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All Your Child's Data Are Belong To InBloom

timothy posted about a year ago | from the hello-mother-hello-father-I-am-unit-34908-23-N dept.

Education 211

theodp writes "Q. What do you get when Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch put their heads together? A. inBloom (aka SLC), the Gates Foundation-bankrolled and News Corp. subsidiary-implemented collaboration whose stated mission is to 'inform and involve each student and teacher with data and tools designed to personalize learning.' It's noble enough sounding, but as the NY Times reports, the devil is in the details when it comes to deciding who sees students' academic and behavioral data. inBloom execs maintain their service has been unfairly maligned, saying it is entirely up to school districts or states to decide which details about students to store in the system and with whom to share them. However, a video on inBloom's Web site suggesting what this techno-utopia might look like may give readers of 1984 some pause. In one scene, a teacher with a tablet crouches next to a second-grader evaluating how many words per minute he can read: 55 words read; 43 correctly. Later, she moves to a student named Tyler and selects an e-book 'for at-risk students' for his further reading. The video follows Tyler home, where his mom logs into a parent portal for an update on his status — attendance, 86%; performance, 72% — and taps a button to send the e-book to play on the family TV. And another scene shows a geometry teacher reassigning students' seating assignments based on their 'character strengths', moving a green-coded female student ('actively participates: 98%') next to a red-and-yellow coded boy ('shows enthusiasm: 67%'). The NYT also mentions a parent's concern that school officials hoping to receive hefty Gates Foundation Grants may not think an agreement with the Gates-backed inBloom completely through."

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All it takes is one zero day exploit... (2)

RevDisk (740008) | about a year ago | (#45057341)

And all of that collected data can end up on a torrent. I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of all those lawsuits.

Re:All it takes is one zero day exploit... (4, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about a year ago | (#45057543)

Exploit? All of that data is on an unencrypted USB stick on the table next to a marketing exec having an outdoor espresso lunch right now.

New rule of thumb for data: If you've collected it, the internet already knows.

Re: All it takes is one zero day exploit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057925)

I can see it now childern required to exercise's infront of the tv before they goto school, can you say creepy? Kind'a reminds me of a famous authors book.

Speaking of classic literature... (5, Insightful)

vlpronj (1345627) | about a year ago | (#45057355)

Sounds a little like Brave New World, too

Re:Speaking of classic literature... (4, Insightful)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about a year ago | (#45057621)

Sounds to me like those people think the essentials of education can be quantized. Sure some measurements are important, but that's not all there is to learning. And those students probably will start valuing themselves by their ranking, and only have those numbers in their heads.
I can see how HR departmants will be fans. Another method, like the IQ statistic, to assign numbers to people. What a dumb idea to get yourself ranked.

Re:Speaking of classic literature... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057703)

Sounds like we got ourselves a salty Beta Minus right here.

Re:Speaking of classic literature... (1)

BonThomme (239873) | about a year ago | (#45058073)

in my day he would have been a Double Minus!

Re:Speaking of classic literature... (1)

Reapy (688651) | about a year ago | (#45057891)

I mean I mostly agree, but if you think about it we're already ranked on an arbitrary stat, charasima. I mean, I hate the thought of weird stats getting put into a machine and ranking you based on that, and having your teacher and parent's perceptions of you altered by a 'bad' stat. But, in some cases, it might be nice to have another avenue to excel at rather than base genetics, clothing, fitness, voice tone, body language and number of 'smiles per minute' you can put out, that we use now.

Re: Speaking of classic literature... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058033)

That's basically how US public education has always been, since the time of Horace Mann, who modeled the system on Prussian regimentation, which relied heavily on absurdly precise measurements and uniformity. Hold your pen at a 51 degree angle, sit in rows and columns spaced exactly three feet apart, write out paradigms and submit your answers to be graded as percentages. The 19th and 20th century educational movements were largely about quantifying the student. Sometimes that data gathering gets dehumanizing, but few people challenge the quantification of students now, for better or for worse. Very little of what's in that video in terms of data collection and storage are new; the interface is shinier and the data is more integrated in their vision than it is now, but that's the only big difference.

Re:Speaking of classic literature... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058121)

Everything can be quantized, the only question is whether doing so is better than not doing so. You've offered no evidence either way.

Re:Speaking of classic literature... (3, Insightful)

mjr167 (2477430) | about a year ago | (#45058183)

It will prepare them for having a real job where their value to the company will be quantized using whatever metrics make management feel warm and fuzzy today.

it's much worse than the summary indicates (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057369)

See this link [educationnews.org] where the Gates Foundation project is described as a database which tracks "student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school", and other factors, and makes that data available to private companies without the parents' consent.

