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Code.org Wants Participating Students' Data For 7 Years

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the data-driven dept.

Education 90

theodp writes "As part of its plan to improve computer science education in the U.S., the Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates-backed Code.org is asking school districts to sign a contract calling for Code.org to receive 'longitudinal student achievement data' for up to seven academic years in return for course materials, small teacher stipends, and general support. The Gates Foundation is already facing a backlash from the broader academic community over attempts to collect student data as part of its inBloom initiative. The Code.org contract also gives the organization veto power over the district teachers selected to participate in the Code.org program, who are required to commit to teaching in the program for a minimum of two school years."

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90 comments

Self-serving philanthropy (4, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | about 8 months ago | (#45550937)

What else could be expected from names like Zuckerberg and Gates?

I'll bet they'll veto anyone who tries to use Linux or teach kids about privacy.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (5, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 8 months ago | (#45550947)

I'll bet they'll veto anyone who tries to use Linux or teach kids about privacy.

I'm sorry, that information is confidential.

Longitudinal student achievement data (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 8 months ago | (#45552299)

When they list the 'longitudinal student achievement data' for up to seven academic years as one of the requirement, all alarm must be sounded

Students must be treated and be respected as individuals

They must not be treated as mere numbers or drones

The students' "academic achievement" are but a small part of what makes up their individual selves

Our society must understand that if we continue to treat the students as drones, as " yet another brick on the wall ", the future will be very bleak.

We do not need drones to lead the human civilization in the future. We need WHOLESOME HUMAN BEINGS to carry out that task !

Re:Longitudinal student achievement data (1)

quetwo (1203948) | about 8 months ago | (#45555751)

And that is why we have laws like FERPA that protect this data and are supposed to prohibit schools from sharing this information with 3rd parties...

That is -- when schools choose not to ignore it.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45551119)

inbloom runs their website on Linux (and their entire software stack is open source). Don't let reality intrude on your conspiracy theories.

http://toolbar.netcraft.com/site_report?url=http://www.inbloom.org

Microsoft was ruthless and anti-competitive during Gates's tenure. No one doubts that. But the Gates Foundation is a true philanthropic effort trying to solve really big problems - like improving public education and curing malaria, for fsck's sake. How exactly does curing malaria help Microsoft and Bill Gates? Efforts like Code.org are experiments - to determine if experiments succeed, they need to collect data and analyze it to make sure they are achieving the outcomes they want. Data-driven philanthropy is going to become more and more common - donors want to know their money is accomplishing something, not just giving them warm fuzzies.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#45551231)

Anyone who wants a functioning website runs the backend on Linux. Microsoft ran Microsoft Hotmail on Linux backends for a long time during Billy G's ruthless tenure. I note you don't respond to the actual question of whether students are being brainwashed into narrow use of proprietary products, instead of learning about the world of superior tools outside profitable product lines. Sure, Microsoft cronies know how to efficiently run their own operations with Linux on the back end (not as if they'd make money from selling themselves Microsoft products), but you can bet they want everyone else to be using IIS/Exchange/Windows.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45551269)

i think you mean freebsd

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (2)

jbolden (176878) | about 8 months ago | (#45551391)

Microsoft ran BSD on the backend for Hotmail. It was migrated a long time ago. They also run gigantic and much larger data projects on their own server project.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#45551445)

Yes, I was sloppy on slighting BSD for credit and inappropriately using "Linux" as a stand-in for "Free and open-source UNIX-derived operating systems and associated server infrastructure." One should note that Microsoft internal projects enjoy the benefits of IIS as a free and open-source product, with unlimited expert support to make the system work; a situation that exists for nobody else outside Microsoft.

Nonetheless, the point raised in the original post still stands: are students being educated about programming, or indoctrinated to be worker drones tied into a proprietary ecosystem? Will they learn the benefits and social ramifications of Free software systems, or will that module be swapped out for RIAA-approved lectures on the eeeeevils of piracy? Will they be taught to think about protecting the privacy and security of end-users of systems they are programming for, or only about priorities of protecting employer profits?

