Tuesday, September 30, 2008

EIIF Welcomes Gene Hickok to the March 2009 Forum

The EIIF team is pleased to announce that Gene Hickok, Senior Policy Advisor for Dutko Worldwide and one of the most eloquent speakers on education in America will be speaking at the Education Industry Investment Forum March 9-11, 2009.

Gene Hickok, Senior Policy Advisor, Dutko Worldwide, image courtesy Dutko Worldwide site

Mr. Hickok is former Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Education Department and former Secretary of Pennsylvania's education agency.

Mark your calendars. For more information on the Education Industry Investment Forum, please visit the EIIF website.

Hickok profile at Education Week magazine:

Gene Hickok, seen here in his Education Department office, disdains the Washington insider culture. But those watching say he uses his charm and savvy to excel in that environment.

During six years as Pennsylvania's secretary of education, Hickok often faced a hostile roster of education advocacy organizations. He spent 16 years as a political science professor at Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pa., where his conservative politics set him apart from other faculty members. And he helped coordinate the defection of several state schools chiefs from a leading Washington advocacy group in 1995.

But now, holding the No. 3 position in the federal Department of Education, Hickok seems to be acquiring a leadership style that allows him to blaze a path toward his educational and political aims— without burning bridges. Spearheading the implementation of the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001—the Bush administration's signature educational endeavor— he appears to be adopting a more flexible tone and easing aside the ideological blinders some say he wore to Washington.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

The Financial State of the Union

The Education Industry Investment Forum has created a survey that asks for your opinion on the current financial meltdown?

Who is to blame? What happened?

Click Here to take survey

Where will this take us?

Click Here to take survey

Have we started a global recession?

Click Here to take survey

Results will be posted Tuesday afternoon.

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Wachovia Did Not Fail, But Citigroup Takes Them Whole

It happened over the weekend. Wachovia and Citigroup worked with the government to secure another stunning transformation in banking caused by the subprime collapse.

According to an AP story, Citigroup will buy Wachovia's banking operations.

Citigroup Inc. will acquire the banking operations of Wachovia Corp., one of the nation's largest banks, in a deal facilitated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Citigroup will absorb up to $42 billion of losses in the deal, with the FDIC covering any remaining losses, the government agency said Monday. Citigroup also will grant the FDIC $12 billion in preferred stock and warrants.

The FDIC asserted that Wachovia didn't fail, and that all depositors are protected and there will be no cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund.

Of course they didn't fail. Citigroup bought their US$42 billion in losses.

Notice that a government entity becomes a shareholder in a bank. Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but is this normal?

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Wachovia to Merge with Citigroup?

Wachovia has started talking to Citigroup about a possible merger.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Friday's Panelists

Just before the weekend, but not before you are ready to leave your desk for home, here are some new commitments to the panels in March 2009.

The Education Industry Investment Forum proudly welcomes:

Vishal Garg, Founder, MyRichUncle.co
Mark Pelesh, Executive Vice President – Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Corinthian Colleges
Jennifer House, President, Red Rock Publishing
Dayna Stewart, CEO, Camelot for Kids
Karen Symms Gallagher, Dean, Rossier School of Education, USC
Cathy Snood, Assistant Director, Huntington Junior College
Barbara Dryer, CEO, Connections Academy
Joy Smith, Director – Business Development, Florida Virtual Schools
Alfred DeSeta, President and COO, Penn Foster College
Kenneth Hartman, Academic Director, Drexel eUniversity Online
Michael Connelly, CEO, Mosaica Education
Toby Chu, CEO, CIBT Education
Rex Bird, President, Laurel Springs School
Michael Cooney, Chairman, Wisconsin Education Aids Board
David Dies, Executive Secretary, Wisconsin Educational Approval Board
Jo-Ann McDevitt, Vice President – Sales, Marketing and Business Development, Association of Education Publishers
Jeff Shelstad, Co-Founder and CEO, Flat Earth Knowledge
Christopher Stephen, CEO, Read How You Want
Neil Goff, CEO, Weekly Reader
Sandy Fivecoat, CEO, We Are Teachers
Michael Ross, Senior Vice President, Encyclopedia Britannica Online
Tricia Roth, Managing Director, Read How You Want
Malgosia Green, CEO, LearnHub

