SIIA Releases Guide to the Updated E-Rate Program

After the FCC restructured the E-Rate program over the summer and Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed a permanent increase in program funding, SIIA is publishing a fact sheet to help our member school service providers understand and navigate the updated program.

The E-Rate program is the single largest source of technology funding for schools and libraries. While the software, digital content and related services provided by most SIIA member companies are not directly E-Rate eligible, the connectivity and cost savings help enable schools to purchase, access and implement those services to an extent not otherwise likely without E-Rate.

The new E-Rate rules will impact all schools, libraries and SIIA members by increasing E-Rate funds targeted to high-speed broadband connectivity, while further impacting companies whose products may be newly eligible (e.g., certain caching servers) or no longer eligible (e.g., web-hosting and e-mail). Additionally, the rules seek to speed K-12 school access to funding through an expedited application and reimbursement process.

It is a critical time for education technology companies to understand how the E-Rate program has changed and will operate over the next few years so they may better serve schools and libraries. SIIA member companies can find the SIIA E-Rate guide in the SIIA Ed Policy Forum.

 


Brendan DesettiBrendan Desetti is the Education Policy and Programs Manager for SIIA. Follow Brendan on Twitter at @SIIAbrendan and find relevant national, federal, and state policy and program information in SIIA’s Ed Policy Forum.

 

Digital Policy Roundup

SIIA Testifies at Joint Congressional Subcommittee Hearing on Student Privacy

SIIA’s Mark MacCarthy delivered testimony on the issue of student data privacy in a joint hearing Wednesday before subcommittees of the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Homeland Security. The hearing titled “How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy” featured three witnesses in addition to SIIA: Fordham University’s Professor Joel R. Reidenberg, Idaho Department of Education CIO Joyce Popp, and Alliance for Excellent Education’s Digital Learning Director Thomas Murray. SIIA advised committee members that “no new federal legislation is necessary at this time,” citing a three part system of protection – federal law (FERPA, COPPA), contracts, and industry best practices.

Alice Corp v. CLS Bank Ruling

On June 19th, the Supreme Court decided the business method patent case of Alice Corp v. CLS Bank Corp, unanimously holding that implementing an abstract idea through a general purpose computer is Ineligible for patent protection under section 101 if the Patent Act. The case involved a method for reducing the risk that the parties to a transaction will not pay what they owe. The Court has long held that abstract ideas are not patentable subject matter. Writing for the Court, Justice Thomas said that “merely requiring generic computer implementation… fails to transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.” The decision would seem to have limited applicability to software patents as the term “software” does not appear in the decision and Justice Thomas acknowledges in the decision that “many computer-implemented claims are formally addressed to patent-eligible subject matter.”

OECD Committee for Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) Meets June 16-20 in Paris

CDEP is of interest because its work on digital economy issues is influential. For instance, the OECD’s 2011 Internet Policymaking Principles (IPP) and the revised 2013 OECD Privacy Guidelines are documents that are often consulted in other fora and are considered generally helpful by industry, including SIIA. The CDEP also works on Internet governance, big data, measuring the digital economy, the relationship between technology and jobs, and intellectual property. The work on intellectual property is often considered more controversial, and SIIA works to make it balanced.

Last week’s meeting focused particularly on the 2016 OECD Ministerial which will be held in April or May of 2016 in Cancun, Mexico. The Ministerial is important to the head of the organization, Angel Gurria, who is Mexican and reportedly interested in seeking a third term as Secretary-General of the OECD. The CDEP is currently considering “Digital Innovation Transforming our Societies” as the title for the Ministerial. The OECD has ambitious plans for the Ministerial and hopes to attract ministers responsible for labor and education, as well as ministers responsible for the ICT sector. The OECD has five themes for the Ministerial:

  1. Fostering new sources of growth spurred by converging networks, services and data analytics.
  2. Analyzing the effects of the digital economy on growth, jobs and skills.
  3. Developing recommendations and building evidence for Internet policy and governance.
  4. Managing the digital risks and enabling trust for continued prosperity.
  5. Looking to the future.

SIIA will be engaged in advocacy with a view to influencing work documents and the 2016 Ministerial, especially in the areas of growth, jobs and skills: Internet governance; privacy; and data analytics.


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.

SIIA Testifies Before Congress on Effective Use of Student Data; Warns that New Federal Privacy Mandates Could Put Student Learning at Risk

SIIA, today delivered testimony on the issue of student data privacy in a joint hearing before subcommittees of the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the
Committee on Homeland Security. In his prepared testimony, Mark MacCarthy, SIIA’s
Vice President of Public Policy, commented:

“From adaptive learning software to class scheduling applications to online learning, technologies are enhancing student access and opportunity…The result of advanced data management and analysis tools is the ability for school systems to better identify students at risk of failure, identify the lessons that best meet each and every student’s unique needs, inform decision making, and enhance operations.

