theodp writes: As things turn out, All Your Child's Data Are Not Belong To inBloom, the Bill Gates-bankrolled and News Corp. subsidiary-implemented data initiative that sought to personalize learning. GeekWire's Tricia Duryee reports that inBloom, which was backed by $100 million from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others, is closing up shop after parents worried that its database technology was violating their children's privacy. According to NY Times coverage (reg.), the inBloom database tracked 400 different data fields about students — including family relationships ("foster parent" or "father's significant other”") and reasons for enrollment changes ("withdrawn due to illness" or "leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident") — that parents objected to, prompting some schools to recoil from the venture. In a statement, inBloom CEO Iwan Streichenberger said that personalized learning was still an emerging concept, and complained that the venture had been "the subject of mischaracterizations and a lightning rod for misdirected criticism." He added, "It is a shame that the progress of this important innovation has been stalled because of generalized public concerns about data misuse, even though inBloom has world-class security and privacy protections that have raised the bar for school districts and the industry as a whole [although it was still apparently vulnerable to Heartbleed]." As far as Gates goes, the world's richest man has a couple of irons left in the data-driven personalized learning fire via his ties to Code.org, which seeks 7 years of participating K-12 students' data, and Khan Academy, which recently attracted scrutiny over its data-privacy policies. Khan Academy — which counted the managing partner of Gates' bgC3 think-tank and Google CEO Eric Schmidt as Board members in a recent tax filing — just struck an exclusive partnership with CollegeBoard to prepare students for the redesigned SAT.
"The fundamental principle of science, the definition almost, is this: the
sole test of the validity of any idea is experiment."
-- Richard P. Feynman