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 8 months ago | (#45551783)

Still runs on a Blue Screen Device.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

mindwhip (894744) | about 8 months ago | (#45551411)

I started on a ZX81 then moved to a ZX Spectrum, and then to a +3. did some basic programming, played some games and was content with what I had. I was in effect vendor locked into Sinclair as it was the only system I had access to or knew how to use.
Then I got access to BBC Masters at school and I was even more content learning to program in Comal. It was the only system I had any programming teaching in until my Uni days.
Then I moved to an Amiga 500, Rexx, Amos, and others. All learned on the totally different environment of my Sinclair and BBC days and all was good for a while.
Shortly after my first PC (an old second-hand 386) which came with MS dos and windows 3.1. For about a year I used nothing but Dos, Windows, Turbo C and this matched what I had access to at Uni (not counting the VAX cluster).
I heard about this thing called Linux and I promptly repartitioned my flatmates 486DX and spent the next week downloading slackware one disk bundle at a time (I only owned 10 floppies.. I was a student and they were expensive!)
Today I switch between Windows, Linux, Android, Mac and others and program to varying extents in most, using several different languages as needed (cursing some, loving others).

Anyway my point is just because you start somewhere doesn't mean that's where you stay. If those backing code.org thing that the brightest students will stick to the products they were trained in they are deluded. Only the average and below students will never expand their knowledge beyond their training and I'm fine with that.

The good and best will still end up doing what they like, make their own choices, making a difference where they can and will have the intelligence to use the best tools for the job rather than the one their peers pressure them into using for whatever reason.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (4, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#45551569)

The "good and the best," self-motivated learners with the drive and resources to seek out and find the best available resources, don't need Code.org in the first place. Yes, you learned to program and use a broad variety of devices --- without any help from Code.org (who didn't exist).

The Code.org project is primarily about reaching out to a broader selection of students who haven't already learned to program on their own resources. It's mass-educational-material for ordinary classroom students. As such, it should be held to a high standard of being educational in a broader sense than churning out factory-ready robots. Students who would discover the broad world of Free software on their own probably don't need Code.org. For everyone else, learning whether to think "outside the box" of proprietary products, or --- on the opposite side --- being brainwashed into being ignorant and terrified of everything outside that box --- is a matter of education. You can expand students' minds beyond what many would discover on their own; or, you can actively work to chain and constrict those minds. We should be extremely wary about turning the future of computer education over to Microsoft and Facebook's corporate interests. The "best and the brightest" will still escape; but they'll be sentenced to live in a world overwhelmingly populated by the mentally crippled products of megacorporate education.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

mindwhip (894744) | about 8 months ago | (#45551669)

But if things were different what would the best moan about on /.?

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#45552199)

Intricacies of computer technologies? In an otherwise perfect world, you could always still gripe and moan about the latest kernel scheduler tweaks or edge-case oddities of compiler optimization --- you know, proper nerdly stuff. Fix education and healthcare; establish just distribution of resources, in an ecologically sustainable manner; bring about world peace and global solidarity of humankind: I'll not stand in the way of such things for fear of running out of things to nerdrage about, because there will always be something suitable to nerdrage about.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45552751)

For everyone else, learning whether to think "outside the box" of proprietary products, or --- on the opposite side --- being brainwashed into being ignorant and terrified of everything outside that box --- is a matter of education.

yeah because teaching javascript and cross-platform programming targeting windows, ios, linux, android and web browsers is just so forcing them into being brainwashed. you are just a useless angry and stupid person.

You can expand students' minds beyond what many would discover on their own; or, you can actively work to chain and constrict those minds.

what the hell are you crapping on about? you havent actually even looked at what they teach, in fact they teach much cross-platform technologies targeting many operating systems both open and closed.

We should be extremely wary about turning the future of computer education over to Microsoft and Facebook's corporate interests.

and nobody is doing that, you are just an ignorant idiot who hasnt even looked at the projects and are just frothing at the mouth because you saw Gates and Zuckerberg are involved.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (2)

exomondo (1725132) | about 8 months ago | (#45552803)

I just had a look at their website [code.org] and much of it seems to be device and platform agnostic, in fact some things are just critical-thinking tasks that don't even require a computer. I doubt it would be difficult to tie all the corporate and private donors together to come up with some big conspiracy theory about how this is all to enslave everybody as corporate drones and somebody should think of the children but there doesn't really seem to be anything to actually support that notion so wouldn't a more effective use of that time be producing an alternative to the specific elements - if any - that you disagree with?

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 8 months ago | (#45553975)

> Anyway my point is just because you start somewhere doesn't mean that's where you stay.

Said the programmer, about a situation which won't repeat itself unless we magically uninvent PCs and start all over again.

The computer average user, instead, cried: WHERE ARE MY ICONS? THEY USED TO BE HERE at every slight change of any desktop.