Furthermore, InBloom says: While inBloom pledges to guard the data tightly, its own privacy policy states that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.”

Re:it's much worse than the summary indicates (2, Insightful)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year ago | (#45057521)

Corporations (which control the government effectively anyway) are worse than any government at this point.

Re:it's much worse than the summary indicates (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057583)

Corporations do not have SWAT teams, and cannot generally imprison you or kill you for "resisting arrest" ("stop resisting!" shouted over and over to the dying man unable to breathe whose chest is compressed by the weight of 5 officers). Corporations do not generally shell thousands of innocents to death. So no, they are not "worse than any government". It is far more dangerous for the government to have this data. Marketing is bad, and annoying, but it is nowhere close to what governments do to people they don't like.

Re:it's much worse than the summary indicates (0)

dmbasso (1052166) | about a year ago | (#45057763)

You and those who up-voted your post didn't read the emphasized part:

Corporations (which control the government effectively anyway) are worse than any government at this point.

Re:it's much worse than the summary indicates (3, Insightful)

TooTechy (191509) | about a year ago | (#45057899)

Thankfully I did read your comment correctly.
I agree with you.
It seems that a large portion of the /. crowd just cannot read between the lines and require points to be spelled out. Perhaps, if they received a better education and used their HOTS (High Order Thinking Skills) which was under discussion a few years ago when Texas wanted to ban this in schools, they would have understood what you meant in your submission.
Now you could consider this comment a bit of a troll. It is undeniable. However, just try to understand the point that is being made by a submitter before modding it. (This submission included).

Re:it's much worse than the summary indicates (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | about a year ago | (#45058189)

It was not my comment, though I agree with it. I just quoted the GP and emphasized that part. ;)

Re:it's much worse than the summary indicates (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057767)

Yep - that's why all corporations based in America have to hand all their user data over to the government...

You know - for "safety"....

Re:it's much worse than the summary indicates (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058063)

Corporations have the SWAT team on speed dial. They tell them to jump, and they ask how high.

Re:it's much worse than the summary indicates (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#45058071)

You're right that corporations don't have SWAT or the power to kill or imprison you, but not for the reasons you think. It's not that they're incapable of killing you outright or imprisoning you, it's because it's much more efficient to let the government do it where necessary. Why assume the cost or liability of their own SWAT teams? Fear of bankrupcy or lawsuits is more than sufficient to get what they want out of pretty much everyone. If they make themselves appear too much of a menace, arming themselves and killing people, the citizens might actually do something to end it. People let governments do it for various reasons, in ours it's because we vote for the government, that legitimizes it. Other governments get their citizens to tolerate them based on fear, but that's a hard act to maintain when people are rich and educated enough. Corporations legitimize their power here by the assumption that if they got wealth, they worked hard to earn it, and if you little citizen work hard, you'll get rich too. And they legitimize it by "We're just a corporation! We're not the government!" And recently by acting as if providing jobs is a noble act.

Large groups of people with power and influence, whether "corporation" or "government" are basically the same creature. Individual people contribute their cunning and greed, and the group structure allows ethics and mortality to be filtered out. I'm not saying corporations are worse than governments, I'm saying it's silly to debate which one is worse. Neither should be allowed to be too powerful.

Re:it's much worse than the summary indicates (5, Insightful)

Lithdren (605362) | about a year ago | (#45058169)

Random Corp cant hold a gun to my head. Great, I feel so much better.

They can however, prevent me from obtaining employment (and being self-employed is not always an option folks), obtaining credit (That's an awfully nice credit score you have there...be a shame if something...happened...to it.), track my every movement through various means, take me to court on bogus charges then drop them forcing me to miss days of work to defend myself (if I am already employed), or bill me for services they did not provide and force me to spend more time and money fighting them in court.

They might not be able to kill me, but they sure as heck can make me want to kill myself. Is that really any better?

Re:it's much worse than the summary indicates (1)

schwit1 (797399) | about a year ago | (#45057775)

If you wish not to do business with a corporation that is your right. Try doing that with governments(local, state or federal).

Re:it's much worse than the summary indicates (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | about a year ago | (#45057807)

If you wish not to do business with a corporation that is your right. Try doing that with governments(local, state or federal).

Last I checked, it's quite easy to move to Somalia.

Unless you are on a "no-fly" and/or "watch" list. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058029)

Might have to first smuggle your way out of the US.

Learn Mexican Spanish, go work in a field somewhere -- and run when everybody else does, but not quite as fast.

