Privacy and Education Technology

Technology and telecommunications advances have dramatically changed the landscape of education in the United States. Gone are the days when textbooks, photocopies, and filmstrips supplied the entirety of educational content to a classroom full of students. Today’s classrooms increasingly employ on-demand delivery of personalized content, virtual forums for interacting with other students and teachers, and a wealth of interactive technologies that help foster and enhance the learning process.  The integration of technology does not end with the delivery of lessons to students: online forums help teachers share lesson plans; social media help students collaborate across classrooms; and web-based applications assist teachers in customizing the learning experience for each student to achieve greater learning outcomes. Early adopters of these technologies have demonstrated their potential to transform the educational process, but they have also called attention to possible challenges. In particular, the information sharing, web-hosting, and telecommunication innovations that have enabled these new education technologies raise questions about how best to protect student privacy during their use. These following resources will address a number of these questions, and present some requirements and best practices to consider, when evaluating the use of online educational services.

  • The Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services guidance clarifies some questions related to student privacy and the use of educational technology in the classroom.  A webinar about the subject can be viewed here.
  • The Model Terms of Service checklist provides a framework for evaluating online educational tools’ Privacy Policies and Terms of Service Agreements. This resource is intended to assist users in understanding how a given online service or app will collect, use and/or transmit user information so that a school or school district can then decide whether or not to sign up.  A webinar on the subject can be viewed here.
  • The Cloud Computing FAQ was designed to assist educational agencies and institutions that are considering using cloud computing solutions for education data.