So Duolingo is partnering with Pearson...
So it seems Pearson just announced that they are partnering with Duolingo to bring language courses aligned with their curriculum
I don't know what to say about this to be honest....but if you are not from the Commonwealth or the United States, look up on their track record ;)
Well they are a supposedly corrupt business that is aiming to control American education and turn the industry into a business while massively burdening students of all ages....
Try working for them sometime and it's quite possible you'll get to understand how they've come to earn this reputation. I'm not going to say too much more about this company, but you can read my earlier post here for a bit more insight.
In an earlier post in this thread, TheRealKurtz writes that Pearson is a "big pusher of Common Core." Not exactly sure what he means by that. Does he mean that Pearson likes lucrative contracts to get involved with Common Core? Does Pearson or affiliates help lobby for Common Core? Does Pearson help fund initiatives for Common Core? Who knows what TheRealKurtz was referring to exactly.
All I know is that a lot of people call Common Core "Common Stupid." Articles that hint at this (or flat out call it out for this) are as follows:
I didn't read each of those articles word for word. I really only scanned through them, but the takeaways I got from them are these:
1) Not everyone who gets involved in education really cares about making students better educated and better prepared for the world; they're in it to make a buck.
2) You can't make a buck by selling the same old thing of yesteryear. You've got to somehow convince everyone that the ways of old are lacking, deficient, "broken," or somehow otherwise flawed.
3) If you want somebody to buy into your new idea, it's got to be the shiny new object on the block. But the thing is, that shiny new object just might be a rock covered in glitter or pixie dust or a thin veneer of cheap gold paint. It certainly looks as if that is what Common Core has turned out to be. And that's being charitable.
As for what Common Core has to do with Pearson, well, I was going to lay down some more links for you, but after reading just this one article, I didn’t feel a need to do so. If you want more breadth to your edification on this topic, feel free to do a Google search on “Pearson” and “Common Core.” You’ll find several articles on this subject. The article I read is below:
This is actually a really good article and I recommend reading it. If you don't have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, allow me to share with you some excerpts from it:
Pearson PLC, the world's largest education company, made a major miscalculation on the Common Core academic standards, expecting a windfall that failed to materialize as it headed into a downward spiral in sales, stock price and staff.
Pearson's share price has declined 32% over three years and sales have fallen in three of the past four. It has laid off thousands of employees.
"The simple fact is that Pearson's brand is politically toxic in the United States," Ian Whittaker, an analyst at Liberum Capital Ltd., wrote in January.
Adopted by 46 states, Common Core was intended to improve instruction and afford all students a comparable education. Education companies prepared to cash in on revised classroom materials, training, and tests.
Pearson won a competition in late 2014 to give a test on the standards in more than 20 states in a coalition called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
Meanwhile, resistance grew to Common Core. Some conservatives called it a federal takeover of education. Some parents found the testing excessive, and targeted their complaints at Pearson.
At least a dozen Common Core states have repealed, revised or renamed their standards. The predicted market for Common Core products fizzled.
2 billion in revenue over eight years Pearson hoped for, as all but six states dropped out. Pearson lost testing contracts in other states, too, costing it some 147 million in annual revenue.
— From “Pearson's Bet on Common Core Fails to Pay Off; Big education company miscalculated in its investment in a digital curriculum,” Wall Street Journal, by Michael Rothfeld. Published Nov 26, 2016. Retrieved Apr 29, 2019.
I realize it seems as if I laid down quite a few excerpts from just one article, but it’s actually a relatively lengthy article and there’s a lot more to it, so I recommend reading the full article if you can.
You are, of course, free to form your own opinion of Pearson and Common Core, but since you indicated you were completely unaware of the “bad report card” some have given to Pearson, I felt someone should point out to you how that reputation was earned.
And if you're looking for a good book to read on the topic of Common Core, I recommend Common Core: National Education Standards and the Threat to Democracy. Here are some excerpts from it:
These kinds of hands-on education activities ended with the adoption of the Treasures reading program. The teacher now had to use preapproved curricula, assignments, and tests .... With other parents in the class, I wrote a letter to the principal detailing our concerns and asking her to stop the pilot program. After receiving my letter, the principal invited me to her office.... she told me that the Treasures reading program was aligned with the Common Core.... She said that the standards were internationally benchmarked and would prepare all children for college and careers. That last claim raised a red flag for me. Our school district had excellent teachers and programs and regularly sent most graduates to college, including some of the most selective in the country. Why would we abandon what had led to our success?
Without a proven track record, this pitch for the Common Core seemed like what the tailors told the emperor when selling him his new robe.
According to an EdNext opinion poll, public support for the Common Core dropped from 65 percent to 49 percent between 2013 and 2015, while teacher support for the standards during that same period plummeted from 76 percent to 40 percent.
