Student Data Privacy in the Modern Classroom

Student Data Privacy

As we move to distance learning due to the recent health crisis, it’s more important than ever to carefully consider the implications of transferring student data between parents, teachers, and administrators. Educational technology is now a standard across classrooms—so what exactly does that mean for our students?

Risk of Student Data Breaches

From 2018 to 2019, student data breaches tripled. In the worst case, the student’s personally identifiable information, or PII, was sold on the dark web. Even on a small scale, these breaches mean the potential for hackers to decode passwords. In these cases, student’s accounts are compromised, and there have even been reported cases of cyberbullying.

Lengthier Education Records

Years ago, the extent of student data was education records stuffed into file cabinets. Oftentimes, those records were lost or tampered with. Ultimately, they didn’t follow students as far as education records will today. Solidified on the web, students have little room for mistakes in the current climate.

It’s important to consider these factors when employing new chatrooms or technology mediums in classrooms. Ensuring all edtech helps, instead of hinders, student’s futures should be an educator’s number one priority.

Responsible Student Data Privacy in the Classroom

Student data privacy laws on a federal and state level monitor some of these potential risks on a micro-level. As an educator, though, you must take proactive measures to protect student data privacy. Consider the following when implementing education technology in digital and physical classrooms:

  • Follow FERPA Sherpa: Use resources available from the government to understand the concerns with edtech in the classroom.
  • Read the privacy policy: Before having students visit a website, make sure you read the privacy policy thoroughly. It may indicate it sells data to third parties, or worse, does not have a privacy policy in place at all.
  • Follow the school’s approved list: Districts and schools will have an approved list of companies and websites to use in the classroom. Seek out this approval before asking students to use a program or website.
  • Explain best practices: Explain best practices for safe web use to your students, and lead by example. Inform them of the dangers of sharing personal information online and not to believe everything they read online.
  • Avoid clickwrap agreements: If a website in question has a clickwrap agreement, avoid using it in the classroom. These agreements are data-controlling and have free use of information used on their site.
  • Look for secure sites: the “s” in ‘https’ signifies that a webpage is encrypted. Any site where students need to log in to an account should be encrypted.

The advancement of tech in education can be a benefit for efficient, personalized learning, but it’s important to take extra measures to protect the new influx of data. With proper vetting of websites, technologies, and platforms; technology can be an advantage for students, parents, and teachers.

Learn what types of personal data parents should protect.