“SIIA agrees that the obligation to safeguard student data privacy and security means that continued review and enhancements are needed in the framework of our policies, practices and technologies…However, we do not think that new federal legislation is needed at this time.

“The current legal framework and industry practices adequately protect student privacy. Moreover, new legislation creates substantial risks of harm to the innovative use of information that is essential to improving education for all students and ensuring U.S. economic strength in an increasingly competitive global environment.”

MacCarthy’s full testimony is available here.


Sabrina Eyob is the Public Policy Coordinator at SIIA. Follow the Policy team on Twitter @SIIAPolicy.

SIIA Releases Student Privacy Policy Guidelines & Recommendations During Testimony before the CA State Assembly

The safeguarding of student privacy and data security remains on the agenda for many state (and federal) policymakers. SIIA took the opportunity of its invited testimony before the California state legislature to release its new “Policy Guidelines for Building a Student Privacy Trust Framework.”

The SIIA guidelines outline principles and considerations to ensure policies are appropriately targeted to enhance student confidentiality while limiting unintended or unnecessary barriers to school operations or digital learning opportunities. SIIA shared many of these before the California State Assembly hearing  (see video starting at 33 minutes) on “Ensuring Student Privacy in the Digital Age,” hosted jointly by the Education and Select Privacy Committees.

Today, new technologies like cloud computing are enhancing school capacity, providing: adaptive and personalized learning, anytime, anywhere data access, enhanced data management functionality, powerful data analytics, and improved security. These tools and techniques allow educators to manage more data in more cost effective and sophisticated ways to inform instruction and enhance school productivity.

While a framework of laws and practices has been highly effective in safeguarding student confidentiality, we recognize the need to continually review policies and improve practices to enhance the trust framework between parents, schools and service providers.

We are pleased that stakeholders are doing just that in response to recent questions and concerns:

SIIA is working to inform legislators across the country as they develop and debate new regulation, but we are concerned some of the policy solutions may be ahead of and over-correct the actualized problems. It is important that new legislative requirements provide sufficient local flexibility, are not overly restrictive or impractical so as to discourage and stifle innovation, and are consistent with existing federal protections to avoid regulatory conflicts and stakeholder confusion.

We touched on several of our newly released policy guidelines at the California hearing:

First, new policies should limit the scope to student personally identifiable information as defined under federal law.

Second, new policies should focus on the need to educate, equip, and empower schools and educators to make informed decisions that safeguard student data and serve student learning. This can be accomplished through transparency by schools and service providers, by instituting local and state governance around data use policies, and by building capacity through investment in professional development, data security technology tools, and student digital literacy. These are important alternatives, or at least complements, to policy prohibitions that may not account for unique local and evolving circumstances.

Third, new policies should provide schools and agencies with the flexibility around the use of student information to meet their goals as determined locally within the existing framework of federal protections. SIIA agrees student personal information should not be used for non-educational purposes such as selling data to insurance companies or targeting insurance advertising. SIIA agrees it should be used only for the educational purposes for which it was entrusted. The challenge is translating these principles into statute in a manner future-proofed for the wave of digital learning transformation at home and at school. Use policies should distinguish between inappropriate commercial use of personal data for non-educational purposes and the appropriate actions of a for-profit (or non-profit) school service provider to use that information for educational uses authorized by its customers and federal law, for educational product evaluation, improvement, and development and to drive adaptive and customized learning at school and home.

Fourth, while SIIA agrees with the general practice to delete data when no longer needed for the purpose for which it was collected is the appropriate general practice, policies must differentiate around data type, use and control. For example, deletion decisions are most often under the direct control of the school (not the service provider), while new models provide for parent-consented and owned personal student accounts (and their data, apps and student-created resources). Further, absolute destruction is not appropriate where aggregated, de-identified and other anonymous data is often needed for ongoing educational purposes such as to power software algorithms or where personal information is needed for accountability systems or future transcript services.

Fifth, new policies governing local contract requirements must allow for flexibility between local schools and their service providers. Any state requirements should provide a template identifying what issues should be addressed rather than prescribing the specific terms for how.

SIIA agrees with the need to safeguard student data privacy and security. Further policy protections must be carefully crafted so that privacy protection floors do not inadvertently and unnecessarily lead to educational ceilings. SIIA instead encourages new policies to be focused on transparency, governance and capacity to empower parents and school officials to make sound and safe use of student information that advance student learning.


