This article includes news items that didn’t quite make the cut for part 7 of my annual review of the year in ed-tech


Via The Richmond Times-Dispatch: “[the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia] adopts contingency plan to keep 15 Va. for-profit schools open.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Six universities from Australia, Europe, Canada and the U.S. are seeking to establish a new alliance in which each organization’s massive open online courses (MOOCs) are formally accredited by partner institutions.”

After its accreditor “raised questions” about the ongoings at Mount St. Mary’s College, its controversial president Simon Newman quit.

Via Buzzfeed: “Watchdog Let $6 Billion In Federal Funds Go To Colleges Under Government Investigation.” ACICS is clearly a terrible watchdog.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The U.S. Department of Education is, once again, weighing in on accreditation, expanding some flexibility in the accreditation process but also warning of more scrutiny for accrediting agencies. In an 11-page ‘Dear Colleague’ letter released on Friday, the department lays out some changes in how it expects accreditors to do their jobs and how they will be considered for federal recognition, which is required for them to serve as gatekeepers for federal student aid. Colleges must be accredited by a federally recognized accreditor in order for their students to be eligible for such aid.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Anthony Bieda is resigning as the leader of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, said the large, national accrediting agency, which is facing an existential threat. Bieda took over in April after the abrupt departure of the group’s longtime president, Albert Gray. In addition to Bieda’s resignation, roughly a quarter of the agency’s staff has been laid off in recent days.”

“Four small private colleges – along with one community college – have been placed on probation by the regional accreditor for the southern United States,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The schools in question: Spring Hill College, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Centenary College, Georgetown College, and Angelina College.

The new Education Secretary John King pens a blog post on “Strengthening Accreditation to Protect Students.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren says that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools has a “long record of failure” and urges that the “glaring lack of oversight” that the accrediting body has had for for-profit universities warrants federal scrutiny.

Albert Gray, the CEO of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, has suddenly resigned.

“Long-Struggling Dowling College Is Told It Will Lose Accreditation,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

“Paine College Accreditation to Be Revoked,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via Senator Elizabeth Warren’s website: “Senators Warren, Durbin, and Schatz Introduce Bill to Reform Higher Education Accreditation and Strengthen Accountability for Students and Taxpayers.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Paine College announced on Saturday that it would sue the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools after its college commission rejected Paine’s appeal of SACS’ June decision to strip the college’s accreditation.”

“Military and veteran students who attend colleges that are accredited by the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) should be able to continue receiving Post–9/11 GI Bill benefits to attend those institutions, at least for another 18 months,” says Inside Higher Ed. This comes on the heels of last week’s decision by a federal panel to revoke ACICS’s accrediting powers.

Employers’ Thoughts on Degrees (and Alt-Degrees)

According to the BBC, “Publisher Penguin Random House says job applicants will no longer be required to have a university degree.”

“Licensing Laws Are Shutting Young People Out Of The Job Market,” FiveThirtyEight contends. But “Job Outlook Brightens for New College Graduates,” The Wall Street Journal promises.

This Year’s College Grads Are The Luckiest In A Decade.” That’s a link from data journalist Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site, so it has to be true.

“Coding Boot Camps Attract Tech Companies,” says The Wall Street Journal in a story that contains this gem:

Google, which has hired workers from Flatiron and other academies, recently studied the efficacy of coding camps. The company found that while the camps have shown promise, most of their graduates weren’t prepared for software engineering without additional training or prior experience, Maggie Johnson, Google’s director of education and university relations, said in an email.

I spent 3 months applying to jobs after a coding bootcamp. Here's what I learned.

Via Politico: “LinkedIn, labor-market analysis organization Burning Glass and the Markle Foundation have joined forces to roll out a new kind of job website – – specifically designed for middle-skills workers, or people who have a high school diploma but not a bachelor’s degree. The site launched in Colorado this month with an initial emphasis on the information technology, advanced marketing and healthcare fields, with plans to branch into the greater Phoenix area as early as next month. The project has the support of Colorado’s state government as well as Arizona State University and MOOC provider edX.”