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Today's New Panelists

EIIF announces some new panelists for the upcoming EIIF

The Forum will be held March 9-11, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's acceptances, we have some great speakers we will announce on Friday

Key Experts in Lending, Analysis, Investment and Strategy, Including:

Todd Nelson, CEO, Education Management
Mark DeFusco, Managing Director, Berkery Noyes
John Ebersole, President, Excelsior University
Stuart Udell, CEO, Penn Foster College
John Chubb, President, Edison Learning
Dr. Yoram Neumann, President and CEO, TUI University
Peter Leyton, Partner, Ritzert & Leyton
Michaƫl Bijaoui, Managing Director, MESA
Susan Wolford, Managing Director, BMO Capital
Michael Musante, Director – Government Relations, Edison Learning
Mark Jopling, Managing Director, Jopling Associates
Larry Brown, CEO, Beam Reach Education
Michael McQueeney, Managing Director, Summer Street Capital
Arthur Benjamin, CEO, ATI

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China Banks Told to Stop Lending to American Banks

China tells its banks to stop lending to American banks for now.

I had earlier written on another blog that China's Central Bank was suffering from a potential lending crisis.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

EIIF Announces New Speakers for 2009

The following speakers are coming to EIIF in Phoenix March 9-11, 2009:

Mark Kantrowitz, Founder, Finaid.org
George Bernstein, CEO, Nobel Learning Communities
Howard Block, Managing Director, Knowledge Investment Partners
Brooke B. Coburn, Managing Director and Co-head of Carlyle Venture Partners III
Mark DeFusco, Managing Director, Berkery Noyes
Peter Leyton, Partner, Ritzert & Leyton
Ted Mitchell, Managing Director, New Schools Venture Fund
Charles Thornburgh, President, Kaplan Virtual Education
Matt Leavy, CEO, eCollege
Daniel Pianko, Principal, Noah Fund
Rita Ferrandino, Managing Director, ARC Capital Development
John Katzman, CEO, 2Tor and Founder of Princeton Review
Jordan Goldman, Founder, Unigo.com

and there are over 45 other names.

Stay tuned to the blog for the agenda, and please consider your company for a presentation at the 2nd Annual FuturEd Symposium where you could be one of five innovative companies presenting to investors.

You can also visit our homepage for the latest in registration news, and administrative information.

A white papers site is coming soon. That will be a one-stop resource for all of the information you need to stay ahead in the education industry.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FuturEd Symposium, Year 2 Application Online

If you want to present your company to a forum filled with investors, analysts and high-level executives in the for-profit education industry, you can fill out an application and send it to the conference production team at the Education Industry Investment Forum.

We'll gladly take a look.

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Michael Milken Offers $186M for Nobel Learning

A phone call yesterday alerted me to the recent bidding action of Michael Milken for Nobel Learning Communities.

The Price: $186M, valuing Nobel at $17 per share, a little more than 33% over Nobel’s Friday closing price of $12.74.

That's evidence that even in a worsening economic climate, childhood care and learning is vital, valuable and can attract a premium.

Milken, who graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, already owns a significant share of Nobel.

KLC of Portland, Ore., has more than 1,800 centers in 38 states serving more than 200,000 students under the Kindercare/Knowledge Beginnings and Childrens Creative Learning Centers names.

KLC’s parent, Knowledge Universe Education of Santa Monica, Calif., was founded by former junk-bond magnate Michael Milken and his brother, Lowell Milken.

Blesbok LLC, which Michael Milken manages, owns a little more than 3.86 million shares, or 37 percent of Nobel, according to Yahoo! Finance and Securities and Exchange Commission documents.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Unigo founder Jordan Goldman

Jordan Goldman, who founded Unigo by taking a business plan stencil from the Internet and filling in the blanks, now threatens to unseat the dominant college guidebook publishers with a free service that collects student-created reviews of their own schools and presents them to high school students looking for information they can't find in school-sanctioned info sessions.

