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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.”






Has ‘Shift’ Happened? Revisiting a Viral Video From 2008

About 10 years ago, a short video called Shift Happens went viral, providing a wake-up call to educators that their students would enter a very different world once they left the classroom and entered the workforce. The video presented a series of surprising statistics set to music. More than a quarter of a million people have watched the eight-and-a-half-minute video, and one of the video’s creators estimates millions more have viewed four follow-up videos. It marked a bit of a cultural...


Is Open Content Enough? Where OER Advocates Say the Movement Must Go Next

Open educational resources have been around for more than a decade, and the sheer number of these materials—in the form of textbooks, courses, videos, software and other public-domain resources—are increasingly available online. . But as more open materials become accessible, advocates for open education still see room for improvement. This week on the EdSurge On Air podcast, we hear from Jess Mitchell, a senior manager of research and design at the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD...


How Do You Prepare Students for Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet?

There is a lot of talk these days about robots replacing humans in the workforce, but those conversations remain largely abstract. For students in school today, however, the issue is urgent, research shows. What if the job they aspire to today is no longer an option when it comes time to graduate? How can they train for jobs that don’t even exist yet? On the other side of that equation are educators, who often draw from their own learning experiences in K-12 and higher education to inform...


How to Bring Innovation to Campus Without Cheapening Education

Do you want fries with that education? That question is one that many professors fear is essentially coming to colleges, as higher-ed leaders adopt practices from businesses in an attempt to rethink their operations. There’s even a growing body of scholarly work that outlines a critique against the corporatization of college—arguing that even when reforms are well-intentioned, they are making campuses more like burger franchises than centers of learning and research. So how can colleges try...


Cultural Anthropologist Mimi Ito: Good Intentions Don’t Always Mean Equitable Outcomes in Edtech

Imagine you’re an elementary school student. Your teacher has told your class to watch several streaming videos for a class project. You might want to watch some of the videos at home, but your family doesn’t have high-speed internet. That’s just one way technology in education can fail to serve some students. Mimi Ito, a cultural anthropologist at the University of California, Irvine who studies how young people use technology, says it’s not necessarily because the teachers or the people...


What Do Edtech and IKEA Have in Common? Persuasive Design.

Technology shapes the way we interact everyday. We FaceTime with family across the country, we send snaps to our friends to let them know where we are and what we're doing. But sometimes we fail to realize that the platforms and data that push us to interact, they don't always do it in objective ways. Our interactions are increasingly shaped by algorithms, and those codes are designed by some human. Those programmers literally write the script for the ways that tech will make us tick, for...


Is Running a Company Like Leading a Classroom?

Entrepreneur Steve Blank has served as a founder, investor and even in the air force. But there’s another title he’s is known for: professor. Blank has earned a reputation among budding and veteran business leaders alike as the father of the Lean Startup movement, a business philosophy that popularized startup concepts like “pivoting” and “minimum viable product.” And he’s taught these ideas on business and innovation at Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia and New...


Can You Teach Good Writing? We Ask One of the Greats, John McPhee

John McPhee, a master of telling nonfiction stories, became a teacher by accident 43 years ago when Princeton University needed a last-minute replacement. He has steered the course ever since, each spring when he takes breaks from writing books or pieces for The New Yorker, and it has become legendary in journalism circles. The list of his alumni include some of today’s most well-known writers: David Remnick (now editor of The New Yorker), Eric Schlosser (author of Fast Food Nation), Tim...


Who Does Online Learning Really Serve?

Online education has been touted as a way to increase access to education. But it’s increasingly unclear if online learning is living up to its promise for students, even as digital learning makes its way into more institutions’ offerings. The quality of online courses still varies drastically, and research shows there are major racial disparities in digital-learning outcomes. This has all left us asking: Who does online education really serve? To help answer that question, we recently...


How A Podcast-Turned-Startup Is Trying to Get Non-Traditional Students Into Tech

Some of the earliest and largest coding bootcamp programs shut their doors for good last year. And it left many people wondering if these short term tech training programs are actually worth the investment (for investors and students alike). One person who’s remained optimistic about the shake ups in the industry is Ruben Harris. Harris is a CEO of Career Karma, which aims to help prospective students navigate the bootcamp market, and he also hosts his own podcast about breaking into the...


