Something For Nothing – From Microsoft?

Microsoft have a history of working very hard to get themselves firmly embedded in schools and the day to day lives of children. I have often wondered why educators didn’t raise a hue and cry about the only company on earth capable of making their products (microsoft office etc.) made part of the school syllabus and the wider curriculum for millions of children all over the world.

Their latest Trojan horse appears to be the Minecraft Education Edition. When i first saw that Microsoft had purchased Mojang (the company that owned Minecraft) for $2.5bn I suspected exactly this. And, now here they are enticing in teachers and students with lesson plans (teacher’s job done for them if they’re inclined to be lazy?) collaboration features and all the addictive qualities of computer games, with no proof that it contributes to learning that i can see.

EdTech Magazine – Microsoft Releases Free, Early-Access Version of Minecraft: Education Edition

In the wider sense, it’s been disappointing over the last few years that we’ve not seen a more concerted effort to make open source operating systems and programmes like Open Office made more accessible and easier to install and use in the education domain. Because, the fact is, they’re completely free. And maybe that’s the key as to why any potential support for them got stifled?

Schools spend a lot of money on licences for Microsoft products (even at the reduced rates for education) and these recurring licence fees are passed on directly to parents in the private sector (taxpayers in the public sector). However, one of the biggest hurdles was that use of the Microsoft pay model software even got built in to government policy, national syllabus and curricula in country after country. Really, when you think about it, a quite amazing and monopolistic state of affairs that ties in children’s learning to the products of this single company.

This then can make you wonder just how philanthropic really are the efforts and contributions of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (I guess they won’t be offering me a job any time soon!) when they choose to direct the lion’s share of their dollars at education. Will a government reliant upon their spending in education say no to inclusion of their software in the computing syllabus of the schools?

Really? Is this healthy? Has anyone noticed?


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