Mark SchneidermanMark Schneiderman is Senior Director of Education Policy at SIIA.

SIIA Agrees with Obama Administration’s Call for “Responsible Educational Innovation in the Digital Age”

The Obama Administration today released a report on “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values.” SIIA welcomed the report’s assessment that big data provides substantial public benefits and will provide more benefits in the future.

The report highlights a number of big data opportunities, including in education:

“Beyond personalizing education, the availability of new types of data profoundly improves researchers’ ability to learn about learning. Data from a student’s experience . . . can be precisely tracked, opening the door to understanding how students move through a learning trajectory with greater fidelity, and at greater scale, than traditional education research is able to achieve. This includes gaining insight into student access of learning activities, measuring optimal practice periods for meeting different learning objectives, creating pathways through material for different learning approaches, and using that in-formation to help students who are struggling in similar ways.”

SIIA agrees with the Obama Administration and others who have found that big data improves education around the world.

SIIA also agrees with the Administration’s report that: “The big data revolution in education also raises serious questions about how best to protect student privacy as technology reaches further into the classroom.” Schools and service providers have a shared responsibility to protect the privacy and security of student information. The effective use of student information to improve learning will require a continued trust framework between all stakeholders – e.g., parents and schools; schools and service providers; and service providers and parents – to safeguard student data privacy and security. One way schools and service providers now achieve this trust is through policies and procedures that limit the collection and uses of student personal information to legitimate educational purposes.

As the Administration report outlines: “The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act provide a federal regulatory framework to protect the privacy of students . . .” SIIA also recognizes the caveat that follows “. . . —but FERPA was written before the Internet, and COPPA was written before smartphones, tablets, apps, the cloud, and big data.”

To that end, SIIA believes that the obligation to safeguard student data privacy and security means that continued review and enhancements are needed in the framework of our policies, practices and technologies. Specifically, SIIA supports the Administration’s recommendation that:

“The federal government should ensure that data collected in schools is used for educational purposes and continue to support investment and innovation that raises the level of performance across our schools. To promote this innovation, it should explore how to modernize the privacy regulatory framework under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to ensure two complementary goals: 1) protecting students against their data being shared or used inappropriately, especially when that data is gathered in an educational context, and 2) ensuring that innovation in educational technology, including new approaches and business models, have ample opportunity to flourish.”

As policymakers work with educators, parents and developers to examine evolving needs, it is critical that any new policies intended to create a privacy and security floor do not unintentionally create a digital learning ceiling. As the Administration notes: “Students and their families need robust protection against current and emerging harms, but they also deserve access to the learning advancements enabled by technology that promise to empower all students to reach their full potential.”

Modernizing the privacy regulatory framework need not involve new legislation. The federal government has taken important recent steps in modernizing by updating COPPA and FERPA guidance. Responding to the calls for additional industry self-regulation, our organization has released “Best Practices for the Safeguarding of Student Information Privacy and Security for Providers of School Services.”

Finally, SIIA also agrees that our pathway forward involves not only regulatory protections, but as importantly digital literacy to empower students and families to understand how data can be used and shared to serve them and society, and also what tools and techniques they can use to ensure appropriate use of their personally sensitive data. As the report notes, “Digital literacy—understanding how personal data is collected, shared, and used—should be recognized as an essential skill in K-12 education and be integrated into the standard curriculum.”


Mark SchneidermanMark Schneiderman is Senior Director of Education Policy at SIIA.

SIIA Honors Industry Veterans with Lifetime Achievement Award and Ed Tech Impact Award

The Education Division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) announces that it will honor Dr. Leonard Hall, co-founder of education companies SkillsBank Corporation and Impact Education, with its prestigious Education Lifetime Achievement Award. SIIA will also present its Ed Tech Impact Award to Sue Collins, principal at CollinsConsults, during the upcoming Education Industry Summit held in San Francisco May 12-14.

During a special awards ceremony, Dr. Hall will be presented with the award by his son, Adam Hall, president of Nervanix, as SIIA highlights Dr. Hall’s accomplishments and contributions to the education technology industry. When Dr. Hall joined two other colleagues to co-found SkillsBank Corporation, he did so from the foundation of an already remarkable career in Education and Health & Human Services. The SkillsBank series of basic skills software focused on “at-risk learners” and adults wanting to learn unattained skills. The series was introduced first as a beta for Timex Sinclair on cassette tape and piloted for IBM, then entering the infant stages of educational software on desktop computers. By the time it was acquired by The Learning Company in 1997, SkillsBank was among the most widely adopted educational software in the nation’s schools.