If the OS taught at school did not matter, school would have no special programs with MS or any other, it's this simple.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (4, Informative)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 8 months ago | (#45551845)

Have you ever used Stackoverflow.com ? Congrats, you just used IIS/Exchange/Windows. Oh and it scales really well and is used by a lot of popular web sites.

http://highscalability.com/blog/2009/8/5/stack-overflow-architecture.html [highscalability.com]

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45553197)

FTA: Upgrading to 48GB RAM required upgrading MS Enterprise edition

Great, so a handful of sites manage to succeed in spite of paying through the nose for Windows licenses and being jerked around whenever they add memory. The rest of the world, especially startups trying not to blow their entire wad of VC in the datacenter, use Linux. In fact, a large number of the virtually-hosted Windows servers are actually running on Xen on Linux -- nobody wants to pay for Hyper-V when an equivalent and free alternative exists. Hire competent staff that have *nix experience, and any advantage to Windows' "easy" nested point/click "server manager" interfaces goes away.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45553207)

FTA: "As you add more and more database servers the SQL Server license costs can be outrageous. So by starting scale up and gradually going scale out with non-open source software you can be in a world of financial hurt."

There's one big reason why people choose Linux and a database system that runs on it like PostgreSQL -- right there in the article you posted.

Stackoverflow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45553257)

I admit. I was even tempted to post an answer. Once. Never again. The Javascript/cookies hoops I've had to jump through were enough for the rest of my life.

Not my culture.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (3, Funny)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 8 months ago | (#45553893)

With enough thrust, a pig can fly.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about 8 months ago | (#45554769)

With enough thrust, a pig can fly.

But, can it land? I see at least two things wrong with this concept.
1. Longitudinal data allows the gleaning of code without compensation.
2. Copyright issues, some people make lots of money goofing around with coding in school and at home, the apps environment being one. Why should the likes of Gates or Zuckerberg profit from the work of others without just credit.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

Xest (935314) | about 8 months ago | (#45554469)

So your argument against Windows hosting is that Microsoft used Linux for Hotmail (the platform and stack Hotmail was built on before they bought it) back in the 90s? Really? You don't have anything more convincing than that?

Windows Server and IIS are pretty solid nowadays (can't speak for Exchange, not touched it in the best part of a decade) and there isn't really much in it in terms of performance and definitely not in terms of security and stability.

It's more expensive, but if you're developing with .NET and are a Microsoft shop internally anyway then that cost can easily be justified from productivity gains and the lack of need to spend time retraining etc.

I'm fairly easy going when it comes to platform choice, I'm not really a zealot for one or the other and have delivered large projects with both - there's really nothing in it particularly and the choice more often than not comes down to what skillset the client has to manage it post-delivery.

Re: Self-serving philanthropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45551447)

Gentler kinder machine gun hand comes to mind...

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

koan (80826) | about 8 months ago | (#45552077)

"How exactly does curing malaria help Microsoft and Bill Gates?"

Really? Really?
The OP went to far and you're at the opposite end, if Zuckerberg is involved I doubt the motives are philanthropic.

Side Note: My observation of Zuckerberg makes me think genetic inclination towards aspergers or some other variant (high functioning of course) but with the same 0 empathy shark eyed stare and behaviour.

In other words he is incapable of actually philanthropy or empathy.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45553421)

I'm puzzled why you think an aspie wouldn't do philanthropy.

I grant you that they will usually be immune from the typical emotive bullshit that charities rely on. Notice that every charitable ad talks about a single person whom "your donation can help". That's because research shows that the more people you mention or show, the less the average person is to donate. Normal people reduce their total donation as the number of needy increases; aspies, from what I've seen, increase it. They are however more likely to want to know the raw numbers and how to get maximum leverage from their money.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (4, Interesting)

mindwhip (894744) | about 8 months ago | (#45551219)

There's noting like a good conspiracy story to get a rise from /. regulars but hell I've got karma to burn so I'm going the other way...

Some achievement tracking is justified and useful (and even necessary) for the project itself. For code.org to justify its efforts (both to itself and to schools in general) it needs to prove that they made a difference and its hard to do that with no data on how well students improved compared to those not involved. Also since there seems to be some kind of grading/tests/qualifications involved and code.org is issuing them they need to be (as for any examining body) able to keep records of what student did what and that they achieved the required competency and how the difficulty of these achievements compare to other disciplines the students are involved with.

The power to veto teachers is also justified to some extent given how many bad teachers there are out there and bad teaching of the material will likely have the opposite effect than the project wants (that is put talented kids off coding for life). As there are 'small teacher stipends' involved this seems very reasonable to me as does training teachers... something that there isn't nearly enough of (especially in the sciences and technology given how fast things change) which just results in even more bad teaching.

Committing to teach for two years also makes sense given the first year the teachers are likely learning the material just in time to teach it, the second (and presumably subsequent) years the teacher will be able to teach it better due to familiarity. It also ensures at least some consistency for students from one year to the next.

