As the Boston Globe reports:
Houghton will be providing a computer-based teaching system it developed with Microsoft Corp. that will connect teachers, students, and administrators.
The article goes on to frame this as a watershed moment in terms of the shift occuring in the publishing industry.
I frame it as a bunch of uninformed policy makers in Detroit Public Schools getting hoodwinked by Big Publishing.
The Globe quotes Barbara Byrd-Bennett, chief academic officer for Detroit public schools, as saying:
"Detroit’s teachers will be able to prepare and assign homework through Learning Village and use its tools to measure how well students learn - even how well they understand a lesson taught earlier in the day.
“I wanted one central portal that everybody can tap into."
$40 million to help teachers prepare homework online? $40 million to 'connect' students and teachers?
I have one question for Ms. Byrd-Bennett: Have you heard of Google Apps for Education?
I read a story like this and I think of all of the help Detroit's families need in this recession and it just makes me so angry. When are educational policy makers going to wake up to the reality that there are alternatives to spending millions and millions of dollars on technology -- alternatives that will in fact produce better results?
But there's that fear thing. Fear of the Cloud. It's what folks were talking about today on NPR's coverage of the city of Los Angeles going Gmail.
Well, darn it, I'm alot more afraid for the sanity of a public school system in a shattered city giving $40 million dollars to a textbook manufacturer than I am of putting anything on the Cloud.
$40 million dollars.
Money that could have been spent making 1:1 computing accessible to the children of Detroit. Money that could have been spent training teachers in the integration of social technologies to better equip students with the capacity to work and thrive in a globally connected world. Money that could have been used to empower students to go beyond the confines of their textbooks, schools, and neighborhoods and to tap into learning communities engaging in dialogue and debate in real-time the world over. And -- in many ways most importantly -- through the use of open source and community-driven projects from Scratch's creative programming initiative to the Library of Congress and its 'Teaching With Primary Sources' program the chance to engage with the authentic learning without the filter of Big Publishing.
Instead, what those kids see is $40 million pumped right out of their city and back into the open arms of the textbook industry.
And if you think this is a bit of a tirade against the textbook industry, well you are right. It is. Because right now, I have absolutely no respect for an industry that would accept that kind of money from a place facing as tough a situation as Detroit.
Shift. Yeah, right.
This isn't a 'shift' in anything. It's business as usual.
And to add insult to injury, Jon Becker sends over a link to a WSJ article from the start of this school year:
Detroit's public-school system, beset by massive deficits and widespread corruption, is on the brink of following local icons GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy court.