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One Trillion Problems but a Loan ain’t One – ENT #22 04-18-2014

With episode 10 of On the Ed Chris and I take the show out of alpha mode and also bring back our popular Ed NewsTicker (ENT) format.

As always we take you through the most important fundraising stories, mergers and acquisitions as well as other other news of the week of April 14.

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ENT Hedlines

ENT Hedlines Wednesday July 4th 2012

ENT Hedlines

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Pearson launches £10m fund directed at affordable education for poor children

The fund will invest in private schools in Africa and Asia to provide affordable education for poor children. The first investment is a stake in Omega schools, a privately held chain of affordable, for-profit schools based in Ghana.

“Low-cost private education is an important, complementary element of education in developing countries and should be seen as an active partner, with governments looking to ensure all children have access to a high-quality education.” says Sir Michael Barber, Pearson’s chief education adviser and chairman of the new fund.

NGOs question the approach as school attendance has been driven by the abolition of fees.

TextMaster launches API for content creator platform

TextMaster, a content creator platform which helps to crowdsource copywriting, translation or proofreading launched and API. The startup wants to attract developers that create integration with blogging platforms, email clients etc. TextMaster is also going to release an iPhone ‘dictaphone’ app that will offer transcription of audio files “within minutes”.

New features on YouTube

In its ongoing quest of making the content on the video platform more professional YouTube launched some interesting new features for video creators.

  • a new version of the YouTube Android app
  • bulk annotations
  • new features in the video editor
  • a new dashboard
  • customizable thumbnails for all partners in good standing
  • fixed scheduled publishing
  • TrueView – a new family of video ads
  • a “play button” award
  • sound stages and studios in Los Angeles, London and Tokyo


  • Pearson to invest in low-cost private education in Africa and Asia [The Guardian]
  • TextMaster Rolls Out API For Its Copywriting, Translation And Proofreading Platform [TechCrunch]
  • Youtubers React to New Site Features: Bulk Annotations, Editing Software, Sound Stages [ReadWriteWeb]
ENT Hedlines

ENT Hedlines Tuesday July 3rd 2012

ENT Hedlines

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Language Learning community busuu surpasses 10 million app downloads, opens office in London

busuu, an online language learning community and mobile app maker announced today that their apps have been downloaded more than 10 million times with currently 20,000 downloads per day. And if you take a look at the Twitter stream of the company and its co-founder Bernhard Niesner it seems as if busuu is growing its office staff in London. I think I see a Series A funding round around the corner.

BenchPrep raises $6 million

BenchPrep, a startup that builds an interactive and cross platform learning hub raised $6 million from New Enterprise Associates with participation from Revolution Ventures. This round of funding brings its total to $8.2 million.
BenchPrep partners with more than 20 publishers, including McGraw Hill, Princeton Review, Wiley, Cengage Learning and O’Reilly, licenses their material and mixes and matches the best content for each particular discipline.

Teachers, leave them Kids alone – in Delaware

The senate in Delaware is planning to ban schools from monitoring the social media accounts of their students. Some colleges and universities in the state have required students to download social media monitoring software on their personal electronic devices or accounts as a condition of their scholarships or participation in athletics. As a final step the bill just needs the signature of the governor to become a law.


  1. apps reach 10 million downloads! [busuu]
  2. BenchPrep Grabs $6M From NEA, Revolution For Cross-Platform, Interactive Courses [TechCrunch]
  3. Delaware Schools to Be Barred from Students’ Social Media Lives [WSJ]
ENT Hedlines

ENT Hedlines Monday July 2nd 2012

ENT Hedlines

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Simon & Schuster will add QR codes to back covers

Starting this fall publisher Simon and Schuster will add QR codes to the back covers of its hardcover and paperback books. The idea is to build direct consumer relationships with the customer but of course, the person buying the book also needs to scan the code afterwards.

The code will lead the reader to the Simon and Schuster website or a special site for the book’s author. Simon and Schuster hopes that the reader will then sign up for the newsletter of the author, search for other books or watch the video content that will be available.

Though QR codes are hugely successful in Asia they did not get lots of traction in Europe or the US yet.

