15:17 GMT +328 October 2016
    Netflix company logo at Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, California

    Netflix Founder Spends Big to Replace US Teachers With Computers

    © AFP 2016/ STR
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    The billionaire CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, is dishing out $100 million to replace public school teachers with computers, and not everyone is convinced the idea has merit.

    The technology-driven charter school program, proposed by the businessman, is supported by Microsoft’s Bill Gates, who has dropped an eye-popping $400 million on the concept. Hastings, 55, has upped the ante by also launching a foundation to get things moving.

    “The underlying mentality that Hastings shares with Gates is that computers revolutionized commerce, revolutionized business, revolutionized manufacturing, so now why can’t computers revolutionize education,” Anthony Cody, a retired high school teacher from Oakland, California, and critic of the takeover by Silicon Valley of learning institutions, told AlterNet. “In their minds, it is inevitable that it will. The only question is what will be the delivery method.”

    Hastings has been promoting charter schools for two decades. Charter schools were originally meant to innovate public schools, but have become a pawn in the fight to privatize all education, with for-profit franchises dominating the industry.

    The shift to charter schools, especially in urban areas, has long been controversial. Often anti-democratic and run in a corporate fashion, the model opposes unionization, and is documented to be prone to fiscal corruption, relying heavily on test scoring alone to gauge student progress and evaluate school effectiveness.

    Additionally, many studies have shown that students who learn primarily through a computer screen instead of human interaction learn less than their human-educated counterparts.


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    Education, Netflix, Charter Schools, Bill Gates, Reed Hastings
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    • michael
      hastings is an idiot! He obviously has never been involved in real education. For example - how does a computer / software control a class? How does it inspire, how does it generate respect for others / teachers - mentors / knowledge etc? How does it respond to the individual's learning needs for which there needs to be another human to make assessments and to see distractions in the classroom ?
    • karlof1in reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
      michael, Thanks for going off for me too! Computers are merely a tool, like a ruler. I was involved in growing the distance learning program when attending Northern Arizona and it all revolved around the teacher while the technology was used as the tools they are. Worked really well.
    • michaelin reply tokarlof1(Show commentHide comment)
      karlof1, we simply cannot get away from the Socratic method. Tools are useful as with practical sessions etc. But education needs the balance. Glad I struck a note! Thanks! :)
    • jas
      Additionally, many studies have shown that students who learn primarily through a computer screen instead of human interaction learn less than their human-educated counterparts.
      Wrong. I know too many people who read and learn a lot from it. Reading is a self-regulated activity. I don't agree at all that a person needs another person for the majority of learning. I still remember college where professors did research and pursued personal careers while "teaching assistant" did what the professors were supposed to be doing.

      Another trick was for the professor to just assign insane amounts of reading. I could have saved a lot of money if they just rented me the book for a decent price and gave me a semester of reading assignments and tests to perform on my own schedule.

      There's no reason at all why self education can't work. It works all of the time. mothers home school kids and do a great job, much better than government indoctrination centers, commonly known as public schools or universities. I know mothers who teach themselves so they can teach their kids. This article is nanny state mumbo jumbo.
    • wconell
      Now we know who really runs this country.
      The white house can't do it, so they hire it out.
    • wconellin reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
      michael, Most likely have the kids connected to electrodes and if they get out of line- ZAPP!
      I wouldn't put it past them.
    • manofsteel194275
      We have been looking for an excuse to drop Netflix I think we have it.
    • michaelin reply tojas(Show commentHide comment)
      jas, we do home school our children and it is the interaction and the work we do with them where their learning occurs. They have only minimal contact with the computer, enough for assignments and that's it. The other thing that I understood from the article was that this is for primary secondary level school children - not tertiary as in university. There as you would know it is a totally different ball game and not what I believe that this programme is on about. :)
    • michaelin reply towconell(Show commentHide comment)
      wconell, back to skinner and his rats....:)
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