There is two things that I would change from what I read and they are 1) Parents need to have the option to opt-out their sprogs from the achievement tracking but since it would seem that they need to give permission to participate in the first place this is a moot point and 2) the extended performance data needs to be anonymous.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (4, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#45551385)

No, Code.org does not need centralized tracking of each individual student's activities over many years. Tracking student achievement; determining who has passed classes and qualified for credits; is the responsibility of the local school district and educators in the classroom. For improving quality of the educational materials, all Code.org needs is aggregate summary data, at the classroom level at the very finest-grained, and to encourage evaluation and feedback from classroom educators on how well each portion of the material engages/baffles/bores/frustrates/enlightens students.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

mindwhip (894744) | about 8 months ago | (#45551463)

And there is why so many educational programmes only ever give average results. They measure averaged data against averaged data and surprisingly normally come out around average. The result is an average level of education.

Understanding if the programme benefits students with higher or lower abilities is important not only statistically important but also for any educational programme to make sense. There is no point to the programme if while the overall class did better than average it was down to one or two super bright students doing really well while most of the class actually fell behind - especially when a program is intended to help students that may be struggling or to promote knowledge across a wide range of abilities.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#45551513)

You can determine this from anonymous aggregated data. You don't have to be completely stupid and average every grade in every class into a single district-wide mean. But, you can report "here's the distribution of grades on the Module 4.3b semester-end test" without Code.org needing to read each student's report card.

The approach taken by Code.org of centralizing data to create silly metrics is part of the whole process of industrializing education to a horrible "one size fits none," teach-to-the-test approach. The opposite of this is giving classroom teachers the ability to evaluate and address each student's individual learning needs. This happens in small classrooms with experienced teachers; the opposite of "cram everyone into a mega video lecture, and turn teachers into minimum-wage test proctors doling out pre-packaged material according to the Central Computer's instructions."

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

mindwhip (894744) | about 8 months ago | (#45551647)

Teaching styles and results vary however due to the way data is gathered, averaged and analysed it is always possible to prove one is better than the other. If I could be be bothered (which I can't) I'm sure I could dig out several peer reviewed studies that show the bigger the class and the more standardised the material the better the education level of the population... The small class, focused teaching case falls apart compared to the fixed lesson plans scenario any time the teacher for whatever reason doesn't want to be teaching at that particular point in his/her life (this can be for many reasons ranging from illness, death of a relative all the way to plain overwork or being just an incompetent teacher).

You can determine this from anonymous aggregated data

There isare two things that I would change... 2) the extended performance data needs to be anonymous.

You're mostly agreeing with me here... The larger data set should be anonymous but there are several good reasons that at least some of the data isn't.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#45551819)

I'm sure I could dig out several peer reviewed studies that show the bigger the class and the more standardised the material the better the education level of the population

It would be interesting to see what those studies showed --- and how, when comparing across societal populations that may vary in other ways than typical class size --- they controlled for external factors.

From what I can find of scientifically controlled studies (rather than uncontrolled observational research), where people from the same population were randomly assigned to smaller or larger class sizes, smaller classes showed benefits. For example, some analysis of the Tennessee STAR experiment [classsizematters.org] .

Isolated personal anecdotes do not make for sound science; however, in my own experience, I certainly got a lot more out of small classes where the teacher was more able to individually accommodate student needs (in my own case, the need of generally being way ahead of the average grade-level material).

You're complaining about education being driven to mediocre "average" levels, yet you support mass standardized big class testing-driven approaches because they show good averaged results? You do realize that, in the mega-for-profit standardized educational industry being pushed by Gates and Zuckerburg, the bottom line for corporate profit will be tied to whatever silly mass-averaged metrics the corporations can foist off on the public as measures of "success," which will have very little to do with the needs and development of individual students as assessed by classroom teachers? Collecting fine-grained personally tracked results isn't about providing fine-grained individual best outcomes (like a conscientious teacher would do); it's a power grab to assure that the methods for reducing individual data to bottom-line averaged metrics are in the hands of megacorporations, rather than teachers --- so that "educational success" can be defined in the most profitable ways. "Privatize the system and hand over education to us, and your students will be 36 zurmuflobs better educated! The competition only provides 31 zurmuflobs!".

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45555975)

"Isolated personal anecdotes do not make for sound science; however, in my own experience, I certainly got a lot more out of small classes where the teacher was more able to individually accommodate student needs (in my own case, the need of generally being way ahead of the average grade-level material)."

