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EdSurge On Air

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A weekly podcast, chock-full of the week’s top news stories, commentary and announcements from the edtech world. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an educator, or an investor, there’s something for everyone “on the air.”

A weekly podcast, chock-full of the week’s top news stories, commentary and announcements from the edtech world. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an educator, or an investor, there’s something for everyone “on the air.”
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A weekly podcast, chock-full of the week’s top news stories, commentary and announcements from the edtech world. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an educator, or an investor, there’s something for everyone “on the air.”






You Know Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Now Meet Comedic Scientist Sophia Shrand.

There is an art to making science fun and entertaining. Bill Nye has done it, and so has Neil deGrasse Tyson. Maybe now it’s time for a woman? For this episode of the EdSurge On Air podcast, we’re joined Sophia Shrand, host of the comedic YouTube show, “Science with Sophie.” “Science with Sophie” mixes a bit of feminism with science, a difficult combination of things to put together in a comedic fashion. EdSurge talked with Shrand about her comedic history and how educators can learn from...


Beyond Tuition: How Innovations in College Affordability Are (or Aren’t) Helping Students

The college affordability crisis is a familiar story to most Americans. A simplified version often goes that state funding for higher-ed institutions has decreased dramatically over the years, which has translated into massive tuition hikes for students and their families. Sandy Baum, a fellow in the Education Policy Program at the Urban Institute, watches the issue—and its proposed solutions—closely. The story usually gets encapsulated into examples of students trapped in hundreds of...


The Problem With an 'Engineering Model' of Personalized Learning

In the education technology business, Larry Berger is considered—if not the smartest guy in the room, then certainly one of the wiser ones. With more than 20 years in the industry, Larry has seen the ups and downs, twists and turns. In 2000 he co-founded Wireless Generation, which pioneered the use of data, digital diagnostics and assessments to support students. It was bought in 2010 by News Corporation, which invested more than $1 billion into the company and rebranded it as Amplify....


An Australian University Wants to Rethink the Student Experience

In Australia, there’s a university that was set up to focus on distance education called Deakin University. It started about 40 years ago -- before the internet really got going, so that meant sending lessons through the mail. These days, of course, distance education means online courses and its not a new idea anymore, but officials worry that if they’re not careful, they’ll just end up offering the same kind of education-by-mail ethos in a digital format. They’re trying to reboot their...


To Spark and Scale Innovation in District Schools, ‘Every Day Is Day One’

Running a lemonade stand may be the most entrepreneurial project that students get to experience. But increasingly, schools leaders want to take the spirit of these old-fashioned projects and create more—and more meaningful—opportunities for students and teachers alike to think creatively and build skills that will prepare them for future careers. In districts like Boston Public Schools, officials have set up new teams devoted to “innovation,” to rethink everything from professional...


Why Lumina Foundation Is Betting Big on New Kinds of Credentials

A college degree isn’t the only path to meaningful work. In fact, these days it seems like there are more kinds of credentials than ever, some new ones even have trademarked names like Nanodegrees and MicroMasters. One leading force in reinventing the credential is the Lumina Foundation, one of the largest foundations focused on higher education. The group has an ambitious goal to increase the number of Americans with some kind of high-quality credential. But what counts as high-quality?...


The Case For a ‘Networked' College

The campus of the future will be “networked,” argues Peter Smith, meaning that more and more academic-related services will be outsourced. That, in theory, will allow each campus to focus its energies on what it can do best and turn to outside companies and nonprofits for the rest. It’s a key claim in his new book, “Free-Range Learning in the Digital Age: The Emerging Revolution in College, Career, and Education,” due out next month, and it’s one that might unsettle college administrators...


‘They Demonize Us.’ Randi Weingarten Talks Tensions With 'Innovators’ (and Betsy DeVos)

The eruption of teacher strikes in states all over the country caught national headlines, adding to the already heated debate about the questionable state of affairs in public schools. But the strikes aren’t over, so what is the next step for these educators? The quick-fix plans put together by legislatures in states such as Arizona and West Virginia feel more like a band-aid put on an ailing illness than an actual change. Educators in these states note that the "war" has not been won....


How Harvard Is Trying to Update the Extension School for the MOOC Age

You could call extension schools the original MOOCs. Universities first opened these offshoots more than 100 years ago, and at the time they were innovative—throwing open the campus gates by offering night classes without any admission requirements. Extension Schools were the original attempt by higher education to offer a low-cost version for the non-elite. Thanks to a recent push towards online courses, Harvard University’s Extension School now has more students than the rest of Harvard...


