December 31, 2012

Taser Death: Philip Coleman (Chicago, IL)


Philip O. Coleman, 38, was arrested around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, for beating his 69-year-old mother, injuring her head and legs, police said in a statement. Coleman "became combative" and spit blood on the faces of an officer and a supervisor, police said.

On Thursday, officers were taking Coleman from the 5th District station to court when "he again became combative" and a Taser was used "to gain control of the subject," police said. Coleman was then taken to Roseland Community Hospital where he became physically aggressive. A Taser was used again to gain control. Once admitted, he was given a sedative and later died.

Happy Kwanzaa: Kuumba (Creativity)


Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah): Creativity - Using creativity and imagination to make your communities better than what you inherited.



December 30, 2012

Support Black Male Mentoring Programs

I encourage all 'villagers' to find a way to support Black Male Mentoring Month in January 2013.

Perhaps you can help influence those schools, faith organizations, community organizations, fraternities and sororities in your sphere of influence to create and manage mentoring programs during January 2013 for young Black men. You can find ways to help at the National Cares Mentoring Movement or Mentoring USA.   You will find a number of leaders in the mentoring movement at either of those websites.

Many of pulling together events for Black Male Mentoring Day -- January 19, 2013 -- which also happens to be the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.    Please call the Black Star Project at 773.285-9600 to get an organizing kit to create a mentoring program in your community or your city.

The choice is ours ... either strong, positive Black men will mentor Black boys or somebody else will and we probably won't like the results!

December 29, 2012

Taser Settlement: Brian Cardell (Utah)

The tragedy that began with the unwarranted taser-killing of Brian Cardell in June 2009 has come to an end from a legal perspective. The family of Brian Cardall has settled its wrongful death lawsuit against the officer, police chief and the city.

Documents filed in U.S. District Court state only that the parties entered into a “mutual general settlement agreement and release of all claims,” without disclosing terms of the settlement.

Read the full story.

Obama's Weekly Address: Congress Must Protect the Middle Class from Income Tax Hike

President Obama urges Congress to meet its deadlines and responsibilities, protect the middle class from an income tax hike, and lay the groundwork for future progress on more economic growth and deficit reduction. [Transcript / Video]



Do you think that Congress will find a way to reach an agreement?
Or are we going to go 'over the cliff'?

December 28, 2012

Malik Yoba Tries to Knock Denzel Washington Off 'Mount Rushmore' of Black Male Actors

If you were creating a Mount Rushmore focused on Black male actors ... it is unlikely that Malik Yoba would be on it. On the other hand, I'm fairly certain that Denzel Washington would have his face carved in stone on that mountain. Don't you agree?

Malik hasn't been doing much work over the years. I'm glad that he has a chance to stretch himself with an upcoming role as Martin Luther King Jr. on a BET movie. However, I'm disappointed that he answered a question about Denzel's acting talents by saying:
"No matter how many movies Denzel Washington does, he’s still Denzel in every movie – except for the times he played Malcolm X and Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter. Those were the roles where he got a chance to stretch a little more. I want to be more like Forest Whitaker in Last King of Scotland. I want to stretch a little more, that’s what I want to do. So playing Martin, I had no fear. It was like here’s a real opportunity to do something. I’m still thrilled about it and I can’t wait to see the finished film."
I guess I should appreciate Malik for being candid in his response. I just don't happen to agree with him. Denzel has been playing a wide variety of roles in his movies. The only common denominator is that bad-ass walk of his. Denzel manages to get a couple of shots in every movie that show him simply walking ... because he has the coolest walk in the history of the cinema.

On another note ... who would be the other three Black male actors on Mount Rushmore in your opinion?