Computer Science most popular Major at Stanford

According to a press release from Stanford’s engineering school, computer science is the most popular major at the university. More students than ever before enrolled into the courses, also topping the enrollments of the dotcom era in 2000-2001. And more than 90 % of Stanford undergrads take a computer science course before they graduate.

For comparison, in 1955 and 65 Liberal Arts degrees like History were most popular, 1975 Psychology, 1985 Economics and 1995 Biological Sciences and Human Biology.

Computer system automatically transcribes & translates lectures

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology or KIT is testing a new computer system that can automatically transcribe lectures and translate them into English. Not only would this be a great tool for foreign students who struggle to follow a lecture in German but it also offers a great way to get notes of the lecture via the cloud where the transcript is hosted.


  1. Simon & Schuster is adding QR codes to all its print books. Will readers bite? [paidContent]
  2. Stanford’s Most Popular Major Is Now Computer Science [Mashable]
  3. Transcribe and translate tool could help foreign students follow lectures [University World News]

Pearson is like Shopping at Walmart – ENT #20 06-05-2012

ENT - The Ed News Ticker

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Tech & Startups

1. Smarterer Grabs $1.75M From True Ventures & Google Ventures

SmartererBoston-based startup Smarterer has been quietly building a gamified platform that provides job searchers with a simple way to show employers what they know by taking quizzes in subjects that range from engineering to music.

Smarterer crowdsources its test designs and employs a smart ranking system to give its candidates a score and lets them broadcast their successes to the world. Today, the startup offers more than 500 skills and today announced that its community has now answered over 10 million questions — at an average of 70K questions per day.

To harness this growth, Smarterer is taking on another round of capital, as it officially closed $1.75 million in series A financing today, bringing its total funding to $3 million.

Source: TechCrunch

2. College Kids Start A Social Enterprise To Tell Stories For Good

Teach TwiceTeach Twice reaches out to communities around the world and works to create a children’s story based on local culture–or arranges to translate an already-existing book. They print and sell the book back home, and send the proceeds to build schools or send kids to class in the community where the story originated.

“The Teach Twice book enhances the education of two children and two communities worlds apart, yet connected through a shared commitment to education and a desire to learn from books and from each other,” says the group’s website.

Teach Twice placed third in a Vanderbilt business plan competition and won a semifinalist grant in the Dell Social Innovation Challenge. Other startup funding came from a successful campaign through Kickstarter, where Teach Twice raised more than $7,500 in less than two months.

Source: FastCo Exist

3. Students Can Win a Gaming Scholarship

TwitchTVThe scholarship by online gaming broadcast network TwitchTV will give students a chance to “take passion and make it a profession,” said Matthew DiPietro, TwitchTV’s vice president of marketing. “We are giving a people an opportunity to make a living off of their video game streaming activity.”

The San Francisco-based company will announce the scholarship program at the Electronic Entertainment Expo video game conference (E3). Applicants may apply on Twitch.TV.

TwitchTV is giving away $50,000 to support five young gamers. Gamers will need at least a 3.0 GPA — plus demonstrated skill in any game — to win a $10,000 scholarship.

Source: Mashable

4. Facebook to introduce accounts for children under 13?

FacebookFacebook is testing new features that would give children under 13 access to the giant social network, according to a report published Monday in the Wall Street Journal. Although one version of this new program would require children to have accounts that are linked to an adult so that supervision is easier, some parents have raised concerns about allowing pre-teens access the network at all due to Facebook’s past handling of privacy-related issues. Others, however, argue that plenty of younger children already access Facebook anyway despite the 13-year-old age limit, and that Facebook is wise to make it official.

Source: GigaOm

K12 & Higher Ed

5. All but three states reject ‘pink slime’ in school lunches

pink slimeThe U.S. Department of Agriculture says the vast majority of states participating in its National School Lunch Program have opted to order ground beef that doesn’t contain the product known as lean finely textured beef. Only three states — Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota— chose to order beef that may contain the filler.

The product has been used for decades and federal regulators say it’s safe to eat. It nevertheless became the center of national attention after the nickname “pink slime” was quoted in a New York Times article on the safety of meat processing methods. The filler is made of fatty bits of beef that are heated then treated with a puff of ammonia to kill bacteria.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

6. University of the People now has more than 1 million Facebook Fans – Adding new Advisors

University of the PeopleUniversity of the People, the world’s first tuition free online university, surpassed the 1 million Facebook fan mark today. For comparison, Harvard has 1.7 million fans on Facebook, Stanford 370.000.

