Caution: AFT Has Made a Deal with inBloom-like Clever
On October 3, 2014, EdWeek reported that Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), has announced AFT’s intention to “partner” with “ed-tech startup” Clever.
I first wrote about Clever in January 2014. Like inBloom, Clever is a “data cloud.” As such, Clever offers an inBloom-like means of accessing and sharing student data.
This info comes straight from the Clever Terms of Service:
School authorizes Clever to access student information, and shall facilitate a means for Clever to access the information in its SIS. Clever shall access student information for the purposes of providing software integration, an outsourced institutional function pursuant to FERPA 34 CFR Part 99.31(a)(1). …
School may designate third parties who are authorized to securely access its student information via the Clever Application Programing Interface (the “API”). Clever shall not redisclose student information to third parties unless explicitly authorized by School. School may, at any time, revoke any third party’s access to student information by providing written notice to Clever. …
Bill Fitzgerald of the Funnymonkey blog offers the following insights into the AFT-Clever business deal, including “implications” of Clever’s, AFT’s ShareMyLesson, and the Open Education Resources (OER) “collaboration.”
It is worth reposting here. Please read it carefully, including the “questions about the deal” at the end.
What Problems Get Solved by the AFT, Clever, and ShareMyLesson Collaboration?
On Friday, Benjamin Herold wrote a piece where he outlined the new collaboration between ShareMyLesson and Clever, and how the American Federation of Teachers is backing this collaboration. His piece also stated that connections with Clever could support OER creators. There were a few elements that seemed off in both the deal, and in how it was being described. This piece looks at Clever, ShareMyLesson, and OER, and breaks down some of the implications of the collaboration.
It’s also worth noting that many aspects of Clever are very similar to inBloom, particularly in streamlining data that is pushed to student information systems. This EdSurge article from August, 2014, closes with the same conclusion:
“On Clever, when you have students working on half a dozen apps on engagement and performance, the teacher has to login to each to see how the students are doing on each individual app,” Krull notes. “At this point, the next step after customizing the platform for teachers and students is, how can the data from each app come back to a reporting panel?”
Bet that’s something we’ll see more clever solutions for soon.
Clever’s marketing department deserves a lot of credit for avoiding the same notice and backlash experienced by inBloom.
The terms of ShareMyLesson have been baffling for a long time. I’ve gone into this in the past, and don’t have much new to add now except to note that the terms haven’t improved at all. It’s also worth highlighting that ShareMyLesson could mitigate many of the more obvious problems just by adding licensing options to the screens where members share resources. But currently, ShareMyLesson collects data on end users, claims control over user content and data, and their terms prohibit even basic reuse of content. There is a direct disconnect between the “pledge” on ShareMyLesson, and their terms.
OER doesn’t need single sign on to succeed. Lack of access to OER isn’t the issue, and OER adoption has been on the rise in recent years for a range of (largely human/organizational, non-technical) reasons. Barriers to OER adoption include widespread use of formats that aren’t open or reusable, and misunderstanding around the rights granted via open licensing. In short, when we work with OER, train people on how to use OER, and build systems that support increased use and creation of OER, the barriers are largely human, and not technical.
If AFT had just partnered with CK12, they could have connected with a pre-existing OER community and organization, with a track record in K12, and a large body of resources that are licensed for reuse and increasingly Common Core aligned. AFT could have avoided the privacy issues of Clever, the privacy and licensing issues of ShareMyLesson, and could have gotten down to the business at hand: supporting their members as they teach.
Conclusions and Next Steps
However, both Clever and ShareMyLesson will get some immediate benefits.
In addition, the AFT is doing some stellar marketing and outreach for Clever. I hope that Clever is paying the AFT a large sum to compensate AFT for marketing directly to teachers and schools on their behalf.
If I was a member of AFT, I’d have a lot of questions about this deal, but I’d start with these five:
- Has any of my personal information been shared with either Clever or ShareMyLesson? If yes, what information has been shared, and why?
NOTE: I’m assuming that the answer to this question is “no”, but it bears asking.
- What are the financial details of this arrangement? Is AFT getting paid by Clever, is Clever getting paid by AFT, and/or is there any outside funding helping to subsidize this work?
- What data is collected on me by Clever, and by the different applications that Clever integrates?
- How can I review, modify, and delete the data collected on my by the Clever, ShareMyLesson, and other applications integrated via Clever? If there is no way for me to do this, how will AFT leadership guarantee the safety of my personal information, and of my site usage information for all apps accessed through Clever?
- Why is AFT leadership pushing and championing use of ShareMyLesson, a site that claims control over my work, and claims that my personal information is a business asset?
The responses to these five questions would shape any follow up. [Emphasis added.]
What is AFT gaining from its partnership with Clever– and what exactly is it selling to Clever in the process?
Time for AFT to clearly publicize the terms of this deal– financial and otherwise.