This article includes news items that didn’t quite make the cut for part 6 of my annual review of the year in ed-tech

Remembering Seymour Papert

More remembrances of Seymour Papert via The New York Times, NPR, The Guardian, the MIT Media Lab, and elsewhere.

Computer Science Education as Product

LittleBits announced the launch of its new product, the STEAM Student Set. (Each box’ll run you ~$300, so you’re probably not going 1:1 with this one.)

Via Apple: “Swift Playgrounds App Makes Learning to Code Easy & Fun.” Via Techcrunch: “Meet Box Island, a new iOS game that aims to teach kids the fundamentals of code.” Via the Hechinger Report: “Can a wall-climbing robot teach your kid to code?” Can people please read Seymour Papert before launching their learn-to-code product and/or writing PR for it?

Via The New York Times: “Apple Offers Free App to Teach Children Coding (iPads Sold Separately).”

“Raspberry Pi passes 10m sales mark,” the BBC reports – “the most popular British computer ever.” The Guardian also published an op-ed on the Raspberry Pi: “Small is beautiful.”

Via Techcrunch: “Apple launches coding camps for kids in its retail stores.”

Minecraft and Schools

Edsurge on Minecraftedu.

An in-depth look at Minecraft from the tech blog CNET: “Microsoft’s popular video game Minecraft helps kids learn everything from programming, science and math to art, languages and history.”

In other Minecraft news, Microsoft says the game will “get more powerful on mobile.”

MinecraftEDU released its latest – and its last – update, version 1.7.10. “It is critically important that customers using the MinecraftEdu Hosting Service install this new version on their computers and update their servers immediately. Older versions of MinecraftEdu will no longer be able to connect and play after 30 June 2016.” MinecraftEDU was acquired by Microsoft back in January.

How Minecraft undermined my digital defences

Promoting Computer Science Education

Hillary Clinton unveiled her tech platform during the campaign. Excuse me. Her “innovation agenda.” She wants federal financial aid for coding bootcamps and nanodegrees. Her plan also involved a talking point about diversifying the tech workforce, but then she went ahead and announced this doozy: a student loan deferment program for startup founders. Alexander Holt offers a pretty good argument as to why this is a “giveaway to Silicon Valley.” “Is Student-Loan Debt Really Holding Would-Be Entrepreneurs Back?” asks The Chronicle of Higher Education. More on Clinton’s plans via Edweek’s Market Brief, Inside Higher Ed, and The New York Times. has published a letter and a petition to Congress calling for $250 million in federal funding for computer science education. Corporate leaders have signed and the tech press have dutifully spread the PR, so it must be a “thing.”

Code Is Not Speech

Coding on tape - computer science A-level 1970s style

Please don't learn to code

NPR’s Anya Kamenetz looks at the “turmoil” at P-TECH.

“Learning to Code Yields Diminishing Returns,” says Douglas Rushkoff.

From Google Research: “Community college pathways to a four-year computer science degree.”

Forbes weighs in on Computational Thinking: I'm one of those critics!

Moving from an Hour of Code to Districtwide Computer Science for All

“Career Technical Education has transformed high school,” says The Desert Sun.

“As Schools Emphasize Computer Science,” asks Fast Company, “How Do We Teach Teachers To Code?”

Via Education Week: “House Members Introduce Bill to Overhaul Career and Technical Education.”

Everyone Should Learn to Code Law School

Via The New York Times: “A jury in San Diego on Thursday rejected claims by a law graduate, Anna Alaburda, that the Thomas Jefferson School of Law enticed her to enroll by using misleading graduate employment figures. In the first – and perhaps last – such case to reach the courtroom, Ms. Alaburda, 37, argued that the school reported a higher percentage of its graduates landed jobs after graduation than was actually the case, and that she relied on the bogus data to choose to attend the school.”

Law school enrollment is down.

The Skills Gap

IHE’s Scott Jaschik interviews the authors of Beyond the Skills Gap: Preparing College Students for Life and Work.

Via ZDNet: “The Brazilian government is relaunching one of its flagship schemes, the National Program for Access to Technical Education and Employment (Pronatec). Pronatec is focused on low-income young Brazilians and has played an important role in creating entry-level skills to fill the country’s existing expertise gap in the IT sector.”

According to research from UNC and Duke, “Girls Likelier to Major in Science Field if High School Had Women STEM Teachers.”

Biggest pay gap in America: Computer programmers,” says CNET. (Not really. But hey, it’s a very clickable headline.)

Also via The New York Times: “A Mission to Bring STEM Skills, and Robots, to Children in West Africa.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “STEM Jobs and the ‘Ideal Worker’ Woman.”

Science’s Minority Talent Pool Is Growing – but Draining Away

“Intel to Cut 12,000 Jobs as PC Demand Plummets,” The New York Times reports.

