Corporate intrusion into education through technology: Pearson and Google
Big corporate players are rightly convinced that technology use in education is only going to grow--and this has potential for big profits. Genuine applications of technology could expand opportunities for educational development and make education more accessible for everyone. Technology also offers significant symbolic value in giving a message that education is in tune with a nation's participation in the global economy.
However, the challenge for corporations within the capitalist system is to position themselves to make potential profits in the rapidly evolving environment of digital education. Meeting social objectives of equity and open participation do not drive corporate decisions, unless they can be framed to meet profit objectives.
Information and Communications technologies are a Trojan Horse for privatization and marketization of education.
Pearson and Google are the two of the largest players in the race for profits from education. However, they represent two very different strategies for defining their role in the contest: Pearson as a vertically integrated, trans-national corporation focused on selling content and services; Google as a platform that provides service to teachers and students through a range of "education apps," some for "free" and others managed on a fee paying basis for education institutions, school districts or schools.
In looking at individual aspects of the educational offering of both Pearson and Google, they may seen benign or even positive. However, with an examination of the breadth of what is offered by both, it is obvious that they can have an excessive influence on education. It is the interaction and inter-relationship of the different elements of their businesses that provide them with the power to dominate in educational decisions. Rather than collective decision-making about education through public processes, decisions about what should be done and what tools exist are driven by private interests through a relentless search for profits.
Two further posts will provide details of the corporate strategies of Pearson and of Google