If you’re not paying for the product, then you’re the product , is one of the most repeated quotes from the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma. The validity of this statement became clear, once again, when Dutch Ministers of Education expressed their concerns to Parliament, that the use of free Google products in education is not safe.
Schools pay in meta-data
It highlights the Wizenoze philosophy: learners should be allowed to safely find trusted, reliable and relevant information for their learning. The focus on the use of free products in education, such as Google’s, has been an undesirable situation for years and must change. “The privacy risks are too great”, according to the Dutch Ministry of Education. That is no surprise. Indeed, it is Google’s modus operandi to use data for commercial purposes, and that is no secret at all.
Google currently decides how they use your meta-data. With such data, for example, technology companies can follow what users click on, their log-on times, and what search queries are used. Educational institutions have no or insufficient grip on their own data.
Google is not made for education
The ministry mainly cites Google Workspace for Education, which includes tools such as Gmail, Google Docs and Google Meet. Unfortunately, Google’s most important tool, the search engine, remains underexposed. Apart from the fact that it is undesirable for a commercial organisation to determine what happens with your data, especially when it concerns younger persons, Google search is unsuitable for education. A tech giant like Google focuses on making a profit. As a result, the ranking of search results in Google is mostly commercially driven, and whoever pays is mentioned first.
Safe, relevant, reliable and readable
Learners are entitled to safe access to relevant and readable information for their school work, and they must be able to assume that the information is reliable and appropriate for their age. Google’s business model is not based on these objectives and is mostly driven by commercial success.
Therefore, it is time for a different discussion. The Education sector should not look for a cheap deal. The really important question here is: how can we ensure that learners can find relevant, reliable and readable information as safely as possible without their data being used for commercial purposes?
That question is already resolved. Stop using Google’s search engine in the classroom! Start with Wizeup. Because Wizeup is made for education, where you are not the product but the product is really only there for you!
Diane Janknegt, founder Wizenoze