It is really hard to attract any top development talent, or even try and convince current employees to stay up to date with current trends. Lots of development teams are stuck in old waterfall mentalities on huge java stacks.
We have laws that protects students data and doesn't allow us to host student or even employee information on U.S. servers. Provincial laws and mandates handed down from deans because of the Homeland Security Act hinder the use of any sort of SaaS's. It makes it really hard and disheartening to provide and develop good solutions.
I can't suggest someone go use certain survey tools, or use mailchimp to handle a small campaign for example. I am not supposed to promote the use of Google Drive or Dropbox for day to day use with other staff because of fear they will start storing data they aren't supposed to on it. We often end up with sub-par self hosted copies of great applications, but no one wants to use them. Google classroom looks really cool but there is no way any schools in this province would be allowed to use it.
I've got my team quite agile for a Uni development team but we still face lots and lots of problems with FERPA(US student privacy rules), and trying to work with much less agile internal teams. Most of the rest of the local developers are 40-60 and very resistant to any kind of change. (seriously using .net instead of java was hugely controversial)
I've waited months for a bug to be fixed because it "wasn't in the schedule". Theres a kind of "sealed lab" mentality where they hold a bunch of meetings to get stakeholder views, and then disappear for 3-4 months and come back with some 1/2 working software that I could have(and a few times have) knocked out as an alpha in 3-4 weeks.
It's the worst aspects of people being "enterprisey" with people who have no performance or profit pressure so they're able to put out crap and if it's better than nothing the admins accept it.
Was this for a server app or the client side? Because for a server app, I can't imagine any circumstance where this would make sense, since the two are so similar anyway.
It's free/open sourced, meaning that every education system with a budget finds it appealing. Once implemented though, the organization will need to spend buckets of money to design, roll out, and maintain Moodle.
What you end up with is organizations installing Moodle, rather than some higher quality, equal-cost education software they should have installed from the beginning.
You upload all your students grade information to an external private company? Which university do you work for where this is allowed?
I'm all in favor of disruptive competition in that market, mind you! But I don't think it's easy.
The argument is against a solution that has no possibility for self-hosting and maintaining control of data. That they offer a hosted/SaaS option is irrelevant, because they also offer a regular self-hosted solution.
Why the distinction is important is because if they stated publicly that they weren't gathering a specific type of data (and I felt they weren't legally compelled to lie by a government), I would trust that statement.
The OP is right to be concerned; once we are ok with intermediation of the social contract; we are no longer in control; we loose power, and even of we dont agree or dont trust the provider of goods or services; we cant do anything to stop them, and thats whats wrong.
Its a small detail, but a very important one!
Dont accept intermediated social contracts anymore, in digital age, we can all have our own private, self-determined social contract, and that can be enforced even on our democracies and fundamental rights
Or will they (a) sit on your children's data for all of their life and (b) within a decade or two break out of the adware niche with Google Services for Health and Life Insurance, Google Services for Banking and Credit, Google Services for Human Ressources, and Google Services for Law Enforcement?
The section you quoted just means that the user is promising not to post pirated content to Canvas
In the context at issue (copyright law): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_rights
As I understand, Germany and many European countries are heading in this direction.
> It would be cheaper and far more effective to hire a dozen open source devs to cater a particular platform to the public's needs, and have it be open and free to use forever.
Unfortunately, not many people in Higher Ed are technologists. Even hiring devs to work on open source tools isn't a good solution since most are inept at managing technology. The result of this kind of thinking is Moodle and Sakai, LMS's that have faded and failed. They're terrible to use and incredibly outdated. Horses, Camels, Committees, and all that.
On the other hand, Instructure makes a LMS called Canvas, which is open-sourced under a restrictive license. It's a Rails app on github. The tech is as much of a joy to use as anything in EdTech. They also have an impressive salesforce and have grown remarkably fast. They're due for an IPO soon.