Racist Fool in Kentucky Mocks President Obama Holding Watermelon

President Barack Obama is the first president since FDR to win back-to-back elections with over 50% of the nationwide vote. Yet, he is still the recipient of racism and disrespect from a growing number of idiots. Case in point? Some idiot in Kentucky put a life-sized mannequin in his front yard of President Obama holding a slice of watermelon. [SOURCE]
"The way I look at it, it's freedom of speech," said Danny Hafley. "I don't know how other people will take it."
Hafley bought the Obama mask on sale after Halloween and put up the display around the time of November's presidential election. The mannequin, dressed in a grey suit, clip-on tie and blue-collared shirt, stands out near the road in front of Hafley's house.

I was disappointed to learn that his neighbors didn't appear to mind having the racist display on their block ... all except one neighbor:
"If he wants to place it someplace else that would be fine," said the neighbor. "We don't have Black people in this community but I'm sure they travel this road like everybody else does. They could be offended. I don't agree with it."
When will Americans rise up and let their neighbors, co-workers and online friends know that these types of racially-based displays are simply unacceptable?

Old School Friday * René & Angela

René & Angela were an 1980s R&B duo consisting of artists René Moore and Angela Winbush.  Angela met René in 1979, formed the group. The two dated for a brief time in the beginning of their careers.

One of my favorite songs back in the day was Your Smile by René & Angela. This was the first song with Angela singing solo. As it turned out René didn't have the stones to handle Angela's talent. He ended up turning to violence and that was the end of the musical efforts of the career. Unlike Rihanna and Chris Brown ... Angela left René forever.

I always thought that she was singing this song about René when I heard it.  I learned recently that she was thinking about her grandmother as the inspiration for this song.





This was also another song that was great as a slow-jam do end the party. I'm sure that there are some ol' school brothers who used to dream of sharing this song in the background when they were with their lady late at night!



The proof is in the pudding. I've never heard from Rene Moore since the group split up. However, Angela Winbush broke out in 1987 with a #1 ballad called, "Angel"





Learn more about Angela Winbush here.

December 26, 2012

'Django Unchained' is Off the Hook

I was in a sold-out theater on Christmas Day to see 'Django Unchained', starring Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio. Let me just say that this was the best movie that I've seen in many, many years. The diverse crowd in the theater loved it ... we cheered, we laughed and we were shocked. The movie brings it all together in subtle and not-so-subtle ways!



I straight-up recommend this movie for all 'villagers'. It is worth paying retail at the theater instead of waiting to see it on Netflix or Red Box.

As an aside ... I think that Spike Lee is wrong. There is no need to boycott this flick. I'm told that the N-Word is used over 110 times. I was concerned about that factoid before I saw the movie. During and after the movie it dawned on me that if the N-Word was used at all ... it was used appropriately. You simply didn't think that the word was used gratuitously. The bigger concern may have been the graphic violence in the movie. In any case the dialogue in the script was appropriate for the time and place in history.

Samuel L. Jackson had some of the best lines in the movie. Like his role in 'Pulp Fiction' ... he wasn't on the screen very much, but his facial expressions and his talking parts were truly memorable and OUTSTANDING!  He reminded me of the grumpy old Black man in the cartoon series, 'Boondocks'.

Kerry Washington is probably my favorite actress nowadays.  She is making her mark in a current television series called, 'Scandal'.   She has a cameo appearance in 'Django' ... and she plays it well.   My only caution to Kerry is to be careful not to take on the same roles that LisaGay Hamilton used to play for most of the past decade.  Y'all know what I'm talking about...

Anytime you can get Jamie, Kerry, Samuel and Leo in a movie together ... it is bound to be great! Go see the movie and tell me what you think!

December 25, 2012

OURstory: Michael Anderson, NASA African American Astronaut

OURstory must be shared at all times of the year, not just in February. I think it is important that our young people challenge themselves in K-12 with science and math classes. Perhaps it will help if this blog shares examples of African American role models who used their knowledge of science and math to create exciting futures for themselves.

For example, Did you know that a young brother named Michael Anderson was born December 25, 1959, in Plattsburgh, New York. He graduated from Cheney High School in Cheney, Washington in 1977. He received a bachelor of science degree in physics/astronomy from University of Washington in 1981. Later he earned a master of science degree in physics from Creighton University.

