Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Education Google Programming

Does Google Have Too Much Influence Over K-12 CS Education? 66

theodp writes:Google recently announced Global Impact Awards for Computer Science, part of the company's $50 million investment to get girls to code. But Google's influence over K-12 CS education doesn't stop there. The Sun-Times reports that Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers are participating in a summer professional development program hosted by Google as part of the district's efforts to "saturate" schools with CS within 3 years: "The launch of CS4All [Computer Science for All], in partnership with Code.org and supported by Google, starts this fall in 60 CPS schools to try to bridge the digital divide and prepare students." And in two weeks, the Computer Science Teachers Association [CSTA] and Google will be presenting the National Computer Science Principles Education Summit. "Attendees at this event have been selected through a rigorous application process that will result in more than 70 educators and administrators working together to strategize about getting this new Advanced Placement course implemented in schools across the country," explains CSTA. The ACM, NSF, Google, CSTA, Microsoft, and NCWIT worked together in the past "to provide a wide range of information and guidance that would inform and shape CS education efforts," according to the University of Chicago, which notes it's now conducting a follow-up NSF-funded study — Barriers and Supports to Implementing Computer Science — that's advised by CPS, CSTA, and Code.org.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Does Google Have Too Much Influence Over K-12 CS Education?

Comments Filter:
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Friday July 04, 2014 @06:30PM (#47385741)

    what about more trades like post HS schools?

    We need to look at where we can fix and improve the post K-12 education system not push HS to build more into the old system.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What I don't get is why students are being taught JavaScript. Let's be honest, it's a shitty language. It was thrown together really quickly it a total rush. It's full of stupid design mistakes. These aren't just stupid design mistakes, they're totally unnecessary and totally unacceptable. They aren't the kind of mistakes that should have been made in 1995, and there's no reason why JavaScript is still so fucked even today. If we're going to teach our students a programming language, let's just use Python.

    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      Google, for good or ill, isn't interested in those at all (if they were, it'd be an interesting debate, though). Unlike tech startups, Google puts a quite high value on college degrees, and highly ranked ones at that. They hire a few people who don't have one, but by and large they hire out of top-50 CS departments.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Which makes it all the more surreal. Fund early CS education to get more people working in the field in order to drive down wages, only throw out the resumes of the ones who only have the education that you funded (and didn't go on to pay for higher education.)

        • I don't think this was ever about finding employees but enabling others to create content that people will seek so they can continue to make money from the data they collect and ads they sell.

          It could also just be a way to feel better about themselves too.

      • what about lowering the cost of the TOP schools.

        Also what about the non coding IT work.

    • It seems those who "choose" to use beta get to comment on stories first? The galaxies story is only found under submissions and there are no comments. On beta it appears in the stories and had a few comments. Weird.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday July 04, 2014 @06:31PM (#47385747) Journal

    Even if these initiatives weren't both limited and in partnership with other groups, just what would Google do that would be harmful to K-12 computer science education? Make everyone learn Go?

    Now, if you want a real issue, go check on the Gates Foundation's influence on the much-derided Common Core.

    (Disclosure: I work for Google, but this means less than you probably think)

    • Personally, I see Google's position in K-12 as being about where Apple's was 20-25 years ago. As long as they don't try for any heavy-handed manipulation, the outcome should be as mutually beneficial as well.

      The thing here is that with all the ways Google is involved, the districts have a choice, year to year, on whether to choose them again. There's no lock-in, just education and some influence on the direction of CS education.

      If Facebook (cringe) happens to have better ideas in the next election cycle,

    • by matbury ( 3458347 ) on Friday July 04, 2014 @07:08PM (#47385913) Homepage

      I don't work for M$, Google, or Apple but I do work in education. I have to agree with russotto about the Gates Foundation's activities in K-12 and higher education. They pay $30,000 to any academic who publishes papers and articles that are supportive of the Common Core. If this doesn't set off alarm bells about conflicts of interest and corrupting academic practice on a big scale, what kind of alarm bells are you waiting for? Up until he was named and shamed for it, he was also a major donor to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org] - They make Dr. Evil look like a lefty bleeding heart liberal). One of ALEC's core beliefs is in privatising everything, including education and they're doing everything they can to undermine and weaken public education so that corporations have a chance at competing with it.

