On the Ed - Alpha

On the Ed – Alpha – Episode 001 Coding, Exam Fraud and more

This week’s episode of On the Ed started twice as we had some trouble (as so often) with the Google Hangout on Air. But hey, that’s why we are still in alpha. So this time you don’t get one hour of edtech punditry but a more condensed version with the two Kirsten’s of edtech in Europe, as Kirsten Campbell-Howes put it.


Chris could not join us this week as he is busy with the launch of a new startup. I am sure he will share some updates on that next week. Below you find the stories Kirsten and I talked about in the show plus some extra news items we did not have the time to cover.

Update from last week’s episode

We briefly touched on Area9 during last week’s On the Ed when we talked about the acquisition of Engrade with Richard Taylor. It is another strong sign that for McGraw-Hill Education the future lies in SaaS and data analysis rather than textbooks.

  • McGraw-Hill Education acquires remaining 80% of Area9 | via EDUKWEST


Coding is currently all over the (ed)tech news. Whether it may be the shutdown of coding bootcamps in California or the fact that the director of the Year of Code in the UK can’t code her way out of a paper bag.

There are many issues tied to this topic. Of course, the entire debate is totally overhyped and many initiatives just look and feel ham handed. What eventually will come out of this is very unclear, like how the UK wants to prepare their teachers to “teach at least one hour of code” to their students until September when coding will become mandatory in schools.

Below you find a list of related stories from both sides of the pond.

  • Why a code of conduct for coding academies in California could be a good thing | via TechCrunch
  • GitHub wants schools to collaborate on code | via TheNextWeb
  • Year of Code starts in the UK with £500k fund for teacher training | via TheNextWeb
  • Year of Code Director Lottie Dexter can’t code | via Slate
  • Google back Code Club Pro in the UK to boost teacher’s skills | via The Guardian
  • Coding will be mandatory in UK schools from next year on | via PandoDaily

Exam Fraud

This week also had two interesting stories on exam fraud. One in the UK where ETS Global, one of the biggest global companies that offers English testing services and exams, has been banned from offering such exams. Students paid for passing the TOEIC test in order to elongate their student visa and these cases are currently being investigated. The second story is about “The Wolf of GMAT” who in his career took over 500 GMAT tests for other people, most of them for money and sometimes for up to $5000.

All in all those stories show that when the stakes are high like with those tests that can decide about your future career and life, there will always be fraud and I am sure that this is also the case for other exams in the language space.

  • ETS Exams suspended in the UK due to student visa fraud investigation | via The Pie News
  • The Wolf of GMAT | via LinkedIn

Other Stories

Other edtech stories of the week include Barnes & Noble laying off most of its Nook division, so I guess Kindle has won as Kirsten said during the show. Talking about dead or dying things, if we take a look at Chegg’s Q4 numbers it seems that print is on its last leg. While print sales rose 3% for Chegg, digital rose by 70% in the same timeframe.

  • Barnes & Noble lays off most of the Nook division | via The Verge
  • Chegg’s print revenue rose 3% in Q4, digital 70% | via re/code

All mighty Pearson announced its own badges platform this week in an effort to push this new form of credentials into higher ed. Of course Acclaim also accepts Open Badges from Mozilla but in the end control is everything.


Pearson is also teaming up with another edtech giant. Blackboard and Pearson signed an agreement to better exchange student data between their products.

Funding & Acquisitions

Last but not least a quick look at this week’s edtech fundings. The French course (or MOOC) platform OpenClassrooms raised an additional 1 million Euro. The aim is to reduce ads on the site and launch new courses.

LearnLaunchX announced its winter 2014 cohort. We took a look at the different startups and ranked them by chance of survival and ability to raise money after the three months accelerator program.

Curious, a video lesson marketplace for lifelong learners raised a $15 million Series B. The premise of Curious is to turn teachers into entrepreneurs by offering them a platform on which they can create and sell bite-sized video lessons and courses starting at $5 USD.

  • French course platform OpenClassrooms raised 1 million Euro | via EDUKWEST
  • LearnLaunchX announces winter 2014 cohort | via edcetera
  • Curious raises $15 million Series B | via TechCrunch

Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at KirstenWinkler.com.