Report: California public colleges not producing enough STEM degrees.”

Via Education Week: “Common Core, College Readiness Skills Don’t Match Up, Study Says.”

The New York Times discovers “A New Breed of Trader on Wall Street: Coders With a Ph.D.”

Github patches from women who don’t reveal their gender more likely to be accepted than patches from identifiable women.” Because meritocracy.

Some Thoughts on ‘Coding’ and ‘Technical Ghettos’

Technically Female: Women, Machines, and Hyperemployment

From “everyone should capitalize on this latest trend”: “Computer science is the key to America’s skills crisis,” insists a Techcrunch op-ed.

Coding Bootcamps and Emotional Labor

Via NPR: “America’s High School Graduates Look Like Other Countries’ High School Dropouts.” The story looks at the results from the Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which looks at adults’ math, literacy, and technology skills. Other news outlets have gone with more incendiary headlines: “Americans Rank Last in Problem-Solving With Technology,” frets The Wall Street Journal. (The Pacific Standard looks at libraries and non-profits who work to improve adult (computer) literacy.)

“Don’t Blame A ‘Skills Gap’ For Lack Of Hiring In Manufacturing,” says FiveThirtyEight.

The New Economy

“Manufacturing’s return creates greater need from higher ed” is some A+ spin from Education Dive and The Wall Street Journal.

Where the jobs will be in 2030: new report

The latest Pew Research study looks at the public’s predictions about the automation of work: “A majority of Americans predict that within 50 years, robots and computers will do much of the work currently done by humans – but few workers expect their own jobs or professions to experience substantial impacts.”

Via TPM: “Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker as he was mounting his run for president, was struck down Friday as violating the state constitution.”

Robot Empathy and Ethics in a Jobless Future

The Business of Job Training

Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has joined the Board of Directors of the skills training company Pluralsight. (He’s also a VC at the Emerson Collective, an investment firm run by Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs.)

OK, it’s not a coding bootcamp. (OR IS IT!?) But via The LA Times: “In Santa Monica, parents are paying $1,000 for a boot camp to get their kids ready for kindergarten.”

And via Inside Higher Ed: “The U.S. Department of State and massive open online course provider Coursera are partnering to launch Coursera for Refugees, a program to offer career training to displaced people around the world. The program will focus on nonprofits that help refugees, which will be able to apply for fee waivers to access the Coursera course catalog.”

“Should for-profit crash courses get federal funds?” asks The Economist in an article about coding bootcamps. I mean, for-profit higher ed has such a stellar track record. What could possibly go wrong?

You can now watch courses when you’re on a Virgin America flight. The future is so bright…

Via Techcrunch: “VetTechTrek is creating an e-learning platform to help veterans build careers in the tech industry.”

Pearson is partnering with General Assembly “to offer online, skills-focused courses in the areas of digital marketing, web development, user experience design and data analytics.”

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As Coding Boot Camps Grow, One Tries a Nonprofit Model.”

From Course Report: “the 2016 Coding Bootcamp Market Size Study.” Among the findings: “In 2016, the sheer number of bootcamp providers has grown to 91, compared to 67 last year.” “Average tuition price of qualifying courses is $11,451, with an average program length of 12.9 weeks. This is compared with averages of $11,063 and 10.8 weeks in 2015.”

Via Techcrunch: “Workplace by Facebook opens to sell enterprise social networking to the masses.” I look forward to the opinion pieces on how Workplace by Facebook will replace the LMS.

Via Venture Beat: “Xavier Niel explains 42: the coding university without teachers, books, or tuition” (or students over age 30).

Via Techcrunch: “Coding school 42 plans to educate 10,000 students in Silicon Valley for free.” Only those between the age of 18 and 30 need apply. There are no teachers. But Techcrunch covered it, so you know it’s legit.

Via Edsurge: “CareerBuilder and Capella Learning Systems have announced they will jointly launch Rightskill, a program that will engage participants in a 90-day training focused on mobile web development.”

Bletchley Park: ‘Codebreakers school’ planned for site

Via Techcrunch: “Flatiron School teams up with Re:Coded to help Syrian refugees learn to code.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The first audits of the employment data that law schools report about their recent graduates have generated concern among watchdogs, with a series of reviews finding several deficiencies that raise questions about the class of 2015's reported outcomes.”

“Can You Buy a New Job?” asks Bloomberg, with an interview with General Assembly’s Jake Schwartz.

Inside Higher Ed’s Carl Straumsheim offers some more details on the “next steps” for the Udacity/Georgia Tech MOOC masters, which hasn’t seen as high an enrollment as the hype man once predicted. Random factoid from the article: each course costs Georgia Tech $350,000 to develop – it’s not clear if that figure includes Udacity’s contributions or not.