According to the danger of factions argument, no one group of like-minded individuals should have the power to determine the educational direction for the entire country. Instead, because it is so easy to abuse, the power to shape education policy should be dispersed among states, localities, and families.
I should add that the author of this book does a very thorough job of discussing the politics behind Common Core, including "Race to the Top." If you're not familiar with "Race to the Top," here are some excerpts from a news article on the topic:
... [the] Race to the Top initiative, dangled federal funds in front of states that agreed to establish teacher evaluation systems using test scores to varying extents. And Gates funded his "Empowering Effective Teachers" project with the aim of finding proof that such systems could improve student achievement.
Some assessment experts were concerned from the start that the methods used to link student test scores to teacher evaluations were largely unfair and lacked statistical validity. Some educators noted that there were already effective evaluation systems for teachers that did not give weight to student test scores, including in Maryland's Montgomery County and Virginia's Fairfax County.
But the Gates project and Race to the Top continued, and most states adopted test-based teacher evaluation systems. In a desperate attempt to evaluate all teachers on tested subjects — reading and math — some of the systems wound up evaluating teachers on subjects they didn't teach or on students they didn't have. Some major organizations publicly questioned them, including the American Statistical Association, the largest organization in the United States representing statisticians and related professionals. And so did the Board on Testing and Assessment of the National Research Council.
But the Gates project continued. What happened in Hillsborough County is illustrative of problems that many warned about early on. Teachers who initially supported it came to realize its weaknesses. The project required district and union leaders to work together, which happened — but not for long. In 2015, Hillsborough County gave up on it, after more than $180 million was spent there.
— From "Bill Gates spent hundreds of millions of dollars to improve teaching. New report says it was a bust." The Washington Post – Blogs, Jun 29, 2018. Retrieved Apr 29, 2019.
Although I think everyone in this country should read both this book and this article, don’t think that I automatically agree with everything in them. For starters, I am not opposed to standardized testing. I had a bit of it myself as a student in the public K-12 system. I think it has its place, but I am very opposed to any activity that amounts to “teaching to the test” or focuses an entire education system around one singular method of teaching promoted by any one entity.
I also believe that the American people should have a choice when it comes to education and at the very least, in any democracy, U.S. citizens should demand and expect that their opinion on wide-ranging measures that may affect not just children, but the United States as a whole, be sought out and respected. That did not happen with Common Core.
The higher education space has been a business for decades. The various education boards that decide which books should be used is composed of publishing house executives. They choose their own books and force people to buy their books at whatever price they deem. I've had experience with Pearson. Buying their overpriced books and codes.
They don't have the best reputation in the USA. Poor quality products forced on products due to lucrative deals and connections with politicians
Don't fret just yet. Granted, as far as Common Core is concerned, if you're in a school district that has bought into the hype of it, there may not be much you can do about that, but many school districts have come to see the light and are using legislation to fight it. And many of them are succeeding.
Even if you are in a school district that uses Common Core, you never have to restrict yourself to what is taught in the classroom. If I were a student today and I was forced to learn through Common Core concepts and materials, I would take it upon myself to seek out other sources of teaching/information such as tutors and classes (e.g., in-person, MOOCs, YouTube, relevant pages from the world wide web) and other textbooks.
For math, I highly recommend Barron's. I used it to prepare for the GRE, and in the process, I learned more than I ever did in high school (even though I was not subjected to Common Core math). Not only was it explained well, but it also provided lots and lots of practice exercises with answer keys. It was immensely helpful and I attribute passing the GRE, in large part, to this book (well, at least the math portion):
Don't laugh at the title. I really needed to brush up and math was never one of my strong suits. That said, I rarely, if ever, got anything lower than a "B" grade in math, so don't think that this book is for complete rocks.
Perhaps I've gone overboard on details with regard to one subject — math — but the few publications I'm familiar with from Barron's have always left a good impression on me and if the rest are anything like this math book, they're worth the money.
Having said that, I recently discovered that Barron's has been acquired by Kaplan:
In 2018, Kaplan acquired the Barron's brand of test prep materials from Barron's Educational Series, which was renamed B.E.S. Publishing.
— Source: "Kaplan, Inc." Wikipedia.
Kaplan, by the way, is owned by The Washington Post,¹ and we all know who owns The Washington Post now, don't we?
One other publication company I would recommend is Macmillan, but since Pearson has acquired the Macmillan name (to include Macmillan Education), I'm not so sure anyone can continue to trust the reputation it once held. As an example of trustworthiness, or lack thereof, there's this:
In 2010, Macmillan Education submitted to an investigation on grounds of fraudulent practices. The Macmillan division admitted to bribery in an attempt to secure a contract for an education project in southern Sudan. As a direct result of the investigation, sanctions were applied by the World Bank Group, namely a 6-year debarment (reduced from 8 years due to an early acknowledgment of misconduct by the company) declaring the company ineligible to be awarded Bank-financed contracts.
