Student data privacy: Moving from fear to responsible use

Brenda Leong, Brookings,  Tuesday, May 24, 2016

In the last two years, there has been a perfect storm on the topic of student data privacy. The role of technology within schools expanded at an unprecedented rate, general awareness of consumer data security and breaches increased, and student databases at the state or national level were established or proposed, which drew great public scrutiny and fear. This maelstrom yielded a tremendous output of legislative activity targeted at education technology companies, that was overwhelmingly focused on protecting and limiting the sharing and use of student data—in rare instances, to the point of forbidding research uses almost completely. There are signs that this wave of fear-driven response has finally crested, and that more measured conversations are occurring; conversations that prioritize the fundamental requirement for appropriate privacy and security, but with a clear focus on the invaluable role of research and analysis and the need to enable it.

Future of Privacy Forum and ConnectSafely Release Educator’s Guide to Student Data Privacy

Melanie Bates, Future of Privacy Forum,  Monday, May 23, 2016

Today, the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and ConnectSafely are releasing the Educator’s Guide to Student Data Privacy. Technology tools and applications are changing the way schools and teachers educate students across the country. New resources are making it easier for teachers and students to communicate in and outside of the classroom making learning a 24/7 activity. When schools use technology, a student’s personal information is often collected and shared for the purpose of furthering their education. The Educator’s Guide will help teachers utilize technology in the classroom responsibly and protect their students’ privacy, explaining among other things...

Schools are now ‘soft targets’ for companies to collect data and market to kids — report

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post,  Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The report, titled “Learning to be Watched: Surveillance Culture at School” and published Tuesday by the National Center for Education Policy at the University of Colorado at Boulder says student privacy is increasingly being compromised by commercial entities that establish relationships with schools — often providing free technology — and then track students online and collect massive amounts of data about them. Then they tailor their advertising to keep the young people connected to them. One important consequence, the report says, is that children who are subjected to “constant digital surveillance and marketing at school” come to accept as normal that corporations play a big role not only in their education but in their lives.

Should Colleges Report When They Get Government Data Requests?

Keith Wagstaff, NBC News,  Monday, May 9, 2016

"We believe that you should know as much as possible about the requests we receive," UC Berkeley said on its website, noting that it would release a transparency report every six months. In 2015, the university received a total of 32 requests for student and faculty data, either for internal investigations, court cases, or from government and law enforcement agencies.

Colorado student data privacy bill on its way to becoming law

Joey Bunch, The Denver Post,  Thursday, May 5, 2016

The prohibition includes assembling a profile through algorithms that could make a student personally identifiable, while still allowing companies to get the information they need to develop software that benefits education. "We applaud the leaders that worked to bring together all sides and develop a data privacy policy that aims to protect our students while ensuring the valuable data necessary to advance policy is not stifled," Gov. John Hickenlooper said.

New Education Law Opens Door to Education Data

Lauren Camera. US News,  Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The new federal education law allows states and school districts to press the reset button on an array of education policies, and some advocates are urging policymakers and education officials to take advantage of the opportunity to effectively use student data to improve learning and teaching.

The Privacy Vs. Security Debate Is Alive and Well in Higher Ed

Aletha Noonan, EdTech,  Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hackers have it out for higher ed. In 2015, cybercriminals disabled networks or stole student data at some of the most established institutions in the country, attacking community colleges and Ivy League universities without discrimination. And already this year, major cybersecurity breaches have compromised the names, Social Security numbers and student ID numbers of thousands of higher ed students and staff.

Schools are helping police spy on kids’ social media activity

Karen Turner, Washington Post,  Saturday, April 23, 2016

Schools in Florida are renewing a program that monitors their students' social media activity for criminal or threatening behavior, although it has caused some controversy since its adoption last year. But Bradley S. Shear, a privacy and social media lawyer based in Bethesda, Md., expressed concerns about the unintended consequences of using software like SnapTrends. He's uncomfortable with the collection and storing of information on students. "Is this data then gonna be tied to a student's permanent school record? Does the company have proper policies in place that delete this data after a certain period of time? These are some questions that need to be asked," he said in an interview with The Post.

Clever’s new badges help K-2 students access apps on its education platform

Ken Yeung, Venture Beat,  Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Education technology company Clever has created a simpler way for students in K-2 classrooms to log into their computers, a process that it says will cut down on the time teachers have to spend before actually diving into the day’s lesson plan. Called Clever Badges, it lets students take physical badges and scan them with the computer’s camera to instantly gain access. Right now, there’s a conflict between privacy and accessibility — everyone wants to protect individual user data, but it’s difficult for young students to use complex passwords to secure that information. In fact, Clever said that weak passwords are often used, or are even written on a chalk board. Clever Badges are intended to overcome this issue.

Evaluating the Privacy and Security of Ed Tech

Bill Fitzgerald, THE Journal,  Thursday, April 14, 2016

When working with educational technology, responsible decision makers in schools recognize the need for solid security and privacy practice in software applications. However, defining an acceptable level of privacy protection, or an adequate level of security, can feel imprecise. While some of the loudest conversations about privacy and security try to reduce the issues to binary choice, the reality is often more nuanced.