Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Do I Really Want Data-Mining to Disappear?

Google Apps for Education has recently come Under Fire in the courts (Education Week… and is perhaps inadvertently causing a maelstrom of activity as educators struggle through the dilemma of adequately identifying and defining “data-mining” and its impact on student privacy. Has a line been crossed? Are our students at some type of identifiable risk? And is it all Google’s fault?


Data-Mining per se has, is, and will continue to occur in varied forms or fashions simply because our world is CONNECTED, SOCIAL, and CONVENIENT – BY AN OVERWHELMING DEMAND… As such, we, as consumers, actually DESIRE data-mining – if not, we lose that which we have grown to expect, especially from our world of technology. By slapping the hands of Google, Dropbox, Apple, broadcast communication commercials in general, even school yearbook ads, we are in essence “biting the hands that feed us.”

As a small child pushed in the cart at the grocery store, I refused to try the fruit-flavored snacks the kind employee was passing out as store samples. My mom sheepishly explained that I didn’t like fruit… The “Samples Lady” never offered me fruit again and/or tried to sell my mother on such a product (not the same response when it came to chocolate)… Data was “mined”…  Permission wasn’t given to keep records on me, but it was stored in someone’s memory and for the express purpose of not wasting time and knowing when a profitable sale would be made. Was that the end of my privacy???

I remember being a high school student and enjoying the TV we received in class by being a Channel One school… We watched about 15 minutes of news each day that included teen targeted ads like Doritos and Nike… Channel One has fabulously evolved into a current events curriculum-supported concept that encourages and engages student participation through quizzes, social media, etc. But picking apart the concept of data-mining reveals that they too use information from our students… (
One of the first storage concepts I fell in love with as an educator was Dropbox… Good bye, flashdrives!!!! Many of our schools have encouraged students to utilize this service personally for years. But what about protecting their privacy?!? (
 Then there is our ever-popular iPad/Apple movement in education… Really? No data-mining? Hmmmm… ( And I once again want to point out that for the most part, we WANT them to figure out some things for us based on our usage, what web sites we go to, our needs for updates, etc.
Referring back to Google and the lawsuits they are facing, the conflict seems to surround commercial gain from educational purpose.  I contend the benefits to our students, schools, and staff and ultimately our new and improved COMMERCIAL products stemming from the data mining far outweighs any semblance of privacy violation…
"I don't think there's another product on the market that provides the same level of power to its users, regardless of price," said Henry C. Thiele, the assistant superintendent for technology and learning for the 6,800-student Maine Township High School District 207 in Illinois.
(later in the article)
Of course, the problem extends far beyond Google, Mr. Evans said (Cameron Evans, Microsoft's chief technology officer for education). A growing number of companies rely on "freemium" business models in which they provide technology services to schools in exchange for access to an increasingly comprehensive body of information about students-including "ambient" data about where they are located, what devices they are using, with whom they are interacting, and more.

And if Microsoft is truly claiming that Office 365 doesn’t do the same… perhaps due to their verbage in policy… consumers might beg to differ… compare wording… not really “different”.
 I don’t work for Google (but I love my GAFE and personal Gmail though), I am a huge Microsoft fan (have a PC and a Surface Pro with a Live account tied to my Google), can’t live without my iPad, iPad mini, Mac Air or iPhone… And am ever thankful that I can post to Instagram or Twitter about my recent rug purchase on Overstock and receive ads helping me cost effectively furnish my new home!
Your turn...
Let's CommuniCATE!


  1. I guess this debate will go on and on and on... simply because of the fears administrators cower behind, not recognizing (enuf) the benefits these entities provide. Throwing out the baby with the bath water? I guess that's a tradition that will live on for generations to come. Personally... I'm with everyone here... to much good 'stuff' in GAFE to get 'skeered' about underlying issues.
    BTW... I hope they watch their step in the bathtub... just sayin'...