He successfully got a job with NASA in December 1994. Anderson flew for over 593 hours in space. One of his spaces flight was in January 1988 on the Shuttle Endeavor.

His last flight was in 2003. Anderson was part of a 7-member shuttle mission launched by NASA on January 16, 2003. Space Shuttle Columbia was on a 16-day mission to research microgravity and other Earth science related experiments.

The seven member crew, David Brown, Laurel Clark, Michael Anderson, Ilan Ramon, Rick Husband, Kalpana Chawla and William McCool died on February 1, 2003 when Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart during reentry.

It was later determined that a piece of foam broke free and struck the shuttles wing during launch, damaging the thermal heat tiles which protect the shuttle from extreme temperatures during reentry into the atmosphere.

Michael Anderson was a hero. He was a role model for all of us. May he rest in peace.

December 24, 2012

'White Privilege' Not Enough to Carry Mitt Romney Into the White House

Mitt Romney is quickly turning out to be one of the worst presidential candidates in the history of the United States. It is also looking more and more like Mitt Romney and his family suffer from a serious case of 'white privilege'. They thought that they deserved to be living in the White House ... and it appears that they were truly stunned when President Barack Obama won the 2012 presidential election.

Now the Romney family is making excuses for the loss. One of the Romney sons, Tagg, tells us that his dad wasn't interested in winning the presidential campaign. [SOURCE]
"He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to ... run," said Tagg — who worked with his mother to persuade Mitt to run for President of the United States. "If he could have found someone else to take his place ... he would have been ecstatic to step aside. He is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them, but he has deep faith in God and he loves his country, but he doesn’t love the attention."
Mitt Romney does have his millions of dollars hidden in those off-shore bank accounts to comfort him ... so there is no need to feel sorry for the guy. Hopefully, his wife, Ann, has stopped crying over the loss ... and she can help the guy comb his hair in the morning!

December 23, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Extend a Holiday Greeting and Thank our Troops

In this week’s address, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and thank our brave troops and their families for their service. The President and First Lady ask the American people to visit JoiningForces.gov to find ways to honor and support our veterans and military families, and say that we must all come together, as we always do, to care for each other during this holiday season. [Transcript / Video]



The Electronic Village endorses this message from the President and First Family. Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year!

December 21, 2012

Taser Lawsuit: La'Reko Williams (Charlotte NC)

Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department (CMPD) doesn't have much luck when it comes to taser lawsuits. They were on the losing side of a $10 million lawsuit in the case of 17-year old Darryl Turner, who died in 2008 after a CMPD officer electrocuted him with extensive use of a taser.

Fast forward to July 2011. Again a CMPD police officer got a little overzealous in their efforts to apprehend 21-year old La'Reko Williams. The officer, Michael Forbes, used excessive, deadly force by electrocuting Williams twice with his taser gun.

Williams died.

His parents filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this week against the city of Charlotte, police and Taser International. The lawsuit calls Tasers potentially deadly weapons and says that CMPD officers should only use them when a confrontation calls for deadly force.

The lawsuit says Williams, who stood about 5 feet, 6 inches and weighed about 145 pounds, was unarmed and presented no threat to the officer. Williams was shocked twice in the chest, suffered cardiac arrest and died within minutes.

After Williams died, police suspended their use of Tasers for six months as they investigated the safety of the weapons. In September 2011, the City Council approved $1.83 million to buy new Tasers.

The new Tasers, which police use today, still shoot out 50,000 volts of electricity to incapacitate suspects, but have features designed to prevent officers from injuring or killing suspects. Most importantly, they automatically cut off after five seconds, even if the officer continues pulling the trigger. Police determined that people who were shocked have died when an officer held down the Taser trigger for too long, and said the new Tasers are safer.

This lawsuit may have ramifications beyond the city limits of Charlotte.

