The fact that an organization that should be leading the effective, thoughtful, responsible use of technology in education implemented such a fad at an event for educators is troubling. The ISTE Expo Halls were a frenzy of Apple, Google, Microsoft and others creating demand for their “learning opportunities” and giveaways with massive lines of early morning attendees hoping for tickets, invites, tokens. The whole time, throughout the Convention Centre, the Big Players deployed troops to frantically scan the QR codes of individuals waiting in line. So what exactly does this evidence tell us about personalized learning and how instructive will it be to ISTE’s sponsors when they receive this data? How will this data shape education? What does it tell us about learning, about institutional deprivation in the teaching profession? Is this about improving learning or the relentless drive of the ed tech industry?
At one expo stand we spoke with a thoughtful educator who asked if we were interested in the “monitor” function of the software on display. We asked what this did. “It allows you to monitor the activities of your students while they use the software. You can see if they are on-task.” We groaned. “Well, you are clearly not American,” came the reaction. Is the mindless use of personal data really going to result in such unfortunate generalisations? As we were leaving the booth the attempt to scan our badges failed. The blank spaces on our badges were noted gravely. Knowing glances were exchanged. We were part of The Others.
Everyone involved in education needs to take a stand against this kind of “personalized learning”. Forego the tee-shirt, the exclusive “hands-on” session invitation, offers to see the School of the Future, the stickbait badges, the free chargers.
Remember who schools are for. Before it’s too late.