      BTW, Google is now a donor to ALEC. I very much doubt they're getting involved in education to give themselves warm fuzzy altruistic feelings or for any higher purpose. They're currently on a campaign to capture IT services in higher education, taking over email, docs, online storage, etc., AKA "the cloud", and giving them unfettered access to everyone's educational records and web use histories, reliably tied to their identities. They've already been successfully sued in California for spying on students after they said they wouldn't.

      Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, is a historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She's highly critical of many of the current corporate campaigns in education has some interesting things to say about the Common Core: http://dianeravitch.net/ [dianeravitch.net]

      • They've already been successfully sued in California for spying on students after they said they wouldn't.


        Based on what I found [ibtimes.com], that seems to be a pretty serious mischaracterization. First, "successfully sued" normally implies that the suit has reached some sort of conclusion, but from what I can see all that's been successful is the filing. Google has made a motion to dismiss which hasn't been ruled on, AFAICT. Even if that motion fails, it just means that the judge doesn't think the suit is so ridiculous it should be tossed without a further look. That's a long way from saying it actually has merit. S

      • I fail to see how corporations--for whom these kids will be working--are doing evil by grooming children for the jobs they have need to be filled. Is not one of the primary purposes of schooling to produce talent for the job market? A very common story told by American business is the lack of local talent to take on the jobs they need filled. At the same time people are complaining because they can't find jobs. The US educational system can't seem move away from their long established history of groomin
        • Re: "Is not one of the primary purposes of schooling to produce talent for the job market?" -- This is a common misunderstanding of the difference between education and training. Here's an illustration: Imagine your 9 year-old daughter comes home from school and tells you she'd been doing sex education. You'd probably think it's a good idea - everyone needs to know about that stuff. Now imagine she came home from school and told you she'd being doing sex training? How would you react?

          To put it explicitly, K

          • It seems difficult to me to develop intellectual and cognitive capacities absent the opportunity to practice and thus develop and hone those abilities. How does one learn to analyze if there is nothing to perform analysis on? How does one learn to reason absent the formulae requiring it? How does one develop aspirations if never shown anything inspiring?
            • Re: "It seems difficult to me to develop intellectual and cognitive capacities absent the opportunity to practice and thus develop and hone those abilities." -- They have the content of the books they read, the experiences they have, their relationships with each other (in unstructured time, group tasks, and projects) and their teachers (when they provide direct instruction, mentoring, feedback, and instructional scaffolding). School is just as "real" an environment as a factory, lab, or an office.

  • disclaimer, i'm apple all the way, and don't particularly like google, but i can't hold my sarcasm back on this one..

  • by Anonymous Coward

    These programs are born of a fundamental misunderstanding. The misunderstanding is that if you just teach enough CS basics and a bit of programming, students will flock to become developers and software engineers. That's just not how these professions work, nor any profession for that matter. You can teach some students maths on end, and all they will take from it is that they hate math. Teach some music as much as you want, if they lack talent they will not become musicians. So forcing CS education onto

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yep, this is the hidden gem comment. Problem is, Page and Brin wants cheap drones for their world domination plans. (And I don't hate Google, I like their search engine much better than Altavista's back in the day.)

    • These programs are born of a fundamental misunderstanding

      Yup. My daughter went thru all the "grrrlz in STEM" stuff thru 12 years of schooling.
      She ended up becoming a statistician but I suspect she would have done that regardless. All of her other classmates who went thru the same extra-curriculars and science AP classes ended up going into interior design and anthropology.Those women-in-engineering initiatives are a good idea, but they miss a most basic point--there is a huge disincentive for guys to be smart in school, geeky, teacher's pet crap. It's always bee

  • No, google does not have too much influence. It just seems that way because few people had impactful influence before they started tossing money around. And the reason we are being flooded about it has more to do with the targets and a good PR department.

    What we are seeing is largely to much PR. Influence in these areas seem to be lacking altogether else we wouldn't have these "look at us" stories all the time.

