Current legislation does not take into consideration the high-tech revolution that has occurred in EdTech. As beneficial as innovations like internet access, affordable devices, and e-learning tools can be for students, protecting the private information that schools possess can be challenging. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does protect families and their children to some extent; however, student data is often required to effectively provision cloud-hosted EdTech solutions.
Parents as Advocates
While there are certain bits of student data, such as directory information, that do not require a consent form to be shared by third-party vendors, parents do have the right to know what information is being used and why. A child’s education record can hold everything from their date of birth and home address to physical descriptors and school activities. When schools are managing multiple EdTech vendors, parents must have the ability to play a key advocacy role in ensuring privacy and data protection.
Schools as Trustees
It’s not uncommon for schools to contract with 25 or more different EdTech vendors, many requiring access to student information. Schools must develop and enforce strict data protection policies with their EdTech vendors as well as require an option for parents to opt-out of providing identifying information. Many programs, despite being school-related, do not fall under FERPA and are not automatically guaranteed the same data protections, so schools are forced to provide the additional necessary data security.
EdTech Community Working Together
Protecting student data is everyone’s responsibility, from the schools who store the data to the EdTech vendors who access it, to the corporations who demand highly-qualified candidates and drive the need for EdTech, to the communities that benefit from a well-educated population. Proper oversight is pivotal in the protection of sensitive student data, which has become more important as technology advances. Mobile portals and other third-party EdTech services are convenient, but they can pose a considerable privacy risk. We can all do more to help protect data.
Global Grid for Learning (GG4L) is committed to promoting data security in schools, and protecting the data of every user is a top priority. GG4L’s Connect platform makes integrating and deploying education technology safe, easy, and inexpensive. It’s free for schools to use, less expensive for EdTech vendors, and safer for students. As a Public Benefit Corporation, GG4L welcomes collaboration and support from corporate social responsibility (CSR) and philanthropic foundations. Help us keep K-12 data interoperability costs low for schools, while maintaining the security and privacy of student data. Contact us today to learn more about becoming a GG4L Corporate Sponsor.