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Bill Gates Has Spent $1+ Million To Get Mark Zuckerberg's Software In Schools 105

theodp writes: "Today is a milestone for personalized learning," boasted Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post Tuesday. "For the first time, more than 100 new schools will adopt personalized learning tools this school year. [...] A couple of years ago, our engineering team partnered with Summit [a Zuckerberg, Facebook, and Gates Foundation supported charter school network] to build out their personalized learning software platform so more schools could use it. [...] Congratulations to the Summit team, the new Basecamp schools and the entire personalized learning community on an exciting milestone!" Perhaps Zuckerberg should have also given a shout-out to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which awarded a $1.1 million grant last year "to support the Summit BaseCamp Program that will bring Next Generation learning at no cost to all partner schools that are accepted into the program." The New York Times characterized the Facebook-Summit partnership as "more of a ground-up effort to create a national demand for student-driven learning in schools." Before you scoff at that idea, consider that an earlier Gates-Zuckerberg collaboration helped give rise to a national K-12 Computer Science crisis!
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Bill Gates Has Spent $1+ Million To Get Mark Zuckerberg's Software In Schools

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    A million is nothing to them. They only want people to believe we have no programmers here so they can continue to push H1-Bs.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Zuckerberg is doing this because he loves children. There's absolutely no way he's trying to pull a younger audience to Facebook in order to increase ad revenue. That'd be just WRONG!

    • Oh, AC, you are so cynical! In fact, perhaps it stands for "anonymous cynic" in this instance. I'm certain that putting content online that encourages passive memorization will have nothing but benefits for the millions of children who will willingly give up playing Pokemon Go for the joy of "catching" the year that Columbus discovered the Americas or what 7*9 really is...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bill managed to convince J. Random Luser that Windows is the PC, now he's helping Zucker convincing the kids that Facebook is the internet. They just can't get enough.

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday August 11, 2016 @09:40AM (#52683665) Homepage

    a national K-12 Computer Science crisis

    Really? A crisis?
    Who's going to die because of this?

  • Oh look, another "lets not educate the children so I can keep my jerb" rant from theodp. How original.
  • So you know how to code, this alone won't get you anywhere. You also need to know something else useful and specific or someone in India can and will do your job for much less.

    Because of this more coding as part of HS education won't get us anywhere other than creating more poorly compensated and/or unemployed coders.
    • What's code got to do with it? That's not what this story's about at all. Personalised learning may involve computers, but it does not necessarily mean teaching computers.
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Thursday August 11, 2016 @09:46AM (#52683685)

    They need to go to Arkansas and Alabama, not California and NY. The reasons are simple. Most "red states" would welcome this stuff with open arms. If they faced organized opposition to innovation in teaching, the political class of most red states would be more likely to curb stomp that opposition than support it. These are states where support for vouchers, homeschooling and other education reforms are extremely high.

    • That is because "vouchers" is code for "send your kids to private schools on public money" and "homeschooling" means "brainwash your kids about the Bible, guns, and Trump at home". Arkansas and Alabama would reject this in a heartbeat.
      • LOL! Any more terms you can share from the "Leftist Glossary"?

        S*T*A*T*I*S*M, Statism, Yay Statism!!
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Thursday August 11, 2016 @09:54AM (#52683729)
    Is this "innovation in education" or "innovation in data harvesting"? What student personal data do the companies involved harvest and store? How long are the data stored? How are the data used? What entities have access to the data, either directly or through purchase/lease agreements?
  • It is hard to imagine anything that has been as destructive to the productivity of the American work force as facebook. Now he wants to release educational tools to some how make up for it?
  • Please someone send him to Mars already.
  • "Professors" that say how things are done in a real world they have never been in. []

  • by ausekilis ( 1513635 ) on Thursday August 11, 2016 @11:07AM (#52684177)
    Don't get me wrong, if it weren't for math and technology my career wouldn't exist, but why exactly do we need entire generations of programmers? Shouldn't we be teaching kids to pursue their interests instead of forcing some ideal on them?

    Okay, sure, computers are everywhere and its helpful to know how to use them. Math is helpful in most everything from following a recipe in the kitchen to designing space aircraft. Lets face it folks, not everybody gets to be (or even wants to be) an astronaut. Enable the kids to pursue stuff on computers to their little hearts content, but don't force a kid to program if they have no desire to. Let them find their own way through life.