As UoPeople founder and president Shai Reshef recently stated, the non-profit is gaining more and more momentum. Over the past weeks UoPeople expanded the Advisory Board, added Dr. Dalton Conley as new Dean of Arts & Sciences and created a new Presidents Council.


7. Ranking of top 10 countries and their higher ed systems

Education SystemsUniversitas 21, a global network of research universities, recently released its official rankings based on the results of a year-long study.

The study’s authors examined education systems in 48 nations around the world, relying on four measures: resources (investment by government and private sector); output (the amount of research schools produce and their impact); connectivity (how well they collaborate with other nations); and environment (campus diversity and breadth of opportunities). The researchers then adjusted the data for population.

Source: Good

8. More lectures in Arabic at universities in the Arab world

Arabic UniversitiesArab universities are coming under increasing pressure to use Arabic as a medium of instruction and expression in higher education.

In the latest development, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ryan Gjovig, head of common educational proficiency assessment at the National Admissions and Placement Office, called on universities to offer degrees in Arabic to provide students with an alternative to learning through the medium of English.

Source: University World News

9. WWII veteran Jack Fletcher graduates from high school 70 years later in Spur, Texas

WWII graduateJack Fletcher was in his senior year of high school in Spur, Texas, when World War II broke out. Graduation would have to wait — 70 years, as it turned out.

Fletcher traveled the world after the war and now lives in Australia, but a special ceremony brought him back as an honorary graduate of the Spur High School Class of 2012, NBC station KCBD of Lubbock reported.

“I had to look to make sure they put a certificate in there,” he laughed after the graduation ceremony. “I was afraid they were kidding me!”

Source: MSNBC

Study & Research

10. Your words matter

neuroscienceIneffective or negative communication may lead to more than just a bad day; new research has shown that it can change the neural pathways in our brains and foster long-lasting negativity. On the other hand, there’s evidence to suggest that positive words expressing values such as kindness and respect can go a long way toward building a better brain.

A new book “Words Can Change Your Brain,” co-authored by Loyola Marymount, Mark Robert Waldman and Andrew Newberg, M.D. argues that our minds are hardwired to respond favorably to certain types of speech and negatively to others. Starting in childhood, humans’ brains are molded by the words they hear, and they claim that teaching children to use positive words helps them with emotional control and can even increase their attention spans. Their book describes “compassionate communication,” a method they believe can help people express themselves more effectively, but it also offers a fascinating overview of the latest science around speech and neuroscience.

Source: Salon

11. Ericsson: 85% of the world will see 3G/4G in 2017

3G coverageIt took 12 years for 3G technologies to touch half of the world’s population, but getting to 85 percent coverage will only take another five, according to wireless infrastructure vendor Ericsson. New HSPA+ and LTE network deployments will lead to a near blanketing of the world’s populated areas with mobile broadband by 2017.

Source: GigaOm

In other News

12. U.S. Cuts Sesame St. Funds in Pakistan After Elmo Show Caught Red Handed

Sesame Street PakistanThe United States has cancelled funding for a $20 million project that brought Sesame Street to Pakistan after allegations that funds were being misused by a Pakistani puppet theatre.

The project was a co-production between U.S.-based Sesame Workshop, and Rafi Peer Puppet Workshop, based in Lahore. Newspapers reported today that Rafi Peer was allegedly using the money given by the U.S. to pay off old debts, and rewarded lucrative contracts to sources. Other allegations include building a fancy residential complex featuring swimming pools with the U.S. funds.

Source: ABC News

Picture by Daniel Christensen via Wikipedia


Anonymous, Formula 1, Tuition Fees and Scottish Independence – ENT #19 06-01-2012

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Tech & Startups

1. Educational App Maker Mindshapes Picks Up $4M Round

Mindshapes, a UK-based developer of interactive learning apps, raised a $4 million round of led by Index Ventures, with Richmond Park Partners and existing investors also participating. The funding brings the total invested in the company to-date to $9 million, after Mindshapes raised $5 million back in November 2011 from a group of angel investors and the five founders of the company.
Earlier in the month, it had launched a flagship app, Magic Town, a highly visual app that incorporates content licensed from Hachette Group, Simon & Schuster and Penguin Group, among others, into e-learning tasks. It currently contains content from 70 popular picture books but aims to have 200 titles in there by year’s end.

