educationtechnologyinsights

Digital Curriculum - Its Privacy Concerns and Impact on Students

By Maurice Draggon, Senior Director, Digital Learning, Orange County Public Schools

Two years ago the thought of Facebook, Google, and Twitter making multiple appearances before Congress to defend how they manage user data seemed far-fetched. Today, the societal reckoning with data privacy is not only here for big tech companies, but also here for other industries as well.

"With parents now concerned about Digital Curriculum, its privacy and impact on students, stakeholders want to ensure that positive steps are taken towards education and greater data security"

In some ways the core goals of data sharing between educational institutions and vendors mirror those of technology giants. There is a consistent push to make information sharing easier and more relevant for users. In many ways the goals are very different. While the overall profit motive may shape a company’s thoughts about what to share with its users; in the field of education, a student’s education is the only business. The challenge to strike the right balance is therefore at the forefront of decisions.

Each vendor has different requirements when it comes to the data they request from a district. Some may request more data to enable robust reporting that separates performance into key subgroups that their platform serves. Others may require data only to give students access to their user ID or email address. Sharing the right amount of data based on the needs of the vendor is key. For instance, if only certain subjects use a vendor’s product, efforts can be made to only share data with students that are assigned to those courses or schools.

There is also the potential for integration that can lead to greater control over data. There are some vendors that support ‘on click’ rostering. This means no user information is sent until they actually initiate a sign on event. The real challenge is that not all vendors have the same capabilities to support options for scoping down student data or creating ‘on click’ rostering solutions. Meeting vendors where they are and having frank conversations related to where to go is key to establishing a framework for moving towards the required user information that is shared.

If possible, also work with a third party that meets the strong data protection requirements that can assist vendors. There may be times when one vendor does not have the in-house engineering and coding talent to make changes they agree upon. In such cases, having a partner that has the will to work with them will help accelerate this movement. Finally, it’s essential to commit to policies that ask vendors to take greater steps to protect user information. This may include items such as a non-disclosure agreement.

With parents now concerned about a Digital Curriculum, its privacy and impact on students, stakeholders want to ensure that positive steps are taken towards education and greater data security.

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