Actually individual results are the only proper substrate for sound science. Making decisions about how to treat each individual based on the "average" result (the average patient/student/whatever does not exist) is bad science. Thats not to say averages are useless, they may be able to point us in the right direction if there is a lot of noise, but averages are detached from causality.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (2)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 8 months ago | (#45551907)

For improving quality of the educational materials, all Code.org needs is aggregate summary data

I don't think that's necessarily true, or at least it's not true that more specific detail than aggregate data won't lend itself to additional useful insights.

For instance it's reasonable to imagine that different people learn better in different ways and that by accumulating data on individuals one might be able to determine different groups among them which might in turn lead to more tailored materials for different types of learners.

If you aggregate the data early around one factor (eg a class or school) that will vastly reduce your ability to come up with other ways to view the data or to have things emerge from the data that you didn't already anticipate.

It would be absurd to suggest that more fine-grained data wouldn't allow for more detailed analysis. The only question is where the line needs to be drawn for privacy or other reasons.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#45551965)

Fine-grained individual learning evaluation is something that the educators in the classroom should be in charge of. I know all my good teachers were the ones who put effort into learning the character of each student, and adjusting things to work. Centralizing control over analysis of student performance data --- taking the capability away from teachers to evaluate how a program is really working, and placing it in the hands of Gates and Zuckerberg to push whatever megacorporate agenda they want --- is far from ideal. An educational program should be seeking input from teachers --- "hey, this module seems too lecture-heavy for most of my students; the kids who did best in the hands-on lab dropped the thread in sections 4.3 to 4.8". Instead of turning to Zuckerberg to algorithmically decide how the world should run, while reducing teachers to uninvolved lackeys just there to proctor tests, we should be giving teachers greater ability to share their on-the-ground observations, and flexibility to taylor education for their students.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 8 months ago | (#45552385)

Centralizing control over analysis of student performance data --- taking the capability away from teachers to evaluate how a program is really working, and placing it in the hands of

You seem to view this as a zero sum game.

Additional central analytics doesn't necessarily take capabilities away from teachers. It could inform and help them.

Anything can be used badly, it seems to me the fight should be to use analytics well, not stop it being used.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#45552411)

I view this as a zero-sum game because I recognize the players. A negative-sum game, in fact. With the likes of Gates and Zuckerberg at the helm, do you seriously think they're not pushing for absolute centralized corporate control, conveniently packaged as a cost-saving package because you can fire a bunch of those redundant teachers? As you say, "anything can be used badly" --- and Gates and Zuckerberg are the types of folks who will be on the leading edge of maximizing that badness.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45552647)

They are probably most interest in measuring teacher performance. You can infer a lot from statistical analysis but the detailed data over several years will tell you more.

The data can anonymised stripping out names and address and replacing them with a unique student number and just the zip code.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 8 months ago | (#45553931)

Some achievement tracking is justified and useful (and even necessary) for the project itself.

Apparently the system they use to assess students and teachers is based on "stacked ranking", an employee performance system that Gates introduced at Microsoft, and continued under Ballmer for a decade, but which Microsoft has more recently dropped utterly.

Importantly, this policy has already been introduced in over 30 states for teacher assessment, thanks to Gates' donation to the Obama administration, and the administration tying the adoption of the system to education grants. Teacher job satisfaction in the affected states has dropped from 62% to 39% in four years. With such a sharp drop in morale, and apparently high level of stress created by the program, you can imagine how actual teacher performance would have suffered.

Meanwhile... ...stacked ranking was being blamed for Microsoft's decline. "Microsoft's Lost Decade" [vanityfair.com] .

"Stacked ranking effectively crippled Microsoft's ability to innovate. Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft. It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies." Or in the case of teachers, leads to them undermining each other rather than focus on doing the best for their own students.

And now Microsoft has completely eliminated the "stacked rank" policy. That's easy for a company to do, but how long do you think it will take to unwrap it from national and state education policies?

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | about 8 months ago | (#45556991)

"There's noting like a good conspiracy story to get a rise ..."

Sure sounded factual to me, sonny? WTF are you prattling on about? Oh, you believe we exist in a meritocracy in America, do you?

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

mindwhip (894744) | about 8 months ago | (#45558415)

All the BEST conspiracies are factual... especially the ones that seem so unlikely no sane person could believe them to be true...

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 8 months ago | (#45551401)

The people aren't a good start; but the problem is arguably not one of personality: Is a program, designed by (and to a nontrivial extent, for) people who view the product as future human resources(and, even if it no longer has a personal interest, like Gates who is semi-retired, draws heavily from 'technocrats who certainly don't think that 'privacy' is even on the radar when the employees are on the clock, or, increasingly, off it), rather than students, going to combine the managerial style of corporate cube-herders with the usual high-handedness of people Who Are Here To Englighten The Savages, and then package that up in your state-mandated education?

