Don't let anyone tell you that you do not have the right to ask - you do.
Education writer, Anthony Cody, has left Education Week and is writing his own blog, Living in Dialogue. Anthony is a gifted thinker and his work is worthy reading. He has guest bloggers on occasion and this piece by high school teacher, Mary Porter, is very good and very troubling. Her thesis?
Teachers must protect student agency and identity from the “templated self” demanded by edtech entrepreneurs, cloud based corporate products, and data-fixated institutions.
As you read it, ask these questions:
- who owns student data? Because increasing there is "ownership" of your child's data even without your knowledge. I have been reading some e-mail between various entities working on the City's Preschool for All program and I find that there is a lot of data-sharing going between groups. Meaning, Group A may have asked OSPI for this data. Group A then goes and gives that data to Groups B and C, as they may all be working on the same topic OR Group C would find it useful to have that data even if not working on that topic. (I'll post some of these. Everyone is just so chatty and cozy over sharing of data they have obtained.)
Here's where I see the problem. Most of the data appears to be public data BUT the hitch is that many times a district may have not told parents or the public about data they got from signing students up to an online program. Or not told the public they did a limited survey but they have results and data and if you are one of the few entities to be told this data exists, well, just ask for it.
Meaning, you can't ask for data that you don't know exists. Sure you can do a public disclosure request but those are only as good as the specifics given to the public disclosure officer.
- so many of these "helpful" programs that schools/districts sign up for come with giving data to the company. The district doesn't just buying the software for its own uses and only the district gets the data from its students - the company does as well.
- these "helpful" programs also have a learning curve (see teachers) and even ask teachers to fill out questionnaires. In short, both students and teachers may be guinea pigs for fleshing out a program. That would be okay if both groups were compensated in some way but that's rarely the case.
Remember this (and I will say this over and over) - data is the new coin of the realm for business and government. Don't just give it away (and if you want to, what does your child get out of it?)
So what is Ms. Porter's story?
I’m thinking about the threat of data-driven helplessness to my students, and how it affects their emerging sense of self. There is no mechanism whatsoever for this generation to defend itself from a deep, new kind of school-imposed identity theft. Is there some way teachers can shield and empower our students? Would you put your job on the line to do that?
She quotes tech commentator, Audrey Watters:
Many folks ask already: what happens to student data and student content when students are compelled to use certain products (such as the LMS)? Again, how do the institutional demands conflict with students’ needs. But I’m curious too: what happens to student identity? Their professional and personal identity formation; their professional and personal identity performance. And I’d add, more broadly: what is the relationship between privacy and identity formation / performance?
Please read Ms. Porter's story of Title I students being given iPads and the pre-loaded apps on them.
According to Pearson’s theory, our recorded direct instruction was personalized because students could watch it as many times as they liked, although they couldn’t ask an actual question.
But the successful teachers reported in Professional Learning Group meetings that their failure rates were climbing, and expressed increasingly desperate need for some way to “hold students more accountable” for the flipped lessons. They were losing over half their students each day in the wasteland of the supposedly liberating touch screen app ”technology”, and word circulated that 40% of our freshmen were failing two or more classes.
Many students just massively defaulted on the flipped learning homework assignments, and also on the in-class tablet-mediated assignments. It was astonishing to hear, “She has done nothing at all, all term.” “He hasn’t turned in a single part of the assignment, and the rubrics are very clear.” “They have no work ethic.”
My own sense was that the institutional demand for the clunky apps and iPad format conflicted brutally with their academic needs, while the device offers endless opportunity for distraction. It is really a claustrophobic and prescriptive system, despite the lofty rhetoric about pillars.
The Academic Self versus the Templated Self
For instance, my initial enthusiasm for a “portfolio” requirement was crushed when it turned out students had to upload and process evidence of their work which meets a pre-specified rubric, into a Mahara platform in the cloud. The platform has its own presumptuous model of rubric-based reflection. Instead of viewing their own work freely, in relation to the real world around them, students upload formulaic reflections into required fields, intended to shape their learning architecture and improve their critical thinking. The experience of interacting with the platform becomes the template for academic self
Literally every minute of their day, children were trapped in an academic version of the “templated self” Watters describes in her article.
The final outcome?
Then, in June, in the week before finals, the tablets were collected and all the content created by the students during the year was wiped from them. One girl cried, right in front of everybody. There was no storage available in the Cloud, and no procedure to transfer their content to any other device. Nobody in the institution seemed to think this was any kind of issue, but I think it was a psychological blow for many students. Fortunately, it turns out the negotiation and preservation of digital identity is being looked at with both technical and psychological depth by emerging experts like Kin Lane, who has suggested a movement to “Reclaim your Domain” .
“I think about ‘reclaim’ as a personal endeavor. What tech do I use? Why? Can I get my data out? What do the Terms of Service say about my rights?”So WAS all the content wiped from these iPads? What if a student wrote a brilliant essay that someone at the company found? And then claimed it as "their" own content? What recourse would the student have if no one else had read it? Who owns the work the students put on these devices?
I like that - Reclaim Your Domain.