Meeting District Needs

Google and the Line Between Good Marketing and Good Deeds

October 01, 2010 1 min read

If a company offers free curriculum materials and training to teachers for one of its products or services, is this a flat-out marketing exercise, or does it count as professional development? Think, for example, of the efforts that pharmaceutical companies put into “educating” health-care professionals about their latest drug or medical device.

So, it left me scratching my head when I heard that Google offered Fairfax (VA.) County Public Schools teachers a weeklong tutorial this summer in how to use Google Earth to teach geography, history, science, math, and other subjects. Is this philanthropy or a sales pitch by one of America’s largest and most successful technology companies?

Google not only provided training but also stipends to teachers to work in teams to develop standards-based curriculum packets using the company’s mapping and imaging software. These packets will then be disseminated during this school year to other teachers in Northern Virginia and throughout the world.

Pretty cool, pretty useful, or pretty self-serving?

While you may come down on one or another side of this question, it seems to me that “all of the above” would be my answer. Many educators already use Google Earth, so why not get support for training and curriculum development and distribution of new curricula? Businesses can, and should, be engaged with schools, teachers, and students to help improve learning, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t pursue their own business interests.

If there is a line to draw to prevent salesmanship masquerading as corporate engagement, and Google’s foray into Virginia schools doesn’t cross it, where should it be? (Or, does it matter, if everyone truly benefits?)

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12, Parents & the Public blog.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Meeting District Needs Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories you may have missed.
8 min read
Meeting District Needs Coronavirus Squeezes Supply of Chromebooks, iPads, and Other Digital Learning Devices
School districts are competing against each other for purchases of digital devices as remote learning expands to schools across the country.
7 min read
The New York City school system has been handing out laptops and other digital devices for students to use at home. Recently, it moved quickly to purchase 300,000 new iPads for remote learning.
The New York City school system has been handing out laptops and other digital devices for students to use at home. Recently, it moved quickly to purchase 300,000 new iPads for remote learning.
AP Photo/John Minchillo
Meeting District Needs Commentary Open Educational Resources Fill Gap for Underserved Students
The NAACP advocates the use of OER as a way to equalize learning resources at scale for all students, write Lisa Petrides and Barbara Dezmon.
Lisa Petrides & Barbara Dezmon
6 min read
Open Educational Resources Fill Gap for Underserved Students In the wake of NAACP’s endorsement of OER, states have a responsibility to address resource inequality, write Lisa Petrides and Barbara Dezmon
Meeting District Needs 'Red Flags' to Look for When Evaluating Personalized Learning Products
Educators are asking tougher questions to sort the real personalized learning potential from the empty promises of some ed-tech products and services.
6 min read
Buzzwords in the Marketplace
Buzzwords in the Marketplace
Education Week