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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Pearson, Microsoft announce joint venture for Common Core curriculum, apps, tools. Good news for schools? Or sign of the apocalypse?

Pearson, Microsoft announce joint venture for Common Core curriculum, apps, tools. Good news for schools? Or sign of the apocalypse?

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Press release: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1748922#ixzz2uLL0Nx7J

From what is evident in the press release, Microsoft and Pearson report they have teamed up to develop personalized learning tools for students. Certainly sounds like a good idea, right? Why not have the biggest and best minds in technology and curriculum pulling on the same sled? It's not hard to imagine them offering a system presenting individualized content, adjusted for learning ability and demonstrated skills, allowing students to effortlessly cull together bits of information, synthesizing a work product that demonstrates their acquired knowledge. How many districts would line up to purchase something like that?

There's a problem though. From the start of the Common Core initiative, critics have complained that Microsoft's involvement (via Bill Gates) is solely profit-driven, not necessarily what is in the best interests of children. One could argue: what's wrong with advancing education (meeting a need) WHILE making money (earning a profit)? Isn't that the American way? On the other hand, it could also be argued that this is profiteering plain and simple in addition to the latest step toward corporate dominance of the classroom.

I'm not so sure. So what do you all think? Will the technological prowess of Microsoft combined with the curricular knowledge of Pearson result in powerful, intuitive, easy to use apps and digital-age curricula that will propel a new generation of US students to the top of the PISA heap? Or, is this the shoe that everyone was waiting to drop, and evidence we are seeing signs of what has to have been Microsoft's plan all along - to monetize K-12 education in a deep, far-reaching way?

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Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I'm sort of deeply suspicious of most of these sorts of things. Then again, Apple tried to align itself with universities early on as well, so everyone can profit from young people that need new and more powerful technology- but the entry into a proprietary garden where once you buy in, its next to impossible to get out is pretty disturbing.

When I've been to ISTE or ASCD, there's a lot of temptation for people to buy "curriculum in a box" from vendors of every stripe. Buy the box, check the box, you've done your job, right? If there's anything I've learned, is that curriculum is a starting point, not an endpoint for teaching, and it needs a large amount of flexibility and input, not one size or vendor or viewpoint for all.

Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
K-4 Technology Facilitator from Northfield, New Jersey
Facilitator

Hi Arnold, not sure I understand your question - do you mean the tool Microsoft is using? Please clarify. Thanks!

Arnold Paul Angus's picture

Hi kevin! a tool or guide some schools that are using in designing their curriculum. But the tool Microsoft is using would help me too.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Staff

Hi Arnold,

As far as we know, the collaboration between Microsoft and Pearson hasn't produced any products yet. As for other tools or guides to design curriculum, that is a huge topic and would take this discussion thread off-topic. Please start a new discussion thread with your question and add more context around your question so that the community can know how to best answer it. I recommend you post your question here:

http://www.edutopia.org/groups/education-leadership

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