Living in a GAFA World – Google Apple Facebook Amazon

GAFA
Google Apple Facebook Amazon

 

by Guest Blogger John Mikton

Think of what Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon services and products you use daily. How much are they a vehicle for communications, work, social life, purchases and tasks? How often do you connect to them? Count the number. How many? Surprised? Now, out of the 4 companies, how many do you use? Or do you not use any of these four companies ever? The reality is that you probably use at least one, if not all of the four, very frequently.

Welcome to the “GAFA” (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) world. The”GAFA” world is where most of humanity’s internet users and consumers work, communicate, socialize, learn, entertain themselves, and share, in services provided by one, two, three or all four of these companies: the “GAFA” grids.

We have become comfortable with “GAFA’” being part of our lives in multiple venues, and as a result, schools, educators, students and parents are investing significant amounts of monies into “GAFA”. It is an essential component of our ability to function at school and at home, and the collective convenience and seamless experience of “GAFA” intoxicates us.

In Terry Heick’s thoughtful article “How Google Impacts The Way Students Think”,  he highlights how learners working in a Google ecosystem develop an appetite for a black and white information age.  The expectation? Immediate answers, 24/7. The convenience of this immediacy creates an illusion of thinking, but actually disengages the user from deep critical thinking. It does this by simplifying the process of gathering information and giving the impression it is all connected.

In order to have a constant infusion of innovation and creativity, “GAFA” also hungers for start-up companies. By absorbing these companies, they are able to facilitate the pollination of ideas, products and services and enrich their ability to generate more seamless methods of connectivity. In this way “GAFA’s” largeness and versatility is engrained in all aspects of our lives

This innovation also provides “GAFA” with opportunities to tie our lives closer together with multiple platforms and venues in a frictionless environment. Examples of this reach are Amazon’s cloud service, which hosts large architectures of company websites, services, and databases, including the CIA’s; Google moving into the home with Nest and pursuing the development of artificial intelligence (Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory); Apple’s acquisition of Affectiva, a company that specializes in emotion recognition, and investments in health apps and services; and Facebook’s expansion into virtual reality.  Making its services ubiquitous, as with the “free wi-fi-with-check-in ”in hotels and small businesses. Its purchase of “Whatsapp” is another example of how a “GAFA” company spent billions on an innovative service.

The algorithms provide a treasure trove of information with which to understand our behavior, habits, aspirations and desires.  In Raffi Khatchadourian’s  article “We Know How You Feel”, we are reminded that the hunger for data is tied to a hunger for emotional interactions. In Shelley Podolyn’s New York Times article, “If an Algorithm Wrote This, How Would You Even Know?”,  she highlights the level of sophistication of writing algorithms generating news articles and books. In tandem, the growth of “The Internet of Eyes“ in objects we interact with, as part of the “ Internet of Things.” brings about a new dynamic to data mining. It is a reminder that many of these algorithms being designed within “GAFA” play an almost non-negotiable role in our lives.

Many schools believe that their curriculum’s should allow for authentic connections to the world around them. What about “GAFA”?  Should we as learners, guides, mentors, and facilitators highlight “GAFA”? Is this important? Should its presence be considered in our learning outcomes?  To ignore “GAFA” is to create a disconnect with present changes that are reshaping all of our lives. It sidelines a reality that is the future. What does “GAFA” mean, to us, our schools, community and educational institutions? Schools have a responsibility to ensure this is part of the curricular discourse.  We need to construct learning moments and scaffold time to pause, reflect, understand, explain and critically think about what it is to live in a “GAFA” world.

If personal privacy, independent thought, critical thinking, differentiation, balanced perspectives, mindfulness and our capacity to be unique are in our school’s mission, we need to address what it means to be curated by “GAFA”.  Will we not lose an important aspect of humanity, if we continue to ignore “GAFA”?

John@beyonddigital

P.S: Next time you are at a Starbucks drinking your coffee remember that the free wifi is a “GAFA”

 

This post was written by guest blogger John Mikton. Would you like to contribute to the International School Technology blog?  Send us an email at admin@internationalschooltechnology.com

 

Upcoming EdTech PD Events in 2016

There are some great EdTech conferences coming up this semester, and some already planned for the 2016-17 school year.  Are there any that you love which are missing from this list?  Let us know in the comments, hit us up on facebook or twitter, or email admin@internationalschooltechnology.com EdTech Staff Job-A-Like Hong Kong – 17 February 21CL HK […]

Disrupting Education

Today’s post on disrupting education (and disrupting professional development!) is another from our guest blogger John Mikton.  John is a much-respected member of the international school technology community, having held tech leadership positions at IS Prague, American School in Japan, and Western Academy Beijing.  He is currently the Director of eLearning at Inter-Community School Zurich.  You can read more of John’s […]

How might we leverage digital technology to create a more connected society?

How do we move children from consumers of technology to creative critical thinkers who use technology to solve problems? Today’s post comes from our guest blogger John Mikton.  John is a much-respected member of the international school technology community, having held tech leadership positions at IS Prague, American School in Japan, and Western Academy Beijing.  He is […]

Hour of Code is coming up! What are you doing with your students?

From December 7 to 12, millions of students will spend an hour learning to code.  Hopefully, some of them will keep programming in class or at home.  Here are some resources and links to help teachers code with their kids. How to run an Hour of Code (video) In the Oct 2015 Design Issue, Wired […]

Future Ready Schools

Upcoming Technology Professional Development Opportunities

Here are a few upcoming EdTech-related conferences, training sessions, workshops, and summits. Future Ready Schools Summit – Jan 23-26, 2016 International School of Prague A weekend of Courageous Leadership, Empowered Teachers, Student Agency & Inspiring Spaces. European Conference on iPads in Education – Feb 4-5, 2016 International School of Amsterdam This two-day event is designed […]

Startup:Education donates $120M to help education

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan committed $120 million to support education.  Their recent blog post gives an update about where the money has gone, including this emphasis on personalized learning: We have also heard from countless parents and educators that our schools need to continue to evolve to truly prepare students for our changing world. There is […]

Blackboard Acquires Nivel Siete

From the press release Blackboard today announced the acquisition of Nivel Siete, a leading Moodle provider operating in Latin America. By joining their forces, the two companies will be able to offer more services and solutions to organizations that leverage Moodle, one of the most widely used learning management systems LMS in the world. . […]

Diversity within and between international schools in Japan

Diversity within and between international schools in Japan. The Japan Times takes a look at the British School in Tokyo, the American School in Japan, the India International School of Japan, and the Osaka International School. Another exciting trend in global education is the move away from cookie-cutter classroom instruction and toward “design thinking” — […]

Google Cardboard Is VR’s Gateway Drug | WIRED

Cardboard for iPhone is finally here!  Are you using VR in the classroom already?  Leave a note in the comments if you have ideas for using Cardboard in the classroom. This from Wired: Google announced a new version of Cardboard today at its I/O developer conference. The new version doesn’t come with lots of new […]