    Mike Rowe [] has what I think is a great outlook here. There's dozens or even hundreds of jobs out there that go unfilled because they aren't sexy. Many of which can pay more than your typically bachelors in CS or Engineering after a couple years in the trade.
    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      You're obviously living under the myth that US society is people-centric. Its not, its corp-centric. We are just the cannon fodder to feed their needs. Right now the big corps badly need programmers, so guess what they force the schools to teach it.

      • Why is it that advocates of the devil rarely collide? On the one hand you're here saying that they are doing this because corporations badly need programmers and so are providing training to build a local American workforce, meanwhile a few comments above there are other conspiracy theorists saying this is all a farce, there's actually an oversupply of workers and it's actually to try and fabricate a shortage to justify getting their labor cheaper from overseas.
        • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

          Clearly they do need programmers, but they also want something for nothing, hence the H1B thing.
          The more enlightened companies are starting to finally realize that you actually do get what you pay for, so H1B workers are a false economy because all the rework and missing deadlines because H1B workers are actually shit costs 10x as much as paying more for experienced local workers to do it right the first time and get it out on time.

    • Don't get me wrong, if it weren't for math and technology my career wouldn't exist, but why exactly do we need entire generations of programmers? Shouldn't we be teaching kids to pursue their interests instead of forcing some ideal on them?

      Erm... look at the summary/article more closely. This is not about teaching computer skills, but using computers to personalise and individualise learners, and this would indeed offer the opportunity for kids to pursue their own interests, and for these to be related to curricular goals... if done properly. But it would take billions, not millions, to really do this properly.

  • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Thursday August 11, 2016 @11:52AM (#52684477)

    If technology in school is so great how come the employees of companies such as Apple and Google send their children to a Waldorf School in which they don't use technology (tablets, computers, etc) for teaching? []

    It sounds as if you were able to take the money from all of these "silver bullets" that are supposed to save education and put it towards the best teachers it would go a long way. Then the union would have to let the underperforming teachers be replaced. (God forbid someone bad at their job should lose it!) And the administration should be cut back so that the teachers can focus on the teaching.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday August 11, 2016 @01:03PM (#52684911)

    In my opinion, there's absolutely nothing wrong with adding some basic coding education in primary grades. Even if some of it is mandatory, it's better to make sure students are at least exposed to some core concepts. Things like logic, problem solving, etc. need to be developed for just about anyone to function in society these days.

    What I don't like are two things -- first is the idea that everyone needs to become a computer programmer, and second is the obvious push for more H-1B visa labor that efforts like this imply.

    In the case of "everyone needs to be a coder," here's a perfect concrete example. I'm a systems integration person, so I deal with developers all the time getting their code running in real-world environments. The company I work for has basically offshored all development, so the very few devs and us engineering folks get back a lot of interesting code from a mix of the Usual Suspects (Tata, Infosys, etc.) We're working with an offshore team on brand new development rather than the usual maintenance stuff we give them. They are absolutely incapable of doing anything that isn't explicitly written in a spec document. We have to handhold them through every single step; not once has an original idea come out of that crowd. I think a lot of the "everyone must code" workers domestically will be very much like that. It's not just following a set of procedures -- you need creativity, troubleshooting and problem solving skills to do well in IT or development. In the case I am dealing with now, someone higher up than us got sold the idea by the outsourcer that the offshore team they gave us was a bunch of architect-level, subject matter experts in the technology we're working with, and that's proving to be quite obviously false. But, this same situation could easily be repeated onshore if a bunch of "everyone must code" people are thrown on a project.

    Now, for the "we need more H-1Bs" argument -- I don't buy the fact that there aren't trainable people companies can find domestically, and they definitely abuse the H-1B program and body shops to absolve themselves from the need to train employees. If I were elected king, I would fix the problem in 2 phases -- the first would be to turn off the entire program for a period so that no company would have the advantage over another, and re-introduce it slowly with the body shop loopholes closed. Companies only use H-1Bs or body shops because their competitors do -- if no one had access to this cheap labor pool, no one would have an advantage based on it. Until you get rid of the body shop loophole, you're going to have the self-perpetuating spiral of people not finding success in IT or development, and therefore, new entrants will decrease. If people feel they have a stable job ahead of them in their future, they'll continue to study in this field. Otherwise they'll just be rational actors and go into medicine or get an MBA.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.