Via The Hechinger Report: “Some surprising reasons companies are rushing to help their workers get degrees.”

Venture capitalist #hottake: “Think Students Are Unhappy With Higher Education? Try Employers.”

Teacher Certification

Via Inside Higher Ed: “Quality Matters, which offers quality assurance programs for online courses, is this fall expanding into online teaching certification.”

Via The Atlantic: “Why Teach for America Is Scrapping Its National Diversity Office.” Layoffs at TFA will cut its national staff by 15%.

Via the Hechinger Report: “On a classroom-based test for new teachers, black teachers score lower.”

From the Shanker Institute’s Matthew Di Carlo: “A Few Reactions To The Final Teacher Preparation Accountability Regulations.”


“Deakin University in Australia will next year offer graduate degrees and certificate programs through FutureLearn, the online learning platform owned by the Open University in the U.K.,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

Via Education Dive: “Researchers still grapple with measuring quality in for-credit MOOCs.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The American Council on Education on Thursday released two new papers that call for a less fragmented credentialing system in higher education and for better communication about the value of students’ competencies.”

“Top students at the University of the People, a tuition-free online institution, will be eligible to transfer to the University of California at Berkeley to finish their bachelor’s degrees,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “The two universities on Monday announced an articulation agreement under which UC Berkeley will consider UoPeople’s top associate degree graduates for admission.”

A 'Netflix for Education'? Why LinkedIn's New Product Should Give Us Pause

Via Campus Technology: “CUNY to Train, Hire 2,000 Students in Free Coding Bootcamps.” It’s a strategic partnership with Revature. You can get a Microsoft certification!

Coursera’s April Fools Joke: New Coursera for Pets Specializations. Of course, there’s a long list on Wikipedia of animals with fake degrees, so hahaha.

Via TechRepublic: “Reactor Core founder: short-term programs, not four-year degrees, are the future of tech education.” He wishes, certainly.

“Making” for credit.

Via eCampus News: “Is higher ed finding its ideal in micro-master’s?”

Uncollege has published a report on alternatives to a college degree, “College 2.0,” which opens with this gem: “Not that long ago, there were just three main ways to acquire new skills: go to school, hire a tutor, or get a library card.” So yeah, this definitely sounds like it’s going to be a really well-researched, historically sound report (produced in conjunction with the education search site Noodle and the coding bootcamp Coding Dojo).

edX unveiled more “MicroMasters” – “a New Credential to Advance Your Career and Accelerate Your Master’s Degree.” Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education have more details.

Via Inside Higher Ed: "Less than a year after the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s M.B.A.-through-MOOCs program launched, its College of Business says it is seeing the contours of a model it can use to promote the university abroad, enroll previously untapped groups of students and attract corporate partners.

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The Georgia Institute of Technology is expanding its model of low-cost online computer science education to undergraduates. The institute on Tuesday said it has partnered with massive open online course provider edX and McGraw-Hill Education to offer a fully online introductory coding course. Initially, the course will be available to anyone as a MOOC with an optional $99 identity-verified certificate. After piloting the course next spring among its own students, Georgia Tech intends to offer another incentive for completion: college credit.”

Competency-Based Education

From IMS Global: “Competency-Based Education and Extended Transcripts: IMS Global Learning Consortium Enabling Better Digital Credentialing.”

Via Campus Technology: “Moodle Intros Full Support for Competency-Based Ed.”

The Competency-Based Education Network has released a draft of quality standards for competency-based education.

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Competency-based education programs may be inexpensive to run, but they can also take longer than expected to turn a profit, according to a study released on Tuesday and supported by the Lumina Foundation.” (More in The Chronicle about the Lumina Foundation and the Gates Foundation’s policy focuses. The former says it plans to invest in credential reform, including CBE.) Inside Higher Ed also wrote about the Lumina-funded report.

Via Education Dive: “Is CBE the future of higher education? Study says too early to tell.” (If the headline had just been the question, I could have listed this under the Betteridge subheader above.)

