Hell, even coal fires are a bad idea, they’ll teach the young to appreciate Big Carbon:
By 2020, technology in the classroom is predicted to be a $21 billion industry. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have pledged to donate $45 billion in Facebook shares to bring their personalized learning to other educational spaces. Meanwhile, Bill Gates is committing $300 million to similar causes, and Netflix’s Reed Hastings wants to give $11 million to personalized math software.
But there is reason to second-guess this opportunistic philanthropy, especially with Betsy DeVos as an outspoken proponent of this so-called personalized learning, i.e. tech-enriched education. It’s becoming clear that company interests are intended to groom loyal customers, sometimes at the sake of effective tutelage. And while teachers have begun to criticize their new roles as entertainer, classroom silence has become a measure of an app’s success. These are just a few of the reasons Silicon Valley’s role is in serious need of examination.
Take Google as an example. Right now, the majority of public schools rely on Google’s Chromebooks. The laptops now host half the nation’s primary and secondary students, with over 30 million students using Google’s educational applications. At a cheap $30 per student and with a suite of free online applications, it may seem like an altruistic move on Google’s part. However, all of Google’s services remain free because of advertisements and the data the company tracks from users’ online meanderings. This has led many to argue that its benevolent image is only as good as the promise not to track student data. Otherwise, Google’s educational enterprise allows the company to benefit from its collection of adolescent data mines.