Ed tech, privatization and plunder

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

As much as I love the revolutionary potential of technology in education, I understand why some of those who care about public education and public universities worry about privatization and plunder.

Where I want to see the potential for intelligent use of data to drive better student outcomes, others see an unnecessary invasion of student privacy driven more by profit motives than quality concerns. I listen to Bill Gates speak about productive uses of educational technology and can't help but be impressed by his turn to philanthropy, through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Others seem to see the foundation as a front for corporate and political interests determined to undermine public education and steer profits to private entities, including Microsoft.

It would be easier for me to maintain my optimism if not for some ugly facts, like the recent cynical moves from the Florida legislature. "In 2011, the Legislature made it a requirement for all high school students to complete at least one course online, creating a guaranteed market for online learning services," explains the Miami Herald, and now the other shoe is dropping as the state cuts back per-pupil funding for the publicly operated Florida Virtual School while creating opportunities for private businesses.

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