A tremendously creative idea, but is it seasonal only? And will it be relegated to only offering reviews? It looks like the perfect platform for creating a social network scene like Facebook. Facebook, if you remember, was used only by students in universities before it was opened to include anyone who wanted to register. Currently, Facebook has over 100 million users.

It would be interesting to see Unigo slip into this domain and take audience share from Facebook.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Five Questions with John Katzman

John Katzman, CEO, 2Tor

New Speaker for Education Industry Investment Forum

EIIF is proud to announce that
John Katzman, the iconic founder of Princeton Review and the entrepreneurial energy behind the new 2Tor.com, will be speaking at the forum in March.

We ask him five questions about the industry:

EIIF: What act of strategic investment in the education industry by any player in the past five years do you admire the most, and what was its outcome?

John Katzman: Denver Public Schools investment in teacher comp reform. So far, so good—most teachers like it, and performance is up; I think this will prove a useful way-station.

EIIF: What industry genre will have the most influence in the future of education over the next five years?

JK: For-profit and hybrid colleges.

EIIF: If you could name any industry within education that requires the most change, what industry is it and what changes do you think it needs?

JK: Student finance. More transparency and simplicity.

EIIF: What inspirational idea outside of education has had a dominant effect on how you do business?

JK: Apple, which proves that product matters.

EIIF: For an education company or for profit school that is looking to grow, what is the one thing they need to be prepared to do before meeting investors or before launching their product or service into the marketplace?

JK: Explain how they will achieve both financial and educational excellence.

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Digital Media and Learning Competition

Are you thinking of applying for the second annual Digital Media and Learning Competition?

HASTAC and the MacArthur Foundation held the first Digital Media and Learning Competition in 2007. A total of two million dollars was awarded to 17 projects representing compelling work in the field of Digital Media and Learning.

The second (2008) Competition similarly seeks to mobilize the field of Digital Media and Learning through a $2 million open call, supporting learning entrepreneurs, educators, communicators, and innovators. The Competition supports pioneers who use new technologies to envision the future of participatory learning.

The theme for this year’s Competition is Participatory Learning. Awards will be made in two categories: Innovation in Participatory Learning, and Young Innovators, a special category designed to promote the contributions of 18-25-year-old innovators to digital media and learning.

If so, we would like to talk to you.

Please contact Douglas Crets at dcrets [at] iirusa dot com.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Plurk and Brightkite

Two new web and mobile applications that will expand your professional and social networking horizons...

Plurktakes the Twitter example and puts it on a graphic time line, but allows your friends and acquaintances to react to your "plurks." The idea is visually stimulating and it is very easy to meet new people using the technology.

If you are familiar with Mini Hovels, which are sponsored at Korean web company CyWorld, then you will get this. You can design your own Plurk page and look great doing it!

Brightkite is an invite only mashup of mobile phone images, GPS location beacons and Google maps, among many other things. The application will keep track of where you are, show you on a map, and even offer a 360 Google Street View of where you are.

You can also do what you do on Twitter, typing in updates as they happen.

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The American Economy: How Bad Is It?

Do you agree with these sentiments published in the German Der Spiegel this morning?

In fact, it really does look as if the foundations of US capitalism have shattered. Since 1864, American banking has been split into commercial banks and investment banks. But now that's changing. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch -- overnight, some of the biggest names on Wall Street have disappeared into thin air. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the only giants left standing. Despite tolerable quarterly results, even they have been hurt by mysterious slumps in prices and -- at least in Morgan Stanley's case -- have prepared themselves for the end.

"Nothing will be like it was before," said James Allroy, a broker who was brooding over his chai latte at a Starbucks on Wall Street. "The world as we know it is going down."

Or is it just hyperbole usually found in newspapers and magazines when market panic sets in?

