Four Key Actions for Protecting Student Privacy
Four Key Actions for Protecting Student Privacy

There’s been a groundswell of concern around student privacy over the past couple of years. For instance, InBloom was a lightening rod around the issue even if much of the criticisms of InBloom were inaccurate. The bottomline is that educators have valid concerns about data privacy and finding out how each company uses data can be quite daunting.

Recently SIIA and the Future of Privacy Forum created the Student Privacy Pledge. What’s different about this approach is that rather than focusing on what the educator and student (consumers) can do, the pledge is for the industry. To date over 100 companies have signed the pledge and President Obama has endorsed it. I’m proud that the company that I work for, Promethean, has signed the pledge.

This is a major development! Fantastic that the industry is partnering with educators and demonstrating that major players do care about students and don’t want to exploit them for profit.

And looking at it from the other side of the tracks, as an educator, it’s critical to have a plan for what the school/school district will do in the area of student privacy. To that end, here are four keys to include:

  • Have a privacy policy – The Consortium of School Networking has a great toolkit to assist in the development process.
    1. Read the T & C’s – Read the terms and conditions and the privacy policy of websites that you use with students. It’s important to understand what data is being collected, how it’s being used and for whom the site is designed. I’m continually astonished by educators who use websites that clearly say a website is only for users age 18 and up.
    1. Educate families – This area is still pretty new territory for parents. It’s not as if many parents have had this kind of conversation with their parents. Educators need to step up their efforts to support the families that they serve. There are great resources out there. Common Sense Media has an area especially for parents on privacy and internet safety.
    1. Educate students – The issue of privacy, digital citizenship and internet safety are critical to address with students of all ages. For students grades 3-5, the Digital Passport series of games from Common Sense Media are a great resource. For older students, Net Smartz for Teens is a great place to start.

The worst thing to do is put your head in the sand and hope that these issues won’t effect you. Instead be proactive in addressing student privacy whatever your role in the education system.

Student Privacy – Four Key Actions for Educators
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