21ST CENTURY PROTEST: Students at the University of California Berkeley have begun a class action lawsuit against Google over the company's practice of scanning emails for advertising keywords, according to Inside Higher Ed. Google stopped the automatic searching in 2014, but the students allege that the tech giant violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 by obtaining information from 30 million K-12 and higher education users between 2010 and 2014. The students are seeking damages of at least $10,000 and the deletion of their data.
LESS DIVERSITY: A San Francisco Chronicle special report on the city’s public schools, "Living Together Learning Apart: Is Desegregation Dead?," shows that as parental choice between schools increases, so does racial and social segregation.
As an example, the paper explores the cases of two schools with very different populations: Cleveland Elementary and Clarendon Elementary. The first serves mostly low-income Latino families, the second wealthy Asian families. While few families want to enrol their kids at Cleveland, Clarendon was the most requested elementary school in the 2015-2016 academic year lottery (this school is harder to get into than Harvard). Despite being only four miles apart, both schools face opposite challenges regarding poverty and parents' satisfaction.
The graph below shows the race breakdown per school in San Francisco.
APOLLO BUYS APOLLO Apollo Education Group, the owner and operator of the University of Phoenix, has announced that it has signed an agreement to be acquired a group of investors including The Vistria Group, funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management and Najafi Companies. Apollo Education and Apollo Global Management were previously unaffiliated. The investors will pay $9.50 per outstanding share, which amounts to $1.1 billion, a 30 percent premium on its most recent share price, according to a press release. Apollo Education, currently traded on the Nasdaq, will become a private company.
CLOSED FOR CLASS: The doors are closing for Pearson’s learning management systems, LearningStudio and OpenClass, reports Phil Hill of e-Literate. Both tools were the result of acquisitions for which the company paid hundreds of millions of dollars. By 2018, OpenClass, which Pearson once touted as a free alternative to open-source learning management systems like Moodle, will no longer be supported. LearningStudio, used by an estimated 110 institutions and 1.2 million students, will also be shuttered within three years.
According to Hill’s interview with Curtiss Barnes, Managing Director of Technology Products for Pearson Global Higher Education, “the decision to get out of the LMS category was based on Pearson’s continuing efforts to reorganize and streamline the diversified company, and being competitive in the LMS market just doesn’t help meet corporate goals.”
TOO COOL (PERFECT FOR SCHOOL): We've got our favorite edtech teacher and administrator tools for the week right here, as highlighted in our Instruct newsletter. By the way--got a favorite S’Cool Tool you like to use? We would love to hear and share your recommendations! If you’ve got a tool that makes you or your students sing from the proverbial mountaintops, fill out this form to let us know. It might just get featured! Note: If we have not appended a privacy flag to a tool’s description, it does not collect personally identifiable information.
FREE!—Guess the Correlation—The EdSurge team had some great fun with this last week—and we think math and economics teachers will, too. This old-school tool has all the flair of a Nintendo game and the simplicity of a Geocities website, yet it’s a fun way for students to see whether they can accurately predict correlations between two variables in a scatter plot. The site also has a two-player option, and—fun fact—it was created by a PhD student at the University of Cambridge.
FREE!—Rewordify—Hat tip to language arts blogger Caitlin Tucker for pointing us in this direction. Rewordify is a tool that teachers can use to differentiate reading text for readers of all levels. The site is also useful for learning new vocabulary words or checking out a collection of classic literature and public documents that have already been reworded more simply. Privacy Flag: Rewordify.com requires no personal information, but students must be 13 or older to register. Student accounts are anonymous, but if parents or teachers request a child’s account information, they may ask the company to review it, delete it, and/or refuse to allow any further collection or use of the information.
FREEMIUM!—Limnu—This free tool offers you a place to work collaboratively with students on an online whiteboard. Draw, type, attach images, and chat with collaborators while giving them feedback on their board work. Users get three boards for free, but which expire after 7 days (However it doesn’t limit how many students you can invite to work with you!) For $8/month, the user gets “Forever Boards” that never expire, and an unlimited number of boards. For group collaboration Forever Boards, check out group pricing. Privacy Flag: Limnu may collect information about users directly and from third parties, as well as automatically through use of Limnu. Read more here.