December 20, 2012

Villger Rule #1220: Men and Long Nails


Villager Rule #1220: A man shall not have long fingernails unless he is a wizard.

December 17, 2012

Tim Scott Becomes First Black Senator From the South Since Reconstruction

I see that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley chose Rep. Tim Scott to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate. The nation’s second Indian-American governor appointed the only African American who will be serving in the Senate come 2013.

I don't agree with Tea Party politics or politicians ... but, I have to admit that I ain't mad at either Nikki Haley or Tim Scott. The two of them made history today! Tim Scott is the first Black senator from the South since Reconstruction.

Scott burst onto the national scene in 2010, when he defeated Paul Thurmond in a runoff election for the Republican nomination in the state’s 1st Congressional District. When he won his seat in Congress that November, Scott made history, becoming the first black congressional Republican from the Deep South since Reconstruction.

I encourage all 'villagers' to give him the benefit of the doubt. Take a moment to learn more about Tim Scott.  From all I can see he will represent the citizens of South Carolina much better then Sen. Roland Burris represented the state of Illinois. Anyhow, I 'spose that he and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are going to become good buddies, huh?!

December 16, 2012

President Obama at Newtown Prayer Vigil: 'We Will Have to Change' (Full Transcript / Video)

President Obama traveled to Newtown, CT to meet with the families of those who were lost in Friday's tragic shooting, and to thank first responders for their work.

In the evening, the President spoke at an interfaith vigil for families of the victims, and all families from Sandy Hook Elementary School. He offered the love and prayers of a nation grieving alongside Newtown.



Full transcript of President Obama’s remarks at a Dec. 16 prayer vigil for victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

OBAMA: Thank you.

Thank you, Governor. To all the families, first responders, to the community of Newtown, clergy, guests, scripture tells us, “Do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly, we are being renewed day by day.

“For light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all, so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven not built by human hands.”

We gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults. They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school in a quiet town full of good and decent people that could be any town in America.

Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts.

I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief, that our world, too, has been torn apart, that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you. We’ve pulled our children tight.

And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide. Whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown, you are not alone.

As these difficult days have unfolded, you’ve also inspired us with stories of strength and resolve and sacrifice. We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school’s staff did not flinch. They did not hesitate.

Dawn Hocksprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Russeau, Rachel Davino and Anne Marie Murphy, they responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances, with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care.

We know that there were other teachers who barricaded themselves inside classrooms and kept steady through it all and reassured their students by saying, “Wait for the good guys, they are coming. Show me your smile.”

And we know that good guys came, the first responders who raced to the scene helping to guide those in harm’s way to safety and comfort those in need, holding at bay their own shock and their own trauma, because they had a job to do and others needed them more.

And then there were the scenes of the schoolchildren helping one another, holding each other, dutifully following instructions in the way that young children sometimes do, one child even trying to encourage a grownup by saying, “I know karate, so it’s OK; I’ll lead the way out.”

As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other. You’ve cared for one another. And you’ve loved one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered, and with time and God’s grace, that love will see you through.

But we as a nation, we are left with some hard questions. You know, someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around.

With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves, our child, is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice, and every parent knows there’s nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm. And yet we also know that with that child’s very first step and each step after that, they are separating from us, that we won’t -- that we can’t always be there for them.

They will suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments, and we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear. And we know we can’t do this by ourselves.

It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself, that this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and the help of a nation.

And in that way we come to realize that we bear responsibility for every child, because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours, that we’re all parents, that they are all our children.

This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we’re meeting our obligations?

Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?

Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know they are loved and teaching them to love in return?

Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change. Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, fourth time we’ve hugged survivors, the fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims.

And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and in big cities all across America, victims whose -- much of the time their only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.

We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.

If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try.

In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine.

Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?

Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

You know, all the world’s religions, so many of them represented here today, start with a simple question.

Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose?

We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain, that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that, no matter how good our intentions, we’ll all stumble sometimes in some way.

We’ll make mistakes, we’ll experience hardships and even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace, that is true.

