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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.”






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,...


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. News...


This 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 the 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? And...


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...