— Source: "Macmillan Publishers." Wikipedia.
The one product of Macmillan's that really made a good impression on me was Behind the Wheel - Russian 1,² which was published in 2009. I don't think this series (available in other languages, too) changed any since the Pearson acquisition (but I guess Pearson, or should I say Amazon?) now make money off of it, not Macmillan. Nevertheless, I would expect to see future publications branded with the Pearson name. One would hope that publications released under Macmillan won't be rebranded with Pearson and thereby, consumers can distinguish between the two.
But perhaps it won't be long before consumers have few choices left at all. What happens when power is consolidated in the hands of a few? I can't really say for sure, but it doesn't look as if it bodes well for the 99%.
¹ “Kaplan was founded in 1938 by Stanley H. Kaplan, who started the business by tutoring students for the New York State Regents Exam in the basement of his parents' Brooklyn home. He eventually opened locations around the country. In 1984, Kaplan sold the company to The Washington Post Company, which centralized control.” “Kaplan, Inc.” Wikipedia.
² Perhaps some of you find it ironic that I link you to an Amazon page for this book, but it was the best page to link you to in terms of details and reviewer comments.
Looking past the conversation, I saw examples of tapping and speaking exercises, no typing. Voice recognition probably needs work on both sides of this marriage. But even tapping translations will require a list of valid translations (for skips and reorders). I wonder if a subset of exercises is chosen from regular courses, volunteers in the desirable language combinations get asked to do extra work to third-party specs, or something else. (ETA: It's apparently something else. As a contributor to a course not affected by this directly, I will absolutely sympathize with those less fortunate, but at this point it is time for me to shut up.)
There's definitely good and bad to this, but there's not much information available to us right now to go off of.
The main evil I've experienced has been taking courses that require the purchase of access codes from textbook companies like Pearson for access to online materials, which is how pretty much all STEM and many social sciences courses operate (I don't know about foreign language courses because I've never taken one at a Univeristy level), at least at public research universities.
What the link and the video seem to say is that it will be content based on Pearson textbooks brought to students through Duolingo's mobile and web platforms. My immediate thoughts are that these students are probably already being forced to buy access codes for Pearson's online materials anyway, and Duolingo's platform is much more convenient and user-friendly than Pearson's, which can take hours to set up and requires certain browsers, settings, and plugins. On the other hand, this might increase the cost that students have to pay for their course materials and courses that don't currently use Pearson materials may adopt them now.
Depending on how they do this, regular Duolingo users might not be able to get access to the Pearson materials (or at least not the same that students enrolled in University courses will have) even if you buy a code because some Pearson materials require registration with a class code provided by an instructor and those materials expire when that class ends. Then again, that's how Pearson's Mastering and Mylab features work and Pearson's Duolingo features may work differently.
I understand the need for resources like Pearson's online materials because class sizes are so large in public universities that it can be impossible for instructors to assign the adequate amount of practice and be able to grade in a way that gives students useful feedback. Pearson online offers practice specific to the course with automatic grading and it can report student progress to instructors, but the interface isn't easy to use. Duolingo on its own is very easy to use but doesn't align well with courses taught in schools. Let's hope that this collaboration capitalizes on the positive aspects of both.
Edited to add: For the record, Busuu is another language learning site and it has an affiliation with McGraw Hill (another big textbook company), through which you can apparently take tests and earn level certificates. This could be an avenue for Duolingo to do something similar.
Never heard of this, wow.
Here is more on the stupid question the test asked: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2012/04/20/151044647/the-pineapple-and-the-hare-can-you-answer-two-bizarre-state-exam-questions
Oh wow is right as in "Oh, wow, that second version made it seem so much better." I have to admit, it brought back some memories of some things I've had to read, but nothing nearly quite as bad as that. What really made the story worth reading, though, is the commentary by the original author. What a hoot. I almost had tears coming out my eyes.
Earlier this week I was rather amused by an impeachment joke, but one too crude to repeat here. I never thought, in a million years, that a story by NPR would top it, but it has. Thank you for sharing this with us.
I hadn't been aware of this Pineapple Gate business, along with the other details, so thank you for sharing. While that was interesting to read, the article is missing some other equally interesting information, such as:
And then there's this:
If you don't have a Washington Post subscription, let me share with you some of what is on this 65-item list (because you won't find much, if any of this, in the Wikipedia article):
Though I had done some research on Common Core in the past, I never really did too much on Pearson (oddly enough!). Had Duolingo not entered into some sort of tenuous tango with them, my attention likely would never have turned in their direction. Needless to say, my eyes have been opened.