EdTech Positions Itself for Boom Times
The Ed-tech industry is jumping into the gap left by closed schools during the coronavirus crisis. Many companies are offering temporary free options for students to use while their schools are closed. We can give them credit for offering a service for free during a crisis, but cynicism from past experience forces me to question whether it's being done based on altruism or whether they are using the crisis to "hook" consumers on their products.
We in Indiana are well acquainted with the failure of virtual charter schools. I understand that everyone is forced into virtual schools right now -- everyone except those who have little or no access to the internet -- but the forced virtual schooling has only reinforced the importance of face to face relationships between teacher and student.
1: Teacher-student eye contact is important. "Eye contact makes so much difference: if students feel that the teacher is actually talking and engaging with them, they are more likely to engage with the teacher and listen to what they’re saying."
2: Working at home has too many distractions. It's hard enough for adults to transition to a work-from-home situation, yet we're expecting our students to be able to change from the interaction of a live classroom to a disconnected digital environment. "...actually productively working from home can be challenging for some professionals."
3: Students benefit from live, small-group work. "Learning in small-group contexts enhances students' overall learning experiences in several ways. For example, it can...address gaps in students' knowledge...provide opportunities for students to receive feedback on their learning...help students develop skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, interpersonal relations, teamwork, team leadership, and lifelong learning skills..."
Oh, and if you haven't read The Shock Doctrine or other books by Naomi Klein, then this is the time to look them up. [Check out Hoopla or Libby. Most public libraries allow you to check out ebooks or audiobooks using one or both of those apps. Hoopla works as a phone/tablet app or online using your computer. Libby is a phone/tablet app only.]
Here's a look at how the EdTech sector is positioning itself to "reimagine" education...
Ed-tech Startups and Investors Shift Into Overdrive Amid Coronavirus Crisis
Like drug dealers..."Here's a free sample. Once you're hooked we'll sell you more..."
March 19, 2020
Many educational technology startups have shifted into overdrive, providing services free of charge, both out of moral concern and in hopes of enlisting future paying customers. Several startups have even raised funding amid the crisis.
The First Taste is Free: Ed Tech Follows Drug Dealer Sales Techniques with Schools During Coronavirus Crisis
Steven Singer who blogs at Gadfly on the Wall makes the analogy to drug dealers clearer..
April 4, 2020
How much does it cost?”
Teachers, parents, students and education activists are wary of educational technologies in the classroom, and research backs them up. Ed-tech has been shown to widen socioeconomic divides, it hasn’t lived up to its promise of increasing academic gains, and – perhaps most tellingly – Silicon Valley executives restrict their own children’s use of technology and send them to tech-free schools.
“Nothing. It’s free.”
These for-profit corporations are offering limited time promotions – they’re providing additional services for free that would normally be behind a paywall.
Districts are jumping at the chance. They’re encouraging teachers to use apps, services and software that have never been tried before locally in an attempt to abide by continuity of education guidelines written by departments of education.
“That’s right. Absolutely free. But if you want some more, next time I’ll have to charge you a little something…”
So when the pandemic is over and classes eventually are reopened, a great deal of the technology that schools used to get through the crisis will no longer be on the house.
The Ed Tech Vultures Circle
Peter Greene who blogs at both Curmudgucation and Forbes, includes a link to an older article for the business community about the benefits of face to face business meetings as opposed to online.
March 23, 2020
My email is filing up with pitches from more companies than I've ever heard of, all variations on "Your readers (aka our prospective customers) would love to hear about our cool product that is just the thing for dealing with the current pandemic crisis." While I am sure that some companies sincerely believe they have help they can offer at this time, I am equally sure that those companies are not trying to wring a bunch of client-building PR out of it. I'm seeing these pitches because I'm an education blogger at Forbes.com--if these things are coming to me, then the big-time education journalists must be drowning in the stuff...
As school closures drag on, there are two schools of thought on the ed-tech incursion. The ed-tech vultures of Coronavirus Katrina are sure that once pushed into using the products, teachers, parents and students will fall in love and never want to go back. Others suspect that once forced to deal with this stuff, students, teachers and parents will rediscover everything there is to love about traditional live-action 3D education.
Not to say that some of these tools may well turn out to be useful in the weeks ahead. Time will tell. In the meantime, the ed-tech vultures are circling, hoping that the current crisis will provide them with a bounteous feast.
How The Ed-Tech Industry is Trying to Profit From COVID-19
March 23, 2020
Want to cut costs? Put one teacher—or an assistant—in charge of fifty or so students, seated in front of their own screens, moving through pre-packaged curriculum one personalized step at a time.
Better yet, just keep kids at home. Let them attend virtual schools or plow through lessons without a teacher on hand.
For ed-tech’s innovators, COVID-19 is an opportunity to experiment with tech-driven, less labor-intensive schooling options. But, as Watters points out, education is much more than the simple delivery of instruction or the mastery of certain skills.
Instead, schools serve as community hubs and nutrition centers, as well as safe spaces for students and families left reeling by inequality, housing instability, and the general insecurity that many live with today.
Like Vultures, They’re Still Planning to End Public Schools and a Professional Teaching Workforce!
It's not just EdTech, either. There are those who have spent years and careers trying to bring an end to the public schools -- Bill Gates, Charles Koch, Laurene Powell Jobs, Jeb Bush, Betsy DeVos. They're looking at this pandemic as an opportunity. This is a must-read by Nancy Bailey!
April 11, 2020
There’s a movement underfoot to end the way children learn. Look carefully at who says “we need to reimagine” or “this is the time to reassess” schools. These can be signals from those who’ve led the charge to dismantle public schools for years. Like vultures, they’re scheming how to use this pandemic to put the final stamp of success on their privatization agenda...
No one denies the importance of technology, but all-technology and a loss of public schools, will omit the rich learning experiences that all children deserve. No proof can be found that all online instruction works. It will leave children and the nation at risk.
While it’s understandable that public schools will face hurdles when they return, we must ensure that a democratic public education will continue to serve the children for which it was originally designed. That funding will address learning driven by professional teachers and not be for those who seek to cash in on our students.