The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves and binds us to something larger, we know that’s what matters.

We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that.

That’s what we can be sure of, and that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Allison, God has called them all home.

For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory. May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort, and may He bless and watch over this community and the United States of America.

December 15, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: Nation Grieves for Those Killed in Tragic Shooting in Newtown, CT

The President says the nation’s thoughts and prayers are with those who lost a loved one during Friday’s tragic shooting in Newtown, CT. [Video / Transcript]


December 14, 2012

6th Annual Blogging While Brown Conference - New York City, June 21-22, 2013

The 6th Annual Blogging While Brown Conference will be in New York City, June 21-22, 2013.

Registration for the conference opens January 1, 2013.

If you would like to be a speaker at the conference, the Call for Ideas will open on January 15th and will likely close on February 1st.

Conference Location: Conference keynotes, workshops and panels will take place at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10037-1801

Tentative Conference Schedule: The pre-conference business of blogging session will open on Friday morning and end on Friday afternoon. Blogging While Brown events will begin Friday evening and go all day on Saturday. Typically, there is an informal Sunday brunch for people waiting to catch their flights home. There will likely be informal social events on Thursday evening as well.


December 6, 2012

Black Tech Digest Seeks to Stomp the Digital Divide

Blacks In Technology recently announced the launch of its new website -- BIT Tech Digest. BIT Tech Digest is the first online technology driven publication featuring articles written entirely by minority technology experts. The new site reflects Blacks In Technology’s continued effort and mission to increase the visibility of the Black technologist by establishing effective communication among Black people in the field to help drive individual growth, development and long-term success in the technology industry.

Greg Greenlee
The BIT Tech Digest features content focused on a variety of technology topics including networking, virtualization, software design and development and professional advancement. The BIT Tech Digest will also highlight technology news and information about today’s minority tech entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Greg Greenlee, founder of the Blacks In Technology community site and the BIT Tech Digest, believes the site will change the perception of how today’s engineers and technologists are visualized by providing an outlet for Blacks and other minority technology professionals and enthusiasts to share their expertise and experience.

BIT Tech Digest was launched as a live Google+ hangout. You can view the recorded event here: BIT Tech Digest Live Launch Event.



You can follow BIT Tech Digest on Twitter: @BITTechDigest

If you’d like more information about the BIT Tech Digest or are interested in sharing your knowledge with the community please contact Greg at info@bitdigest.net.

December 4, 2012

Taser Lawsuit: Family of Robert Neill Wins $900,000 from Mount Joy (PA) City Council

I told y'all that the Mount Joy Borough Police screwed up big-time when they tasered 61-year old Robert Neill back on November 6, 2010. It appears that the Mount Joy Borough Council agreed with me. They approved a $900,000 settlement to the Neill family. [SOURCE]

Neill was tased 15 times by former police Officer Tyson Woods. The pre-judicial electrocution lasted two seconds to 28 seconds - 119 seconds total - during a 10-minute span.

The lawsuit claimed police used excessive force and failed to use or enforce appropriate-use-of-force policies. There was no alcohol or illicit drugs in Neill's system, according to a toxicology screening.

Mount Joy Mayor Mary Ginder notified Woods on April 2, 2012, that he was being fired for violating the police department's use-of-force policy.

A few more $1 million pay-outs should change things when it comes to taser deaths in America, huh?

December 3, 2012

Institute for Responsible Citizenship - Now Accepting Applications

The Institute for Responsible Citizenship is now accepting applications for its two programs. The Washington "core" program welcomes twelve (12) of America’s best and brightest African American male sophomores to Washington for an intensive two-summer experience that includes high-level internships, rigorous academic work, and exposure to some of the nation’s most prominent institutions and individuals.

The Youth Scholar Academy enables talented college students who aspire to careers in teaching to operate a summer enrichment program for high school boys. High-achieving college sophomores are encouraged to apply.

The application deadline is Friday, February 8, 2013.