Barring exceptional personalities pushing in the opposite direction, very, very probably. A bunch of silicon valley success stories, (increasingly drawn from companies where Monetizing User Data is half business model and half theology), come down to 'save education' and increase the supply of future code monkeys. How else was this going to shake down?

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45552825)

What else could be expected from names like Zuckerberg and Gates?

...and of course Google. But where are the FOSS foundations? Same old story: just release code and then complain when people dont use it and if anybody else advocates for non-free software just complain about that too. In fact code.org teaches many languages and platforms (including linux) but i suppose you just ignore that?

I'll bet they'll veto anyone who tries to use Linux or teach kids about privacy.

Their website even teaches kids to code on linux! Take your ignorant simple-mindedness somewhere else.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

John.Banister (1291556) | about 8 months ago | (#45553235)

I don't think so. This isn't about future consumers. It's about future employees. I imagine that the kids who match the profile they seek get an offer of coding trade school tuition in exchange for a few years of indentured servitude (bringing "european apprenticeship traditions" to the USA).

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

wahi (1465145) | about 8 months ago | (#45555461)

i already didn't buy code.org's shrill rhetoric. now i am just blown away.

Re:Self-serving philanthropy (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 8 months ago | (#45559661)

Don't forget the data must include facebook and hotmail identities to go with the marks, along with full names and home addresses/phone numbers.

Yes. Give Us You Children (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 8 months ago | (#45550945)

Billionaires can be trusted. Money is virtue. It says so, in the Bible.

Re:Yes. Give Us You Children (2)

plopez (54068) | about 8 months ago | (#45551131)

Corporations are the pinnacle of human achievement. Corporations are the most efficient, benevolent, and wise people on the planet.

Re:Yes. Give Us You Children (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 8 months ago | (#45551227)

Of course. That is why Santa always brings more presents to rich kids than poor ones. What kind monster would question Santa Claus?!?!?!?

Re:Yes. Give Us You Children (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 8 months ago | (#45551789)

Makes up for rich kids having to donate all the toys they no longer play with to the poor...

Re:Yes. Give Us You Children (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45552373)

It says so, in the Bible.

Are you sure about that? I can't find anything like that anywhere in my copy of TAOCP. Which volume and chapter are you referring to?

Re: Yes. Give Us You Children (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 8 months ago | (#45552683)

Is that before or after "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven"?

Re: Yes. Give Us You Children (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 8 months ago | (#45553435)

Long, long after.

Stalker Culture (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45550953)

Stands to reason if there is some tracking, stalking, mining or following to be done the American tech companies will gladly help especially if there is a buck to be made.
Follow someone in the street and you will be arrested, do it with a computer and its somehow called innovation and forward thinking, makes you wonder what kind of society they want to create ?

What do you expect? (4, Insightful)

MLCT (1148749) | about 8 months ago | (#45550983)

It is a Mark Zuckerberg project - he hasn't exactly got a good track record for respecting people's privacy and not trying to build profiles that can be exploited down the road.

Honestly, even in a supposed "philanthropic" venture, I would always question the motive.

"Push until you meet resistance, then pull back, then push again when people aren't looking" that is the facebook/zuckerberg motto.

Re:What do you expect? (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 8 months ago | (#45551423)

"Push until you meet resistance, then pull back, then push again when people aren't looking" that is the facebook/zuckerberg motto.

That follows "When they advance, we retreat. When they hunt, we hide. When they sleep, we attack. When they retreat, we advance." from "On Guerrilla Warfare", Mao Zedong, 1930. This is the standard operating procedure for guerrilla groups. Classically it is a strategy of the weak against the strong. It's interesting to see it used by tycoons.

Re:What do you expect? (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | about 8 months ago | (#45551541)

The Gates Foundation uses their clout as the largest charity in the world to push for stronger IP laws. So Zuck is just trying to get in on some of that sweet, sweet charity power for his own interests.

http://hyperlogos.org/blog/drink/Why-Gates-Foundation-Evil [hyperlogos.org]

They have nothing to fear (1)

plopez (54068) | about 8 months ago | (#45551111)

From our benign corporate overlords.

Would you buy a used car from these men? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45551129)

I can't say I'd trust either of these individuals with my personal data for the last seven days, let alone the last seven weeks.

