For a nice change of pace, here’s an innovation in education that’s got absolutely nothing to do with iPads. A group called Seekers Unlimited is trying to raise $8,000 on Kickstarter to release a series of “edu-LARPs.” That would be educational live action role-playing games.
“You might think of it as re-enactors with foam swords, but there’s much more to it than that,” says the organization’s fundraising coordinator, Whitney Beltran, in an accompanying video. The explainer shows kids in Babylonian headdresses adjudicating according to the Code of Hammurabi, which sounds like a great way to turn a playground into Lord of the Flies but hey, whatever gets them reading. Or, as the pitch puts it:
New School Learning
Now that Netflix is in the original content business, the company has to deal with piracy. It took some time, but House of Cards is now all over the torrent sites. [Variety]
Is Apple working on a competitor to Street View? [Apple Insider]
New software would leave student essays to be graded by A.I., leaving professors more time for other tasks. What professors are doing that’s more important than evaluating the progress of their students is anyone’s guess. [New York Times]
“If you install this, then it is very likely that Facebook is going to be able to track your every move, and every little action.” [GigaOm]
A secrets-sharing app named “Whisper” just raised $3 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners. [PandoDaily]
New School Learning
The pissing match between Mathalicious founder Karim Kai Ani and Khan Academy founder Salman “Sal” Khan is heating up! Today Mr. Khan responded to Mr. Ani’s recent Washington Post editorial which questioned the hype surrounding Khan Academy’s mission to tutor math students with free online videos and also criticized Mr. Khan’s teaching ability. Mr. Khan offered a new correction to Mr. Ani’s correction of the definition of slope (so meta!) and may have outed his critic as low-down dirty profiteer in his email response to Valerie Strauss, the anchor for the Post‘s Answer Sheet education blog:
We’re calling it: This Mystery Science Theater 3000 trolling of Sal Khan’s Khan Academy videos, posted in June, was the beginning of an inevitable backlash against the breathless hype about Khan’s abilities as an instructor.
Today, in “Khan Academy: The hype and the reality” in the Washington Post, math coach and Mathalicious founder Karim Kai Ani put some sting in the criticism with a much more direct, serious approach to criticizing the Bill Gates-backed “Messiah of Math”:
New Education for the New Economy
A Pennsylvania mom is on the hook for criminal computer trespassing after using her job at the Northwestern Lehigh School District to–in a move straight out of War Games–alter her children’s grades. Millions of teens nationwide are kicking themselves for not paying better attention in their computer science classes.
Reports ABC News (via The Mary Sue):
“She has been accused of changing her daughter’s failing grade from an F to an M for “medical” in June 2010, and then changing her son’s 98 to a 99 in February 2012, nearly a year after she quit her job as an administrative office secretary to work at another school district.”
The failing grade we get, but we can’t imagine the difference between a 98 and a 99 is worth going to jail for. Now, for a higher SAT score, on the other hand…
The latest from edtech startup Lore: Today the company debuts a rebuilt platform, designed to function more like a social network and less like those dreadful discussion forums you might remember from your educational days.
The rebrand fits with the vision CEO Joe Cohen was excitedly evangelizing when last we spoke. Back in April, the company shucked its original name (Coursekit) and christened itself Lore, a move meant to provide the team with more wiggle room. “Our vision is to be a platform for learning in whatever form,” he told Betabeat, but refused to divulge any details on what that might mean, product-wise.
In a phone conversation yesterday explaining the changes to Betabeat, Mr. Cohen was every bit as irrepressibly pie in the sky:
Video-learning nonprofit Khan Academy is basically the hottest thing in edtech, complete with TED talk and Gates Foundation grant. But you know who thinks it’s a load of crap? These two Grand Valley State University math teachers. In fact, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education, they’re so annoyed that they’ve taken to the YouTubes with a Mystery Science Theater 3000-style parody.
Looks like there’s one place the Bloomberg administration’s techno-enthusiasm can’t touch, and that’s the New York City Department of Education. After a nationwide rash of inappropriate teacher-student Facebook interactions, the Wall Street Journal reports that the city has released new social media guidelines that promise “no expectation of privacy.” Teachers, you might want to keep any ragers mum, and it’s probably best not to perv on students.