Why Competency-Based Education Stalled (But Isn’t Finished)

The phrase competency-based education is quite a mouthful, but it was all the rage a few years ago among college leaders looking to expand access to their programs. The idea can sound radical, since it often involves doing away with courses as we know them, to focus on having students prove they can master a series of skills or concepts one at a time. It’s safe to say that competency-based education hasn’t caught on as widely as its promoters hoped, and these days you don’t hear that much...


How Facebook Can Improve Privacy By Talking More With Academics

Jennifer Golbeck, a professor at the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies, has been talking about the privacy risks of Facebook data for years. As the recent scandal involving the massive amount of Facebook data leaked to the political advertising company Cambridge Analytica has raised awareness of the issues—and brought calls for change. Golbeck has plenty of suggestions for the social media giant, and she hopes the company will turn more often to researchers and...


Angela Duckworth Says Grit Is Not Enough

Angela Duckworth’s research on encouraging “grit” in students has been hailed as groundbreaking, popularized in bestselling books and TED talks. It has also been called racist, and some have criticized the work for essentially blaming students for their circumstances. Duckworth has faced the backlash by practicing a bit of grit herself. Take her reaction when a PhD candidate emailed her explaining that he was doing his dissertation about how the grit narrative ignored systemic barriers...


Why Demographic Changes Mean Tough Challenges Ahead for College Leaders

The financial crisis of 2008 was tough for the country, but the real impact will hit colleges in the year 2026. It turns out the fiscal anxieties coincided with a dramatic birth dearth—a reduction in the number of children born, which means that the number of kids hitting traditional college age will drop almost 15 percent around 2026. That could amount to a crisis for colleges, unless they start planning now. That’s the argument of Nathan Grawe, an economics professor at Carleton College....


Social-Emotional Learning May Be A Limited Solution for Reforming School Discipline

The United States Government Accountability Office recently released a report confirming decades of anecdotal research saying, among other things, that Black male students who account for 15.5 percent of all public school kids, represented about 39 percent of students suspended from school. That is an overrepresentation of about 23 percentage points. This report also found that students with disabilities were disproportionately disciplined in public schools. To change this trend, some...


Computer Science Degrees and Technology’s Boom-and-Bust Cycle

In higher education, the number of computer science bachelor’s degrees follows boom-and-bust market trends in finance and technology—growing when times are good and plummeting when economies crash. And since 2010, computer science majors have again been on the incline, after a major drop off following the Dot-com bubble burst. But what have we learned from these patterns? And what can it tell us about the future? Mehran Sahami, professor and associate chair for education in the computer...


Unpacking Why Some Educators See the Word ‘Equity’ As a Threat

How do you close achievement gaps when all your students don’t start with the same opportunities? It’s a question of equity, a goal that is generally assumed to be one most educators want to achieve. Yet, these days the issue seems more complicated, as political debates frame equity policies as in conflict with ideals of fairness and tradition. Last month at the Aspen Institute’s States Leading for Equity event, North Dakota’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kirsten Baesler, noted...


What Schools Could Be—and What Education Investors Get Wrong

Does this sound familiar? An Ivy League-educated philanthropist, who built his wealth from a career in technology, decides to champion education as his next cause—under the belief that today’s schools are not adequately preparing the next generation for the future. We’re not talking about Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. Rather, meet Ted Dintersmith, who has spent nearly 20 years as a partner at Charles River Ventures, an early-stage investment firm. These days, he’s no longer spending time...


Why Professors Doubt Education Research

Lauren Herckis, an anthropologist and research faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, has been exploring the culture of teaching at colleges and what makes professors try new teaching practices or, in some cases, resist them.


'A Deal With the Devil': NPR Reporter Anya Kamenetz On Teaching With 'Addictive Tech' Like Facebook

What does it mean to report on education technology from a student lens? How does the tech-health discussion impact teachers in the classroom? What are virtual school lobbyists doing to impact the national discussion on school choice and accountability? NPR reporter Anya Kamenetz, joins the EdSurge OnAir Podcast to discuss her new book, “The Art of Screentime: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life,” and offer listeners some answers to challenging questions about the...


‘Marvel-ous Makers’ Bring Black Panther-Inspired Creations to the Classroom

Social media feeds are lighting up with hashtags such as #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe and #BlackPantherLive celebrating the release of a Hollywood adaptation of the groundbreaking comic series, Black Panther. Educators are also getting into the fandom, seizing on opportunities the film creates to teach students about empowerment, culture and even the importance of learning science and engineering. Netia McCray, is one of the educators using the Black Panther film as an educational...