December 2, 2012

The Education Startup Revolution

Young entrepreneurs take note: as the next post describes, jumping into the education space may be one of the smartest decisions in today’s market. Guest blogger Emma Collins builds on prior posts about IT business opportunities by walking through some of the most important features of the so-called “edupreneurial” landscape and highlighting a couple of new ventures worth paying attention to. Ms. Collins is on staff with MBAOnline, a web magazine for students considering Internet-based education. More information about the MBAOnline's 2012 ranking report, which was just recently published, is available from Emma’s main site.

The Rise of Edupreneurs and the MBA’s 
Infiltration of the Education Market

There was a time not so long ago when education was pretty straightforward. States regulated schools, and students learned according to set curricula; in college, the lecture-lab-exam format was all but universal. The advent of the Internet really has done a lot to shake that up. So-called “disruptive” education technology, whether promoted by large corporations or small businesses and innovators known as “edupreneurs,” has radically changed the landscape for better or worse. Classes are offered online. Apps make it easier than ever before to take notes, manage student debt, and communicate with teachers and professors. Elementary and high school classrooms are increasingly relying on digital technology. That infiltration is on the horizon is not disputed; the lingering question, though, is to what end.

Bringing Education to the Digital Space

Many of the earliest education technology entrepreneurs were corporations. Their main goal was to find ways of using the Internet to turn the hunger for knowledge into palpable profits. Early pioneers in this space—University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, and Capella University among them—received a lot of praise for making higher ed more approachable, not to mention cheaper, than it had ever been before.

As so often happens with such things, though, the market was soon flooded with imitators. The rise of “diploma mills” and illegitimate institutions tarnished the reputation of online schools in a hurry. “There is nothing wrong with schools providing a service and making money from it. And there are a number of for-profit colleges that provide a valuable education and much-needed opportunity to their students. But there are too many for-profit colleges that pressure students to enroll and make promises they cannot keep,” the Chicago Tribune said after evaluating some of the problems of modern online learning.

New Ventures and Market Need for Fresh Ideas

Online universities are still thriving, but are usually only appropriate for a limited sector of society. As technology has improved, however, so has innovators’ creativity and interest in finding new “ins” to the education space. Though it may seem somewhat contradictory, the education market is actually a big one for growth right now. On the surface, there remains a lot of suffering when it comes to budget constraints and international assessment ratings. In many respects, though, these flaws work as a sort of “bait” for crafty innovators.

Unlike for-profit corporations, many rising ventures have been created with the primary goal of actually improving things. “Many of these business owners pair a desire to prosper financially with a genuine sense of mission,” TIME magazine reported in a 2012 survey of new edtech ventures. “They aim to ‘disrupt’ education in productive ways, to introduce tools that will transform the way we learn just as other technologies have transformed the way we work, the way we communicate and the way we entertain ourselves.”

Looking Forward: Promising Ideas for the Future

Some of the newest start-ups aim to remedy defined gaps or existing problems in education. Tioki is one of these. This company uses an online platform to give schoolteachers a uniform and highly visible platform through which they can market themselves and look for competitive work. The site is free for credentialed educators to join, and offers not only an interactive jobs board but also a real-time network of other educators that can be mined for advice, coaching tips, and job leads. Tioki was founded by tech entrepreneurs Brian Martinez and Mandela Schumacher-Hodge, both of whom hold advanced degrees in business and management.

There is also a lot of promise in ventures that look to do something entirely new, like Codeacademy. The academy is free to any interested Internet user, and essentially promises to teach the basics of computer coding and network management through a series of self-paced video lectures and tutorials. It was founded in New York by Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski, self-described hackers looking for a way of turning their passion into a useful skill for others.

The entrepreneurial side of education seems to be growing every day. While there remains some skepticism when it comes to the longevity or overall value of many of the newest services out there, there is little doubt that changes are coming. According to most reports, we are now only at the beginning of the wave—which sets things up for an interesting future indeed.