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StaffEditorialsAdvertisement or Relevant Information for Educators

Advertisement or Relevant Information for Educators

When does a product advertisement include relevant authenticated information for educators? At first glance, the source seems relevant. At second glance, the information seems potentially biases in favor of the company producing the featured product.

These glances raise the question, to read on or to delete an online page? In any case, the advertising copy resulted in another Page View count for the online publisher. It also resulted in a question about the integrity of that publisher to allow such confusion to occur.

eSchoolNews included a link to a “Publisher’s Report” about use of a commercial product in a public school district’s science classes. The top of first page of the report includes the notice: “(Advertisement)”. So which is it, a publisher’s report or an advertisement? How can a reader tell?

The content of the report describes the use of some unnamed version of inquiry-based model of teaching-learning, that is, to learn science by doing science. Of course this model is a tongue-in-cheek, wink-wink ruse, because everyone knows that learners may follow similar behavior patterns to those of scientists, but school students do not have the background of scientists in the classic definition of scientist.

But, the purpose of the Publisher’s Report is to highlight the contribution that the commercial device makes to “doing science” in a classroom. By implication, the device contributed (at least they were used in lessons) that lead to raising academic performance scores on standardized tests of students in these classrooms.

First, kudos to the educators and their resources suppliers for aiding students to raise their academic performance scores, irrespective of whether it was from novelty of the model, the device, the approach to lessons by teachers, etc.

But, that leaves unanswered, when does an advertisement on an online education publication provide reliable, objective information that educators can use to make confident decisions about buying a product? How can they distinguish hype from fact cleverly mixed? What standards of advertisement can educators use to compare to an online ad about education?

Robert Heiny
Robert Heinyhttp://www.robertheiny.com
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in The Encyclopedia of Education (1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for TuxReports.com.

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