Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices

Last Updated: February 2014

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This document addresses privacy and security considerations relating to computer software, mobile applications (apps), and web-based tools provided by a third-party to a school or district that students and/or their parents access via the Internet and use as part of a school activity. Examples include online services that students use to access class readings, to view their learning progression, to watch video demonstrations, to comment on class activities, or to complete their homework. This document does not address online services or social media that students may use in their personal capacity outside of school, nor does it apply to online services that a school or district may use to which students and/or their parents do not have access (e.g., an online student information system used exclusively by teachers and staff for administrative purposes). Many different terms are used to describe both the online services discussed in this document (e.g., Ed Tech, educational web services, information and communications technology, etc.) and the companies and other organizations providing these services. This document will use the term “online educational services” to describe this broad category of tools and applications, and the term “provider” to describe the third-party vendors, contractors, and other service providers that make these services available to schools and districts.