Source: TechCrunch

2. Skype and The Education Foundation Partner to Launch The Learning Lab

Skype’s president Tony Bates wrote on the company blog: ”Our partnership was solidified this week with the launch of a state-of-the-art, technology-rich professional development center for education professionals and leaders in the heart of London – The Learning Lab. It will be used as a testing ground for new approaches to the curriculum, technology and the world of work. The space can also be used as an event and showcasing area for education organizations, policy makers and businesses across the UK.”

Source: Skype

3. Inkling Finally Brings Its Interactive Textbooks to the Web

The interactive e-book publisher Inkling has finally released an HTML5 version of its app, meaning that its 150 titles are now available on both the iPad and the Web.
HTML5 has reached a point of power and stability, and the new Inkling Web app can have all the features of the very slick iPad app, but with no Flash and no Java and no plug-ins — just HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. McInnis says proudly it may be the “most sophisticated HTML5 app ever written.”

Source: Inside Higher Ed

4. Trade School: A Learning Space That Runs On The Barter System

Trade School, a learning platform spun out of the OurGoods bartering network, allows anyone to teach classes in exchange for barter items. In a sense, Trade School is like Skillshare (another platform for the public to teach classes), but run on a bartering system.
The Trade School project started in New York City two years ago, but it has since expanded all over the world Now OurGoods is soliciting donors for a Kickstarter project to launch 15 new schools and upgrade the Trade School software, which makes it easy for local schools to run independently.

Source: FastCo Exist

K12 & Higher Ed

5. ‘Anonymous’ targets Montreal Grand Prix to back students

The global group of computer hackers known as Anonymous threw its support behind Quebec students protesting hikes in tuition fees by threatening to disrupt the Montreal Grand Prix.
The activists, who earlier this month claimed responsibility for downing a dozen Quebec government websites, blasted organizers for intending to run the race in the Canadian province that recently passed an emergency law restricting protests.
“Beginning on June 7th and running through race day on June 10th, Anonymous will take down all the F1 websites, dump the servers and databases — and wreck anything else F1-related we can find on the Internet,” said a statement.

Source: Raw Story

6. Schools to track students’ whereabouts with computer chips

A Texas school district has decided to hand out ID cards with computer chips to track the whereabouts of students. School officials have sold the idea to parents by arguing it’s a good safety measure. And it will make sure a principal knows right away if kids have snuck off campus when they should be learning calculus.
The program will cost more than $500,000 to launch, and more than $130,000 to run every year. Nevertheless, one obvious motivation for the program is a cash grab: Texas school districts get their funding based on attendance.

Source: The Globe and Mail

7. Student loan debt continues to rise

Even as Americans whittle down other forms of debt, students continue to pile on loans to pay for college and graduate school.
Total student debt rose more than 3% to $904 billion in the first quarter, continuing a trend in which outstanding educational loans have surged by $663 billion since 2003, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Source: LA Times

8. Scottish independence: Teaching union backs votes at 16

In a submission to the Scottish government’s consultation, the EIS said young voters should take part in all elections. It pointed out that 16-year-olds have many other rights and responsibilities, including marriage and paying taxes. The union represents 80% of Scotland’s teachers and lecturers.

Source: BBC

Study & Research

9. Arabic overtakes English as the most popular language on Facebook in the Middle East

Analysing Facebook usage in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – specifically Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen – SpotOn PR found that 39% of the combined 39+ million Facebook users access the site using its Arabic interface – which translates to 15.6 million users.
That puts Arabic ahead of English, which now accounts for 36% of the Middle East’s Facebook users, while French comes in third with 23%.

Source: The Next Web

10. Students Cite YouTube, Google, Wikipedia the Most [INFOGRAPHIC]

When doing homework, many students turn to the same websites as they do when they’re surfing the web under other circumstances.
Four of the top ten most-cited websites on Easybib, a site used to create more than 500 million citations, are user-generated sites like Wikipedia and YouTube. A recent ethnographic study found that students referred to Google more than any other database when discussing their research habits.