E.g., In the 90s and early 2000's Novell had a big presence in Universities/etc, providing network systems such as eDirectory (their Directory Services stack) Groupwise (email) etc. Yes these were proprietary, but they were also controlled by the customer - if you wanted to switch to OpenLDAP or AD or whatever, you could dump your whole Directory Services tree to LDIF file(s) and import them elsewhere. If you wanted to migrate from Groupwise to something using MBOX or even to Exchange, there were tools to do so, and there was never any need to worry about "well what happens with the data?"
I have no problem with a school or government using proprietary software, so long as the data created remains in the institution's hands, and is in a format that can be easily read by or exported to alternative formats.
I absolutely have a problem when educational institutions say "yeah we're going to use this solution for email because it's free" - the students have no fucking choice, and there is little or no consideration given to how the company uses the data.
The "exam submission system" for primary schools failed completely the first two times when the pupils was sitting the exam.
The police completely cancelled their new it-system after spending $90 million.
So when the (Danish) public sector makes stuff that's worse than BLACKBOARD, it might for the time being be the least of the evils to outsource it to the private sector.
Think about how many local governments and school districts they are - they couldn't possibly hire developers and manage the development and customization of open source platforms when they can barely keep their own IT running correctly.
In fact, that's a huge driver for the adoption of SaaS in local government - IT is such a scare resource. School districts often have only a handful of IT people for thousands or tens of thousands of students - they certainly couldn't afford to hire developers to customize, nor do they have the skills to manage them.
I understand the open-vs-closed concerns, and agree that open source is better, but SaaS is a godsend for local government.
And then move on, leaving an unmaintained chunk of code that, while possibly better than the third-party software, instantly becomes a liability of unmaintained code. There's a reason why contractors have a bad reputation in the industry for the code they deliver. It's only developers that know they'll have to live with their work for the foreseeable future that put thought and effort into maintainability.
The only way that your "CS students over the summer" plan could work is if the University put a ton of effort into bootstrapping an open source community. Even then, it's doubtful they could create something that would be appealing enough to work on. Academia has a contractor-like reputation for producing code bases that are mostly only intelligible to the sole developer that worked on it.
Personally, I'd put my money on a non-profit third-party organization like Khan Academy to be able to design something that gets traction. They know the space, have world-class engineers and would be able to generate enough PR to start a community around a tool that they open source.
I think of Google's place here like I thoughts of Apple's in the world of smartphones -- they are in the position to normalize a new way of learning, which is the largest hurdle that perhaps only a powerful private company can accomplish these days. We can worry about the need to depose them with better tools if/when the need arises :)
Requiring that data be open and standardized (as far as import-export is concerned) makes sense, requiring that UI to manipulate that data is built by a government-affiliated entity is questionable.
Even if you love government-designed Web sites, there might be someone somewhere capable of building faster, more intuitive, mobile-friendlier front-end.
Then again, the Univ. at which I teach outsources the e-mail to Microsoft.
I tend to not understand.
And I agree: students data belongs to the University, not to google.
I think that Google truly took a "Google Plus" look and morphed that into a website for teachers. I love how it has a clean and easy to use UI. The assignments are on a side bar, announcements are clearly displayed in a "stream". You can easily post a message to your class, and you have access to everyone's email (making it easy to communicate).
Teachers in my school have used three platforms. Moodle, Google Classroom, and Edmodo. Quite frankly, I have come to like Edmodo much more. They're identical to Facebook, but the layout is so much better than the alternatives (in my preference). Edmodo has truly thought everything out.
BTW: they're not using Chrome Books, but some kind of fancy HP Android tablets.
I suppose I could get in the game by using my child's account, but often it is helpful to interact directly with teachers.
I've been doing that and the general response is overwhelmingly positive. Others have already stated why. I would like to amplify those sentiments:
+ Many alternative solutions on the market are generally considered to be sub-par, such as Moodle, Blackboard, etc. (I personally love the open source concept behind Moodle and have high hopes for them, but their implementation is oudated; fortunately, they know this and are working on it.)
+ Home-grown solutions are generally very poor for all kinds of reasons, including inability to find technical talent, bureaucracy and mismanagement, lack of budget, lack of project management, etc.
+ Google has a strong positive brand with teachers. While privacy concerns are growing, the overall community doesn't have the same stigma with Google that many readers of HN have. Google Apps for Education (GAFE) already had a decent footprint within schools and Google Classroom is piggybacking off of that penetration.