  • It's time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kuberz ( 3568651 )

    It's time schools went to free market.

    Right now, as it stands, if you can't afford a private school for your child, your only real option is to put your child into the public indoctrination system. The system run by inefficient bureaucrats.

    In my county, it costs an average of $12,000 per year, per child. That's for public education. Our most renowned private school is roughly $8,000 per year in tuition. This private school has a top level education. It is not uncommon for children to be held back when

    • School vouchers have failed everywhere they've been tried.

      • by ranton ( 36917 )

        School vouchers have failed everywhere they've been tried.

        Other than just asking you to cite your source, a quick google search can easily prove this statement is false. Well perhaps not false, but we would never know because there is so much "proof" on both sides of the argument. For instance the first post I found was a Wall Street Journal article showing that D.C. voucher recipients had graduation rates of 91%, compared to their public school average of 56%. There are plenty of people explaining these types of results away as not being caused by the voucher sys

    • That's one way to possibly solve the problem. If you've got a long time to work with and aren't concerned with what happens to the kids currently in the programs. It'd turn out badly in areas of low affluence. When California tried reducing class sizes without thinking about making more qualified teachers, as jobs opened at the schools in affluent areas, the good teachers ran to them and the schools in poor areas had to hire crap teachers just to fill the jobs. Quality of education plummeted right in lo

  • I can feel it now (Score:3, Interesting)

    by canadiannomad ( 1745008 ) on Friday July 04, 2014 @07:07PM (#47385907) Homepage

    I can just feel it now, my job prospects dwindling in the next 10 years. Well gotta start working on plan B.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Google has had a lot of bad press about diversity and tax avoidance recently. They are throwing some small change away to change the story and keep their stock prices high. It won't make any difference.

    The whole idea of cut and paste programming and gamification to get kids programming is an hour is crazy and has never been shown to work. It's being used to simply to funnel kids into courses to data mine them or milk them for tutorial fees. A much more sensible approach would be integrating programming into

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

    However, modern corporations have to much influence over everything.

  • One of my few successes in adulthood is remembering what it was like to be a kid. It helps give me perspective.

    I grew up in the 90s and graduated high school in 2006. I remember computer science. It consisted of a 40-60 minute class with 1 minute of work. The exercise assigned to me would take 90 seconds to complete. Maybe 150 seconds if you were special ed.

    Then you'd sit and play computer games for the rest of the hour and wait for the instructor to come over and inspect that whatever copy & paste or d

    • Are you sure that was intended to be computer science? Lots of schools basically have a "play with Excel/Word" class, but most don't pretend it's CS. There is such a thing as real HS computer science - such as the AP class listed in the TFS. APCS A was basically "learn Java" with a few sorts (insertion/selection to motivate, and merge to actually use) and (simple) data structures thrown in like a binary search tree - but APCS AB, which is now discontinued unfortunately, had real stuff - heaps, binary trees,

      • Most of the schools that I am familiar with classify such classes as "computer science". My eldest son sat through all of his high school's "CS" classes, and got top grades in everything. He is barely computer literate. That is - he can install Windows on a machine. And, he excels at gaming.

        The youngest son stated quite clearly all through school that the so-called "CS" classes were a waste. He spent his school hours on computers teaching himself. He would whip out that pathetic excuse of an "exercis

        • these CS classes are designed to hold people back

          I disagree. The CS classes (like most) are designed to be easy to teach (especially for a non-techie) and easy to grade. That's why they are as useless as most other classes.

  • Influence? They own what they fund. If you don't like it put money down.
  • That they could be spending on PAC's and H1-B programs.
  • If they do, it's because other large corporations have declined to become as involved as Google has.
  • I totally hate it when billion dollar companies dump money into education. I spend so much time turning the whole thing over in my head looking for the downside that its too much of a time waster.

    But the tone of the article is correct. Instead of corporations investing and looking for ways to innovate, we should keep having substandard teachers, throw billions into testing because we don't know if the teachers are any good, and somewhere along the line we'll magically have good education by doing the exac

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972