Get the government to export you instead...

What's the problem? (2, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | about a year ago | (#45057381)

However, a video on inBloom's Web site suggesting what this techno-utopia might look like may give readers of 1984 some pause. In one scene, a teacher with a tablet crouches next to a second-grader evaluating how many words per minute he can read: 55 words read; 43 correctly.

Since when is the idea of a teacher evaluating a student's abilities an Orwellian concept? Or does it magically become Orwellian just because a tablet is involved?

Re:What's the problem? (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about a year ago | (#45057421)

However, a video on inBloom's Web site suggesting what this techno-utopia might look like may give readers of 1984 some pause. In one scene, a teacher with a tablet crouches next to a second-grader evaluating how many words per minute he can read: 55 words read; 43 correctly.

Since when is the idea of a teacher evaluating a student's abilities an Orwellian concept?

When they read too much one day they'll become a threat.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45057655)

become a threat...to the landed gentry.

Finish your jokes off properly, please.

Re:What's the problem? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057427)

Or does it magically become Orwellian just because a tablet is involved?

It is Orwellian because it tracks data well beyond academic results, such as student's outside interests and "attitudes", and makes that data available to for-profit commercial interests: "federal law allows for sharing of it with private entities and then used to sell commercial education-related products ... The businesses operating in the sector call the data contained within the database a treasure trove..." [educationnews.org]

That's why many parents are calling this Orwellian. And they have NO CHOICE. It cannot be opted out of.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#45057501)

Just wait until this gets into the hands of asshole headmasters [dailymail.co.uk] in the UK.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#45057597)

Its not a new thing that people place "judgement" on certain types of attitudes. Its isn't as if the term "bad attitude" has not been around for a long time. When we start codifying and making education and opportunistic prescriptions based on "how enthusiastic" someone is; I think its of some concern. Its to easy for people to see adjectives like "passionate" as an explicitly desirable quality.

  Sure sometime it might be; might always be though. An intelligent but dispassionate individual for instance might not make a great CEO but could be an excellent and objective finance VP a huge assent to an enterprise, or perhaps a great head of household as a home maker. That is unless somewhere early in their education someone decides "passion" == "good" and pidgin holes them into some tier two track because their did not demonstrate enough enthusiasm for arithmetic in the second grade, even after showing they understood the concepts and were capable of executing the exercises correctly.

Re:What's the problem? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057633)

Its not a new thing that people place "judgement" on certain types of attitudes.

But it IS a new thing that we track this subjective assessment in databases which are no longer private to the student/parents/teachers. It IS a new thing that "outside interests" outside of the school domain are logged in the same database. It IS a new thing that all this information can be sold and will follow students forever.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

IanCal (1243022) | about a year ago | (#45058195)

1984 had nothing to do with the problems of selling peoples information to companies.

Re:What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057477)

"What's the problem" you ask;
Well, for some of the general public is the "Orwellian/techno-fear" and for most of the "slashdoters" is... Bill Gates!

Re:What's the problem? (4, Insightful)

Lundse (1036754) | about a year ago | (#45057481)

Since when is the idea of a teacher evaluating a student's abilities an Orwellian concept? Or does it magically become Orwellian just because a tablet is involved?

Not magically and not because of the tablet. But when one actor becomes the keeper, gatekeeper and salesperson through yet another "nice-data-you-have-there-maybe-we-should-hold-that-for.you"-based (ie. cloud) solution, then yes, we are moving closer to an Orwellian concept (with a few corporate, not one state, big brothers).
It is not because the teacher is marking it on a tablet, it is because one big corp is going to be analysing, using and reselling the data from everything both student and teacher does to advertisers, government and related industries that this becomes a problem.

Re:What's the problem? (0, Troll)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45057677)

My children were taught -- taught, mind you -- that Reagan was an awful, awful president for the common man

I assume you have no problem with the current status quo who has completely locked up public education? But let a private company recommend a book, hells noes!

Re:What's the problem? (2)

Lundse (1036754) | about a year ago | (#45057831)

I am so sorry. I thought this was the discussion about a private company owning (and as such companies are wont to do) selling detailed data on all teachers and students, while providing a lock-in platform for serving and tracking all teaching. If they are only recommending a book or other teacher aid, then I must have completely misunderstood the article. Sorry, won't happen again!

Re:What's the problem? (1)

BonThomme (239873) | about a year ago | (#45058151)

is your sig intended as a necessary reminder to yourself?

Mod Parent Underrated (0)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about a year ago | (#45057493)

I suppose expressing a question contrary to the groupthink has always baited a flame, but somehow I think it's still an abuse of the flamebait mod.

