News Corp. Wants to Hack the Classroom

News Corporation has been shaking things up right and left: Rupert Murdoch is stepping down from the directorships of the company’s UK newspapers.

Peter Rice, who has been head of Fox News’s entertainment unit, is now head of the Fox Networks Group. This puts him in charge of all programming and operations for the group, for Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports Media Group, FX, Fox International Channels and the National Geographic Channels. David Hill, chairman and CEO Fox Sports, since 1999, will become News Corp.’s senior executive vice president.

Meanwhile, things across the Atlantic have been heating up for News Corp.

Criminal Charges For Former Murdoch Execs

Murdoch’s removing himself from the UK papers was well-timed. On Tuesday, criminal charges were brought against two ex-News of the World editors, Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks. Both have strong personal links to Prime Minister David Cameron, Coulson as his spokesman and Brooks through her friendship with him via her husband, a horse trainer and longtime friend of Cameron’s. The prospect of Coulson and Brooks facing criminal trials — guaranteed to have extensive press coverage — are a “potentially serious hazard” to the Prime Minister, who faces a general election in 2005.  Along with Coulson and Brooks, six other former NoW staffers face a total of 19 criminal charges.

Back in the USA: Hacking the Classroom

Perhaps this is why, the day before, News Corp. made an announcement of a completely different sort, about how it plans to “disrupt” education with technology. Joel Klein, the CEO of Amplify, News Corp.’s new k-12 education division and the former New York City education chancellor, announced today how the company intends to shake up education through technology and, specifically, through a new tablet computer it is launching with AT&T.

Students will be able to use the tablet not only in the ways students are already using tablets in school, for e-textbooks and accessing the internet. News Corps.’s educational tablets will enable assessment — of teachers by students — through mobile tools. Explains TechCrunch:

Amplify has also partnered with Wireless Generation, an education firm that builds mobile assessment technology, so that teachers can evaluate students on-the-fly … Klein couldn’t immediately reference any supportive peer-reviewed research on the impact of mobile assessment, but did note that Amplify plans to put significant resources into the development of nascent technologies. Wireless Generation tells us via email that there are currently two studies “underway,” one by the Department of Education’s research arm, the Institute for Education Science, and another by the University of Michigan. “Quite frankly, the research reflects the state of the art, and I think we’re going to change the state of the art,”¯ which is a good indication of just how comprehensive Amplify aims to be with their product development.

“On-the-fly” student evaluations of teachers?

It’s not that I don’t think students should evaluate teachers. As a college professor, end-of-semester evaluations by my students are routine and, while I do cringe to read the evaluations, I always learn something valuable so I can try to be a better teacher.

But these evaluations are made when a class is nearly over and with time for them to think things through in responding. “On-the-fly” comments from students sound potentially troubling and liable to reflect arbitrary feelings and opinions. Students are so accustomed to typing a comment and sending it off via text or Twitter; will such comments be genuinely helpful? Should they be used for such career-making, or breaking, purposes as teacher evaluations?

Given that News Corp. has come under scrutiny from the phone hacking scandal in its British newspapers — Monday brought reports of stolen cell phones — interesting, if not intriguing, that the company is making digital devices a centerpiece of its education strategy.


Related Care2 Coverage

Rupert Murdoch Quits UK Newspaper Boards

Mitt Assures Murdoch He Won’t Flip-Flop on Immigration

David Cameron Denies Murdoch Favoritism



Photo by flickingerbrad


Will Rogers
Will Rogers5 years ago

While I hate NewsCorp, I think this is a great idea, but should be implemented by others inc. the education board. This technology coupled with in class cameras may find out what's wrong with Education, something needs to be done. The Status Quo is outdated and broken. Not allowing technology and assessment in schools reminds me of Fifa not allowing goal line technology in sport! Crooks prosper, the inept prospers and teachers will continue to coast. This article essentially misses the point. The opinions of newspapers are not as important as the opinions, education and well being of our children.

Steve A.
Steve A5 years ago

Absolutely nothing wrong with Newscorp being in the classroom.

This is an excellent public safety tool.

When little Johnny fires off a message "you so gay teach!" they'll be able to have a team of phone hackers, sorry, investigative journalists on to it immediately.

They'll be able to show if the statement is true or not by the following day.

Parents will be able to rest easy and relax knowing their kids are in safe hands.

Lynda Duke
Lynda Duke5 years ago

News Corp, stay out of the classroom. Let the teachers do their job. If we let News Corp in, then come the advertisers. Stay out of the classroom. Let the teachers do their job of teaching about the news.

Bill Eagle
Bill Eagle5 years ago

I don't trust News Corp. I don't see any reason why anyone else should trust them either.

Troy G.
Troy Grant5 years ago

Australia, the place were criminals were sent, is where the greatest criminal is from.

Daniel G.
Daniel G.5 years ago

As a student, the question of evaluations during the semester has come up many times before, with some professors taking the initiative of actually doing their own mid semester evaluations.

In one scenario a professor had an open discussion on his teaching since it was his first semester, as a result of that discussion with students it was learned that the reason he was teaching from the book was because he was thinking of the students that could have missed class so that they could pick up the book and see what he taught, it felt like a waste of our time when he explained the examples in the book and we did not get to see a different real world scenario. As a result of that mid-semester evaluation he changed his teaching style to include more real life scenarios that he experienced and less examples from the book.

Had it been just an end of semester evaluation students would have been suffering throughout the semester and felt their time was being wasted hearing a person teach the book.

Maryann Burkholtz

I wonder how NewsCorp would feel about an on the fly viewers evaluations of their programming? They'd come out with a great big F. Mudocch and his associates are such
dirty newsmen I'm surprised that Faux news still exists. However not all Americans are smart, so some still support them.

Jen Matheson
Past Member 5 years ago

Newscorp in the classroom! What next?

Devon N.
Devon N5 years ago

This is both dangerous and wrong. This corporation has the ethics of a gutter tramp, and the morals of a snake, and now they want to influence our children. Notice I did not say "educate" I said influence. By allowing these children, of all ages mind you, to determine the quality of a teacher's teaching abilities, is both wrong and incompetent. Children tend to evaluate based not on what they learn or how they are taught, but rather on their emotions and these are often not happy ones if the teacher is insisting that they focus on their studies and do their work correctly. Far too many children are going to harm good teachers who actually teach with these kinds of tools in their hands, and just as CPS will act on lies told by a child, so too will school districts act on lies told about a teacher. This is just another tool to collapse our public school system and to lead to Big Brother control of our children. Not surprising that the most egregious man in media, Rupert Murdoch, is behind it.

Jazz P.
Jazz P5 years ago

Great, not only teachers looking over my shoulders anymore? no thank you. Besides, isn't this illegal?