I dislike Google Teacher Academy (GTA). Not because I dislike the so called “free” products, or believe people should never meet, but because it is consumer public-theatre which in a neoliberal marketplace, deliberately creates winners and losers.
GTA works though behaviorism and follows decades of refinement by advertising and marketing theorists and practitioners. First, it uses a relational strategy (emotional broadcasts) then a transitional strategy (reviews, social media, search, in-group influencers, out-group ignorants) and finally the transactional strategy (direct and indirect sales).
Google Teacher Academy is a further example of the commodification of childhood. Without any empirical evidence, Google sets out to create competition among teachers, to create ‘aspirational value’ in it’s products and obedience with it’s ideology. It personifies this though the “every man” advertising representation. They select in-group personalities (with social influence) to defuse it’s consumer cultural agenda, because ‘every-man’ is someone just like us. Of course there is a pay-off for actors who amplify and fall into line in terms of financial and social capital (the biggest winners) and then there is everyone else — the losers.
Education is a civic institution. It is supposed to be about scholarship and resist commodification, question political-economic rhetoric and be alert to social-manipulation. Google actively attack these principles with GTA. In comparison, those researchers who are working to improve education are burdened with the task of collecting evidence and using human ethics. This doesn’t make them laggards, late adopters or other ‘out-group’ members. It makes them accountable, evidence based and ethical. Any claim that ‘research’ is out of step with culture, must first be very clear about what culture is — and what happens when corporations are not called to account. This is the subject of countless dystopian novels — the corporatisation of habitus, the removal of liberty.
I can’t imagine for a second that Google bothers itself with such things as it sets up it’s consumer theatricals in the name of ‘innovation’ and ‘elite teaching’. This is little more than a consumer-competition, like winning tickets to the circus by collecting tokens and writing a ‘tie-breaker’ limerick.
For me, the toolset isn’t important. Lots of people use Google’s toolset, so what? Its the false representation of behavioural marketing as scholarship that irks me. It does not promote new or better thinking, alternative solutions, but indoctrinates teachers and reduces the basic freedoms children are struggling to maintain
If I am wrong, please feel free to leave me references to studies/journals which show GTA has any benefit and more importantly how it’s design avoids harm. It obviously delivers Google and associates significant financial rewards.