*Finally* finished writing! I promised to share so here it is.


Funny how I'm more excited to share with people "out there" than to submit to my prof. (Should go without saying that your feedback means more). 😉​

Anyway, this is 1/2 in my "summer papers that must be written" collection. It is about the problems with big prizes (Global Learning XPRIZE), big ed tech and, well, just big.

Comments good, bad and ugly always welcome.

@tdorey Thanks for writing this, and posting it online, and accepting questions!

My question is about this: "If there were one thing the Global Learning XPRIZE contest could do to empower Tanzanian children to take control of their own learning, it would be to connect them to the Internet."

Is this obvious?

@22 Interesting question.

It's obvious to me... For me the benefit of mobile is that it allows inexpensive access to services not accessible locally and the for two-way sharing.

I lived in the far North and for me, the Internet meant access to a library-It was big deal and helped me finish school. These kids and communities might not want/ need library access, but if we are talking about empowering, people wouldn't part of that be having the choice to choose?

@tdorey Thanks for writing! Ah, for sure I agree that we want to empower children to take control of their learning. The part of that quote I was confused about is, why connecting them to the internet was the obvious best thing to do? Both
- engineering-wise (what internet?—HTTP, POP3, NNTP, IRC but also YouTube, Facebook, Mturk, porn, spam, viruses, bandwidth abuse/throttling, …?) and
- education-wise (here I'd ask you as the expert if/when internet supports which goals of education)?

@tdorey I'd hate to be the contractor responsible for making a machine connecting my neighborhood's kids to the internet-at-large—the list of problems, complaints, & scandals I can imagine surfacing within a week is making me break into a cold sweat, and I'd guess a team in Dodoma or Nairobi would feel the same?

And, we're US homeschoolers (pre-K & first grade), we use the internet as a small part of our curriculum, readily replaced by offline methods.

I'll continue reading+thinking on this!

@22 True and a good point I will think on some more. But I’m assuming you also have humans who enable access to the outside world. To be clear, if I were picking between giving this kids a human teacher and internet access, I’d pick the human teacher (But my point is them and their parents should be the ones choosing.

Note: parent choosing to school children = teacher is this context.

@tdorey Super, I 100% agree here, and I do apologize for distracting myself+you with this relatively minor point—I do grok the bigger Foucault vs Skinner struggle that you seek to highlight. I have another comment/question, for which I apologize in advance and will send in another toot presently (need all 500 characters for this monster…).

@tdorey You write: "Big technology companies … have an agenda, to de-stabilize public infrastructure and increase dependence on private corporations; this agenda includes education."

I'd be the last person to defend Big Tech. But the sentiment here and the subsequent analysis that takes it as axiomatic, I have a hard time swallowing. Partly because it reads like something my conspiracy nut relatives would say. Partly because your arguments would stand without these accusations.

@22 Yeah it does sound a conspiracy theory. And I did a lot of research. And honestly, I want to be wrong. But the more research I did, the more evidence I found to support that notion.

And Even if it sounds far flung to you at that point, there is value in thinking about the “what if’s”. I do believe that is their goal, what if it is an accidental consequence? Either way, I fear we end up in the same place. And what if it is their goal? What else should we then pay attention to?

@tdorey Got it, understood. Yes, I can see the value there—I'm of course not familiar with your professor or the journals you'd publish this in and can't guess how inclusion of this what-if exercise will affect academic publication, but I do think that as far as an academic critique of the XPRIZE methodology from a power and control and self perspective to people like me in industry and research, your arguments could stand by themselves without it.

(Edit: changed "should"=>"could" :)

@22 This is good feedback. And I’ll think and softening some of these points if it gets past being just an academic assignment. I really appreciate your questions and ideas.


@tdorey 🙇‍♂️ thank you for sharing your work, and for listening to some internet rando 😜, it brings me much happiness to watch people thinking hard and figure complicated things out! Our work as readers is so infinitely easier than your work as thinker and writer, so thank you!

@22 But feedback from readers helps with the thinking process too :)

btw: Here is the Doctorow reference. I added it online as well: Doctorow, C. (2018, August). Big Tech’s Problem is Big Not Tech. Keynote presented at the Decentralized Web Summit 2018 [Video file]. Retrieved from: archive.org/details/decentrali

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Octodon is a nice general purpose instance. more