The most breathtaking aspect about this week's crisis, though, is that the life raft -- which Washington had only previously used to bail out the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- is being handed out by a government whose party usually fights against any form of government intervention. The policy is anchored in its party platform.

"I fear the government has passed the point of no return," financial historian Ron Chernow told the New York Times. "We have the irony of a free-market administration doing things that the most liberal Democratic administration would never have been doing in its wildest dreams."

The story can be found here: Time to panic?

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

CGI Boosts Teacher Procurement Process in Canada

California company Ariba is helping out with a procurement system for the entire Ontario school system.

In the first phase of the marketplace, CGI will assemble an electronic retail environment in which educational institutions can order various goods and services. In the second phase, procurement groups will be enabled to issue and execute requests for proposals for major purchases.

"CGI was selected as our partner because it has demonstrated an understanding of OECM's vision and has the depth of experience that comes from successfully managing other electronic marketplaces in both Canada and the United States," stated Frank Erschen, acting president of the Ontario Education Collaborative Marketplace.

There's a non-profit in China that is doing this for the energy industry. I know that's not education, but I'd thought I'd put that out there.

CGI to build and run Ontario public education 'marketplace' in $40M contract

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Princeton Review Founder to Challenge U of Phoenix

John Katzman, who founded Princeton Review and took on the standardized testing industry, will now take on the market that companies like University of Phoenix and Capella and Walden Universities, by launching an online Master's degree program with the USC Rossier School of Education, with his new company, 2Tor.

The story is:

2Tor is starting in a field with which Katzman is familiar, and where the need is great: teacher education. On Monday, 2Tor will announce that it is teaming up with the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education to create an online version of its master’s of arts in teaching, called MAT@USC. Within a decade, in Katzman’s grand vision, the online version of USC’s program — which now produces about 150 students a year — could produce 5,000 or more, helping not just California but many states meet the desperate demand for teachers in high-need (urban, rural, low-income) schools.

But it is not just about volume, say Katzman and Karen Symms Gallagher, the Rossier school’s dean. There are no shortage of teacher education schools, nor even of teacher prep programs offered online. But at a time when higher education institutions are facing significant pressure to increase the number of students they educate, and to be more innovative in how they do so, most of that growth and much of that innovation has been relegated, Katzman notes, to large for-profit providers (notably the mammoth University of Phoenix Online), niche for-profit institutions (Capella and Walden Universities) and ambitious but less prestigious nonprofit institutions, like Nova Southeastern University and the University of Maryland University College.

Katzman faces a challenge to build exclusivity and brand value in an education field where there have been few -- though remarkable -- successes.

What do you think of the technique, which appears to be linking with an esteemed partner to further both companies brands? Who will win in this deal? Is it the win-win that it appears, or more of a win, short-term for 2Tor?

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Philanthropy is the Gateway to Power!"

That's perhaps a cynical view. If you are a cynical person you might think that people get into philanthropy becuase they want to advance their own social status and the ethical brand of their company.

Is it time for a re-assessment of why people get into business, and what they do when they get there, in the first place?

A post at the Fast Company blog "Leading Companies for Good," made me wonder.

One thing has changed, however. By the 1980’s, corporations shifted their giving and service programs to be more aligned with the corporate mission and more strategic in accomplishing measurable outcomes for the company and the community. Volunteerism also became more inclusive involving employees of all levels, fostering team-building and community spirit, as well as productive service.

Look Deeper

Non-profits are not just exemplary institutions because they do something for the social good. That's a non-starter conversation. Of course, that is what they are known for. That may bring a considerable amount of social value to your company, if you are involved in one.

Non-profits a lesson in doing business

A large measure of financial and business methodology experimentation and laboratory work happens in non-profits. Non-profits are just as much a businesses as any other business. Cost efficiency, outcome efficiency and streamlining and scalability are just as important.

Look at the successful non-profit charter schools like KIPP and Green Dot Public Schools.

Successful non-profits in education like these schools are really good at pinpointing where education is failing, and driving a solution that leads to measurable outcomes, better efficiency in training, educating, maintenance and blending study materials with student choices and needs.

