- In a virtual panel Tuesday during ISTE's annual conference, Jill Bronfman, privacy counsel for Common Sense Media, a nonprofit promoting safe and appropriate technology and entertainment for children, led a discussion of how to tell if the ed tech apps being used in the classroom care about student privacy.
- Nelson said she thinks teachers are not putting their personal information "into a website they haven’t thought about," but don’t think about what they’re doing when they ask students to set up an account. "When students have to add their name or send their email in order to use the cool new app ..., it’s really important that you connect for teachers that we need to be even more careful with students’ personal information than they would even be with their own."
It can be all too easy for vendors and educators alike to run afoul of laws concerning K-12 student privacy like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and the Children's Internet Protection Act.
"I feel like a few years ago when I started my ed tech journey, I really didn't think about what personal information might be collected as much as I felt like I should have," Cogswell said. "I'm a kindergarten teacher, and I've gotta say I think some of this personal information we share starts before kindergarten."
To help navigate what can sometimes be uncertain terrain, Bronfman, Cogswell and Nelson shared the following 10 privacy concerns to consider when choosing an ed tech tool or resource:
- What personal information does the product collect?
- What personal information is shared with third-party companies and advertisers?
- How does the product secure personal information it collects?
- What rights do I have to the data?
- Does the company sell any personal information?
- How safe is this product?
- Are there advertisements or tracking?
- Can I provide parental consent?
- Is the product intended for school?
Perhaps the best example to consider from recent years is Amazon's Alexa and questions around its introduction into some classrooms. While educators using it were well-intentioned, the personal assistant device doesn't pass a few of the above questions. For instance, it wasn't designed with school use, and its always-listening nature makes the extent of personal information collected and shared unclear.
For educators hoping to gauge the level of privacy adherence in a given ed tech product, Common Sense Media's privacy evaluations and more information on them can be found on the organization's website.