Re:What's the problem? (5, Interesting)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#45057565)

Since when is the idea of a teacher evaluating a student's abilities an Orwellian concept?

I agree with you that the particular example of the teacher checking the student's reading speed and accuracy in real time is not Orwellian.

What I am more uncomfortable with is the example of:

... a geometry teacher reassigning students' seating assignments based on their 'character strengths', moving a green-coded female student ('actively participates: 98%') next to a red-and-yellow coded boy ('shows enthusiasm: 67%').

Here we have a system where, early on, students are being sorted by behavior -- or more accurately, on the teacher's subjective impression of their behavior. Let's hope the teacher is totally fair and unbiased, because anyone who's too different from his/her preconceptions is going to get labeled with an official-looking percentage. My concern is that these numbers, which sound very arbitrary and subject to emotional judgments, will create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In school, did you ever have a teacher you just didn't click with? I hated my sixth-grade math teacher's guts, and as far as I can tell that sentiment was totally mutual (I remember her body language.) But for me, it was no problem, because the seventh-grade math teacher didn't give a damn what Mrs. G. thought. With this system, Mrs. G. could have labelled me red (40%) in some "character" category and that data would stay with me into seventh grade. So the seventh grade teacher could say "oh, little Sir Garlon is an insubordinate slacker, I'd better not waste my limited time on him -- I'll concentrate on the yellow students because I need to end the year with 50% green to get tenure."

This is more or less what happened to my brother, whose IQ is 10 points higher than mine but who had a hearing disability that made the educational system sideline him. Now he's driving a truck instead of curing cancer or building space probes.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about a year ago | (#45057873)

"This is more or less what happened to my brother, whose IQ is 10 points higher than mine but who had a hearing disability that made the educational system sideline him. Now he's driving a truck instead of curing cancer or building space probes."

Maybe he's happier driving a truck? When the economy falters, the first to get cut are those useless rocket scientists. Your brother will probbly be driving a truck well into the zombie apocalypse.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#45057889)

Maybe he's happier driving a truck?

Thank you for your well-informed assessment of my brother's career choices. I wasn't aware you knew him!

Re:What's the problem? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45058011)

Calm down; He was asking you a question. Hence the question mark at the end of the sentence.

I, too, am moderately curious as to the answer, but I know that it's an unlikely one, as the road not traveled is impossible to quantify.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#45058095)

There are different dimensions to career happiness. I would say, for him, truck driving is high on the "lack of annoyance" axis but low on the "sense of fulfillment" and "upward mobility" axes.

Re:What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058187)

Well his brother does have an IQ ten points higher than him.

I don't know many people with 80 IQs curing cancer, though.

Re:What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058001)

I couldn't decide if you were being funny or Insightful as you're absolutely correct that as a truck driver, he'll probably remain employed even when everything goes to hell.

I used to drive truck and it wasn't a problem finding work - pay may suck for some but it was never a problem finding work driving something

true only if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058125)

true only if he isn't the one driving the truck with the rocket fuel...

In which case, he is also out of a job.

Re:What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057883)

To be fair, driving a truck probably pays better and promises steadier employment than curing cancer or building space probes.

Re:What's the problem? (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#45057951)

The median salary for a postdoctoral cell biologist [simplyhired.com] is slightly higher than the median for a truck driver [payscale.com] , but not as much as I would expect.

My point, though, is that to take someone whose IQ is in the top .01% of the bell curve and put him to work driving a truck is a shocking waste of talent.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

BonThomme (239873) | about a year ago | (#45058173)

not necessarily. driving gives one plenty of time to think while still putting food on the table.

Re:What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058229)

Having an IQ ten points higher than the typical slashdotter of today doesn't put you in the top 0.01%. It puts you in around the top 50%.

Successfully installing Ubuntu on your old P3 box doesn't make you part of some intellectual elite.

Re: What's the problem? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057841)

Simple: take it to its extreme. Every class mark, outburst, school habit from k-12 will be evaluated fr your college transcript.

You have the grades, but so do 500 other applicants, and there are 2 slots left. And you happen to make the top 4, but you have recorded 'play problems' in grades 4-6, while the others don't. And now your rejected from college. Better off at a trade school, right?

Point is, this moves toward a direction where future workers are highly redirected based on a learning system that only benefits those who are predisposed to that type of classroom learning environment.

I'd be more receptive to this if steps in classroom size, as well as curriculum rewrite every few years weren't a concern, but that isn't happening. Instead we throw technology at it and hope it fixes the problem. There's 40+ years of Ed. Psych. data available almost proving that technology does not directly improve the learning ability in a child.