Those are lessons that from a macro point of view any business would want to learn to enable better strategies in reaching its consumers and driving profit and brand value. Success, even if it is not for profit, is about knowing what you are doing and doing it well within a confined set of restrictions, whether those restrictions are economic, cultural, regulatory or otherwise.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Weekly Education Industry Investment Forum Poll

Escalator broken by job seekers at job fair, Source: Dahe dot com

Today you will notice a poll on the sidebar. The question is:

Is there room for the education industry to assist China's graduates or the job placement services industry in China?

Before you answer that, here's some context:

Recent graduates line up at a China job fair

In 2006, around 4.95 million Chinese students graduated college or a professional school. That number rose by 800,000 from 2005, according to a China Daily report. This is a state sponsored China newspaper. I always take those reports with a grain of salt.

If you listen to the way China Daily spins it, apparently they can't all find or keep jobs.

From that article:
Based on the average employment rate of 70 per cent for university graduates upon graduation, more than 1.49 million of them may become jobless next year.

To address the problem, the ministry has asked universities to give top priority to better employment services for graduates in 2007, the spokesman said.

What is the problem(s), and can school services companies address them?

Is it that there is not a targeted enough way to place students or to keep an eye on what they want during schooling? Are there gaps between exit interviews at the graduation level and their performance in the real world? Does the problem arise before graduation? Is there a mismatch between what courses are offered and what works in the industry? In other words, are the courses the right thing for what is needed in the marketplace? Or, could it be that the brightest, something like 20,000 Chinese a year, are going to the States, and more going to other countries for their post secondary work?

Lots of questions.

Here's another view of the China job situation: China's labor shortages with all those graduates keeps some people wondering.

From the article:
The Good - Educational opportunities in China are at an all time high. Teenagers about to leave school have never had it so good, and somewhere in the region of 30% of high-school leavers in the cities will have the option for further study.

The Bad - At the same time, this year will see 20 million new job seekers in China, among both high school and university graduates. They enter the market at a time when the overall world’s economy is drifting downward and they have gone through a rote learning education system that does not equip them for the workplace. Employers regard professionals with 1-2 years as their starting point, not graduates. Graduate unemployment is as common as multiple job offers for experienced hires.

And there is more:

A slightly slower growth might look like a small price to pay for economic stability. But it might be not be enough to sop up the additional new workers, and those laid-off in the event of an export downturn (which appears to be happening). The stock exchange ‘correction’ we have seen lately, plus the slowdown of housing prices around the country will only exacerbate the problem.

That should mean more Chinese going back to school, right?

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Entrepreneurs in Education

Fred Smith started Federal Express. Some people, including his professor, thought he couldn't do it. I've always marveled at the unknown -- at the time -- people being told they can't do something because, well, it hadn't been done before. As if the world is a finite, fully formed, always the same, entity.

Most everyone thought what he wanted to do was impossible—even the professor who gave him a C on the paper he wrote outlining the concept as an undergraduate at Yale University(the professor allegedly noted, “the concept is interesting and well formed, but in order to earn better than a C, the idea must be feasible”). Federal Express went on to become a successful shipping company that changed customer expectations by demonstrating that overnight delivery was possible. And the Postal Service responded by introducing similar services much more quickly than they would have otherwise.

That paragraph comes from The New Schools Venture Fund, which launched a white paper in 2005 on the subject of "Fueling Entrepreneurs in Education."

It's written by fund employees Kim Smith and Julie Landry Petersen and it's basically about the Entrepreneurs in Education territory that is getting increasing amounts of attention internationally and in the US, especially in the worsening economic cycle that we call 2008.

A pullout:

Green Dot Public Schools, a charter management organization in Los Angeles, designed its own employment agreement with its unionized teachers. These innovative new contracts are one-year contracts that can be modified as needs change.

Adaptability and something different. That breeds success.

