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Facebook Education

Facebook's Solution To 'One of Education's Biggest Problems' Is a Dashboard 63

theodp writes: Gushing in July that Facebook engineers had solved one of education's biggest problems, Melinda Gates perhaps set up Segway-like expectations for Facebook's education software. And while The Verge sings the praises of what appears to be progress-tracking dashboards that connect students to mostly free 3rd-party lessons — not unlike Khan Academy or even the 50-year-old PLATO system — it's hard to get jazzed based on the screenshots (1, 2, 3) that Facebook provided in a .zip file accompanying its announcement. The "personalized learning plan" dashboards are a joint effort of Facebook and the Meg Whitman-led and backed Summit charter schools. In a nice circle-of-tech-CEO-education-reform-life twist, the first Summit high school opened in a building in Redwood City after students attending the Bill Gates-touted and backed Silicon Valley High Tech High charter there were evicted to make way, and the Gates Foundation is now spending $8M to bring HP CEO Whitman's Summit charter schools — and presumably Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's personalized learning plans — to Seattle children.
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Facebook's Solution To 'One of Education's Biggest Problems' Is a Dashboard

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  • I'm not sure if this is a total load of bollocks, or if it doesn't actually say anything at all.

    posted by theodp it's 50-50.

    • I'm not sure if this is a total load of bollocks, or if it doesn't actually say anything at all.

      The summary is oozing with cynicism. After all, if we can sneer at those trying to improve things, then it is easier to justify doing nothing.

      • The Gates Foundation does a huge amount of good in the world. That said, their education initiatives (at least here in the US) tend to back math and science programs that sound good in theory but in practice don't work particularly well - e.g. Common Core.

        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          The Gates Foundation does a huge amount of good in the world.

          The Gates Foundation does a huge amount of good for Bill Gates. See:

          Through the foundation, Bill, Melinda and Microsoft maintain pharmaceutical patent investments, tobacco investments, investments in alcoholic beverages, petroleum investments, investments in experimental and controversial crops, and even investments in news/media. Gates need not even pay tax, though he keeps control of the assets and uses that control to influence private and public policy. Money talks and politicians can in turn be persuaded to buy from Microsoft. This dependence/lock-in cascades down to businesses and homes, creating a revenue stream that would not exist in a free market. Gates is also able to bring public money to himself through energy and public health policy. As Gates has diversified, his corrupting influence has spread to other portions of the economy.

          Read more: http://techrights.org/wiki/ind... [techrights.org]

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            So you're saying that they do no good?

            • by lucm ( 889690 )

              The Gates Foundation is routinely crushing existing NGOs and bending public policy to their will.

              In 2008 the WHO’s head of malaria research, Aarata Kochi, accused a Gates Foundation ‘cartel’ of suppressing diversity of scientific opinion, claiming the organization was ‘accountable to no-one other than itself’.

              That Foundation is basically hubris and greed with a nice front.

              • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                So you're saying that they do no good or just aren't as good as you would supposedly do if you were in their shoes? Or? An accusation doesn't carry much weight without a bunch of evidence. I can understand being suspect but I've yet to see them doing anything that I find horrific and no, no I'm posting this from Linux if that matters - I'm not some sort of crazed Bill Gates fan.

      • by s.petry ( 762400 )

        I'm not sure if this is a total load of bollocks, or if it doesn't actually say anything at all.

        The summary is oozing with cynicism. After all, if we can sneer at those trying to improve things, then it is easier to justify doing nothing.

        Those trying to improve things? Seriously, you can't be that foolish (or perhaps you can). If anything improves it's an unintentional side effect. These people care about power, which of course you can't have. Isn't it amazing how this "free" application which connects you to free resources requires Facebook to access and use. Notice how this is really 2 massive stockpiles of cash moving piles between them, while of course pulling more out of society?

        The simple measure for people is to look at the weal

        • These people care about power

          Where is your evidence that Melinda Gates is motivated by a lust for power? Even if she did care about "power", I don't see how curing diseases or improving schools is going to lead to it. I have heard her speak several times, and even met her face to face once. She seems like a sincere person who really wants to make the world better, and has already improved the lives of millions of people.

          What have you done?

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            Power is an expression of ego and a huge ego is the product of lots of money. So let me get this straight, it is easy for one teacher to teach 30 children with 30 different lesson plans, than for one teacher to teach 30 children one lesson plan, hmm, in what fucking universe.

            If children could learn and look after themselves without teachers, they would be fucking adults and not children.

            Give these uneducated technologists enough lee way and they will implant children with technology and programme them

          • by s.petry ( 762400 )

            I gave you easy evidence, and you refuse to use to look at it. Interesting how you focus on the only portion of the story where you have an emotional connection (big shock) instead of looking at all of the players. If your focus had to change, you would not have the rose colored glass in front of you.

            Power comes in many forms, money is an easy one to track and measure.

        • The simple measure for people is to look at the wealth of those involved. If the people pushing this stuff were altruistic and worried about fair distribution, they would not be gaining wealth, but either maintaining or reducing their massive stockpiles. In all cases their wealth increases, and not by just a little bit. They didn't get it worrying about fairness, and don't continue to amass wealth by worrying at all about society. When you start off with as much money as Bill Gates, it's pretty much impossible to stop it increasing unless you literally take it out of the bank in cash and hide it under your (very large) mattress. And burn a load each day.

          If you have $79billion in the bank you will be earning a few billion a year without doing anything.

          • by s.petry ( 762400 )

            If you have $79billion in the bank you will be earning a few billion a year without doing anything.

