Saturday, June 16, 2012

How to Create A Monopoly

Laying some groundwork: The Common Core Initiative has been gaining steam in the U.S. for some time.  They've been adopted in 45 of the 50 states. The CCI is fine as it now stands. One could argue with some of the standards or with some of the timelines, but overall they are remarkably similar to most states standards.

Phase Two:  Someone has to test these standards. For 26 states, that would be Smarter Balanced, which is pushing hard on computer-adaptive testing. This is testing that is given on computers or tablet, and using a difficulty rating and some math, delivers questions based on how correctly the student answered previous questions ... answer correctly, it gives you a harder question, answer incorrectly and it tones it down a bit.  Add that to a massive databank of questions (all rated and sorted) and you get a perfect assessment of that students and his abilities.

Like this one.
Every student will have to have access to a desktop running a browser and some lock-down software or to a tablet running a specialty app ... and strangely, the tablet are going to be required for the 11th grade math. N.B.: I am not sure on this last but the presenter (Sue Gendron) said that schools would be required to have at least 25% of the students tested by tablet and then mentioned math questions, so I think that's right.

If all goes well. If they finish in time. If they do their work well. If they finish at all. If the questions are rated correctly. If they're testing the right things.

Here's where the market manipulation comes in.

They are NOT DONE YET; in fact, they've barely started and they probably won't be done completely in time for the rollout in 2014.

So which tablet operating system do you think they starting with, Android or iPad?

With a lot of development money donated by Apple in the form of thousands of iPad IIs that are only costing the states $240 each (per Sue Gendron, ex-Commissioner of Education, Maine), is it surprising that Smarter Balanced is not going to get to the Android app until much later?

Slick, right?

Think about how school buy tech.
iPad money tree.
  • Once the IT buys iPads for the first round, will they really want to introduce a second operating system and purchase the more expensive Androids? No.
  • What if the Android makers bring the price down to a competitive level? Too late. The schools and the teachers and the states are all in the Apple pipeline - that's really hard to break.
  • Isn't the iPad priced below market value to the point of anti-competitive pricing? Yup.
  • Isn't that illegal? Yup.
  • Are states pushing this? Yes, this monopolizing is being done at the behest of the Government.
    • Republican or Democrat, they're both doing this.  Don't get started with that. 
    •  Doesn't iPad have to be linked to iTunes, and come with a ton of EULA restrictions and bullshit that so many people hate about Apple and all of it's products? You Betcha.
    • Every school in all the 26 states, buying iPads ... as soon as the schools get hooked, the price goes up to it's normal point of three times what you're paying now and twice what a normal-priced Android tablet would cost.And since there aren't any schools with Androids now, who wants to bother developing the app for them? 
    But that's okay, isn't that the only ...
    • Don't you want to use those shiny new tablets for eTextbooks? Yes, purchaseable ONLY through iTunes, naturally. 40%, please.
    • Don't you want the kids to read on those shiny new iPads? Yes, but all books are 40% to Apple.
    • If the kids write something good on an iPad, they are required by the EULA to sell it through iTunes and Apple gets a cut.
    Congratulations, you've just witnessed the beginning of a monopoly.

    Updated for those with 21st Century Learning Skills


    1. It is quite concerning the corner on the market Apple will have if testing is instituted in this way. It would make more sense to develop the tests across platforms, including free platforms like Linux.

      It also concerns me that testing of writing skill might be handed over to computers since studies have shown that it very easy to "fool" the system with vocabulary vs. content.

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