Via the AP: “Rivier University, which has a total student population of about 2,600 in Nashua, has created an ‘Employment Promise Program’ that will be available to full-time undergraduates starting with the class of 2020. Students are guaranteed to land a job within nine months of graduation, or the school will either pay their federally subsidized students loans for up to a year or enroll them in up to six master’s degree courses tuition-free.”

Here’s the blog post from Udacity on Blitz, as well as one announcing it was opening shop in Saudi Arabia.

The K–12 online school company K12 Inc, known for the shoddy quality of its programs, will focus more on “virtual career tech education.”

Amazon will share the design of its Career Choice program with other businesses, which isn’t really “open source” but sure, let’s erase all meaning and specificity out of that phrase. That’s how marketing works.

Inside Higher Ed has a story on Amazon’s employee training program, once again using the phrase “open source” even though this has nothing to do with open source. Nice branding move from Amazon, who seemingly wants to openwash all the things.

Research from the Lumina Foundation and Cigna found that “Sending Employees Back to School Pays Off,” Edsurge reports.

Via Udacity: “Breaking Down How A Nanodegree Program Works.”

“Udacity wants to help you become a self-taught self-driving car engineer,” says Techcrunch. (How are you “self-taught” if you pursue a nanodegree program? I do not know.)

From the press release: “Sabio, a Los Angeles-based software engineering program, works with highly motivated and smart individuals wanting to transition to software engineering professions, has been approved by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.”

“Are coding bootcamps only for the rich?” asks Techcrunch.

Pearson hearts coding bootcamps.

Edsurge reports that Udacity has expanded into China, making “100 free computer science courses available at to aspiring Chinese developers and providing localized support for its ‘nanodegree’ program.” The company has also launched a local “career focused meetup service” called UConnect in San Francisco, LA, and New York.

Udacity has launched a nanodegree program in self-driving car engineering. Edsurge has more details – including this tidbit on Udacity’s money-back guarantee for job placement, something that doesn’t apply to the self-driving car program: “While attractive, Udacity’s promise flirts with flouting rules set by California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, which state that institutions ‘shall not promise or guarantee employment.’” (In related self-driving car regulation news: “Google’s ‘Cozy’ Relationship With Driverless-Car Regulators.” Food for thought about how some folks hope this works in higher ed, no?)

Pearson partners with the coding bootcamp The Flatiron School.

Via The New York Times: “Udacity, an Online Learning Start-Up, Offers Tech Job Trials.” (Udacity seems quite aware of “gainful employment.”)

Via Education Dive: “The Iron Yard and Code Fellows, have partnered with nonprofit financial literacy organization Operation HOPE to create a $100 million scholarship fund to spur minority and low-income student engagement in tech fields.”

Reuters reports that “Online education firm Udacity looks beyond tech sector.” From the story: “Online education company Udacity plans to branch out of its core technology market to meet growing demand for digitally-skilled workers in areas such as banking and the car industry, its co-founder told Reuters as the company launched in Germany.”

From the Pew Research Center: “The State of American Jobs.” There are some interesting insights here on how those surveyed view continuing education – 54% say it’s essential.

The Pew Research Center’s latest survey involves “lifelong learning” and technology.

Degreed released a study on professional development, and – shocking, I know – the findings are quite different from Pew’s. Here’s the headline from the tech-business publication Quartz: “Companies are so bad at helping workers develop their careers, most are training themselves.” (No mention of the Pew study in that write-up, even though the same writer had covered the story just two days before. Because journalism!)

LinkedIn And The Golden Age Of American Education

Hot takes on Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn (and what it means for the future of education and/or work): “Why LinkedIn Will Make You Hate Microsoft Word.” The Udacity blog weighs in because nanodegree career readiness. Edsurge weighs in but doesn’t say much. IHE’s Joshua Kim weighs in, also not really offering a lot of analysis but still hopeful that Microsoft will someday buy Coursera. (I predict it’ll be Amazon because of that openwashing thing I mentioned earlier.) In other Microsoft news: “The First Big Company to Say It’s Serving the Legal Marijuana Trade? Microsoft.”


Edsurge on “Why Northeastern University Got Into the Bootcamp Business.”

Also via Inside Higher Ed: “Traditional colleges including Northeastern University and Bellevue College are entering the coding boot camp market by partnering with boot camp providers or by creating their own programs.”

UNC Chapel Hill is launching a coding bootcamp. No word on tuition. No word on if they make you do actual work or if this is another UNC “paper class” thing. I mean, I’m sure this one’s legit too.

“Colorado State U Launches Online ‘Boot Camp’ Style Comp Sci Programs,” says Campus Technology.

