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Students say remote education isn't the same

Students forced to take online classes during the pandemic have filed nearly 100 class-action lawsuits against their colleges and universities, demanding partial tuition reimbursement for failing to deliver the quality of education students had initially payed for. And while the majority of colleges have rejected the students’ demands for their money back, claiming that students are being taught the same curriculum they would have received through in-person classes and are still earning credits towards their degrees, students argue that the online classes are poor substitutes for the education experience universities had promised them at the time of payment. “We can literally get the same education that CU is currently offering from YouTube at the cost of an internet bill,” one student said. Betsy Foresman has more.

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What is ransomware doing to schools?

The public school system in Yazoo County, Mississippi, last week revealed that it paid a company $300,000 to help recover data that had been encrypted and stolen in a ransomware incident. In other words, the school district became the latest ransomware victim to pay its attacker’s demands. But as threat intelligence analyst Allan Liska of the security firm Recorded Future pointed out Tuesday, that $300,000 payment represents about 1.5% of the Yazoo County schools’ entire $19.5 million annual budget. It's also but one in an ongoing spate of attacks against learning institutions. And experts say the end users there are poorly equipped to manage the threat. Benjamin Freed has the full story over on StateScoop.

U. Wisconsin taps learning analytics

The University of Wisconsin, Madison implemented data analytics tools to ensure students are learning from their classes, which has become especially important to assess student engagement in online learning during the pandemic, UW’s student learning team said in an event last week. The university’s Direct Evidence of Student Learning initiative allows instructors better understand how students are doing in their classes, according to the university. And having real-time data on student performance allows instructors to take immediate action to help students who are struggling in class at a time when many universities are concerned over student engagement with online learning during the pandemic, according to institutional surveys. “Faculty need to know that students are learning,” said the university's Saundra Solum. Betsy has the story.

HBCUs get $1M for digital-skills training

In its latest move to promote racial equity, Google has announced it’s investing $1 million in the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to develop digital-skills workshops at historically Black colleges and universities. The nonprofit group, which provides scholarships and job readiness training to students at HBCUs around the country, will help Google design a digital-skills program with the goal of reaching 20,000 students by next fall. Called the “Grow with Google HBCU Career Readiness Program,” training will include subjects like design thinking, project management and brand building — but also soft skills, like communication and running effective meetings. “Whether you’re going to Ohio State or you’re going to Spelman, the reality is workforce skills aren’t necessarily taught in the classroom,” said Andrea Horton, chief programs officer at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Colin Wood reports.

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