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Five Answers: Sandy Fivecoat

Today marks the first day we run one of the features that will be a regular appearance on this blog. In the feature, which will run from now until March 2009, we ask an industry professional who is speaking at the Education Industry Investment Forum 2009 five questions about his or her career and industry views. Then, we sit back and enjoy.

We are pleased to announce that some of our first speakers are coming on board.

Sandy Fivecoat, Founder and Ceo of WeAreTeachers, a web-based "knowledge marketplace" for teachers, joins us to explain her company, its vision and what she sees as factors that will shape the industry momentum in the next five years.

EIIF: What does your company do?

WeAreTeachers is the first teacher-driven knowledge marketplace that provides its users and affiliates with web-based tools and a community platform to support teachers of all types as they endeavor to transfer skills and knowledge to others.

WeAreTeachers is an aggregator of stakeholders in the Knowledge Marketplace – providing an online environment for knowledge-oriented companies, associations, and practitioners, and supporting innovation and positive outcomes for each.

EIIF: Where do you imagine your company will be situated in the industry in the next five years?

I think the more relevant question is: ‘Where will the Knowledge Industry’ be in 5 years?

As the global economy becomes dependent on knowledge transfer for survival and growth, we are just at the edge of a big change in what we have traditionally called ‘learning.’

As the growth of online and alternative schooling indicates, traditional Carnegie-unit driven curriculum is only one way to organize schooling. And given failures of traditional schools in meeting the needs of larger and larger segments of the population (especially in high schools), we must explore options.

Second, the students in today’s world are seeking access to information and learning when they need it, versus when a scope and sequence demands it. This is leading to smaller units of learning, versus big lofty curriculum products. Finally, ‘mere mortals’ --even TEACHERS – can now create learning content and are finding ways to distribute or even sell their expertise online.

EIIF: What has been the impact of your particular mission critical work on the industry, either as a whole, or in areas where you have focused?

We are really getting traction with those companies in the knowledge and education space, as they seek to partner with us to begin to realize the promise of social media marketing and direct connection to teachers. It’s been very satisfying and humbling to aggregate so many companies, place them in a rich community of teachers, and help them engage in peer to peer dialogue with these end users.

EIIF: What has been the most powerful influence on your choice to work in education?

As a former teacher and education administrator, I have spent my entire adult career either working directly in education, or working in the private sector helping education systems improve. At this point in my life, I am committed to focusing on TEACHERS – banking on a grass roots, viral, on-line empowerment effort as our best promise for real reform. I am also motivated by the huge number of non-traditional teachers who add value to our culture.

As our population ages, it is clear that lifelong learning in areas like music, yoga, fitness, the arts – are at least as important areas of study as traditional academics.

Finally, I’m motivated by the number and vision of very small entrepreneurial companies who want to make a difference, and need our help to get the good word out!

EIIF: Who in the education industry do you most admire and why do you admire them?

Two answers:

In the education software industry, John Kernan (Lightspan, Jostens, among lots of other things) clearly taught me the most about this industry.

My 8 children and 11 grandchildren, who inspire me daily to keep my focus on education, teachers, and learning!

Visit the EIIF website to register your interest for the 2009 brochure and to review the 2008 event.

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Georgia Schools Chief Wins $1 million

There's more than one way to skin a cat. If your school district is looking for funds, you can always find a place on a game show.

One million dollars goes to the Georgia state school superintendent, Kathy Cox, who will distribute the funds to schools that aid the blind and the deaf in Georgia.

On the show, which was recorded on Aug. 6 in Los Angeles, Ms. Cox, a former high school history teacher, correctly answered 10 questions, all of which were drawn from elementary school curriculums. That took her to the million-dollar question: Who was the longest-reigning British monarch? She answered Queen Victoria.

The toughest question, Ms. Cox said, was the sixth, which drew on fourth-grade world geography: Costa Rica borders two countries. Nicaragua is one. What is the other? She answered Panama.

The New York Times report can be found here. Registration is required.

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Former New York City Schools Chancellor Quits Miami-Dade Board

“Right now we have irreconcilable differences,” the board’s chairman, Agustin J. Barrera, said at a special meeting to discuss Dr. Crew. “There are board members that, no matter what the superintendent does, will never support him.”