Re:Would you buy a used car from these men? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#45553021)

I can't say I'd trust either of these individuals with my personal data for the last seven days, let alone the last seven weeks.

well, that's why billy gee and tsukkiepoi want to collect this information. they have been burnt with bad car dealers so they want to have information about which one of them are trustworthy.

codeorg, inbloom etc are funny because.. uh.. where did either b g or zuck learn their skills? in the "what's hot right now" class at school?

Zuckerberg think students are "Dumb F*cks" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45551157)

He thinks people that trust him with their personal data are "Dumb F*cks" (actual quote). He probably thinks that about teachers and students that join this program.

Re:Zuckerberg think students are "Dumb F*cks" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45558661)

No, he spelled "fucks" out. They teach you that at Harvard.

Necessary Evil? (3)

krakass (935403) | about 8 months ago | (#45551205)

I'm not saying I'd trust them either, but it is hard to determine how successful your program is if you don't get some kind of feedback. Seven years does seem excessive, but without knowing the results of the program, they can't modify it to be more effective.

Re:Necessary Evil? (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#45551299)

"Some kind of feedback" means collecting aggregate data reports from teachers and local school districts on how the program is working. "Some kind of feedback" does not require centrally tracking every assignment grade from each individual student. That level of intrusive tracking serves different ends from improving the educational quality of the material --- for which the companies involved have a proven track record of being heinously evil.

Use Big Data to better build H1 job descriptions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45551459)

Noice! With that data they can make sure to create job descriptions that cannot be filled by US students, brilliant!

An alternative approach (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 8 months ago | (#45551483)

Bill, Zuck,
Here's an alternative approach. Take your money out of offshore tax havens and pay your taxes so that voters can determine school policy. That may mean public schools, school vouchers, or any other approach with widespread support. Zuck, you've still got majority voting power, so you can even do that with your Face(whatever it is) company.

Re:An alternative approach (2)

Tom (822) | about 8 months ago | (#45551901)

A hundred times this.

Whenever you hear of the philantropic efforts of multi-millionaires, always keep in mind that they took that money of theirs out of the local economy. It's not like it appeared out of nowhere, you know?

Re:An alternative approach (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 8 months ago | (#45552045)

Voters are idiots, they keep electing people that promise more bread and circuses and corruption rather than people that promise to maintain rule of law and Constitutionality of the government. Voters deserve exactly the outcomes that they are getting.

Re:An alternative approach (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | about 8 months ago | (#45557021)

And while they are at it, tell Gates to direct Microsoft Corporation to cease financially supporting (along with others) David Rockefeller's and Henry Kissinger's American Friends of Bilderberg, Inc.. (But we both know they never will......)

Good. Base quality on data, not on anecdotes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45551543)

How else do you tell what works? Look at the friggen results.

This right to privacy you think you have does not apply to many areas:
* infectious disease control
* crossing borders
* ruining the next generation with your Texas creationist "science"

Don't like it? Take your precious little flower out of these schools and put them in church school where they already have a book with all the answers.

Re:Good. Base quality on data, not on anecdotes. (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 8 months ago | (#45551591)

This right to privacy you think you have does not apply to many areas:

It doesn't say they want private data. It says they want performance data. This does not have to identify students.

Re:Good. Base quality on data, not on anecdotes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45551713)

But it easily does identify them, even if the names are left off.
How many people in your graduating class took all the same course as you?
How many scored the same marks?
How many had the same GPA?
How many applied to other institutions with detailed lists of the above?

 

Re:Good. Base quality on data, not on anecdotes. (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 8 months ago | (#45551759)

Enough to make impossible any Bayesian inference (that you are suggesting without naming it by name or maybe not even wittingly).

umm (2)

superwiz (655733) | about 8 months ago | (#45551587)

I want that data, too. Why isn't performance data public record? These are public schools which operate completely on tax payers' dollars. All teacher salaries are public record as is all public employee data. Why shouldn't performance metrics be public record? I doubt they are asking for students to be named by name. I am sure they would be happy with just the student performance data in a way that keeps students names impossible to find. I would like to know that data, too. Certainly when I pay property taxes I'd like to know what they buy me.

Code.org: Become an asshole CEO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45551627)

This is what code.org communicates to me.
Become an asshole CEO and become filthy rich, and let the little coding folks do the work for you.

It's only a proposed contract... (1)

mindwhip (894744) | about 8 months ago | (#45551771)

Anyway... Putting all the privacy/Evil Overlords/Brainwashing arguments aside it hasn't been signed by anyone under duress. It is really just a starting point for negotiations between the "entity" and code.org. In the corporate world you never sign anything without legal looking at it. If it is for something important (like this is) you always negotiate better terms especially when the other party needs you more than you need them (code.org needs the schools more than the schools need code.org).

