Schools are now ‘soft targets’ for companies to collect data and market to kids — report
Schools have become “soft targets” for companies trying to gather data and market to children because of the push in education to adopt new technology and in part because of the rise of computer-administered Common Core tests, according to a new annual report.
The report, titled “Learning to be Watched: Surveillance Culture at School” and published Tuesday by the National Center for Education Policy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is the 18th annual report about schoolhouse commercialism trends.
It says student privacy is increasingly being compromised by commercial entities that establish relationships with schools — often providing free technology — and then track students online and collect massive amounts of data about them. Then they tailor their advertising to keep the young people connected to them. One important consequence, the report says, is that children who are subjected to “constant digital surveillance and marketing at school” come to accept as normal that corporations play a big role not only in their education but in their lives.
Schools have proven to be a soft target for data gathering and marketing. Not only are they eager to adopt technology that promises better learning, but their lack of resources makes them susceptible to offers of free technology, free programs and activities, free educational materials, and help with fundraising. Schools are under relentless pressure to make ever greater use of technology. Our techno-friendly zeitgeist embraces and celebrates the rapid proliferation of education technology in every corner of our lives. In school, teachers are encouraged to integrate technology into their lessons and homework, and to rely on computerized student performance data as a diagnostic tool. State and federal laws now require that schools do extensive data reporting; in addition, the Common Core testing regime requires students to take computerized tests—and therefore to be computer-competent before they approach the tests.