Dr. Crew, who did not attend Monday’s meeting, declined to comment. In an interview published Sunday in The Miami Herald, he said, “I feel like I did the best I could.”

Rudy Crew Leaves Miami-Dade County School Board

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Edutopia Reveals Ten Wave of Future Concepts in Education

The blog article is at the Edutopia site.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Privatization Threat or Opportunity in the UK?

A interest group shot across the bow to universities in Britain:

Universities UK (UUK), the umbrella group for vice-chancellors, today urged universities in this country and across western Europe to be aware of the increased competition they face from the private sector.

In its report - Private universities and public funding: models and business plans - UUK warns that American companies which run for-profit companies, such as Kaplan Inc or Apollo, are looking to develop their businesses in the UK and in western Europe. In some cases these firms buy state colleges, in others they work with them."

I don't claim to be expert on the interaction between private commercial interests and private or public universities, so if anyone has anything to add to this, please leave a comment.

The link to the original story is to be found on the Guardian Newspaper site.

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Three Things an Entrepreneur Needs to Thrive in a Mobile World

Will online education create entrepreneurs for America?

Entrepreneur Magazine says that there are six things an entrepreneur needs to make his or her business move. I agree with three of them, and I think that those three speak to the rules that high school students already practice, or are aware of, in this mobile technology world.

They are:

1. Spend money on technology as an investment--not as a cost.
2. Social media is no joke.
3. Mobile technology can boost productivity.

Here's how they play out in a story from Arizona. Almost 27,500 high school students a year use online education, according to the report at KTAR.com.

Students are given an opportunity to split up their time and re-organize their schedules into unconventional parcels of productivity. There may be a future for these kids as entrepreneurs. All an entrepreneur needs is technology, a weird schedule and room to grow.

Four years into it, the Tucson Unified School District program has about 600 students signed up for online learning.

Stuart Baker, TUSD's principal of distance learning, said students likely will experience some form of online learning in postsecondary education, so early exposure is helpful.

``Virtual education is the wave of the future. It's exploding everywhere, and it's being looked to as a real way to deliver education quickly and efficiently to kids all over the world,'' he said. ``I don't know what form it will take ultimately, but it's not going away.''

Seventeen-year-old Ronquillo sees no downside to the choice she made in her sophomore year to go wholly online. It allows her to work full time, and while she initially was wary of computers, she now considers herself solidly technologically literate.

Image courtesy of Darton College site

More Arizona Students "Attend" School on the Web

How do these entrepreneurial rules work in high school?

1. Spending money on your education gives you the feeling that you have put time and yourself into something that is going to make you better in the end. That's always a good ROI.

2. Social media, as any high schooler can tell you, teaches you the value of communicating. Without communicating, we can't learn. And business is about learning.

3. If I am mobile, I can work, when I want to, and how I want to. I focus on the things that bring me enjoyment while I do them. If I can do that at my aunt's house, or at three in the morning, while I listen to the Cure, then that's what I am going to do.

The world looks different when you are allowed to work differently.

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Capella University Sees Revenue and Student Enrollment Rise

Capella CEO Steve Shank

The rise of internet use in America from the late 90s to the present day has meant more people are using the Internet for learning. The trend is set to continue. It has meant great things for Steven Shank, CEO of Capella Education, which runs Capella University, an online degree institution.

Minneapolis-based Capella University, which operates under its parent company, Capella Education Co., continues to see its enrollment increase -- along with its revenue and operating earnings. Capella, which focuses primarily on adult students seeking advanced degrees, has seen its enrollment and revenue grow by 20 to 25 percent per year in recent years.

But online growth in China, Vietnam, Singapore, India and many other countries in Asia outpaces American growth and there are also many more people who could potentially use Internet products and services in the Eastern Hemisphere.

As a thought exercise, would it be useful to think what online universities in the United States could be doing to expand their operations in partnerships with governments and commercial institutions in Asia?

