All the kids are using Facebook these days, right? So it makes sense for Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg to launch an educational software initiative.
No, your kid isn’t going to graduate from Facebook University (yet), but this initiative is actually part of Zuckerberg and his wife’s commitment to giving back. The couple recently donated $120 million to organizations in the San Francisco Bay area to reach underserved children, and one of those programs involves a public charter school run by Summit Public Schools. The executive director of the school system reached out to Zuckerberg about the lack of quality software at their disposal, so the entrepreneur committed eight of his software engineers to develop programs for the school to use. The goal is to eventually make this software available to all schools, free of charge.
Sounds great, right? The genius–and the bank account–behind arguably the largest global phenomenon ever is committed to creating free educational software. What could possibly go wrong?
Unfortunately, critics are already skeptical of the equation that involves children plus Facebook’s lax views on privacy. “Sure kids, play this really great algebra program…while we gather your information, sell it to retailers, and target you with advertising while listing your GPS coordinates online.”
Another mark against this concept is the fact that studies have shown increased access to the latest technology and software platforms doesn’t always correlate to higher academic performance and achievement test scores, especially in specific subjects like reading.
While both Facebook and Summit say they’ll adhere to strict privacy protocols where student information is concerned, there are steps schools should take before sitting their students down at computers for self-paced digital learning. After all, around 500,000 children a year fall victim to identity theft, and school records computers are often the culprit either through hacking or internal data breaches. Ensuring that all computers on the network are protected with the most up-to-date versions of antivirus and antimalware software–like 360 Total Security, which released an update recently on FileHippo–is only the beginning. It’s a good idea to incorporate a VPN as well, but many schools can’t do that for fear of not being able to track student internet activity.