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ETCH Weekend Reading 10/15/23
Testing in turmoil, direct admissions, and LinkedIn as the new cool social network
No notes from me this week, straight to the update!
Funding / M&A
Flourish Labs raises $6.6M / US, Mental Health / Gradient Ventures, Collaborative Fund
Atana (fka Media Partners Corporation) raises $6M / US, Corporate Training
10 Minute School raises $5.5M / Bangladesh, Content Provider / Peak XV, Conjunction Capital
Escalate raises $1.26M / US, Corporate Training / RockCreek, Potencia Ventures, TEDCO, Techstars, ECMC Foundation, Gurtin Ventures, Blue Zone Partners, Future State
360Learning acquires eLamp / US, Corporate Training
Nord Anglia Education acquires Avenues New York & Sao Paolo / UK (US, Brazil), Secondary Degree Providers
The Malvern School acquired by Busy Bees International / UK (US), Childcare Centers
M2 Education acquired by Humly after Humly raises an undisclosed amount of new venture funding / Sweden (UK), Education Staffing
Jonathan Morgan joins KKR-owned Education Perfect as CEO. / via the educator online
Wiley CEO Brian Napack to step down / via businesswire
In an expensive city, who should get free preschool? / via New York Times
Who runs the best US schools? It may be the Defense Department. / via New York Times
If you can’t get the Defense Department to fund your school adequately, maybe try calling 50 Cent? Celebrity funding has paid off bigtime for AFC Rumney U-14 girls team, who are now financially solvent and sporting custom G-Unit warmups. / via
Schools staff up as student enrollment drops. “When kids go to school right now there are more adults in the building of all types than there were in 2013 and more than when I was a kid,” said Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. / via Hechinger Report
Related, Educators alarmed by flood of $190B in federal spending. / via Fortune
European castles, private chefs, and a startup school: these families are ditching the US to live the American dream abroad. I have been a skeptic of digital nomad options for families because it leaves children without a consistent community. This article makes the case that there is more community-building in these programs than I gave credit for. / via Business Insider
Can financial literacy help students with math? Anecdotally, I have seen an uptick in startups focused on financial literacy. However, they usually take a direct-to-consumer go-to-market strategy; I’m curious if a rising number of state mandates for financial literacy curriculum will spur more B2B strategies. / via Hechinger Report
Testing in turmoil. We knew that test-optional would have some effect on the US education system, but standardized testing is such an ingrained part of the system that it took years for these changes to start playing out. I suspect there is much more to come here.
The College Board is taking on careers. / via Open Campus
ACT reports record-low scores. / via New York Times
Florida approves the Classic Learning Test for applications to state universities. / via Washington Post
Significant layoffs at Education Testing Service. / via Inside Higher Ed
Dual Enrollment is exploding. How can colleges make sure it is equitable? Dual Enrollment and Community College transfer are (probably? likely?) the fastest ways to bring down the overall cost of college. However, ensuring that these alternative credits transfer properly remains a thorny problem. / via Chronicle of Higher Eduction
Foreign student visas continue to grow at US universities; India overtakes China for most students studying in the US. I’m not sure how much to read into this changing of the “most students” guard, but it feels relevant to note. / via Chronicle of Higher Education
University of Wisconsin joins growing cohort of schools to try direct admissions program. While nostalgic to many, the “You’re accepted!” letter is really just a marketing device for all but the most selective schools. Evidently, direct admissions - where the school lets a student know they are accepted before they apply, with certain guardrails - works even better. / via Higher Ed Dive
Even knowing this, the pace with which direct admissions is being adopted has been startling. Also this week, SUNY automatically admits 125K graduating high school students to local community colleges. / via Higher Ed Dive
Another new marketing device a few colleges are trying, telling students the actual expected price of attending. / via Higher Ed Dive
North Carolina legislature to force state universities to change accreditors every ~10 years. *Looks off into the distance and sighs.* There are lots of ideas out there on how to improve accreditation, many of which I like! But this legislative change, like Florida's, is just a weird way for the state to show its power over its universities, not an attempt to make those universities better. / via Inside Higher Ed
Biden administration takes second swing at mass student loan cancellation. Time is working against the administration to get this through, but the effort appears to be important to Biden’s relection strategy. / via Higher Ed Dive
OPMs on “life support” in changing online marketplace. Many of the companies currently operating in the OPM world are struggling, but it remains hard for me to believe that the industry will fold. As one commentator said, “Schools continue to want to go online, continue to want to serve the adult market, and that shows no sign of slowing down.” / via Inside Higher Ed
Is LinkedIn cool now? Way more interesting article than you’d expect from the headline, with the LinkedIn team more self-aware and willing to share failed experiments. There is also at least a kernel of truth to the title, as other social networks have devolved over the past 18 months. / via PressGazette
Wanted: knowledge workers in America’s heartland. It’s still early to make predictions on whether making payments to folks who relocate to [city X] “worked” or not, but it is something I’m following curiously. / via USA Today
The annoying person in your work meeting might be you. More people are using software tools to take notes and provide feedback on meetings. This article is mostly qualitative data, but provides an interesting discussion of re-building norms around having AI omnipresent to our social and professional interactions. / via Wall Street Journal
Not quite EdTech, but related to new norms and omnipresent AI, consider the synthetic social network - a network you interact with all day every day, populated entirely by bots. / via M.G. Siegler
Lots of Byju’s articles swirling, most of which are not worth linking to. The unraveling of Byju’s continues to be the strangest public negotiation I have ever seen (which is saying something because James Harden plays ~2 miles from my house in South Philly). My advice is to discount everything you read as a negotiation ploy until a deal is verified as fully complete. / via Economic Times
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!
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