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.

A Note to Kids About Personal Data Privacy

kids online privacy policiesDo you really want someone to use your phone to record what you say without you knowing? Do you really want strangers looking at all your pictures and texts? Then you better learn about SMALL PRINT. How about strangers selling your pictures and texts to other people? Or following everything you do online?

Of course, secretly peeking into your life is wrong. Still, you probably clicked on a box that gave someone you don’t know permission to do just that.

Small Print for Small Humans

Whenever you activate a phone or play a computer game or download an app, you see itsy bitsy print at the bottom of the pages. Those tiny words are filled with things that you need to check off before you can use your new computer or play that new game.  Those words can be so small that you probably can’t even read them.

If you could read them, they’d sound like gibberish. Many adults with years of education have trouble understanding what those weird words mean. Your parents should look at any small print that you check off, but they might have problems figuring out what they say. What people do know is that when you check the “AGREED” box, you give strangers permission to do scary things.

Do you:

  1. Use a web browser?
  2. Play games online?
  3. Download apps to your phone or computer?
  4. Upload pictures for your friends to see?
  5. Store pictures or text in a cloud?

If you do, then here is a list of just some of the things that you have probably agreed to let strangers do:

  • turn your video and audio recorders on
  • take and use your pictures and videos
  • turn your gaming machine off forever
  • track everything you do online and share or sell your activity
  • prevent you or your parents from legally stopping people from sharing details from your lives.

Small print is tricky. Teams of well-trained lawyers spend thousands of hours working on every little word. All that time and all those brains are there to protect the big companies that you use online. It’s up to you and your parents to protect YOU.

Make a point of looking for small print. Grab a bunch of your friends and see if all of you can figure out exactly what you agree to when you click that little box. You will be surprised.

Make a point of looking for small print. Grab a bunch of your friends and see if all of you can figure out exactly what you agree to when you click that little box. You will be surprised.

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