Pearson’s Vision of Connected Education – Scary, But Not That Scary

So once again this particular Pearson video is making the rounds on the various Facebook groups to which I belong. It gets talked about as some kind of bad learning experience for kids, tool for teachers, and info gathering device or outlet for parents. I’ve tried to use my experience of 18 years of working with educational technology to inform parents that this is in fact a “vision”, not a reality. There are examples like this in every industry and every major vendor has put them on YouTube for the world to see and say, “Oh how cool would that be” or “Hey, that is really scary.” The parents in these groups, and in the live meetings where I’ve seen this video discussed with a larger audience, usually state the most common reactions including, but not limited to:

1. How scary this is.
2. How there is no human interaction.
3. How the kids will break the devices.
4. How this costs too much,
5. How there are no real plants shown in the plants lesson.
6. How computers should not replace teachers.

This video, and the talking points around it, are not the rallying call we need to fight the over use of high-stakes testing, rushed implementation of the Common Core and the abusive data-mining of our kids.

Now I got tired of posting my $.02 on this over and over again so I will just report some of the various comments I’ve left on these social sites below. Feel free to use the comment area of this post to share your thoughts on this Pearson video or any other “futuristic ed tech” videos you have seen.

The REAL scary part of this video is at 5:30 seconds. Watch from 5:14 on and comment below if you can spot what, I think, is the worst part of all of this. The rest of it is promotional fluff…for now.

My recent commentary on this video includes:

“Connected learning utilizing the latest technology isn’t a bad thing. Heck, that’s what we are all doing right here in Facebook alone in these various groups. What you have to understand from these videos (every major educational vendor has some) is they are a wish list of “things”. Every industry has these series of videos that showcase what the future will look like if it is tech infused 24/7. Look up Microsoft’s Vision for Health Care, Retail, Education. Google Glasses, 3D printing, etc. This Pearson video is the one that makes the rounds at every parent meeting talking about the CCSS and testing. I work with educational tech. Been doing that for 18 years now. This video isn’t as frightening as you think, nor is it reality. The “scariest” part is at minute 5:30. Watch it again from 5:14 on and comment back if you caught the “scary” part. I put scary in quotes because it’s not ghost-like scary, but theoretically an unfortunate outcome of the Pearson system.”

and

“Kids won’t break them because that new tablet won’t be like anything you’e seen yet. Go look on YouTube for the flexible screen, stretchable tablets and other devices in development that we are not yet using. Heck, YouTube didn’t exist 10 years ago, Facebook neither. And the video is not about less human interaction, nor is that what Pearson is predicting. Believe me I’m as anti-Pearson as everyone else, but this is not their worst doing (and yet this is again a “vision” not a reality). Yes, they are trying to sell stuff; that’s what they do. But this video gets used over and over again as some kind of bad voodoo coming to our schools. Would you prefer if the medical profession/field never adopted any new technology? No one goes into surgery now with a doctor who uses techniques from 40 years ago. A computer can replace a teacher in certain circumstances. There is nothing wrong with a live video chat with an expert on a topic. Nothing wrong with kids learning math concepts by watching an instructor work it out and explain it in a video. Again, in my professional opinion of seeing and working with ed tech for 18 years, the worst part of this video is at the 5:30 mark. That’s what we should be rallying against.”

Now, with the same mindset watch these two videos below. Also consider the things that were not around say 5, 10, 20, 50 years ago – you know like YouTube and Facebook 🙂 Are these videos also scary? Maybe, maybe not.

and

Also here with explanation of the various new technologies and here in the search results view the Health Care and Retail examples as well.

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4 Comments

  1. Jenn

     /  November 19, 2013

    Here are the things that stand out to me in the new world that Pearson envisions:
    1. kids texting in the middle of class, and parents testing in the middle of meetings.
    2. no dad at home
    3. learning about photosynthesis, but no plants anywhere to be seen in class.
    4. kids waited till the last minute to do their presentation
    5. the slider bar for the teacher’s presentation seemed pretty arbitrary
    6. everyone has the same device. some company will be mighty rich to make that happen
    There’s more, but that was just my initial observations.

    Reply
    • Hi Jen, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. As an ed-tech enthausist and supporter, I will say that some of the observations you made weren’t left out of the video intenntionally (I assume), like not seeing a dad at home. Remember, the focus of the videos like this that show a “futurist” view of an industry is on the product being marketed, not the surroundings. Parents always point out that “no one is talking” in videos like these, but this is an advertisement and very often in advertising (TV commercials, etc.) no one is talking and things appear to be out of place or appear odd. Your observation about everyone having the same device ‘could’ be problematic, but right now doesn’t every kid use the same textbook? So it’s a similar scenario just with tech. I’ve been in classrooms where students were permitted to use any device they wanted tied to a particular class objective and it was chaotic. That’s now, but in the future those scenarios might get better. Then again, we have schools that just buy iPads right now, or one particular type of computer. There does have to be some standardization when limited by cost, suupport, and training constraints. Kids texting in the middle of class isn’t a bad idea if tied to an instructional goal. Thanks for commenting. Make sure you check out the other videos in the post as well if you haven’t already done so. -Brian

      Reply
  2. Marc

     /  September 26, 2013

    I spotted what you saw as the “scary” part. That kid was pretty young to be already pigeon-holed. I’m not so sure I like that, either.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Marc. Personalized learning isn’t a bad thing. We just don’t really know how to do it well yet. Telling kids, on a daily, if not hourly basis, what “we” expect them to develop into can’t be a good thing. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Reply

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