Education Labor Issues

Via Mother Jones: “Is America’s Most Controversial Education Group Changing Its Ways?”

teachers are laborers, not merchants

Via “After inflation, NC teacher pay has dropped 13% in past 15 years.”

When Did We Decide That? – on outsourcing the War on Drugs.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “What Hourly Higher-Ed Employees Made in 2015–16.”

Via the Washington Post: “In Utah, schools can now hire teachers with no training whatsoever.”

“One answer to Utah’s teacher shortage,” says The Salt Lake Tribune, “hire people who aren’t teachers.”

“Preschool Teachers Earn Less Than Tree Trimmers,” The Atlantic laments.

What Obama’s Overtime Rule Could Mean for Colleges.” (Teachers, of course, have long been exempted from overtime.)

“Employees at community colleges may be the most affected by the Obama administration’s new rules for overtime pay, especially as the sector continues to see dwindling resources from their states,” says Inside Higher Ed.

“No End in Sight to Strike by Harvard’s Cafeteria Workers Over Wages,” The New York Times reports. The workers are demanding a salary of $35,000 per year, which the richest university in the world – one with an endowment of $37.6 billion – appears unwilling to pay.

Via KPCC: “On Monday Northern California Judge Barry Goode denied the claims in the Doe v. Antioch Unified lawsuit – the second legal setback in recent months to education advocates who believe ineffective teachers have too many job protections.”

Federal Judge Blocks Overtime Regulations

“Blocked Overtime Rule Sows Uncertainty for Colleges,” says The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Via Education Week: “Poll: Parents Take Dim View of Careers in STEM Teaching.”

Inside Higher Ed highlights anti-union university websites from the likes of Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. In other anti-union bullshit from people you should never listen to: “Grad student unionization will negatively impact credit,” says Moody’s.

After laying off 1000 employees last week, the Chicago Public Schools is now looking to hire – you guessed it – 1000 teachers.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that UC Berkeley will eliminate some 500 staff jobs.

Chicago Public Schools has laid off some 1000 employees, including 500 teachers. Here’s my friend Xian Franzinger Barrett describing his experiences getting “the phone call.” His first child is due in a couple of months.

Also via The Chronicle: a judge has thrown out a lawsuit against the NCAA that asserted college athletes should be paid at least the minimum wage.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics says it may explore ways to allow players to profit off their names and likenesses, though some members argue too few athletes would benefit from such a change.” (The article features a photo of Arne Duncan – a reminder that the former Secretary of Education now works for the Knight Commission, as well as for the venture firm Emerson Collective.)

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “They seemed like sensible changes: giving big-time college athletes, many of whom spend more than 40 hours a week on their sports, a true day off per week – certain hours when coaches couldn't make them practice – and more downtime after the season. But the ideas, part of a package of new rules proposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, did not come up for a vote at the association's annual convention here on Friday. Instead, leaders of the five most powerful conferences resolved to vote on the measures next year, with the possibility of introducing a more comprehensive set of changes.” More via Inside Higher Ed.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “When the Teaching Assistant Is a Robot.”

“Robot Takeover of Higher Ed Hits a Snag,” Inside Higher Ed reports. So that’s encouraging, I guess.

We Need to Rethink University IT Services

Via Edsurge: “So You Want to Be an Instructional Designer?”

Also via Edsurge: “Sizing Up Your Skills – How You Can Get a Job in the Edtech World.”

Lots of sponsored content over at Edsurge that will “help you become a successful teacherpreneur.” No mention of the layoffs happening across venture-backed startups or for-profit endeavors like UofP. But hey. According to, “Bay Area job market evolves: ‘Soft’ tech jobs in, manufacturing out.”

Via Edsurge: “The Case for Learning Engineers in Education.”

Chicago-based startup The Graide Network lets teachers outsource grading via a marketplace for “on demand teaching assistants.” Sounds totally legit and not at all like a FERPA or HR violation. Details on the startup via ChicagoInno.

An op-ed in IHE argues that IT professionals should receive tenure.

Via Motherboard: “Fifty Percent of Mechanical Turk Workers Have College Degrees, Study Finds.”

Via the Pew Research Center: “Research in the Crowdsourcing Age, a Case Study.” Among the findings, Mechanical Turk workers report earning less than minimum wage.

Airbnb Becomes Dormbnb.”

Via Bright: “How the sharing economy is creating a marketplace for cheating.”

Edsurge looked at the gendered pay inequality at education non-profits in June, noting that the median male salary at the Clayton Christensen Institute, was $143,000; the media female salary was $112,300. (From this article, I learned that Sal Khan earns more than $540,000 a year. Because “non-profit” and “mission-driven.”)

Audrey Watters


Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2016

A Hack Education Project

Back to Archives