"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, March 30, 2013

With "LiveSchool," Total Surveillance and Compliance Are Just a Swipe and Click Away

"The best practice is to record data in the moment. Why? Because it will be immediately available to your colleagues, and it ensures that no behaviors-good or bad-go unrecognized." --LiveSchool promotional material

How does a KIPP or other corporate reform school teacher, with a 60-80 hour work week, keep track of every word spoken, every snort or snicker, every fake fart, every trip to the bathroom and how long it took for every student, every failure to "track" the teacher, sit like a robot, or mindlessly nod yes like a Jim Jones acolyte in the jungles of Guyana?

Well, it took a former KIPP teacher and a former KIPP COO to turn this kind of a dystopian possibility into the technological gold mine.  Think of it:  everywhere there are poor kids in corporate reform schools, there is a need for constant surveillance and total compliance:
KIPP is one of 9 Nashville schools already using LiveSchool. The Achievement School District, a nationally recognized initiative dedicated to turning around Tennessee’s lowest-performing schools, is another prominent client. In the last eight months, use of LiveSchool behavior tracking software has surged, from 3 to 45 schools.
Here's more from the FAQs at LiveSchool:

Can I record multiple behavior points at once?Yep! LiveSchool offers the most efficient interface on the market for recording behavior data, period. You can record multiple behaviors for multiple students in one fell swoop. 
Our school has its own behavior rubric already. Can we import it to LiveSchool?You bet. If you already have school-wide behavior management systems, LiveSchool can help you automate and streamline them. That includes importing your behavior rubric as is. 
Can we run "student bank accounts" using LiveSchool?LiveSchool has a full-featured behavior bank for your school. We have heard amazing stories about what goes wrong with paper-based behavior bucks. Step into the 21st century by moving your behavior "cash" to a centrally managed bank that puts teachers in control. 
What is LiveSchool's "deposit" feature?By enabling LiveSchool's "deposit" feature, you can create a strong incentive for students to bring home weekly behavior reports to their parents. Here's how it works: students bring home weekly "paychecks" to be reviewed and signed by a parent. The student returns the signed paycheck to a teacher, who deposits the check into the student's account in LiveSchool. Students don't earn their rewards points unless a parent signs!
App developer and former KIPP teacher, Matt Rubenstein, was recently successful in shaking loose $1.65 million from a Nashville venture capital group for further development and marketing of LiveSchool:
The product, created by former KIPP teacher Matt Rubinstein, allows teachers to track student behavior in real-time saving them on average two hours of data entry per day, according to the company. 
“The research is in,” said Rubinstein. “When student behavior improves, scores go up. Schools across the country are looking for tools to help track and improve behavior.” 
Joining in the round were the Nashville Capital Network along with its affiliated Tennessee Angel Fund; Solidus Company; Rick Theobald, former COO at KIPP Nashville; and Steve Butler, technology executive and a former board member at STEM Prep Academy in Nashville.

The possibilities are endless, according to the whales who are backing this venture:
With more than 3 million teachers in about 100,000 U.S. public schools, the market for classroom management tools is $500 million to $1 billion, Chambless said. "There is a tremendous opportunity for LiveSchool's core product to capture a meaningful market share." 
LiveSchool benefits teachers by shaving time spent on logging in data — a task that took his colleagues at KIPP about two hours a week, Rubinstein said, adding that the prototype at KIPP led to teachers tracking twice as much data, leading to more information for parents and administrators. 
The software allows students to better understand what's expected of them and rewards them for good behavior through "behavior bucks," which can lead to field trips and other incentives. It also builds financial literacy for students as they manage their accounts and determine how to spend earnings.

Gives Freire's banking model of educational repression a whole new dimension, in hi-def, yes??

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