Ed tech from a parent perspective.

As faculty at a college, I use a great bit of technology. And I get pitched in emails by ed tech companies regularly. Others, such as Audrey Watters , have ably documented the fraud and corruption involved in the ed tech higher education world. Between working with tech (including some programming) and reading widely about evidence-based scholarship of teaching and learning, I don’t pay much attention to ed tech pitches by email: two seconds and it’s in my junk email.

I now have school-age kids, and am seeing the push by ed tech companies in the K-12 sector. For example, I recently saw the new company Class Tag pop up as sponsored posts at a couple teacher blogs. Here are a couple of concerns from a cursory, 5-minute review of their materiel.

  1. Their privacy policy “works similar to the way Facebook notifies of of friend requests.” I don’t think a privacy policy should work “similar to” anything: it should be explicit. Also, if you want to borrow a privacy policy, perhaps not Facebook?

Privacy policy

 

 

2. Parent shaming seems to be built into a scoreboard. If a parent doesn’t click through emails, they must not be engaged in the kids schooling, yes (NO).(this image comes from a teacher blog , not the company web page.)

Parent engagement dashboard 3. Translation is tough right? We pay people money to accurately translate others’ words, in medicine, in law, in literature. How is this startup going to accurately translate complicated messages about deeply personal learning issues? It’s not. And the translations will confuse everyone.
Language translation image

4. The privacy policy indicates they will share personal information (parent information, not children under 13) with any “affiliate of ClassTag who is in the same corporate family as us as long as their privacy practices are substantially similar to ours.” What is the same corporate family? And how substantial is substantial? The same corporate family makes little sense if Class Tag is a start up. Unless, like so many ed tech companies, what Class Tag wants to do is get big enough to be purchased by a larger company, that then mines the personal data of the start-up.

 

 

 

 

 

This is not a substantial review of this product or of those endorsing it. That said, knowing what I do of how higher ed tech operates, I’m gradually learning that K-12 ed tech works the same way.

As a final though, consider that this product is free to the teacher and parents. As so many have noted, you either pay for the product, or you are the product. There is no free.

 

 

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