Lifestream, Flickr

5 in 5 Storymap: The Classroom Will Learn You by IBM Research
In five years, the classroom of the future will learn about each student over the course of their education, helping students master the skills critical to meeting their goals. A system fueled by sophisticated analytics over the cloud will help teachers predict students who are most at risk, their roadblocks, and then suggest measures to help students overcome their challenges.
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In Ben Williamson’s (2014) lecture,  Calculating Academics – theorising the algorithmic organization of the digital university, he mentions ‘cradle to career’ tracking, which IBM’s ‘smarter classroom’ is illustrative of. The model is dependent on two types of analytics: predictive analytics which compare individual data with a larger data set in order to predict what will happen next, and prescriptive analytics which decide on the best response to what is predicted. Wrapped in the discourse of ‘smarter’, more efficient teaching and learning, I suspect we’re supposed to look forward to this time, but it makes me terribly uneasy. It’s not just the surveillance per se – my unease comes from corporate entanglement with education (are corporate goals, which would be filtered through education really what’s best for individuals and society? It’s insulting that we’re expected to lap up the implied objectivity and impartiality unquestioningly), the deskilling and de-legitimizing of teachers’ roles, the assumption of linearity in learning which is implicit in data driven ‘best response’ approaches, the persistent malarkey about ‘learning styles’ (now some of my students are so convinced that they have a particular ‘learning style’ that they turn off and practically refuse to engage with any other modes of learning), the “efficienting” of childhood.. my list is really quite extensive. Needless to say, I found it quite hard to ‘favourite’ the image on Flickr, and I’m bound to unpack the unease elsewhere in the blog this week.