This morning, I read an excellent piece by Lam Thuy Vo at The Markup expressing concern about how services like Amazon’s Ring cameras can distort police priorities and perpetuate bias. Here’s a good summary passage:
As a reporter, I’ve always been interested in systems that disadvantage some people—when it comes to policing, they are often Black or Latino—while prioritizing the wishes of a smaller, much more powerful subset—often affluent White folks.
I’m already not a fan of Ring, so I thought the piece was important on its own, but what’s really standing out to me is the parallels that I see with ClassDojo. As kiddo’s school starts its second year with Dojo, I’ve been paying attention to all the emails, notifications, and other nonsense I get from the company—I often wish that I had started collecting them early on so that I could eventually write a sort of autoethnographic piece as an edtech researcher and parent.
Anyway, two of the emails I got in September use marketing copy that seem to explicitly promise prioritizing some parents over others. Here’s the subject line from one:
See what you’re missing with detailed reports 🔮
And here’s another:
Clear communication = peace of mind ✌️
Both of these are trying to sell me on the extra features that come from the paid ClassDojo Plus, which is (of course) going to be purchased by certain demographics more than others. The school has assured us that we don’t have to pay for ClassDojo Plus just because the school is using ClassDojo, but that doesn’t change the fact that Dojo is explicitly promising better information and better contact with teachers (including read receipts and the ability to mark messages as “urgent,” both of which I find gross) to those families who are willing to pay to play.
I don’t see how this can be seen as anything besides promising to provide a better educational experience to parents who have the money to pay for it. And I don’t see how that’s in anyway justifiable in a public school setting.
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