education Politics and Internet Culture

But remember: the Internet stopped SOPA. Not just the big tech co’s. The Internet. Us. I think about that a lot in relation to the politics of ed-tech: whither the Internet?

What role might the Internet play in demanding better education? More access? More opportunities? Will the Internet be interested in protecting user (learner) data? What does Internet culture have to say for and about education politics? There are some profoundly anti-teacher and anti-school narratives being told (particularly in the tech industry, I think): how do these shape our tech, our ed-tech? Are these narratives being spread or being countered by the Web? What stories do we tell about learning and learning online? I mean, we the Internet, not just the corporate voices.

And how do "the politics of ed-tech" run through of the trends I’ve looked at in this series: data, platforms, DARPA and the Maker Movement, MOOCs, open textbook initiatives, startups, investment, and so on.

Sure, there weren’t a lot of great education-related memes this year, I lamented at one point, in a year rich with political meme-ry. A couple of Sesame Street-related GIFs popped up after a presidential debate, but not much more. But I'd wager education had its fair share of viral TED videos, a viral Clay Shirky blog post for good measure. PBS autotuned Mr. Rogers. And somewhere along the way, a Web of teachers and techies and movie critics convinced the world not to go see the pro-“parent-trigger” education reform movie Won’t Back Down, which can now boast the worst box office opening in history. So we have the Internet to thank for that.

One final note: in April, education historian Diane Ravitch started a blog. I know, right? A blog? In 2012. Heh. But also, wow. Ravitch posts incessantly — on average 10 post a day. Commenters flock to it. While Ravitch is not much of a fan of education technology, she has certainly embraced Web 2.0 tools — the blog, the Twitterz — as a platform for her message. She noted just this week that her site has already seen 2 million pageviews since its launch, invoking just the sort of metrics that the tech industry loves to hype. And really, her blog's become quite the year’s big political ed-tech thing.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U