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We Really Shouldn’t Let Silicon Valley into Our Schools

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By 2020, record in the classroom is likely to be a 21 billion dollar industry.  Mark Zuckerberg and his partner Chan have affianced to present $45 billion dollars in Facebook shares to bring their personalized training to other educational spaces. Meanwhile, Bill Gates is committing $300 million to identical causes, and Netflix’s Reed Hastings wants to give $11 million to personalized math software. But there is reason to second theory this opportunistic philanthropy. In fact, it would be simply daft to not doubt what else is going on here, generally with Betsy DeVos as an outspoken proponent to this supposed personalized learning. It’s apropos transparent that company interests are dictated to husband constant customers, infrequently at the consequence of effective tutelage. And while teachers have begun to criticize their new role as entertainer, strangely, classroom overpower is a magnitude of an app’s success. These are just a few of the reasons since Silicon Valley’s role, which is surprisingly self-serving, is in vicious need of examination.

Take Google as an example. Right now, the infancy of open schools rest on Google’s Chromebooks. The laptops now horde half the nation’s primary and delegate students, with over 30 million students using Google’s educational applications. At a inexpensive $30 dollars per tyro and with a apartment of free online applications, it may seem like an charitable pierce on Google’s part. However, all Google’s services sojourn free since of advertisements and the information the company marks from users’ online meanderings. This has led many to disagree that its good picture is only as good as the guarantee to not lane tyro data. Otherwise, Google’s educational craving allows the company to advantage from its collection of youth information mines, portion its corporate resources early and bathing children’s faithfulness to its brand.

Technology’s plenty participation is moving at a speed that puts movement before implication, definition that no one can contend for certain what technology’s impact will be on today’s children. Research so distant paints a paradoxical landscape, with some arguing that innovative apps are improving test scores, while many teachers find students’ classroom courtesy faintly shrinking — an issue that is already autochthonous to stream schooling. Yet, what seems many surpassing is technology’s role in changeable both training outcomes and style.


Jonathan Rochelle, executive of Google’s preparation app program, controversially pronounced when asked about his own children’s education, “I can't answer for them what they are going to do with the square equation. we don’t know since they are training it. And we don’t know since they can’t ask Google for the answer if the answer is right there.” Rochelle highlights how technology, and the internet in particular, are changeable tyro expectations. The answers are approaching to come quick, where sustained vicious exploration is de-emphasized and transposed with Wikipedia research.

Recently, The New York Times explored the ways in which tech companies justice these partnerships with school districts using strategy which the opening likens to the curative industry’s courting of doctors, where million-dollar contracts are effectively sealed after a series of high-profile dinners and business trips. There are beef dinners, costly conferences and all-out courtship that is evil function of tech companies, as they strive for the event to turn a school district’s digital ambassador.

These district-contracts are no tiny investment for an already unsymmetrical and underfunded open school system. For instance, the Times essay covers the $205 million multi-year agreement that Baltimore School District sealed with Daly computers to squeeze HP’s now gone Elitebook Revolve. At the same time, many districts face a predicament of infrastructure, where water in some schools runs brownish-red and mercantile event is grossly divided.

Silicon Valley now humbles its picture as teacher, giving underserved students larger possibility in the future workforce. Yet there are also many examples where classroom record merely increases the mercantile inconsistency between abounding and bad schools. Summit Public Schools, Mark Zuckerberg’s semi-successful licence network, is one instance of the polarized choices school districts have when it comes to classroom technology. While Zuckerberg’s licence boasts of its innovative module and wood-varnished desks, many other schools are anticipating themselves with inclination that have fast turn archaic and amidst bill cuts.

So far, the indication of “personalized-learning,” i.e. tech-enriched education, is tough to imitate successfully, generally once it loses its big funders. In Baltimore, relatives are already angry that their children’s Elitebook Revolve is blank pieces to the keyboard and experiencing battery failures. At the same time, the district’s superintendent was suggested to have done 65 out-of-state trips (estimated at $33,000 dollars) to tech conferences, where he was a arrange of open school ambassador, while in the marketplace for a contract.

So while Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have certified they particularly extent how much record their own kids are unprotected to, their code ambassadors are trying to keep the courtesy of school superintendents, travelling good lengths and spending tiny fortunes to win district contracts. They know such faithfulness is an intelligent investment. There is no doubt that record in the classroom will continue to grow over the next decades, leaving preparation with the ability for creation as good as devastation. However, there is challenging reason to use calm before changing all manners of the doctrine and we should direct district total and educators sign carefully.  


Sophie Linden is an editorial partner at AlterNet’s bureau in Berkeley, CA. 

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