The online growth is staggering there, as more fiber to the home and last-mile digital connections pair up consumers with not only Internet access, but multitudes of digital cable and interactive cable offerings.

For now Capella is concentrating on offering the staff of Fortune 500 companies classes through incentive structures at their companies. This is a brilliant move, because in an economic downturn most people will not want to leave their job, but they would be willing to pay more to educate themselves and boost their chances for promotions.

Story about Capella University, courtesy of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fund Innovation and Improve the Nation

Reading through the news clips, I happen upon this: Ted Mitchell, John Doerr and Corey Booker have penned an opinion piece for the LA Times. The focus is on improving the educational system by funding systems that bring innnovation into our public school systems.

Today, the shame of our cities isn't bubonic plague; it's ignorance. In our urban areas, only one child in five is proficient in reading. On international tests, we rank behind the Czech Republic and Latvia; our high school graduation rate barely makes the top 20 worldwide. As columnist David Brooks has noted, educational progress has been so slow that "America's lead over its economic rivals has been entirely forfeited." Under-education may not end lives the way infectious diseases do, but it just as surely wastes them. For all the hard work of our good teachers, our system is failing to keep pace with the demands of a new century.

In the article, Booker, Doerr and Mitchell show thatthere are examples of how teaching for public education's sake can be rewarding and can help the wider system.

Pay attention to this blog. In the coming weeks we will be bringing interviews with these innovators and showing how private, entrepreneurial led businesses are changing the face of for-profit and public education.

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Apollo Group Stockholder Suit Dismissed

In overturning the verdict, Judge James Teilborg of U.S. District Court in Arizona said the plaintiffs did not prove that their stock losses were caused by material misrepresentations made by the company.

The investors "failed to prove that Apollo's actions caused investors to suffer any harm," the judge wrote. "Therefore, Apollo is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."

The verdict ends a lawsuit that has been up in the air since 2004, and means Apollo will not have to pay stockholders who claimed the group had committed securities law violations.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Open Source Textbooks Challenge Inelastic Demand

Wired magazine has a brief blog post on the innovators at Flat World Knowledge.

In a nutshell, there is a huge, inelastic demand for college texts, even though textbook prices are high. Because of this there is a lot of piracy and a robust secondary market for textbooks -- but not for long, because they are updated every couple of years, rendering old editions virtually worthless.

Flat World's business plan aims to exploit the inefficiencies: Its books are online and free. Instead of charging for content it aims to make money by wrapping content up in "convenient" downloadable and print wrappers and selling those, along with study aides and related items.

Comments on the site are also pithy.

Good way to break one of the rackets of the organized crime syndicate known as academia!

Posted by: anon | Sep 2, 2008 8:42:47 AM

State Sponsored? Are you mad?
If this is not a profitable venture, why would it be acceptable for the government to foot the bill...keeping in mind, government is nothing more than a bunch of bad business men and women, for the most part. This is the kind of illogical thinking that has plunged our nation further and further in to debt. A debt that we soon be unable to overcome. People with the mindset of Mr. or Mrs. "SW" need to evaluate what the governments role in society truly is.
Oh and if it makes money, I suppose it would be a good idea. Let the market decide.

Posted by: Newsboy50 | Sep 2, 2008 9:35:25 AM

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Student Loans Hard to Come By in Arizona

Many of you will know about this funding issue in post secondary for-profit schools, but I am putting this link here to keep the story in view.

Many students heading off to college or vocational schools in coming days will learn a tough, if timely, lesson in economics: The credit crunch has made some education loans harder to get.

"Most of the lenders, if not all of the lenders, are making private loans more difficult," said Fred Lockhart, executive director of the Arizona Private School Association.

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of finaid.org, a well-known, financial-aid Web site, said that about 130 lenders have suspended participation in federal loan programs and that 29 have stopped issuing private education loans.

About 47 percent of families borrow money to help get kids through college, according to a study released Wednesday by lender Sallie Mae and Gallup.

The study affirmed that federal loans are easily the most popular source of borrowing.

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