When the hell did technology become a learning savior, and who the hell thought it was a good idea?

Re:What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058049)

When that private personal information is then sold.

the debate rages on... (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about a year ago | (#45057387)

...so yes..can't we just agree already that networked computers are gathering data points on everyone and everything at an astounding pace, and much of it is freely donated by the people themselves thru SN's and other social portals.

but is it a net plus or a net negative? it's easy to argue both sides of this Gate's Foundation initiative to track student progress and use the date to tailor individual plans...i mean really isn't this the promise of the Network Society?

but wait!! collecting all this data and centralizing and making the results just a SQL query away can have dangerous consequences! blah blah i get it ...

i guess, as Einstein showed over 100 years ago, it REALLY IS all relative (except the speed of light of course)...

Re: the debate rages on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057397)

Wtf? You idiot dont bring einstein into this

Re: the debate rages on... (4, Funny)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45057691)

THE GATES FOUNDATION AutoRecommend-O-Bot recommends a second-grade grammar and punctuation book for you.

Re:the debate rages on... (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#45057579)

it's easy to argue both sides of this Gate's Foundation initiative to track student progress

Then go ahead and argue the pro side, because I seem to lack the imagination (or ability to lie without laughing at the idea tht anyone would believe me). Students have been tracked for many years - they're called school records. Part of them was kept confidential, and there is no reason to share them beyond a student's parents, teachers, and maybe a few school officials. Let's keep it out of the "cloud". Woz was right - the "cloud" is dangerous and downright un-American. People should own their own data.

isn't this the promise of the Network Society

What the hell is a "network society", and where do I go to opt out (and opt out on my children's behalf)? Sounds a lot to me like the old society, except with information needlessly given to certain parties with a vested interest.

Objecting to InBloom or the data collection? (1)

walmass (67905) | about a year ago | (#45057395)

A lot of this data is collected now and goes to the state. Is the sky-is-falling reaction due to the fact that the data will go to InBloom, a private entity? In one scene, a teacher with a tablet crouches next to a second-grader evaluating how many words per minute he can read: 55 words read; 43 correctly. -- This has been done since typewriters were introduced in classes Later, she moves to a student named Tyler and selects an e-book 'for at-risk students' for his further reading. The video follows Tyler home, where his mom logs into a parent portal for an update on his status — attendance, 86%; performance, 72% — and taps a button to send the e-book to play on the family TV. -- Supplemental reading? The only difference is, it is going to a TV And another scene shows a geometry teacher reassigning students' seating assignments based on their 'character strengths', moving a green-coded female student ('actively participates: 98%') next to a red-and-yellow coded boy ('shows enthusiasm: 67%'). -- And kids with vision problems are also moved to the front of the class. What the point?

Re:Objecting to InBloom or the data collection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057495)

at elast the state is so incompetent that the data is useless to them, Giving it to an advertiser, though, bullshit.

Re:Objecting to InBloom or the data collection? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#45057585)

at least the state is so incompetent that the data is useless to them

Useless doesn't necessarily mean safe.

Re:Objecting to InBloom or the data collection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057567)

What's the point? "Color" will be the new basis for discrimination. This time it will be "yellow" or "red", though not in the historical sense.

Kids can be - and will be - cruel. Just wait until there's too many kids for a teacher to memorize. They'll all were their "colors" on a badge (at least until the school's uniform policy requires them to buy green, yellow or red uniforms).

Before you know it there will be colored lines on the floors of the schools (like they have in hospitals) to make sure kids get to the right classrooms.

Re:Objecting to InBloom or the data collection? (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about a year ago | (#45058019)

The problem is the same thing we see with all large bureaucracies. What if the teacher has a mistaken or prejudiced opinion? In the old world, the student might have a bad day/year but things move on and in a few years no one remembers. In this brave new world, the student is stigmatized forever. Good luck getting crappy teacher inputs removed from this benevolent "greater good" tracking system. We already see teachers overreaching themselves getting kids put on powerful drugs like Ritalin. Imagine all the crap with bad entries to the 'do not fly' list, good luck getting your name off of that. But now you can't get a job, or credit, or a date, because your 3d grade teacher didn't like you.

The Snake and the Crab (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#45057407)

What's sad thing here is that Gates is probably well-meaning.
The same can never ever be said of the other side.

Re:The Snake and the Crab (3, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#45057589)

What's sad thing here is that Gates is probably well-meaning.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Re:The Snake and the Crab (1)

louden obscure (766926) | about a year ago | (#45057875)

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

That would be the "phrase that pays" from a Catholic grade school education fifty years or so ago.

