Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Digital technologies to improve learning ?

"The digital technologies clearly stand out as hugely important in their potential to drive effective learning into the future. Highly persuasive research evidence from studies around the world confirms that the digital technologies merit a much more central role in learning."

"In guidance for Curriculum for Excellence, the technologies context of ICT to enhance learning was an appropriate concept and scale of ambition in its time. However, in light of the pace of educational, social and technological change, that role now needs to evolve to recognise the huge potential of the digital technologies to improve learning."

"This report argues that the digital technologies need to be given a much more central role in learning and teaching. These technologies need to be recognised as more than an enhancement to learning, and offer a key resource for early years and school practitioners."

Tying children to computers will allow data to be gathered from them with every key stroke. Here`s a word of warning about digital technologies in the classroom:

"No matter how much our existing stores of data and its scientific analysis reveals that poverty and attending social problems are key sources of the difficulty many schools and communities face, no matter how much our existing stores of data and its scientific analysis reveal the disintegrating effects of funding cuts and school closings, no matter what the facts are, the Doctors of Reform continue to prescribe the same medicine despite the fact that the patient is now on life support as a result of their "help."

"So, what does "data-driven decision making" actually mean, if it doesn’t mean basing policy on research? What exactly is this federally mandated approach about?"

"As I continue work for this "big data" series, the meaning of "data-driven decision making" has become much clearer: it means removing decision-making power from the practice setting. The key to the present "data-driven" agenda is "big data" and the algorithms that are developed to make sense of this data. This issue here is not big data per se, but the ideology the aim that guides the development and use of that technology."

"Algorithms using very large cloud-based education datasets, containing information that has been gathered on us, our children, our friends and our fellow co-workers, largely without our consent, will be used to make decisions "for us." Where ever a teacher or principal once used professional judgment, based on her classroom observations, tests, knowledge of students and the community, etc., learning analytics will be flown in take over. Like drones, these "personalized learning" systems will be controlled from a far away office, possibly in another country, and likely guarded by a private security firm. Its operators will know little to nothing about education, and absolutely nothing about the children and teachers they lord over."
"The "Big Data" McKinsey report cited in Part 1 makes this aim clear. They write that big data will be used to "replace … human decision making with automated algorithms..." "Of course, the decisions to be replaced with algorithms are not those of executives. They deliberate, not only based on information, but ultimately based upon what serves their interests. Data-driven decision making works so that no one in the practice setting will make the "wrong decision" because the framework for decision making is tightly controlled by those who control the data. No worries that the teacher or principal might make a decisions that would interfere with the bottom line. No worries that educators might decide something in the student’s interest, despite its cost."

"Yes, big data may enable better decision making. The question is, better decisions for whom? Does anyone really believe that their interests are served by being excluded from decision making about things that directly affect them, with their will, their agency, replaced by an algorithm? Does anyone really believe a computer and 400 data points (the number of data points reportedly used by inBloom) are a substitute for conscious human beings working together in a particular historical and cultural moment? Teachers and students make thousands of decisions every minute in a classroom, a process that cannot be replaced by a machine, because decision making properly understood requires consciousness and an aim!...."

"Big data-driven decision making means everyone is to be singularly mobilized on the basis of data from test scores and other types of "benchmarks". Simply put, data-driven decision making is the pseudo-clever, Harvard Business School-esque moniker for teaching to the test."

"This regime does not need real teachers to accomplish the task of teaching to the test; computers and McPearson classroom behavior compliance management drones will do just fine. Hence the effort to reduce the requirements for becoming a teacher."

"Seen in this light, the scripted lessons, the Core aligned modules, and robotic instructional videos, are not aberrations, the result of poor implementation of a good idea. The Core standards, Core curriculum and Core assessments have all been taken care of for educators by non-educators; few decisions remain for educators to make. Schools are becoming mazes, where students and teachers are to chase the data cheese, and "do nows." The agenda to establish massive student sorting, ranking and tracking apparati based on student potential for "added value", calculated on the basis of their "personal characteristics" as represented in the massive data cloud, is hidden by the glowing utopian reform rhetoric. But nothing could be less personal than "personalized learning" via big data regimes."

"Thus, this is not about educators using data to improve teaching and learning; it is about regulating those working in the practice setting, about mechanizing that work so that virtually (pun intended) anyone could do that work, thus vastly reducing the cost in terms of salaries and benefits, making more funds available to the techno-sharks "driving" reform. This is conscious work to reduce the quality of education."

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