Wednesday, March 7, 2007
ARIS: Boon or Boondoggle?
“The city just awarded IBM a five-year contract to create a massive system to manage, track, analyze, and share information about student and school performance. But it won't buy Johnny new pencils.”
That's how a properly skeptical article from, of all places, Information Week, begins about the DoE purchase of the ARIS system, called “Can An $80 Million IBM Deal Save New York City's Schools?”
"How will this look in practice? Think of a teacher trying to help a student struggling with geometry... The teacher could tap into the system and search for best practices on geometry instruction, and get contact information for teachers identified as having strong skills in that area."
Sure, this is reasonable, for a teacher to pursue for his 150-160 students -- when it's too time- consuming for most of them even to be able to correct weekly homework.
"IBM says ARIS will be a highly secure system, yet it's likely some parents and teachers will voice concerns about a Big Brother approach to tracking the performance of more than one million students, and even teachers, which total about 90,000 in the public school system."
“….businesses and schools are worlds apart on the types of challenges they face. Technology may help, but it'll never be able to address the all-too-familiar problems of overcrowded classrooms, overworked or inefficient teachers, and lack of parent participation and funding."