 

Objecting to InBloom or the data collection? (3, Interesting)

walmass (67905) | about a year ago | (#45057411)

Sorry, formatting lost in my previous post. A lot of this data is collected now and goes to the state. Is the sky-is-falling reaction due to the fact that the data will go to InBloom, a private entity?

In one scene, a teacher with a tablet crouches next to a second-grader evaluating how many words per minute he can read: 55 words read; 43 correctly.
-- This has been done since typewriters were introduced in classes

Later, she moves to a student named Tyler and selects an e-book 'for at-risk students' for his further reading. The video follows Tyler home, where his mom logs into a parent portal for an update on his status — attendance, 86%; performance, 72% — and taps a button to send the e-book to play on the family TV.
-- Supplemental reading? The only difference is, it is going to a TV

And another scene shows a geometry teacher reassigning students' seating assignments based on their 'character strengths', moving a green-coded female student ('actively participates: 98%') next to a red-and-yellow coded boy ('shows enthusiasm: 67%').
-- And kids with vision problems are also moved to the front of the class. What the point?

Re:Objecting to InBloom or the data collection? (3, Insightful)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | about a year ago | (#45057513)

And another scene shows a geometry teacher reassigning students' seating assignments based on their 'character strengths', moving a green-coded female student ('actively participates: 98%') next to a red-and-yellow coded boy ('shows enthusiasm: 67%').
-- And kids with vision problems are also moved to the front of the class. What the point?

Personally, one of the things I hated the most in school was being used like this to "help the teacher manage the unruly ones". Way to go, teacher, rewarding the students who do a good job by (implicitly) giving them a crappy job.

Re:Objecting to InBloom or the data collection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057649)

And another scene shows a geometry teacher reassigning students' seating assignments based on their 'character strengths', moving a green-coded female student ('actively participates: 98%') next to a red-and-yellow coded boy ('shows enthusiasm: 67%').

Personally, one of the things I hated the most in school was being used like this to "help the teacher manage the unruly ones". Way to go, teacher, rewarding the students who do a good job by (implicitly) giving them a crappy job.

Yep, the "green" girl turns red, get knocked up, drops out of school, and ends up in a trailer park with three kids before she can legally drink. Great going, inBloom(tm).

Re:Objecting to InBloom or the data collection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057517)

http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4307053&cid=45057369

Re:Objecting to InBloom or the data collection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057561)

Presumably the data collection, for example the kid with vision problems gets that sold to an insurance company as he gets older.
The kid with discipline issues gets an NSA flag point against him.
The parents identity is sold off to marketing companies.

Ultimately there's almost no data protection laws in the USA that are enforced (NSA and its corporate military lobbyists have undermined privacy to sell all those databases to the NSA). So people are concerned that two evil figures, blowfeld and SMIRSH, get together to collect data on kids.

Data pipelined directly to the NSA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057415)

...grooming the next gen of surveillance-state consumer husks.

Common Tool Problem (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057417)

At first glance this system I think has the common tool problem.

It's naively neither good nor evil but depends on how it's used.
The scenarios illustrated in the synopsis could very well be seen as beneficial, if it's used in good faith and understood as such.

But I find it often is easier to use tools in non-beneficial ways. Will the teachers use the seating arrangement tool to try to make their problems with students other students problems (and they very well might not be able to handle the problem)?
Will teachers use the evaluation tools to help out weaker students or just to select them out, shuffling them to the sidelines so they can concentrate on the more successful students?
Will the company behind the system spring changes in the Terms of Use later on to make use of the data in malicious ways?

I'm jaded enough to expect only the worst a few years down the line.

XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057429)

http://xkcd.com/327/

How often until we see parents doing this?

False benchmarks (4, Interesting)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#45057451)

The privacy issues here really don't bother me so much - We already have fairly strong laws regarding who can store/share information about minors, and with whom.

The bigger issue IMO comes from the described use of easily-measured statistics over more difficult, but meaningful measures of learning. 55WPM with 43 correct (what does that second number even mean, anyway? "No Billy, that says potato, not aardvark" )? Useless, unless we want to train a generation of speed-readers. More importantly, did he fully appreciate the racist subtext inherent in Jane ordering Spot to run?

Sad. On the one hand, I weep for the future of humanity; On the other, I have absolutely no concerns about job security for as long as I want to stay in the workforce. But hey, I see a great future for the the trophy manufacturing industry!