With that said, concerns about privacy, being operated by a separate for-profit, and comprehensiveness of features are great points and present ample opportunities for aspiring competitors. In some ways, Google Classroom just stepped up the game. If this causes anyone to release even better software for teachers and students, that's a great thing for teachers and students.
Would be nice to see some competition to encourage growth.
Google has an atrocious history of entering a market with commercial and open source options, obliterating them all with "hosted, free" solutions, feeding all the new data into their already massive profile building infrastructure, and often, shutting it down after a few years, after the previous solution providers have all had to shut shop because they couldn't compete with free.
then there's a list of things that are STILL around but have stifled competition anyways: gmail (hopefully people might get behind mailpile but i doubt it), gtalk (again, we have to wait another decade at least before a sensible IM standard is used), G+ (how many in the tech community have moved from one company (facebook) to another (google Plus). Just because they haven't axed a product like they did with reader of voice doesn't mean they won't misuse their power. Look at all the features they've removed from google maps because "mama google knows best". And no one dares to compete with them.
How does this stifle competition? If people use Gmail, it's because they think it's better than the alternatives. There aren't even network effects in play, since it's just email.
...is now called Hangouts, and is a flagship product.
>G+ (how many in the tech community have moved from one company (facebook) to another (google Plus)
Um... not me, for one, and certainly not for non-professional contacts. G+ is a ghost town.
G+ is very much not a ghost town....
send to phone was a firefox feature. it was axed. the functionality is now only available in chrome.
wave isn't built into the browser, it was axed. but as others have pointed out it wasn't my best, most shining example
A lot of professors have adopted Piazza is a relatively short time because it offers real benefits. And you could make the exact same argument about the longevity of Piazza.
I think we ought to applaud anything that makes life easier for educators because the reality is that most academic software, or at least blackboard which seems to terribly popular and is what I've used extensively, is a terrible mess. I'm not dismissing the concerns about privacy and longevity but they seem to putting potential future problems ahead of real present benefits.
What I've heard so far:
- It sometimes acts weirdly
- When it emails an assignment, the full text of the assignment is put in the title, resulting in comically massive titles.
- Using it at the same time as a personal gmail account is strange/not fun
- It doesn't have as many features as Edmodo (what the school was using before)
Google Classroom streamlines what they were already doing. And it will allow some less-technically-savvy teachers to do some of the same things.
IMHO, storage is a commodity.
Would you argue that schools need their own power generators because otherwise they'll be submitted to private companies? Should schools also have their own satellites and internet connections?
If the data is sensitive why not just encrypting it when is stored the same way we do when we need to transmit something over the wire?
Now, from the school POV I think if they go for a private solution they should demand open standards (avoid being locked in) and appropriate SLAs.
We do use MS Office 365 for email and calendaring, but I believe they (Microsoft) got some sort of stamp of approval from the education ministry first, and it does come with a long-term service agreement (it isn't free, though).
If they go with what I am working on for them they would be able to run analytics across all secondary schools and they would own their data.
That's life in business.
I don't see Google besting me here where it comes to the tailored needs.
What if student doesn't want account, and doesn't agree with Google Terms of Service?
It also requires the institution to have a Google Apps for Education account, which usually means that the University email accounts are all Google Accounts anyways.
It's utterly unsellable unless Google follows the old "evil" Microsoft route and simply bribes schools. And even that won't be enough to counter the shit storm that will hit any school that delivers the privacy of it's students into the hands of Google.
(The link sends me to the Dutch version of this. Google is seriously tone deaf it they think they can still sell this here.)
Schools don't buy software based on privacy and the privacy policies of much of the software being used by schools is often worse.
Maybe it won't sell in EU, but you don't need the EU to run a successful profitable business.
They should do in my opinion. I find it depressing that so many people overlook or dismiss privacy concerns, particularly where kids are concerned.
