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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Top ed-tech stories to watch: Schools grapple with data privacy

"No. 4 on our list of key ed-tech trends for the new school year is the need for K-12 leaders to navigate a data privacy minefield." continues eSchool News.

[Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories examining five key ed-tech developments to watch for the 2014-15 school year. Our countdown continues tomorrow with No. 3.]  

School leaders must talk openly about privacy and address parents’ concerns proactively, before it’s too late.
Photo: eSchool News
After the high-profile demise this past spring of inBloom, a controversial nonprofit organization that aimed to build a national, cloud-based student data system to improve education, school leaders face a puzzle: How can they balance the privacy concerns of stakeholders with the need to collect and analyze information about their students? Amid an onslaught of criticism from parents and data privacy advocates, states that had signed agreements with inBloom began to pull out of the initiative last year, and the group shut its doors in April. Now, ed-tech observers are wondering what inBloom’s collapse will mean for other efforts to personalize instruction using cloud-based data systems.

Zach Williams, director of communications for the Ogden School District in Utah, said his understanding of the new act is that it enhances FERPA, taking it from the age of paper documents to modern technology.

“Technology advances so quickly that it’s hard to write legislation that keeps up with advances,” he said. “I think this act appears to be reiterating that even if it’s a third party that has information, they still need to follow FERPA guidelines, which is something that we take very seriously already.”

Williams added: “The part I really like, as a parent, are the restrictions on advertising or marketing using student data. That’s something that really is important.” The family advocacy group Common Sense Media supports the legislation, calling it “a step forward for fostering student privacy while permitting ed-tech innovation.”
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Source: eSchool News