Re:False benchmarks (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year ago | (#45057557)

"We already have fairly strong laws"

HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

Like laws have ever stopped corporations or other criminals

Re:False benchmarks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057647)

Like laws have ever stopped corporations or other criminals

Were you referring to the US government or just to politicians in general?

Re:False benchmarks (1)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#45057787)

Like laws have ever stopped corporations or other criminals

So... To deal with the fact that corporations and criminals ignore the law, you propose what exactly - More laws for them to ignore? Or that we simply deprive ourselves of good things to keep it out of "their" hands?

Re:False benchmarks (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year ago | (#45058143)

This "technology" isn't needed in schools, and school's are increasingly cash-strapped to make these options attractive to them. Amazing how conveniently that worked out, isn't it?

Re:False benchmarks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057609)

The privacy issues here really don't bother me so much - We already have fairly strong laws regarding who can store/share information about minors, and with whom.

Yes, because Murdoch has shown how much he respects laws.

Re: False benchmarks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058043)

You mean like mathletics that splashes student names, school names, country rankings etc over the net and media without consent ?

These privacy invasions and corporate ownerships, as well as the ability to make/destroy reputations of kids/schools/regions/countries is already here.

As a parent, it horrifies me.

I have a charity and don't have to pay tax (4, Insightful)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#45057467)

"When you're dying of malaria, I suppose you'll look up and see that balloon, and I'm not sure how it'll help you. When a kid gets diarrhoea, no, there's no website that relieves that,"

Not seeing this helping people dying of Malaria either.

InBloom doesn't invade students' privacy... (0)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about a year ago | (#45057475)

... teachers invade students' privacy. This is a tool, nothing more. If you ban it, then you'll have to ban things like computers, because they can be used to invade people's privacy too.

(Not anticipating a positive reaction to this satire...)

Re:InBloom doesn't invade students' privacy... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#45057617)

teachers invade students' privacy

Right, because teachers control how this information is used and even whether they have to use this system. The only correct input to this system is the digitus impudicus.

Re:InBloom doesn't invade students' privacy... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#45057635)

Oops, didn't even read down to the satire part. Now I'm guilty of what I criticize others for (I did it as an exercise).

Weird.... (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year ago | (#45057487)

...how education has fallen so far when we started adding all this technology and started treating education like Corporate Indoctrination and rating students' "active participation" and "shows enthusiasm" levels as if students were serfs...er, employees, to be controlled and used, rather than educated.

Re: Weird.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058227)

That began in the 19th century and followed closely upon the industrial revolution. We were training docile, useful factory workers then; that's also why students are regimented into shifts (classes, periods) terminated by bells, sit in assigned seats, dine in cafeterias, etc. Education was very different before that: students were not segregated by age or ability or into classes, but mixed in small schoolhouses modeled after (very large) families. Teachers were more akin to parents than bosses.

InBloom Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057545)

I personally have worked on the security of their systems, they are at least taking that part very seriously. They are spending money, without whining about it, on making sure the whole ball of wax is secure...and it isn't just theater. If we find an issue, or point out a weakness, they either fix it, or find someone who can. Not that this means it will be fool proof, but at least they are taking it serious.

Education data systems rely on teacher input (5, Interesting)

anegg (1390659) | about a year ago | (#45057553)

My county's school system uses an on-line system to involve parent's in the education process. Student attendance, assignment status, and grades are posted in the system; parents access the system to monitor how their children are doing, and can theoretically use the information to apply virtually real-time corrective action. Everyone's involved, so this is good, right?

Unfortunately, we have discovered that not all of the teachers are good at getting data in. After several episodes of us correcting our child and then finding out that the data in the system was inaccurate (assignments turned in were not credited, leading to fails and missing assignments) we have very mixed feelings about using the system.

On the one hand, having access to see that assignments are/aren't being turned in, and seeing grades even if the work doesn't make it back home, is good. On the other hand, when the quality of the data is bad, it becomes virtually useless for the purpose of involving the parent in the education process. We can never be sure that a missing assignment is really missing; often a week or more later the system will be updated to show that the assignment was turned in after all.

In one extreme example, a report that was delivered in class and turned in at the end of the presentation was given a grade of zero for never being turned in, and it was an end of the year project report worth a significant portion of the grade. When we went to bat for our kid, the teacher eventually admitted that the report had been delivered in class but didn't know where the hardcopy went. It was too late to turn in a copy of the hardcopy, so in the end that grade was just removed from my child's average. Since she had an "A" anyway, it wasn't harmful, but could have been if she had a lower grade and the report would have brought it up.