The first contract isn't much more than a wish list by the one drafting it. Sometimes they only include unreasonable terms just so they have something to give up in discussions instead of something less extreme that they need more. If schools/districts/whoever sign up to this unmodified they need a change of management.

Re:It's only a proposed contract... (2)

Improv (2467) | about 8 months ago | (#45552023)

If we think we might object to provisions we wouldn't like in the final contract, we'd better start objecting now. The end effect of such protests can only be positive for us, particularly because we often lack a direct input into terms and in the end are left with a thumbs-up-or-down; making a fuss early gives us some of the only kind of leverage we really can get.

One Sixth Of A Child's Education (1)

d'baba (1134261) | about 8 months ago | (#45551973)

That's how much those two years the teachers are required to teach are to the students.
Where did these educational innovations come from? Where have they been tried before?
And, more importantly, why are they performing these human trials in public schools?

Re:One Sixth Of A Child's Education (1)

cyborg_zx (893396) | about 8 months ago | (#45553351)

And, more importantly, why are they performing these human trials in public schools?

Where the fuck else you going to try them? A school of mackrel?

Re:One Sixth Of A Child's Education (1)

d'baba (1134261) | about 8 months ago | (#45553465)

Private companies. Private schools. Children in public schools should not be experimented on.

Re:One Sixth Of A Child's Education (1)

cyborg_zx (893396) | about 8 months ago | (#45553637)

Children in public schools should not be experimented on.

Why not? It's happening anyway done for political reasons based on nothing but mere ideology. Why not actually apply some scientific scrutiny to the education system rather than come up with something like "No Child Left Behind," and then kind of hope it does what it's supposed to? Is that the system you prefer? Or do you advocate that things just stay as they are and never change? What do you think is better? Or is it just an irrational response to the concept of "experimentation" as if the process of just randomly muddling along was much more superior? How dare we subject our children to rigorous experimental situations that will help our education system in the long term! Leave them to the chaotic winds of ignorance is what God intended! It's clearly failed to work in the past, it can fail to work again!

Improve CS education? (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 8 months ago | (#45551985)

I'm not sure we need to improve CS education. What we need is to give CS grads jobs that actually require using their CS skills rather than just becoming glorified code monkeys. Or worse yet, managers.

InBloom Stinks (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 8 months ago | (#45552249)

The Times Union recently had a front page story [timesunion.com] on how the New York State Department of Education was selecting curriculum and programs like InBloom. There's a small, secretive group of private workers (not bound by state worker rules). They raise donations from big companies/individuals and set educational policy. One of their biggest donors? The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Like that donation to the group setting the educational policy didn't result in InBloom being implemented at all.

NuMaths (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 8 months ago | (#45553509)

Throw in the fact that Microsoft has now completely dropped the employee training and assessment policy that BG is basing his education programs around. Yet one of the main arguments used to support introducing it into schools is that it was successful at "knowledge companies" like Microsoft. The problem is that, unlike a company, once it's got its claws into education policy you can't remove it by putting a new person in charge (as at Microsoft HR), it'll be a decade after there's a general consensus from educators that it has failed before any senior decision-maker will dare make a change on the same scale.

Proof : Failbook and M$ are partners (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45552309)

M$ and Failbook have and always will disregard the privacy of their lusers so it should come as no surprise that Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates both are itching to personal information from code.org participants. There are other ways to learn code that will not infringe on privacy. The best way is to read source code and work with free software which is why M$ wants to extinguish free software with their digital restrictions management and malware infected non-free software. M$ and Failbook both hate freedom.

--
Friends don't help friends install M$ junk.
Friends do assist M$ addicted friends in committing suicide.

Follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45553079)

Gates and Zuck want Moar! Money! So they want 7 years of data of kids so they can then tack, identify, and sell micro targeted data. Kid has a poor reading comprehension? How much would an insurance company pay for that in seven years time when the kid is say, 20? Kid has poor self esteem, poor body image, weak math skills? How much is the individual weaknesses, failures, etc of miilions of kids worth to private industry sold by the millions?

Gates and Zuck are ostensibly billionaires. But they act like their billions could evaporate at any moment.

They need data, don't they? (1)

Modern Primate (1503803) | about 8 months ago | (#45576469)

How are they supposed to function without metrics?

i have am idea of a phone application (1)

hussainsh (3454839) | about 8 months ago | (#45608735)

Hi, i am an individual, 18 years old. I have an idea for a phone application, which will connect people in a new way. The features in this application has never been used, its completely new idea. I am looking for a student who is ready to develop and code this application, and become part of the group, if interested, or for more info contact hussain_shehada@hotmail.com
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