No. 385 | June 27, 2018

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Edtech insights for decision makers
This issue is sponsored by

This year, EdSurge reporter Jenny Abamu has dived into why charter networks are investing heavily in data teams and tools, and how teachers and students are applying data to learning.

In the next part of our data series, the spotlight shines on parents. Produced in partnership with The Hechinger Report and co-published with KQED, her latest story explores how parents are turning to data to inform crucial decisions about their children’s education—and the many barriers that stand in their way.

The reporting took Abamu to communities in Detroit and northern California, where families say they could better support their kids if school data were easier to access and understand. Even when that information is available, “report cards” are often filled with jargon and difficult to navigate. It begs the question: How transparent is school data when parents can’t find or understand it?


MORE THAN A SHOW: This week, educators, entrepreneurs and everyone in between are descending on ISTE, the annual K-12 edtech conference. But organizers want ISTE to be more than just a show. From running online courses to certifying educators, the group has cooked up an array of services to stay relevant year-round. Get a glimpse of ISTE’s vision for the future.

CLASSROOM RE-DESIGN: When Google’s education users return to schools this fall, their classrooms may look different in more ways than one. Google Classroom, the tool that lets teachers manage online assignments and discussions, will be getting a facelift later this fall. Among the tweaks: a new feature, called Classwork, that aims to make it easier to organize materials.

WHAT PURDUE GLOBAL LOOKS LIKE: What happens when a big-name public university buys a for-profit online giant? It’s been about a year since Purdue acquired Kaplan University, and this month the newly-dubbed Purdue University Global held its first graduation. EdSurge sat down with Betty Vandenbosch, Purdue Global’s chancellor, to hear what’s different and how she sees the relationship evolving.

KICK THE BUCKET: Another coding bootcamp has shuttered. This time, it’s Learners Guild, an Oakland-based program where students didn’t have to pay until after they graduate. The company had raised $10 million, and was started by the same person who founded Dev Bootcamp. Here’s what we know.

INSIDE A GOOGLE CREDENTIAL: Expect more collaboration between colleges and companies as learning shifts more firmly to a lifelong endeavor. That’s the argument of Natalie Van Kleef Conley, a product lead at Google, and Sean Gallagher, executive director of Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy. The two outline the vision supporting Google’s latest higher-ed offering: an IT certificate.

Sponsored by Kiddom
EDTECH EVOLVED: “A K-12 school operating system is the next step in the evolution of education technology,” says Abbas Manjee, who created his first edtech tool as a classroom teacher a decade ago. Interoperability matters more than ever, he explains, and Kiddom Academy lets administrators “identify and act on aggregate achievement trends, manage curriculum and assessment, and efficiently integrate other tools they’ve come to rely on.”

STUDY AS SHE GOES: Last week, Cerego, an online study platform used by colleges and companies, released a tool that analyzes users’ behaviors and gives them a score of how agile, diligent and knowledgeable they are. The hope is to give instructors new ways to help learners. But some question the value of online study tools that “study” its users back.

LEARNING WITH BARBIE: Musician. Astronaut. Pastry Chef. Robotics Engineer. Farmer. Beekeeper. Those are the six professions kids will be able to undertake alongside Barbie, the job-hopping doll known for her many careers, in a new class on Tynker, a platform that teaches children how to code. More details on the startup’s partnership with toymaker Mattel here.

AR AND THE FUTURE OF WORK: This past school year, 99 New York City schools piloted augmented-reality programs from Google, giving students an up-close look at everything from famous world landmarks to the human body. City officials say the goal is to prepare students for future jobs in the AR and VR sectors—an industry they hope will be centered in the Big Apple.


EDTECH AWOL? Last Thursday, the Trump Administration shared plans to overhaul the organizational structure of federal departments. Among the ideas: merge the education and labor departments into a single “Department of Education and the Workforce.” But the blueprint leaves out the Office of Educational Technology—and that gives one former OET director “cause for concern.”

—This isn’t the first time that the White House is trying to get rid of the U.S. Department of Education. EdSurge revisits a similar attempt by the Reagan administration during the 1980’s, when Terrel Bell was education secretary. That effort failed. But this time, things may be different.

The following is a message from our sponsor

Unify Your Technology. Power New Possibilities in the Classroom. Is fragmented technology holding your district or school back? PowerSchool’s technology is designed to unify and simplify your education ecosystem. Create a secure and successful learning environment where you’re free to focus on what matters most. Discover what PowerSchool can do for you today. Learn more

Follow your EdSurgents @tonywan, @JennyAbamu, @jryoung, @sydneyfjohnson, @journoinred and @stephenoonoo for the latest news and scoops as they hit the wire. And, of course, @EdSurge!


What does machine learning make possible for today’s tools that wasn’t possible before? On July 10, our SF Edtech Meetup will explore how edtech developers and researchers are applying AI to their work. Speakers include AI expert and Soco Labs’ CEO Vivienne Ming, and Quizlet’s founder and CTO, Andrew Sutherland. EdSurge’s managing editor, Tony Wan, will moderate. RSVP for the free event here.


ADVANCED MERGER: Two nonprofits whose tools and services impact millions of students across the country are merging. AdvancED, which helps schools and districts implement improvement plans, will be joining forces with assessment maker, Measured Progress. The merger will form a new nonprofit that reaches 28 million students—and generates $120 million in revenue.


