We contrast the centrality of free and full communication, especially as it occurs in classrooms, for John Dewey’s democratic vision of the Great Community with the technologically mediated classroom communication characteristic of the COVID-19 pandemic. We focus on Google’s dominance of educational communication in particular. Drawing on Shoshana Zuboff’s concept of rendition, we argue that Google’s interest in and influence over educational communication is rooted in behavioral data analytics that captures and exploits classroom language (spoken, written, and bodily) for capitalist accumulation and social control. We conclude that Dewey’s theories of language and communication are descriptively powerful regarding the commodification of communication, but his theory of power itself fails to provide a politics capable of countering Big Data’s hegemony in classrooms or the broader society.

Available for download on Sunday, October 27, 2024