            False, but thanks for playing the "can I repeat propaganda?" game. This is not a difficult fact to figure out, if you had bothered to try.

      • Dashbored.
      • I'm sure reinventing the Gantt chart will promote peace in the Middle East, cure cancer, and make Win 8 usable.

    • I believe this is just Facebook wanting to backdoor the entire education system while simultaneously getting every student to sign into and use Facebook all day during school.

      Zuckerberg is looking for an extra Billion in net worth.

      • Yeah, this: "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's personalized learning plans" is about the most worrying set of words ever :)

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Worse, still, is this is a repeat I do believe. See here:
      http://news.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And the state Supreme Court just ruled that charter schools are Unconstitutional in Washington state.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/wa... [wsj.com]

    • by theodp ( 442580 )

      From the article: "Gov. Jay Inslee's office and the Washington State Charter School Association, an advocacy group for the schools [and recipient of $6+ million in Gates Foundation grants [gatesfoundation.org]], said they were reviewing the ruling."

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, but why don't they just buy the children directly with their money, instead of going around in these wide circles? I mean, they can raise them in a huge underground facility somewhere and have them work as slaves for the rest of their lives. Just make sure to pay some supreme court judges and the government appropriately and there should be no problem.

  • Screenshot 3: Looks like whoever created the Demo Student data was an ICP fan. www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvmvxAcT_Yc
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Do you see it now? The end is near!

  • we don't need no stinkin' dashboard.
  • We're entering a future where only affluent children will be able to get educated, and the poor and large portions of the middle class will have a shrinking pool of options available.

    Charter schools are BS. Tech in the classrooms are BS as there is NEVER a budget to maintain it. Standardized testing is BS.

    What works? Traditional teaching. One teacher with a small class size (think 25 students) who can give them individual attention and relate to them. It really is that simple.

    But, there's no money for the t

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday September 05, 2015 @07:02PM (#50464371)

    The article summary was a bit of a hash, but a per-student dashboard that customized learning and displayed progress made would be a pretty great step up from the Mass Education we have today, that ignores student interests or rates of learning on various topics.

    As a parent who would not not want a dashboard like that to keep track of what students are doing well and poorly in? Report cards do that but with less frequency and thus opportunity to correct problems as they arise.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe because it drives accountability. The school system I work for had a great dashboard in 2008, but the teachers demanded we get rid of it during their last strike.

    • In the old days, we called it talking to your children.

      The article summary was a bit of a hash, but a per-student dashboard that customized learning and displayed progress made would be a pretty great step up from the Mass Education we have today, that ignores student interests or rates of learning on various topics.

      As a parent who would not not want a dashboard like that to keep track of what students are doing well and poorly in? Report cards do that but with less frequency and thus opportunity to correct problems as they arise.

      • In the old days, we called it talking to your children.

        There's also an old saying that applies:

        "Trust but Verify".

        Not to mention the fact that a kid has no idea what subjects he COULD be learning, but are not topics of current study... It's important that a parent stay on top to make sure the curriculum is not lacking something important.

  • What they're trying to do is actually make a stable, scalable web service using Windows. It's like putting a man on the moon!

  • customization (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Saturday September 05, 2015 @07:25PM (#50464471) Homepage Journal
    There are two things that are going to be a reality. One is that students are going to receive personalized instruction. Most schools already expect this is some way, but it is cost ineffective. Automation through software will make this personalized instruction possible, and while the technology is improving, it is far from adequate for some subjects. For instance physics is increasingly taught through exploration and modeling. Just letting some students listen to a lecture and other students read and then pass a multiple guess test does not teach physics. Students have to go through certain labs. The personlization might be how a lab is set up, which still requires significant human intervention and discussion with a live professional, though eventually an AI might be able to do it. Second, despite what the luddites say every student is going to have a computer and every student is going to need to learn to use it. While there are some jobs that require limited computer literacy, those jobs are going to become fewer. I mean everyone says how great education was in the 50's but what did they really need to get a well paying job? Not as much as today. As students get computers, they will be used to personalize when possible. Otherwise they will be used to teach kids the skills they need to get a job.
  • This may help in a private school where they have selected great, motivated teachers and all of the students are driven. They were going to do well without this tool anyways.

    It's not going to make a difference in the classroom with an unmotivated teacher, the kids are doing their time, and the goal is to get the students to pass the standardized tests so that the school can get it's funding for another year. A lot of problems with education are societal and creating a dashboard doesn't deal with those. Y

  • Of course tech companies want trained worker bees pouring from high school classrooms around the world. Ask yourself what is the biggest expense for these companies- of course; workers! How can they reduce that expense to satisfy their investors? By reducing payroll costs. How to do that? By increasing competition for jobs to the extent that new hires will be happy with minimum wage. And the way to do that is to assure that millions of adequately skilled programmers emerge from high schools every year.

    (I ha

  • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Saturday September 05, 2015 @09:49PM (#50464969)

    Or, in the case of your typical business executive: one dashboard. Business executives sure love their dashboards. Every walk of life should have one. How does anyone know what's going on without a dashboard?

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday September 05, 2015 @10:02PM (#50465027)

    And what they are forced to teach. I mean, if you are teaching creationist nonsense, then you really do not have any other real problem besides selection of teaching material (and that teachers are willing to tech it instead of finding other jobs). Technology addresses zero teaching problems. Technology only addresses the issue that some companies want to make even more money.

  • People have passionate and very divergent opinions, for good reasons.

    But I think we can all agree on one thing when it comes to designing education policy for our kids: Meg Whitman, Mark Zuckerburg, and Bill Gates should have no part in it.

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