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ETCH Weekend Reading 10/1/23
The childcare cliff, housing for teachers, new gainful employment rules, and the UK's Lifelong Learning Entitlement
I was sad to miss the Future of Higher Education Group’s biannual offsite this weekend - FOHE is the most inclusive group of people focused on improving education that I am a part of. Thankfully, there is a highly engaged Slack group that allows the conversation to extend beyond the in-person events; I encourage you to join!
Fortunately, our son starts daycare this week, so road trips will soon grow a little easier. This starts tomorrow, with EdTech Week in NYC(!), and will hopefully include trips to Boston, DC, and SF (and maybe a holiday party?) before the end of the year. Stay tuned for more!
On to the update.
Funding / M&A
Tranfr VR raises $40M / US, Virtual Reality / ABS Capital, JP Morgan Chase Impact Finance, Lumos Capital, Akkadian Ventures, Spring Tide Capital, Fireworks Ventures, Album
PowerUs raises €24M / Germany, Vocational Training / Eurazeo, HV Capital, General Catalyst
Cartwheel raises $20M / US, Mental Health / Menlo Ventures, Reach Capital, General Catalyst, Box Group, Able Partners
Cognota raises $5M / Canada, Corporate LMS / Grotech Ventures, IDEA Fund Partners, BDC Capital, Generation Ventures, CEAS Investments, Tyton Partners
StudentCrowd raises €2.9M / UK, Student Marketing & Recruitment / PwC Raise Ventures, Mercia Fund
Morphoses raises €2.1M / UK, Soft Skills Training / Uni.Fund
Teachme.to raises $2M / US, Consumer Upskilling / 1984 Ventures, Common Metal, Alumni Ventures
eDynamic Learning acquires Learning Blade / US, Course Materials
Focus Learning bought out by the Brydon Group / US, Compliance Training
Lepaya raises $38M / Netherlands, Corporate Training
Peter Walker joins Instructure as Chief Financial Officer / via PRNewswire
Lauren Forrester joins Thought Industries as VP Global Demand Gen / via PRNewswire
Esther Wojcicki joins Knack as Chief Education Advisor / via Businesswire
Byju’s to cut up to 5,000 / via Techcrunch
The childcare cliff is upon us, look out below. There is no easy answer here, where many daycare facilities became dependent on what was intended to be COVID stopgap funding. Whatever happens though, it may be a harbinger of what will happen in the K12 world when ESSER funding runs out next year. / via Bloomberg Opinion
Related, what America can learn from Canada’s new $10-a-day child care system. I am biased (see intro), but this is a concept I could get behind! / via Hechinger Report
Also related, subsidized meals in childcare are tied to healthier kids and families. Obviously, this is an additional cost to already tight operations budgets, but I can’t help but think nutrition is of equal - and possibly greater - importance to the educational benefits daycares provide. / via Washington Post
Education Week special report on tutoring. I appreciate that this report does not treat “tutoring” as a one-size-fits-all hammer, but rather a collection of different services all aimed at improving student outcomes. The next step for schools is to continue refining what types of tutoring they need for which students (and at what cost). / via Education Week
Homeschooling today is less religious and more diverse. “Yet even among those who voice such concerns, many do not share the deep-seated opposition to public education that defined home-schoolers of past decades, and the new crop is more likely to mix and match homeschooling with public school, depending on their children’s needs.” / via Washington Post
NYC proposes to spend $21M to bring kids back to school. In other news, ETCH is now offering a VERY affordable ad program. / via Chalkbeat
Colorado mountain towns where teachers can’t afford housing have a new solution: tiny homes built by teens. I like building new housing and I like offering teenagers opportunities to gain vocational experience. It feels a little weird to have students building housing for their own teachers, but that might just be me getting used to the concept? / via The Colorado Sun
Another example of Colorado helping teens find a vocational path - A Colorado dad wanted more for his son. So he opened a trade school for young adults with autism. / via The Colorado Sun
And one from Detroit, where black teens learn to fly and aim for careers in aviation. The median pay for airline pilots is over $200K (with senior positions paying as much as $500K); we need more stories like these! / via Associated Press
Also, apropos of building housing for teachers, EdSurge published the third installment of their series on the topic. This time focused on a teacher housing initiative in Austin. / via EdSurge
Chatbots have a math problem and a people problem. I am more “chatbots are neat!” than “chatbots are neat.”, but I think Dan and I are toasting marshmallows around the same AI campfire. / via
Speaking of neat, UT San Antonio will now offer a dual degree program in medicine and AI. Does the 800-word announcement offer any insight into how these two fields of study will actually come together to form a greater whole? It does not. But, critically, students are eager to enroll. / via Inside Higher Ed
That said, I am excited for students to be able to safely make up their own stories and for teachers to have the tools to more critically self-assess. / via Techcrunch and EdSurge
Game on, again, for Gainful Employment. The US Education Department passed new rules about program-level earnings potential for for-profit degree programs and both for-profit and non-profit nondegree programs. The intent behind these rules is good - the US government spends a lot of money for universities to be the engine of our economy, and we should be tracking how effective that spending is. But having this rule enforced differently based on tax status means we’re just going to argue about this again at the next change of party control. / via Inside Higher Ed
Also related, Higher education is its own worst enemy. As I said above, if you want federal dollars, there should be rules attached. But what about models that eschew the entrenched system entirely? There is a very real stigma against unaccredited and non-T4 receiving schools, but there might also be quite a bit of freedom to focus on students rather than Pell dollars. / via Inside Higher Ed
Related, the entrenched system isn’t working in the UK either, where schools are losing money on every student. / via Wall Street Journal
OK, one aspect of the entrenched system that is working well: it is GREAT for tax savings. The Times estimates that Columbia and NYU save more than $300M per year in property taxes. / via the New York Times
So much for ‘Learn to Code.’ I don’t love this article, but it adds to the conversation around college ROI. It is possible coding jobs will lose some prestige and wage premium, but the median wage for a software engineering job ($120K) could be halved and still be above average in the US (and reasonably middle class).
California Community Colleges invest in competency-based education. Notably, they are making this investment without Calbright as a partner/contributor. / via 74 Million
359 US colleges agree to standardize information in financial aid offers to students. Unfortunately, this does not mean that students will be able to compare financial aid offers 1:1, but the schools will use the same terms to make comparison easier. / via Washington Post
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) announces a new foray into credentialing. There are a couple of entities that have tried to bring a standard of quality to the non-degree world, but none started with the institutional respect of a regional accreditor. / via Higher Learning Commission
UK government passes Lifelong Learning Entitlement, providing access to loans on favorable terms for citizens who want to pursue upskilling and reskilling. Singapore has the most notable corollary to this program; I’m curious to see how this does. / via Times Higher Education
How rural colleges are adapting to workforce demands. / via OpenCampus
Masterclass takes a crash course in frugality. Cringe headline, but detailed article. There are two takeaways you *could* have from this article, though one story does not make a trend:
1. Edutainment, particularly for hobbyist courses, is a limited market
2. Learners prefer B- courses at B- prices over A+ courses at A+ prices
This email, EdTech Thoughts Weekend Reading, is the free sister publication of the EdTech Thoughts Weekly Update. It provides links to the week’s EdTech Funding, M&A, People moves, and a curated list of Links to relevant industry news. If you enjoyed this edition, I hope you will subscribe and/or forward to your friends!
As is hopefully clear from this newsletter, I spend a lot of my time reading. Often, this starts with articles about EdTech, but it usually also includes between 1 and 4 books.
Should you find yourself looking for a good book (both education and general interest), you can see many of my favorites here!
Also, if you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them!