Reasoning Mind Math: reason to worry?
The non-profit Reasoning Mind offers “personalized” on-line math curriculum and a computer based “Genie” who is virtually a child’s best friend, and knows personal things about them, even confessions. As first noted in this RM document posted by a blogger known as Educray, Reasoning Mind math curriculum places a large emphasis on teaching Soviet-style morals, collectivism, and the importance of labor (Tudge, 1991). [Updated post 10/21/2016: Per Reasoning Mind, see comment section: “This is a misquote of a 2012 Harvey Mudd dissertation by Maia Valcarce which makes that claim about “Soviet education,” not Reasoning Mind. Reasoning Mind’s mathematical content and curriculum bears similarities to the Russian mathematical curriculum, but that content is mathematical in nature. Reasoning Mind does not teach “Soviet-style” or any other kind of morals; we teach mathematics.”–RM]
Reasoning Mind has given some parents reason to worry. So, let’s take a look at Reasoning Mind and see what could possibly cause concern.
“The Genie”, according to this Reasoning Mind report:
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that students are quite “attached” to Genie, who regularly receives (and answers) email on topics beyond the scope of the learning software, including jokes, requests for friendship, and confessions about students’ home life.”
“Every day, Reasoning Mind elementary students send hundreds of messages to the Genie, a “friend and mentor” who guides …students through their studies. Here’s our favorite student message from this week. And yes, the Genie does respond!”
Since Reasoning Mind offers “personalized” curriculum that knows and also remembers the student, a child can log into RM from home or school. And since it’s adaptive and personalized, RM and Genie will keep track of the child, will remember their profile. If RM and Genie can track a child into consecutive grades, like an old friend, Genie will be able to pick up the profile where the child left off last year. While proponents would say keeping track of learners’ profiles is beneficial, this massive accumulation of student information also begs the question of data privacy, risk, and security.
Given the many Supporters and In-Kind Contributors of Reasoning Mind, spanning the globe, parents wonder if organizations like Salesforce, Microsoft, Russian Petroleum, Google, Swagger Films, etc. are allowed access to their child’s profile or personal information. We know that data is money.
Money and Moscow Connections
Connected to each other: Page 32… FORM 990, PART VI, SECTION A, THE PRESIDENT AND CEO IS MARRIED TO ONE OF THE SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT’S AND THEIR SON IS (LINE2) ALSO A SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
Promoting Grit’s Executive Summary reads, “There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors—attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability—that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success… —it is the responsibility of the educational community to design learning environments that promote these factors so that students are prepared to meet 21st-century challenges.…Several private foundations have recently initiated programs to push the frontiers of theory, measurement, and practice around these and related factors, particularly for at-risk and vulnerable students. In national policy, there is increasing attention on 21st-century competencies (which encompass a range of noncognitive factors, including grit), and persistence is now part of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics….
Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance mentions Reasoning Mind as an example of a system that customizes to a student’s cognitive profile and emotional state (e.g., frustration or boredom) using inputs from physiological indicators and facial expressions” and they also mention experimenting with “animated, affective [digital] agents perceived as caring can increase the likelihood that students will persist through frustrating portions of instruction”
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that students are quite attached to Genie, who regularly receives (and answers) email on topics beyond the scope of the learning software, including jokes, requests for friendship, and confessions about students’ home life. On the basis of these reports, it seems that the effect of Genie deserves more careful consideration, as the success of her design may contribute significantly to the high levels of engagement observed. Finally, we should consider the many game-like elements in its design, including a point system that rewards students for speed drills and puzzles. Once sufficient points have been accumulated, students may furnish their own virtual space within RM City or buy virtual books. Particularly at a young age, this kind of autonomy is likely very appealing.”
Is it any wonder that students are engaged in this video-gaming atmosphere? They are in engaged because many like Dr. Kardaras, author of Glow Kids, know: online games are addictive.
“We’ve been absolutely staggered by realizing that the computer has the capability to act as if it were 10 of the top psychologists working with one student … you’ve seen the tip of the iceberg. Won’t it be wonderful when the child in the smallest county in the most distant area or in the most confused urban setting can have the equivalent of the finest school in the world on that terminal and no one can get between that child and that curriculum?” -Dustin H. Heuston, “Discussion–Developing the Potential of an Amazing Tool,” Schooling and Technology, Vol.3, Planning for the Future: A Collaborative Model, published by Southeastern Regional Council for Educational Improvement, P.O. Box 12746, 200 Park, Suite 111, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709/ Grant from National Institute of Education, p. 8.
“The ability to remotely and accurately quantify interaction with a computer-based curriculum and assessment in the home defines a new vista in ALT research.”