Summit Learning, an online-learning program developed by Facebook engineers and funded by Mark Zuckerberg, is under fire for its headache-inducing design and over-the-top data collection policy.
What is Summit Learning?
Summit Learning is a free web-based “personalized learning” program that comes with custom lesson plans and quizzes that’s backed by Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. In 2016, Zuck’s org pledged to give approx. $100M to the program.
Many public schools, especially underfunded ones, signed up to Summit Learning in hopes of offering the best and latest edu-tech to their students. Really, who could say no to a free educational platform from Silicon Valley? The problem is, students everywhere are getting fed up with the program.
Why do students hate it?
The program requires students to be tied to their laptops for much of the day and they’re complaining about screen time overload and lack of interaction with their teachers and friends. “Everyone is more stressed now” said a high-school student at one of the Summit Learning program schools in Kansas.
In response, students across the country are rebelling against Summit Learning. There were protests against the program in NYC, Chicago, Jersey, Connecticut, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Kansas, and more.
Headaches, cramps, and seizures
Being glued to laptop screens all day caused some real health problems – students in Summit Learning program complained about headaches, hand cramps, and anxiety. One child even had multiple seizures. Do the lessons come with Skrillex soundtracks and flashlight effects?
“The kids all looked like zombies,” said a parent who visited his son’s Summit Learning class. It was so bad he pulled his kid out of the school.
Another data collecting tool for Facebook?
In true Facebook fashion, Summit Learning went the fuck in when it came to data collection. The program collects:
- student and parent names and email addresses
- student ID numbers, attendance, suspension and expulsion records
- their disabilities, gender, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status
- their dates of birth, completed homework assignments, teacher feedback and observations
- their grade promotion or retention records, their test scores, college admissions, survey responses, homework assignments, extracurricular activities and more
There’s more – by collecting on their college attendance records and careers, Summit Learning plan to get their hands on after-graduation data as well.
Akila Robinson and Kelly Hernandez, student leaders at the Secondary school of Journalism in Brooklyn, asked the following questions in a letter they sent to Mark Zuckerberg – “What gives you this right, and why weren’t we asked about this before you and Summit invaded our privacy in this way?”