The 2019 EdSurde Annual Special: Edtech April Fool’s News That Should...

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The 2019 EdSurde Annual Special: Edtech April Fool’s News That Should Stay Fake

By EdSurde Eddie     Mar 31, 2019

The 2019 EdSurde Annual Special: Edtech April Fool’s News That Should Stay Fake

Congratulations for making it through the first quarter of 2019! The reward that awaits: Our fine annual tradition of hijinks and horseplay, exaggerations and extrapolations, and all the absurdities not fit for print on any day other than April 1.

We’re not the only ones getting in on the fun. Chegg’s chalked up an excuse-generator to help you weasel out of doing homework, taking tests—just about anything. Duolingo is taking the idea of “push” notifications to a whole new, literal (physical?) level.

Happy April Fool’s. Now, let’s get EdSurde.

WONDERFUL WORLD OF CURRICULUM: Somehow still hungry for more content after acquiring 21st Century Fox, Disney has stooped to gobbling educational publishers to add to its ever-expanding empire Magic Kingdom. As early as Monday morning, students posted photos of word problems asking how many oranges Mickey Mouse has left after Donald Duck absconded with some, and how quickly Spider-Man would meet Homer Simpson if Spidey started swinging from Manhattan at noon and Homer’s Springfield train left the same time going 70 miles per hour.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Weary of unwanted scrutiny, companies that once described themselves as the “Facebook of education” are now scrambling to disassociate themselves from the beleaguered social network. Public relations firms want to tap into our nostalgic past. Currently up for grabs: Angelfire for Tutors. Geocities for Test Prep. Friendster for Learning. Myspace for Math. (Somewhere, everyone’s-first-friend Tom is smiling.)

HAPPY MEALS, PERSONALIZED: McDonald’s just acquired an AI tech company to personalize the drive-thru experience. Why stop there? Chief Mascot Ronald confided with EdSurge that it is considering integrating that technology with school information systems to tweak Happy Meals based on how well children do in school. Good grades get kids hot nuggets, fries and toys. Being naughty nets a soggy McFlurry.

Coming soon: Naughty Meals

DAZED AND CONFUSED: No idea what personalized learning is? Neither do we! Join us today for the first annual CONFUSION conference featuring vague, stab-in-the-dark definitions and more questions than answers. All attendees are guaranteed to leave with less of an idea of what personalized learning is than when they came. And don’t miss special keynote guest Ashton Kutcher. See you there!

BRAT BOT: Colleges are increasingly turning to chatbots to help students navigate questions around areas such as financial aid or campus events. But some administrators say the tool feels impersonal and, well, robotic. One company is responding with a new approach. Meet Brat Bot, a sassy campus chatbot that isn’t afraid to chastise students for obvious questions. Where’s the dining hall? “Don’t you have Google Maps?” Can I turn the FAFSA in late? “Get real.”

SNEAK PEEK! A stealth San Francisco-based edtech startup offered a glimpse of a “revolutionary” new product. It’s made of organic materials, and lets students move at their own pace. A secret, patented technology reduces eye strain. And it uses the latest in kinesthetic research to get learners engaged physically, through flicks of their fingers and wrists. Did we say it’s also tactile? The company insists it’s not just selling print textbooks.

WHOLE CHILD CUTS: Budget constraints have forced school districts across the country to make difficult cuts to whole-child education programs, leaving many school leaders scrambling to decide which parts are more or less important. Left brain or right brain? The eyes or the ears? The femur or the fingers? For many, the decision may require divine intervention like that in the Judgment of Solomon.

The world’s first whole-child dilemma
The world’s first whole-child dilemma. (Source: Wikipedia)

HACKED AND HAPPY ABOUT IT: Local authorities investigating the recent data breach in a district’s payroll system announced a breakthrough in the case today. Rather than funneling funds out of teachers’ bank accounts, as was initially suspected, the hackers appear to have deposited $314,159 in the accounts of each math teacher on the payroll. The sum is consistent with the first six digits of π (Pi). Authorities have closed the investigation, and a source close to the math department says the teachers are being simply “irrational” about the number.

AUGMENTED ANGUISH: Augmented reality (AR) has been lauded for its ability to enhance students’ learning experiences. But what can it do for teachers? Don a Wistful Thinking headset and take a walk around the classroom, and you’ll see all sorts of digital delights superimposed on your environment. Brand new iPad Pros on every desk, classroom supplies you didn’t have to pay for, and a thicker paycheck (that didn’t require a week-long strike) are just some of the sensory features offered in this new AR headset. Side effects, the manufacturer warns, include dejection and depression once the headset is removed.

LIFELONG LABORING: If learning shouldn’t stop at age 25, or 65, or ever, why should work? That’s the argument put forth in a new paper which posits that the future of work … will forever be more work. Learning and laboring should extend beyond life as well, it argues. Developments on the horizon include the ability for cryogenically frozen humans to absorb knowledge through “learning fluids,” and a way to convert dead tissues into renewable energy drinks to help your fellow humans work harder.

The future of life and lifelong learning
The future of life and lifelong learning

A NEW DEAL: Sen. Kamala Harris’s bold plan to boost the average American teacher’s salary by $13,500 has hit a snag around funding issues. Among her ideas for Plan B: give every school district an iPad for each student. A senior official at Los Angeles Unified School District has already issued a statement: “Wait. Not this again.”

BECAUSE WE NEED MORE LETTERS: First there was STEM. Then someone decided that science, technology, engineering and math were not enough, and so added an ‘A’ for arts to make STEAM. Still unsatisfied, someone else demanded an ‘R,’ giving us STREAM education: science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math. (Hey people, that’s called school.)

UNBUNDLING THE ALUMNI NETWORK: Mark Zuckerberg famously dropped out of Harvard, but he clearly benefited from people he met during his brief time there. (His roommate was an early employee). So why not make dropping out of college the plan? A new startup, DegreeLite provides an online network for those who have done a year or two at a highly-selective school but didn’t bother finishing. Members trade opportunities, connections and job listings for a hefty membership fee of $4,000 per year. As the company’s founder said in a statement, “These days, networks matter more than degrees, so why not focus on the networking?”

MALL OF ACADEMIA: With the retail sector increasingly under stress and colleges looking to cut costs, higher education may soon become the new anchor of your local shopping mall. Plans are underway to convert Westfields and similar complexes into classrooms and faculty offices, which college officials say come at cut rates compared with their stone buildings on leafy quads. Turf wars are already brewing between departments over who gets to take over the former Brookstone. No one’s itching for the Abercrombie & Fitch space, due to the lingering cologne smell.

Site of your future Biology 101 class.

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