Can sending students' brainwaves straight to a teacher dashboard improve education?
- BrainCo, a company developing electronic headbands that deliver student EEG data to a dashboard for educators, has raised $15 million from Chinese investors and now counts Harvard education dean James Ryan among its advisers, EdSurge reports.
- Though it's in talks with a Long Island school to pilot a prototype of its headset, neuroscientists and psychologists question whether there's enough scientific evidence to back up the purported benefits, and further legal questions have been raised about the use of the biometric data gathered.
- According to EdSurge, the company plans to create "the world's largest brainwave database" using the data collected, which Founder and CEO Bicheng Han, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University's Center for Brain Science, has stated would support the creation of a tool that can translate thoughts to text.
For many, this concept may be one of the creepiest in recent memory — and just in time for Halloween. The premise itself, however, is also a reminder of some sage advice from Scott McLeod, an associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Colorado Denver and the founder of CASTLE: When investing in tech and presented with a pitch, administrators should always start by asking, "How does this empower students to do amazing things that make a difference in the world?"
McLeod noted in 2016 that the question tends to get "a lot of puffery but rarely an answer that causes me to lean in and ask more rather than raise a skeptical eyebrow." And despite the growing popularity of using brain science in education, there seems to be plenty to raise skepticism here, specifically when it comes to neuroscientists and psychologists being unsure of this method's value.
But beyond that, the talk of collecting brainwave data and creating a tool that can translate thoughts to text is sure to make plenty of parents feel uneasy — especially considering privacy concerns raised with existing data collection practices.
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