Source: Mashable

11. Growing Education Divide in Cities

College graduates are more unevenly distributed in the top 100 metropolitan areas now than they were four decades ago. More adults have bachelor’s degrees, but the difference between the most and least educated metro areas is double what it was in 1970.
In 1970, 12% of adults had college degrees in U.S. metro areas. Nearly all metro areas were within 5 percentage points of the average.
In 2010, 32% of adults had college degrees in U.S. metro areas. Just half of metro areas were within 5 percentage points of the average.

Source: NY Times

Picture by Paramount Pictures


The Future is Mobile – ENT #18 05-29-2012

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Tech & Startups

1M Students Strong, Echo360 Secures $31M

Last week, The Washington Post reported that one of the leaders in this area of blended learning, the Washington D.C.-based Echo360, had taken on a big chunk of capital to fuel an ambitious mission to “reach 50 percent of U.S. college students in the next five years,” said CEO Fred Singer.
Today, the four-year-old company already has 1 million students using its blended learning solutions in over 6,000 classrooms and 500 institutions, owns 54 percent of its market, and is seeing annual revenue of $15 million. Echo360 licenses its software to schools in annual contracts that range from $20K to $200K, depending on the size of the school, which works out to an average cost for students of about $15 per year. Echo360 is currently serving about 10 percent of the colleges and universities in the U.S.

Source: TechCrunch

Haiti to pay mothers school incentives via mobile

Each mother will receive up to $20 (£13) a month and the transfers will be made via mobile phone. The programme, called Ti Manman Cheri, or Dear Little Mother, aims to benefit initially a 100,000 families in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Venezuela is providing $15m (£9.5m) for the first phase of the programme. Other Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Mexico, have adopted schemes that provide benefits to families who keep their children in education.

Source: BBC

Son-X Octavia now bringing ‘interactive sound’ to school playgrounds

The solar-powered “interactive sound device” is now shipping to schools in Europe. The coconut-esque device straps onto a conventional swing set in order to keep kids outside.
The company has designed it with tight school budgets in mind, making it completely wireless, self-contained and easy to install. Once in place, swingers can activate three aural games, each of which act to “awaken the natural curiosity in children to explore the possibilities through activity.” The price per unit is about $620.

Source: Engadget

Wikipedia Zero expands into Asia, drops mobile data charges for 10m subscribers in Malaysia

Wikipedia Zero, a project launched by the Wikimedia Foundation to offer free mobile access to Wikipedia in emerging countries, expanded into Asia for the first time this week via a partnership with Malaysian operator Digi, opening access to more than 10 million subscribers in the country.
Free access is limited to the mobile-centric text-only version of Wikipedia, which is available via
Via its partnership with Digi, Wikipedia’s free-to-access service is now available in three countries, joining Uganda and Tunisia.

Source: The Next Web

Mobile Phones not allowed in School? Store it in a Truck

A lot of schools don’t allow mobile phones or other electronic gadgets for a variety of reasons. But what are kids supposed to do with these when they cannot take them into the building?
As for every problem, smart startup founders find a solution. In this case Vernon Alcoser, a Bronx businessman and federal correctional officer came up with a clever solution: a mobile storage facility in form of a truck parked outside the school called “Pure Loyalty Electronic Device Storage”.
One gadget turned in costs $1, two only $1.50. The business is open from 7am to 5pm every school day and between 300 to 700 gadgets are stored in the truck every day. And of course, all devices are insured during storage.


K12 & Higher Ed

Quebec student protest leaders to meet with government for tuition-fee talks

Students in Quebec are to meet with the province’s education minister to resume talks over a proposed tuition fee hike that have sparked widespread protest.
It will be the fourth round of discussions as both sides bid to come to agreement over the government’s proposal to increase university fees by $325 a year for five years. The proposals sparked a strike and huge protests in Quebec, which have been fuelled by the government introducing a draconian law which restricts people’s rights to demonstrate.

Source: The Guardian

Study & Research

Exercise Improves Memory, Helps Alleviate ADHD

Evidence suggests being active improves cognition and memory and could alleviate the symptoms of ADHD in kids.
In a series of studies, Dartmouth researchers discovered these benefits vary according to age, and a specific gene appears to determine the degree to which exercise helps. This raises the possibility that exercise could be a treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Source: Wired

Picture by kahle via Morguefile