Even before student data privacy dominated edtech conversations, school technology teams were working on how to keep student information safe. Now, the U.S. Department of Education, CoSN, and other organizations are providing privacy pledges as well as model guidelines and agreements, trying to ensure that both district personnel and vendors are doing everything possible to safeguard the data. An article in the New York Times, though, suggests that a growing potential threat actually comes from within the classroom.
According to the article, the increase in the number of educational apps marketed directly to educators has led to teachers downloading materials onto school equipment, bypassing district vetting processes. The teachers have the best intentions— like finding materials to supplement their lessons or to engage reluctant learners—but they don’t research or understand the issues related to student data collection.
“By enticing teachers to adopt nascent technologies on their own, [school technology directors] say, companies can bypass established district procedures for reviewing the effectiveness and data security of educational software. Teachers, these experts say, are typically not equipped to vet the data-handling practices of free educational apps that may collect details as diverse as students’ names, birth dates, profile photos, voice recordings, homework assignments, quiz scores or grades.”
In addition, the article says that privacy experts believe that the direct-to-teacher marketing model could go around federal student privacy laws.
Read “Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly” by Natasha Singer in the New York Times.
The 2015 Content in Context in Washington, DC, will feature a student data privacy update.