EdTech News Round-Up: Facebook, Ethical AI, And The Future Of Pearson

Learnosity edtech news

From today’s tech responsibility to examining the legacy of yesterday’s education legislation. 


Our summary of the recent education and technology stories hitting the headlines.

What Parents and Teachers Should Note From Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate Testimony

Last week, US senators interrogated Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg about a range of data practices and protocols. During the trial, several questions emerged concerning the company’s approach toward younger users.

Over the past few years, the use of social networking tools in schools have expanded in universities and K-12 schools. In addition to this Facebook has released a messenger app for kids below 13 who are too young to make standard Facebook profiles.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a law passed in 1998 to protect the online activities of children under age 13, requires that children be given permission from adult guardians before engaging with certain websites.

In relation to the law,  Zuckerberg was asked if he would support a new “privacy bill of rights for kids,” under which Facebook would have to get permission from the parents before any of their information is used for purposes other than the original intent.

His response: He’s not sure.

In response to today’s ‘Tech Addiction’, with young people specifically, Zuckerberg said he believes Facebook’s responsibility is not just building services that people like, but building ones that “are good for people and good for society as well.”

However, this seems to be contrary to a 2017 study that concluded that “overall, Facebook use does not promote well-being” and “individual social media users might do well to curtail their use of social media and focus instead on real-world relationships.”

The UK says It Can’t Lead on AI Spending, So Will Have to Lead on AI Ethics Instead

As governments around the world plan their Artificial Intelligence-powered futures, the UK is preparing to take on a more scholarly and moral approach with their involvement in AI.

The UK plans to forge a distinctive role for itself as a pioneer in ethical AI. This will involve government sponsoring a series of basic research into AI in order to develop its role and create a framework for the ethical development and deployment of artificial intelligence systems.

The AI code that they hope to create will have national and possibly even international applications. It is with this ethical code that AI will be developed for the common good and benefit of humanity, operate on principles of intelligibility and fairness, and not be used to diminish the data rights or privacy of individuals, families, or communities.

By developing an ethical approach, the UK hopes to ensure that the public can trust AI technology while being prepared to challenge its misuse.

What’s Next for Pearson? (Not buying Your Education Startup.)

At the ASU+GSV Summit this week in San Diego, Edsurge sat down John Fallon, CEO of Pearson to learn more about what is next for Pearson and their digital strategy.

During the interview, Fallon discusses the current position of Pearson’s overall digital transformation strategy from analog to digital.

Fallon stated that Pearson will continue to invest in early-stage education technology and identify innovative ideas that will scale over time in order to benefit them both in economic terms and from strategic terms.

“As we go through the digital transformation,” he says, “you have to re-engineer, remake, rethink the way that you do things each and every year….[it’s] about how we get the best possible return for that billion dollars that we invest each year, and we’re not going to get the best return unless we’re constantly asking and challenging ourselves.”

George W. Bush Defends Legacy of No Child Left Behind at Education Business Conference

Former President George W. Bush made an appearance at this year’s ASU+GSV Summit.

In his talk, he defended the No Child Left behind Act, although it has been replaced by a new system deemed to be more flexible and fairer to schools.

Bush argued that before this law made in 2002 states and schools could skate by on middling student achievement and faced no consequences for not delivering results,  he also argued that the law forced policymakers to set expectations for students who too many educators and policymakers had given up on.

Educators and researchers have long debated the impact of No Child Left Behind on achievement. Bush argues that the law’s value was aimed at conquering the “soft bigotry of low expectations” and correcting “a system that did not measure.”

Regardless of the arguments against him, he says that he is really proud of the legislation.

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