August 9, 2023

While Zuckerberg and Musk Battle, Thomas Courtney: Educators Should Be Wary of Their Advertisement

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Thomas Courtney is a senior policy advisor with Teach Plus. In this post, he warns about the aspirations of two billionaires. For instance, Zuckerberg’s assertion that Meta will be an education game changer.

Just take the recent Meta advertisements to sell us their product that will, they say, revolutionize our teaching.

Meta calls it “The Impact Will Be Real.” As a veteran teacher, I don’t think anything could be further from the truth.

In the first clip, while a professor teaches college students from around the world virtually,  a professional voice declares, One day, this lecture hall will be made of code, and although they’re virtual students, what they will learn is real.

My initial question was, why would anyone start an advertisement for Meta with this? The video shows nothing more than a more realistic version of Zoom. Virtual instruction wasn’t exactly, nor ever has been, any kind of success. In fact, much data supports the idea that it was detrimental to an entire generation of children. Mark Zuckerberg, though, in his Metaverse, has somehow found a way to fix all that. How? Graphics?

In the second clip, while we watch a medical student perform virtual surgery, a friendly voice declares, “A surgeon will be able to practice as many times as needed in the Metaverse, before laying her hands on a real patient.”

My question for any of us is, who wants a doctor cutting them open who has never been involved in a real operation on a real human being? And for the doctors-to-be themselves, how will the doctor feel, working only on virtual patients when she encounters a living, breathing human being? Will Meta evaluate the way its platform affects doctoral norms or pedagogy? Will Meta evaluate how patient-doctor relationships are affected by completely recalibrating how doctors learn? And finally, for all of us, it is changing the way professionals like doctors practice their craft based on the fact that technology is simply available, superior to updating best practices based on qualitative and quantitative data from real human beings, not a company looking to make itself richer than it already is?

Read the full post about these wealthy education amateurs here. 

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