‘Prohibition Will Get You Nowhere’: Cory Doctorow’s Message to Schools and Educators

It’s not unheard of for an instructor to tee up a YouTube video for a lesson, only to have the content blocked by the school or district’s censorware. And while administrators might have good intentions when they decide to use censorware, censorship is often only effective for those who play by the rules. It’s one reason why writer and activist Cory Doctorow thinks schools and educators should rethink their approach to surveillance and censorship. In science fiction novels like “Little...


MOOCs are No Longer Massive. And They Serve Different Audiences Than First Imagined.

MOOCs have gone from a buzzword to a punchline, especially among professors who were skeptical of these “massive open online courses” in the first place. But what is their legacy on campuses? MOOCs started in around 2011 when a few Stanford professors put their courses online and made them available to anyone who wanted to take them. The crowds who showed up were, well, massive. We’re talking 160,000 people signing up to study advanced tech topics like data science. The New York Times later...


The Secret Ingredient that Helps Schools, Educators and Students Learn

How good are schools at learning? Can they get better? As a culture, we worry a lot about student learning. But students don’t learn in a vacuum: Most are part of organizations (namely schools) that involve adults who also are engaged in learning, both individually and collectively. So what could help them learn? Here’s the one of the biggest quiet buzzwords in education: Networks. They can happen in any community—among educators, among schools or districts themselves and, of course, among...


What Students Want Colleges to Know About How They Learn

Even the best instructors may not be able to reach every student. And often that’s because there is a disconnect between what students expect from college teaching and what actually ends up happening in the classroom. In July, three members from EdSurge Independent, a student-run group that meets weekly to discuss ideas around higher education and technology, joined EdSurge Live to share what they wish faculty knew about students today, and propose ways to fuse instructional gaps. The guests...


Apple’s Longtime Education VP Shares Frustrations With Slow Pace of Change

People love to try to figure out what Apple is up to and to guess their strategy—that’s true for its education strategy as well. But often there’s not much to go on beyond press releases and speculation. So when Apple’s longtime vice-president of education, John Couch, published a book this year with his thoughts on the future of education and accounts of his work at Apple, it opened a rare window into how the company’s views on education. The book is called Rewiring Education: How...


Why One Professor Says We Are ‘Automating Inequality’

Often the algorithms that shape our lives feel invisible, but every now and then you really notice them. Your credit card might get declined when you’re on vacation because a system decides the behavior seems suspicious. You might buy a quirky gift for your cousin, and then have ads for that product pop up everywhere you go online. In education, schools and colleges even use big data to nudge students to stay on track. As we create this data layer around us, there’s more and more chance for...


This Accelerator Seeks To Scale Equity in Schools

Caroline Hill is a firecracker. She keynoted the Blended Learning Conference in Rhode Island and INACOL in Florida. At both events she asked educators to challenge their notions of the use of technology in the classrooms and their conversations around equity. She has been a DC educator for years, but is now embarking on a new venture, creating an accelerator with the goal of scaling equity. She hopes to combine the start-up mentality of the edtech world with social justice issues in a really...


Venture Capitalist Argues For Cheaper And Faster Alternatives to College

Access to higher education is a big topic these days, but debates about how to expand access often assume a one-size-fits-all model of what college should be. A new book due out this fall argues for the creation of colleges of many shapes and sizes, including a new set of low-cost options that are hyper-focused on helping students who just can’t afford a four-year campus experience get a first job. The book is called A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College, and it is written by a...


Why Purdue Professors Continue to Protest Purdue’s Purchase of a For-Profit U.

If Purdue University’s purchase of the for-profit Kaplan University can be thought of as a wedding, there were plenty of people in the audience shouting objections throughout the ceremony. The loudest were Purdue professors, who argued that the pair were far too incompatible to unite. Among those professors is David Sanders, an associate professor of biological sciences at Purdue and past chair of the university’s Faculty Senate. He organized a petition against the merger, which created what...


What Happens When A Public University Buys a For-Profit Online One?

When leaders of Purdue University wanted to move into online education, they took the unusual step of buying an existing online university, a big one with 30,000 students. And here’s the most surprising part: that online school it bought, Kaplan University, was a for-profit business—part of a sector that’s been criticized for high costs and poor outcomes for students. The deal sparked vocal protests from Purdue professors, and hundreds of them signed petitions opposing the arrangement,...