In 2000, Dr. Hall came out of retirement to co-found another business with his son, Adam, and wife, Nancy. Impact Education was a distributor of instructional software and offered an array of propriety data analytics that, to a large extent, served as prescient indicators of the big data and integrated platform features that are on the rise today. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquired Impact Education in 2010.

In addition, SIIA will present the Ed Tech Impact Award to Collins for her accomplishments and contributions to the education technology industry, as well as to the Education Division of SIIA. Collins began her career 35 years ago as a teacher, and she has held positions in both the public and private sector sides of the education technology industry. She left the classroom to become a district-level administrator and soon transitioned to the state level, where she served as the education technology director for the State of Washington. During the Clinton Administration, she was appointed to the Web-based Education Commission and represented SIIA in testimony before the U.S. Congress.

Collins has held senior-level positions at Apple Computer, Compaq Computer, Jostens Learning, bigchalk.com, and Apex Learning. In her consultancy, She provides strategic solutions to education technology businesses. Collins’ experience on both sides of the education industry has enabled her to understand and expertly navigate public policy as it relates to education and technology. As a consultant in the ed tech space, she continues to provide expert and strategic advice to a variety of companies.  Over the years, she has served on various ed tech industry boards.

Collins was a driving force behind the development of the Vision K20 initiative, from the goals to the brochure to the website to the survey instrument. She has been an active member of SIIA through the years, previously spending eight years on the SIIA Education Board, and as co-chair for part of her tenure. Collins has also been a key contributor on the Ed Board Alumni Group.

For more information or to register for the Education Industry Summit, visit siia.net/eis/2014/incubator.asp or contact Lindsay Harman at lharman@siia.net.

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Karen BillingsKaren Billings is Vice President for the Education Division at SIIA. Follow the SIIA Education Team on Twitter at @SIIAEducation

SIIA Innovation Incubator Program Announces 2014 Finalists

SIIA announces finalists, and an alternate, for its Innovation Incubator Program. The program will be held during the 13th annual Education Industry Summit, the leading conference for the K-12 and postsecondary education technology market. The finalists will feature their products during the event, May 12-14 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Awards will be presented to the Most Innovative and Most Likely to Succeed, based on the votes of conference attendees. The Educator’s Choice Award will also be presented based on votes from educators and administrators from around the U.S., and SIIA will award prize packages from program partners to the award winners.

The SIIA Innovation Incubator Program identifies and supports entrepreneurs in their development and distribution of innovative learning technologies. The program began in 2006 and has provided support for dozens of successful products and companies in their efforts to improve education through the use of software, digital content, and related technologies. The program is open to applicants from academic and non-profit institutions, pre-revenue and early-stage companies, as well as established companies with newly developed technologies.

Innovation Incubator Program finalists were selected from the applicant pool based on key selection criteria, including:

  • Ability to positively impact end users of the product
  • Ability to succeed in the ed tech market
  • Level of originality and innovation

All Innovation Incubator finalists will present during the Business Profiles Presentations Monday afternoon, May 12, which is immediately followed by the Innovation Showcase & Networking Reception where they will be available for one-on-one product demonstrations and in-depth discussions.

Innovation Incubator Program participants are:

Capture Education - A scheduling software that reduces data entry tasks and allows real data driven decisions to be made.

Crowdmark Inc. - A document assessment web application that allows instructors, or teams of instructors to easily mark up and grade documents.

EDUonGo - A cloud-based platform that allows highly collaborative learning and educational sharing.

Million Dollar Scholar - An open online platform that delivers highly tailored scholarship opportunities to students in High School and College and empowers students to achieve those scholarships.

Mondokio International News - The next generation resource for news articles in the classroom, it allows for customization to avoid bias and allows students to consider multiple perspectives.

Mosa Mack: Science Detective - A web library of animated science materials that engages students with a mystery format for each lesson.

Nepris - A web-based platform that seamlessly connects curriculum, industry expertise, and classroom needs to engage students in STEM and expose them to real job skills and role models.

Promethean/ClassflowAn integrated learning platform that enhances education productivity by orchestrating and streamlining a collaborative teaching and learning process.

Ranku- A discovery engine for online degrees, using personalized search through LinkedIn and Facebook to help adults find reputable online degrees from accredited universities.

Smart Science Education, incInteractive video based online science labs for grades 4-12 that supply online science labs where lab space, cost and time challenge the use of hands on labs.

Alternate:

SchoolToolsTv.com A state-of-the-art video website that provides teachers with daily, one-minute videos that help teach important social skills, create a healthier school climate and reduce bullying.

For more information about the Education Industry Summit, visit siia.net/eis/2014/incubator.asp or contact Lindsay Harman at lharman@siia.net.

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