ALL IN THE FAMILY: “To engage families in social-emotional development, teachers and school administrators can’t just send home packets and to-do lists,” writes Usable Knowledge’s Leah Shafer. As schools implement large-scale SEL curricula, she explains, caregivers need guidance too. Drawing on work by Harvard’s EASEL Lab, Shafer shares tips for how schools can involve families in SEL—and how families can practice those skills at home.

LET’S GET PRACTICAL: “In order to scale the integration of SEL into academics, teachers are going to need support rooted in classroom practice,” says Collaborative Classroom’s Kelly Stuart. She outlines three ways teachers can embed SEL into their everyday instruction—and recommends specific resources to help educators do just that.


Dr. Lisa Andrew, who has served as Superintendent for the Hollister School District since 2017, will be joining the ALearn Silicon Valley Education Foundation (ASVEF) as CEO. ASVEF came about following the merger of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation with nonprofit ALearn in February, and had been searching for a leader since founder Muhammed Chaudhry stepped down last September.

Todd Brekhus has been appointed chief product officer of Renaissance Learning. He was previously president of myON, a literacy platform that Renaissance acquired in March. Sarah DiFrancesco, former VP of marketing at myON, is also now chief marketing officer at Renaissance.


RICH KID: The funding arms race to become the biggest online tutoring marketplace for English teachers is on. Beijing-based VIPKID, which launched its platform in 2014, has raised $500 million in a Series D+ round led by Coatue Management, Tencent, Sequoia Capital and Yunfeng Capital.

2 THE MARKET: Online education program developer 2U has acquired Critiquelt, a digital annotation tool already used in many of 2U’s online degree programs. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

INTO THE BOX: Boxlight Corporation, a producer of interactive hardware displays for the education market, has acquired Qwizdom, the developer of a presentation and classroom-response system. The cash, debt and common-stock transaction is valued at roughly $2.5 million.

GATHERING GREEN: Skill-certification platform Degreed has acquired Pathgather, a New York-based online learning provider of corporate training tools. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

HERE’S THE CATCH: Broadband and cloud services provider ENA has acquired CatchOn, a tool used to track device and technology use in districts. Terms were not disclosed.


The world began in...1450? That’s what the College Board has proposed as the start date for its AP World History test materials. And that has historians and educators very upset. (New York Times)

Over in La La Land, here’s a profile of Elon Musk’s private school, Ad Astra, where admissions are “more exclusive than a back-ordered Tesla Model 3.” (Ars Technica)

Attendees at this year’s ISTE conference get a “smart badge” that tracks where they go, and provides a summary and follow-up materials after the show. K-12 cybersecurity writer Doug Levin takes it apart to see how it works. (EdTech Strategies)

XPRIZE has awarded $100K to each of the five finalists in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE, a $7 million competition. The grand winner will be announced in early 2019. There’s also a $1 million competition to support organizations that encourage adult learners to download finalists’ apps. (XPRIZE)

“Algeria’s Answer to Cheating on School Exams: Turn Off the Internet.” (New York Times)

Looking for a job in edtech? You’ve come to the right place. EdSurge has the leading edtech jobs board with over 400 openings from schools, nonprofits and companies.

Director of Growth Marketing HireEducation
​Our client is on a mission to connect college students with viable career opportunities. They're growing fast fast fast and need a Director of Marketing to take charge and build out the marketing department!
Marketing • Startup • San Francisco, CA

Partner Success Manager Goalbook
Lead Goalbook’s work with our school and district partners across the country. You’ll partner closely with instructional leaders to plan implementations and deliver professional development. We're hiring in NYC, Charlotte, TX, SoCal, and the SF Bay Area!
Customer Implementation / Customer Success • Startup • Multiple Locations

Online English Teacher Qkids
Teach English online, work from home, part-time, flexible!
Teaching • Startup • Remote

Senior Software Engineer Amplify 
Amplify is looking for a full stack Senior Software Engineer with 5+ years experience who is excited to play an active role in imagining and improving product design and the classroom experience.
Engineering • Large Company • New York, NY

Demand Generation - Growth Marketing Manager AltSchool
AltSchool is looking for a stellar Demand Generation/Growth Marketing Manager who will focus on marketing activities directly tied to the growth of AltSchool’s school partnerships. Background in B2B demand generation and SaaS experience preferred.
Marketing • Startup • San Francisco, CA

Digital Project Manager
We seek a Digital PM to join our team. You will be responsible for the daily management and smooth operation of digital projects. We expect you to be a tech-savvy professional with a strong sense of how technology can help us achieve business goals.
Project Management • Non-Profit • Seattle, WA

Financial Analyst Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Financial Analyst will be responsible for assisting with annual budgets, financial forecasts, major capital investments, and other business issues requiring financial analysis.
Finance • Large Company • Orlando, FL

Associate, Education Innovation Clusters Digital Promise
The Program Associate will also be responsible for key aspects of project management. The EdClusters Program Associate will be at the forefront of Digital Promise’s commitment to advance the EdClusters initiative to the next level.
Operations • Non Profit • Washington, DC or San Mateo, CA

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EdSurge Fusion
Join us as we bring together the ideas, practices, research, technology and evidence for making education relevant for the whole learner.
Oct 2 to Oct 4 • South San Francisco, CA • more than $250

Edtech Opportunities
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MIT Solve's Challenge on Teachers and Educators
More than 260 million children and youth do not have access to education—and the demand for teachers is only going up. If you're working on a relevant solution, apply to MIT Solve’s Challenge on Teachers & Educators by July 1.
Apply By: July 1, 2018

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