The kids who are asked to use Google classroom have no choice in the matter since the decision is made by the school. That means they must sign up for a Google Account regardless of whether they want one. It's the responsibility of the adults to evaluate the impact of the software they choose. And privacy should be one of the top concerns for anyone evaluating software for educational use in my view.
Given that you must enter a date of birth to create a Google Account, Google is capturing very specific and personal details of thousands, perhaps millions of students. Over time, Google will have amassed a staggering amount of information about the behaviour and activities of these students and will continue to do so into their adult lives (if the students continue to use their Google Account).
If Google isn't tracking the online activities of Google classroom users, why do they not simply state that?
That means most schools pretty much have to adopt some kind of cloud based solution that allows network administration of all of the computers used by the students.
It means whatever Google explains it to mean. Google can either be vague about it, or they can be clear and informative. Google is the one collecting the data. Only they know what is captured and for what purpose. It's their responsibility to explain clearly what they track and record. All of the questions you pose are ones that Google can answer.
I disagree that strict wording prevents the evolution of the software. It might prevent Google from mining user data in order to build a profile of user likes and behaviour. But I consider this type of data capture and analysis to be extend beyond the boundaries of simply improving a piece of software.
Giving a teacher a kind of dashboard based on profiling work habits, could be useful for both the teacher and the student.
I think it is better to enumerate what you don't do, rather than enumerate only what you will do.
"Obviously" they just need an email forward feature, but of course that would require admin effort for the kids that screw it up or intentionally create mail loops or mess with another kids account, so for CYA reasons that can't be done.
So the net effect is we've gone from a modest amount of paper correspondence to no correspondence at all because the tech doesn't work and nobody is interested enough in the message to fix it.
Another problem is for privacy reasons each kids email looks like "a java GUID"@something.k12.edu and nobody wants to use an address or username like that. ts impossible to remember their email addrs or passwords (they're written down on stickers on their devices) but I think it would be funny if its not "a java GUID" but actually their SS numbers run thru md5 or something even dumber from a security perspective.
As an adult, I have an email address like that from my cable company. I don't even know what my cable company email addrs is, much less its password. I've never used it and never will. God only knows how much marketing spam the cable co has sent to it. Maybe electronic bills too, who knows.
I think it's a false comparison to say it's like your cable address; a school has a multitude of good reasons for wanting to send email to its students. A cable company has mostly terrible reasons.
In-house solutions -> Centralized commercial offering -> Open source installed on premises
If Google didn't have a habit of killing their own products I'd maybe take the time to actually think about their products.
Does Apple or other vendors charge a similar "management fee" to this? Unless I'm missing something, the fees will surpass the per-unit pricing before the first year.
"It's a big change from the pricing model Google offered with Chrome OS in the past: The first generation of Chromebooks came with monthly fees for business and school accounts -- $28 a month per device for businesses and $20 a month for schools. With the new plan, organizations pay only the single flat fee for the lifetime of each device. "
Let the kids learn to use computers but limit it specifically to that. In the classroom emphasis should be on teaching the subject (and let them use pencil, pen and paper).
And I'm appalled that public schools now teach computer skills but have abandoned cursive writing.
Why not just keep up with the changes?
Schools obviously can't keep up with the changes: they've dropped cursive writing so that your child can play tic-tac-toe on a computer. Your son or daughter likely signs his/her name with block letters. If so, your child is, IMO, illiterate and here is your child in 15 years:
(this used to be funny but under the current political administration it has become a clear probability).
Current technology will be defunct in 5-10 years. Children are taught skills that will be as useful as navigating the Commodore 64 operating system. Instead they should learn current technology outside the classroom.
My pet peeve: cursive writing, tied to higher-level cognitive functioning in the brain, is no longer taught:
In fact, I would argue that children have more to learn on a commodore 64 system than a modern PC. First, it's still a cool piece of tech. Second, it throws you right at an interpreter where you can learn basic computer commands that nearly all PCs share. Thirdly, it isn't going to take up an entire class day to get it operational.
What do kids need to learn on modern systems? How to use office? That can be learned at a trade school or on the job. Teach them how to read a manual and computer fundamentals. Computer fundamentals might include a semester on how to use a mouse and how a computer works, not how to use Google Drive.