Rupert Murdoch wants K-12 big data. NC district says YES!

Data-driven instruction FTW?

Amplify tablet

News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS) subsidiary Amplify is selling more than 15,000 tablets to Guilford County—the third-largest school district in North Carolina. One of Amplify's internal mantras appears to be “DATA: That’s what I want!”—which is worrying.

“The data belongs to the district,” says Amplify. But, in IT Blogwatch, bloggers think this isn't the right way to spend scarce public resources, and wonder whether Murdoch's is the right company to trust.

You get a tablet. You get a tablet. Everybody gets... Carlo Rotella:

Every student and teacher in 18 of Guilford County’s 24 middle schools [will] receive one, 15,450 in all, to be used for class work, homework, [and] educational games.


Joel Klein, the chief executive of Amplify and an executive vice president of News Corporation...who was chancellor of New York City’s public schools from 2002 to 2011 [says] our schools are already broken. ... “K-12 isn’t working,”...characteriz[ing] current debates about education as “ideological, not evidence-based.” ... By next fall the company intends to have its products in middle schools across the country.


[The] tablet helps make personalization possible. It provides immediate feedback to the student and to the teacher, who can then make timely decisions. ... The teacher’s tablet also has an app blocker and monitoring functions...and a one-touch classroom-control feature to lock their screens, replacing whatever was on them with...“Eyes on Teacher.”


Are our overwhelmed, besieged, haphazardly recruited, variably trained, underpaid, not-so-elite teachers, in fact, the potential weak link in Amplify’s bid to disrupt American schooling?  MORE

Dylan Tweney read Rotella's article "with mixed feelings":

The Amplify tablet is a 10-inch device running a modified version of Android 4.2 “Jelly Bean.” ... The cost is $199 per year for the Wi-Fi-only model, or $325 per year for the version that includes 4G data connectivity, both with a 3-year contract. [But] the North Carolina school district...probably negotiated a substantial volume discount. ... The goal of the Amplify tablet is to teach children via engaging games...through a curriculum set by the teacher, helping them learn at their own pace. does appear that a big part of Amplify’s business is figuring out how to...use the data generated by all those tablet-using...students. ... Is all that data collection a good thing? Not everyone agrees. ... Beyond data collection, there are other concerns.


It’s not the first time that someone has attempted to [do this]. One Laptop per Child has long aimed at a similar goal. ... But OLPC has not met with widespread success. ... Can a media conglomerate succeed...where a group of idealistic MIT-led world changers have not?  MORE

But this anonymous coward is less nuanced:

What we really need is well paid and highly motivated teachers with small class sizes. Not yet another way for students to play angry birds.

Of course the ones making decisions know this, but they're happy taking the tech sector money. And a class full of little kids with tablets make good press and website pictures.  MORE

Lawrence Bird wonders what "problem" we're trying to "fix":

Please stop doing it for the children because everything you do sets them back even further. ...students pre WWII were better educated in every discipline. The US has sunk hundreds of billions of "fix" education with absolutely no positive results. Perhaps it was not broken in the first place.  MORE

However, MacTO disagrees, pointing to the statistics:

[That's] because people dropped out of school. ...the graduation rate had been consistently increasing from 10% to 55% between the wars and there were a substantial number of drop-outs as early as the elementary grades.  MORE

Meanwhile, P. Lopez points to the atrium pachyderm:

Rupert Murdoch? Will they only be allowed to visit the Fox News site for current event assignments?  MORE

TIL the early history of audio recording, via peter303:

Edison promoted phonograph as teaching aid. Said pre-recorded lectures would revolutionize education. Every home should have one.


Edison originally invented the phonograph as a means of cramming more information onto a telegraph. You'd record message on a phonograph, send them at high speed across the wire, record them at the other end, and play back at human readable speeds.  MORE

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