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

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Weingarten Gets Teacher Union on the Tech Bandwagon

Data mining is big business and your children will be fueling profits for your use of "free ware." Lesson number 1: nothing is free about freeware.

This email just arrived in my inbox:
Leonie Haimson warns us that a new business that will provide a portal to on-line lessons will be able to data-mine the children's responses:
On Sat, Oct 4, 2014 at 3:19 PM, Leonie Haimson <leonie@att.net> wrote:
I’d like to contact Randi W. about this; please all of you express your concerns and propose questions.  The reality is that most “free-ware” that will this will encourage teacher to use in the classroom is actually paid for with info gotten directly through data-mining kids.  

Thanks, Leonie

In a move that could help expand access to free online instructional materials for thousands of U.S schools—and may signal a shift in the sometimes-rocky relationship between the education-technology industry and classroom educators—rising startup company Clever has joined forces with the 1.6-million member American Federation of Teachers.
The partnership is one of several new "integrations" with creators of free educational apps and Open Education Resources, or OER, announced by San Francisco-based Clever in recent weeks. Teachers at the 27,000 schools currently using the company's services will now be able to freely access, with a single login and password, everything from high-powered web-based graphing calculators to high-tech physics simulations to the thousands of free, teacher-generated instructional materials that have been curated online at Share My Lesson, the AFT's free online lesson-sharing site. 
For schools awash in educational software and apps, the new agreements mean that managing dozens of separate usernames and passwords for both students and teachers no longer needs to be a significant barrier to classroom use of free open education resources.
For creators of OER, the partnerships could mean greater use of their materials and a more level playing field with the creators of paid educational software, many of which have already established connections with Clever or one of the handful of other companies offering "single-sign on" technology to schools. Clever has waived the fees it typically charges paid software programs to selected applications (including Share My Lesson), that are completely free to schools.  
And for AFT President Randi Weingarten, the new relationship between her 98-year old trade union and a two-year-old Silicon Valley hotshot is a tangible demonstration of the growing recognition within the ed-tech industry that teachers aren't going away anytime soon.
"We're starting to see fewer entrepreneurs going around teachers and instead starting to say, 'How can we talk to them to find out what they really need?'" Weingarten said in an interview.

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