School Board Issues
The use of powerful cloud-based services like Google Docs and Khan Academy are becoming more and more common in the classroom, which also connects students with the big data industry. What do you think about this evolution in education?
I believe it’s a necessary evil. This really started in the 1980s when IBM and Apple started combating to try to capture schools to use their technology. Apple still does it. I see it extensively in remote Alaska when I taught out there. Everybody uses Apple because they can get them cheap or free.
But getting to, I think, what the point of your question is – the danger is, of course, now they’re capturing a consumer class that they’re hoping to exploit for the rest of their lives. And we need to make sure that, to the best of our ability, when we partner with these organizations, the privacy of our children and all of our citizens is protected and that what we use in the classroom is not exploited by these third parties.
I wasn’t aware of it. We went to a government class this last week and I was actually pretty impressed that there were laptops or Google Chromebooks for every student. They have their own logins, so everything was on there. The collection of data – and I believe the Google Chromebooks actually collect more data than most – I’m not sure that’s a good thing or a bad thing at this point. I’d have to research and look into it a little more.
I’m a big advocate of … (I’ll) plug the Khan Academy directly, they’re really cool. One of the main advantages is that you can adopt their curriculum for free and make great use of it. The student can learn at an independent rate. That takes the teacher off the stage and makes them a side player in the classroom, which allows a child that has a particular detail that they’re stuck on to focus on that and actually learn it before the class is forced to move on. And likewise, somebody that is advanced in that particular subject can move forward at their natural rate. So, something like the Khan Academy is great.
As far as big data, that doesn’t seem as such a concern in that particular aspect because, um, the data gets anonymized and it gets put into a larger pool and it’s not so individualized. But the learning can be individualized, and I think that’s an absolute key. I think that embracing the technology is absolutely essential. We’re spending a lot of money on new curriculums every year and I think that this could be a cost-saving measure as well as an education-enhancing measure. I think embracing the technology is good.
It’s here to stay. We all use it as adults. Our children really need to be digitally literate, because they have to know, “Who put that out there? What is their background?” So they can be smart consumers of the web and have safety.
Our three high schools were just re-accredited and part of the plan was we’re behind on technology services to our kids, and in order to keep our accreditation going we need to update that. It’s one of the priority things to do.
I think that the evolution of education with these programs is important. Having data at our fingertips is making the society more informed overall.
I personally use Khan Academy a lot with my kids at home. I think it’s a great resource for teaching, especially math education but also some of the science curriculum that they have associated with it. I know that the schools use Google Docs. I’ve experienced that at the high school classroom where the students were all working on those candidate profiles and, as I was standing there, I was watching the words pop up as other students across the room were editing the other candidate’s profile.
I think these things are important and we need to encourage our education system to continue to embrace those types of technologies because technology isn’t going to go away. It’s going to continue to be used and we need to make sure our students are comfortable with those types of technologies and they’re ready to use them when they enter the workforce.
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