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Part 10 of my Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2012 series

Education is political — inherently so and despite the protestations from some quarters when what happens in our schools, in our textbooks, in our brains “becomes politicized.” Education is political not simply because of the governmental role — federal, state, local — in school funding and policies. It is political because of the polis — the connections between education and community. Education is political because learning is at once personal (and, of course, “the personal is political”) and social; it is both private and public.

But I’ll leave a round-up of all that happened in 2012 with regards to the “politics of education” — the U.S. Presidential Elections, the Chicago Teachers Union strike, the Dream Act — for someone else to write. I’m interested here in the “politics of ed-tech.”

Of course, if education is political, then ed-tech must be as well. As such, “the politics of ed-tech” isn’t really a trend; it’s a truism. (And wait, “what is ed-tech?”) So why frame this as the penultimate trend in my year-in-review series? I think it’s because, much like the first trend I examined — the business of ed-tech — we witnessed in 2012 the (education) technology sector discovering, seizing, wielding its power and influence.

The year began with the Internet’s protests against SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (the Protect IP Act). The proposed legislation would give U.S. law enforcement more authority to crack down on online copyright infringement, allowing them to ban search engines from linking to “infringing” websites and require Internet service providers to block access to these sites as well. The technology industry was very vocal in its opposition to SOPA and PIPA (except GoDaddy. I hope you all changed domain registrars!), arguing the laws would “break the Internet” — in technology and in spirit. Internet co-founder Vint Cerf penned a letter to the author of SOPA, Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), stating that "Requiring search engines to delete a domain name begins a worldwide arms race of unprecedented ‘censorship’ of the Web.” On January 18, the English Wikipedia, Reddit, Wired, and thousands of other websites coordinated a protest, “going dark” to express their opposition to the bills. Access to pro-SOPA websites was difficult as Anonymous called for DDOS attacks against them. Rep. Smith put work on the legislation on hold 2 days later.

The Internet had won.

The rest of this article can be found here

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Audrey Watters


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