I’m including this just for the buzzword lulz. Via Campus Technology: “Learning Objects Debuts Competency-Based Education Platform.”

The Blockchain is Dangerous Bullshit, But When Has That Ever Stopped Ed-Tech

Slate’s Rebecca Schuman looks at Teachur, a startup that promises a $1000 college degree. “Most of the $1,000,” writes Schuman, “will go to pay for ‘blockchain-verified assessments,’ which is ed-tech speak for ‘stuff that is set up to prevent fraud and cheating.’” Man, if only Trump University had offered assessments via the blockchain!

Badge Evidence

The Possibilities of Badges and Blockchain

The University Professional and Continuing Education Association put out this press release: “Pioneering Study Reveals More Than 90 Percent of Colleges and Universities Embrace Alternative Credentials. Millennials prefer badging and certificates to traditional degrees, according to researchers from UPCEA, Penn State and Pearson.” Bullshit. But oh look, Pearson – which wants you to buy its proprietary badge system, Acclaim.

Via Doug Belshaw: “What a post-Persona landscape means for Open Badges.”

Via The Trade: “Industry worried about confidentiality of blockchain.” I lol’d.

“Online Badges Help Refugees Prove Their Academic Achievements,” The Chronicle of Higher Education asserts.

Via Campus Technology: “A Digital Badge Initiative: Two Years Later.”

Here’s the headline from the press release: “Pearson and Capella University Partner to Issue Digital Badges, Demonstrating Growth of Badging and Connecting Higher Education to Employability.” There are many remarkable things here, including the fact that the for-profit university is “designated by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense.” And now those agencies are cool with badges for national security-related courses.

10 amazing ways Blockchain could be used in education.” “Amazing.”

“Digital badges aren’t replacing the bachelor’s degree any time soon,” Inside Higher Ed helpfully points out. “But a growing number of colleges are working with vendors to use badges as an add-on to degrees, to help students display skills and accomplishments that transcripts fail to capture.” Smart idea, schools, to outsource one of your core functions to a vendor. Super smart.

The Chain

I know I swore I’d never write about education and Bitcoin/blockchain again, but I can’t resist sharing this story: “A Florida man was arrested on Thursday for participating in a bribery scheme aimed at supporting an illegal bitcoin exchange operated by his son and owned by an Israeli behind a series of hacking attacks on organizations such as J.P. Morgan Chase,” reports Fortune. And here’s the kicker: “Michael Murgio, who serves on a school board in Palm Beach County, was charged in an indictment filed in federal court in Manhattan for participating in a scheme to pay bribes to let the bitcoin exchange's operators gain control of a credit union.”

Mozilla is retiring its identity management service Persona. But according to DigitalMe’s Matt Rogers, you shouldn’t worry if this was how you logged into your badge Backpack.

You know how you can tell that blockchain people are the most innovative ever? They don’t even write white-papers, man. They write rainbow papers. Whoa. That’s so intense.

Some pushback on badges and alt-credentials via an Inside Higher Ed op-ed by Colin Mathews.

In other Salesforce news, “The University of Texas System teams up with Salesforce to turn its learning platform into a learning relationship management system,” Inside Higher Ed reports. It includes all the buzzwords: competency-based education, personalized learning, and even blockchain!

Via The Chronicle of Higher Ed: “2 Projects That Promote Alternative Credentials Reach Key Milestones.” The projects are a credential registry, funded by the Lumina Foundation, and the 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge. It’s not quite clear what the milestones would be but I’m guessing including ITT in the credential registry wasn’t it. Ooops.

Via the MIT Media Lab: “Blockcerts: An Open Infrastructure for Academic Credentials on the Blockchain.”

“Open Badges, BlockCerts, and high-stakes credentialing” by Doug Belshaw.

Elsewhere in badges: “Some thoughts on the evidence behind Open Badges” by Doug Belshaw.

Audrey Watters


Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2016

A Hack Education Project

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