Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tablet madness: Would Amplify pass a CRB check? And hideous tablet for women

News Corp know a fair bit about mobile technology, as they have ‘hacked’ their way to ignomy. You’d think, after the Millie Dowler scandal, and their downright evil attitude towards hacking the mobiles of parents, children and the general public, News Corp would avoid the education market. But no, here they are selling mobile devices to schools. Have they NO shame?
And it gets worse. Amplify is headed up by Jo Klein. If you don’t know Klein, he was the odd guy sitting behind the Murdochs at the select committee on phone hacking (he’s a lawyer) and was hired as a Murdoch ‘fixer’. Note that this inquiry uncovered the close links between Gove (ex Murdoch journalist), Murdoch and Klein. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these hideous devices pop up in government funded initiatives in UK schools. This is how Gove likes to work – behind the scenes.
Even worse, in one of the worst examples of Government excess and nepotism, Rachel Wolf, ex-Gove advisor, and odd recipient of government funds, has also joined News Corp and Amplify. This is truly worrying. Why? Rachel has no academic background in education, had barely finished as an advisor, first to Boris Johnson then Michael Gove, when at the tender age of 25, she suddenly received from Gove, a cool half million of funding. This was for a charity she had started just a year earlier, called the New Schools Network, advising on ‘free-schools’. There was, of course, no tender - clearly an inside job. Let’s be clear here - this was a lobbying organisation that received direct government funds to advise on educational policy. I should add that this ‘charity’ refuses to name its other benefactors. I wonder why? Could they include some private sector interests in school networks? Read this.
The Asus tablet, a 10 inch Asus tablet running Android’s Jellybean OS, costs $299 but you have to buy a 2 year subscription at $99 per year. That makes it just short of $500 per pupil. Or you can buy the data plan at a total 2 year cots of over $700. Are they kidding? Let’s do some maths. You want to gove (sorry give) this to just one class of 30 kids – total cost £21,210. OK, you want to do it in a 1200 pupil school, that’s $848,400.
Tablets of stone
I don’t like this top-down, lockdown, command-and-control approach to devices in schools. This tablet is a bitter pill to swallow as it locks you into the News Corp ecosystem. It is openly marketed as a device that gives you ‘control’. Beware of their ‘curated’ apps and the ‘all eyes on me feature’ (I kid you not) where teachers can switch off all devices with one click. These guys have history, a horrible history of deception and misinformation. We’ve just managed to fight them off in the press, let’s not turn our schools into a similar battleground.
Don’t keep taking the tablets
This whole ‘tablet’ thing is getting out of hand. We’re forcing them down the throats of kids who would never dream of buying one themselves. Don’t let education walk blindly into lockdown tablets like the iPad and Amplify. To compare apples and oranges – both lock you in.
Tablet for women
Now for something even more disturbing, coming out of Dubai, that great city of moral rectitude and women’s rights, comes this hideous device. In many ways this is worse, a tablet that has all the usual stereotypical apps around yoga, perfume, weight, dieting, clothing, shopping and groceries (I kid you not - looks at apps on screen). 
I am all for technology in education but wary of shiny ‘tablet’ initiatives that are largely, expensive, technology-led projects. Even worse are tablet projects by organisations like News Corp that, on the grounds of moral bankruptcy, should be kept away from our children and remain on the other side of the school gate. It’s not often I say I want technology to fail but I really do hope and pray that these die an immediate and deserved death.

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