My point with all this is that these systems all sound great, but unless an incredible effort is put in the data quality may not be sufficient for the purpose of the system. Its worse to have a system with low quality data that can't be relied upon than it would be to not have the system at all, in my opinion. Depending on how many people are relying on the system and in what ways, it could be extremely problematic. The traditional "end of marking period only" grading system has lots of play where teachers can make adjustments. This is bad if they abuse the power, but is good if they simply correct for lapses. A more realtime scoring system may not have the same flexibility yet may be being used in a more direct feedback manner. Data quality issues will be harder to correct, yet the dependency on the data correctness will be higher.

Re:Education data systems rely on teacher input (1)

loustic (1577303) | about a year ago | (#45057641)

Why the system isn't design with default status of an assignment is "teacher didn't report yet" instead of just "failed" ?

I would be easier to point out teachers not doing their part and prevent parents from freaking out.

Re:Education data systems rely on teacher input (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057805)

Presumably because "teacher didn't report yet" makes the teacher look bad, and while most teachers DO care a lot about the kids, they also have their own livelihoods to look after. Too many "didn't reports" might cause them their promotion, or even their job. So they will put in "not turned in" instead. Changing the default is not the panacea it may first appear.

Re:Education data systems rely on teacher input (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057917)

It might very well be designed with that default, but nothing is going to stop the teacher who painstakingly goes through and replaces all the NA grades with 0 before making their entries.

Re:Education data systems rely on teacher input (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057663)

How about firing a teacher that doesn't put the data in correctly?

Oh yeah, public schools can't really fire teachers...

Yeah, but ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45057613)

inBloom execs maintain their service has been unfairly maligned, saying it is entirely up to school districts or states to decide which details about students to store in the system and with whom to share them

And do the parents and students have any say?

Because quite frankly it's not really up to the school boards to share private information about children with a corporation.

This definitely sounds like from pretty creepy level of tracking -- and the 'permanent record' we used to joke about as kids might become real. By the time a kid is out of highschool, companies are going to know every detail about them and have that information to use for their own purposes.

Re:Yeah, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057673)

Because quite frankly it's not really up to the school boards to share private information about children with a corporation.

It is now.

What's that, you want to safeguard your child's privacy? How very 20th century of you. This is the 21st century. Didn't you get the memo? Privacy is dead.

Re:Yeah, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058215)

No Murdoch controlled companies have ever violated anyone's privacy have they?

This Has Been A Fun School Year... (3)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year ago | (#45057697)

... For very sarcastic definitions of fun.

Between the InBloom data collection, Common Core being implemented in such a way that the quality of education is declining fast, the high stakes testing in New York last school year which only 30% of students passed and which was administered by Pearson without any independent oversight whatsoever, and the governor of New York saying that public schools should be closed if they don't raise said test scores, I really fear for my kids' education. Right now, the teachers are being forced to use curriculum that they haven't designed and can't modify for individual students' strengths and weaknesses. Instead, they need to do what the book says when the book says to do it. They need to teach only what's going to be on the Pearson tests or else their kids will do poorly and then their jobs will be at risk. All in the name of getting "more data" on how our schools are performing. I feel like this is a really bad Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle joke where they're destroying the schools by attempting to measure them.

Market forces (1)

Shoten (260439) | about a year ago | (#45057715)

I don't think that there's anything right about this, but it seems to me that InBloom is merely responding to demand. As long as there are a large body of helicopter parents, there will be companies that try to make better helicopters.

Yet another Gates conspiracy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057871)

Why do you folks see conspiracy in everything Bill Gates does? Heck, if I had as much money as he does, I wouldn't waste my time on conspiracies...unless...yes, that's it!...all this "do gooding" he's apparently doing is really just part of a larger plot to take over the *entire* world. Let's start by stealing private data from kindergarteners!

Never ascribe to conspiracy what can be explained by incompetence. And guess what? Most new systems are a bit incompetent when first hatched.

(Mark this one as a troll, if you like, but I'm actually just expressing my non-orthodox opinion - which I don't dare do here using my Slashdot login.)

"Are Belong"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45057971)

Based on the grammar in the headline, the submitter and any editors that approved this should have been tracked. They clearly never passed remedial grammar education.

Creepy (2)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year ago | (#45057981)

It's almost like Gates and Co. have the intent to socially profile people starting at a young age while at the same time convert the entire educational learning process into a format and content delivery system which he can sell at whatever price he wants, along with controlling what kind of media is in the content. It's digital book burning and your kids will only know what Bill's educational system teaches them. Freakin creepy.

"InBloom" is the name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45058065)

He’s the one
Who likes all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he knows not what it means
- Nirvana, "In bloom", 1992

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