Posts Under: Education

Continued Misunderstandings of the Student Privacy Pledge

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has filed suit against Google for violation of the K-12 School Service Provider Pledge to Safeguard Student Privacy.  The suit will work its way through the legal system and a judgement made based on its merit, but it is important to point out that the suit contains some important misunderstandings about the student privacy pledge. The complaint alleges that Google violated the student privacy pledge because it collected information about students who are using general purpose services. The pledge, however, only applies to applications, services, or web sites “designed and marketed for use in United States elementary and secondary educational institutions.” In addition, the complaint suggests that the pledge is violated because Google uses layered privacy policies (for its general purpose services and a more restrictive policy for its educational services) and educational websites related to its privacy policies (google.com/e ...

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DeVos Hearing Lacking Education Technology

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, faced a tough lineup of Senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday evening. The heated, partisan questioning primarily focused on DeVos’ beliefs on school choice/privatization, accountability, and civil rights and her financial contributions to education reform groups. Unfortunately, education technology was not a topic addressed directly by DeVos or by any of the Committee’s members.

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New Instructional Materials Adoption Toolkit

The instructional materials marketplace has changed markedly over the last few years. More school districts are shifting from physical textbooks to digital and online resources and increasingly are utilizing openly licensed resources [or open educational resources (OER)] to supplement commercially developed materials. In addition, commercial materials developers have even begun to incorporate OER within their own content and have started to curate OER for schools.

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SIIA and FPF Respond to Ill-Informed Student Privacy Pledge Reaction

Several years ago, SIIA and the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) worked together with a number of Ed Tech companies to develop a Student Privacy Pledge, a voluntary effort by the industry to commit to good privacy practices regarding their collection and use student data.  President Obama endorsed the pledge and it has been instrumental in guiding the development of state student privacy legislation toward protecting privacy while fostering the use of student information for fulfilling the educational needs of students.  Recently, we marked the milestone of 300 companies signing on to the pledge.  This week, however, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) issued an attack on the pledge as containing loopholes in its fine print. Specifically, EFF takes issue with the definition of “student personal information” in the Pledge and the fact that the pledge only covers “school service providers.” These concerns are largely unfounded and ill-informed ...

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A Misguided Criticism of E-Rate Misses Real Need: Educator PD

A recent article in Politico claims that the federal E-Rate program produced no gains in student SAT results in North Carolina public high schools. With this assertion, the author concludes that federal programs supporting school connectivity nationwide should be eliminated, or at least halted until investments can demonstrate a stronger relationship with student outcomes. But the article’s underlying study doesn’t support such a sweeping conclusion, and the author fails to recognize the key role played by professional development for teachers in improving classroom learning through technology. more

FCC Exempts Emergency Mass Communications in School from TCPA

In a ruling earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clarified that automated calls and texts to wireless phone numbers by a school are exempt from restrictions under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The ruling was an extension of the TCPA “emergency purpose” exemption to schools and utility companies. The updated rule provides a critical exemption for schools using mass communication technology, such as emergency text message systems, to contact students and parents. Prior to the ruling, it was unclear when a school needed to obtain prior written consent for automated communications. In this ruling, automated calls and text messages sent by a school to student family wireless phones under the “emergency purpose” exemption do not require prior express consent but must be limited to just situations “affecting the health and safety of the consumers.” Additionally, the FCC provided clarification that a parent&rs ...

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DoED’s #GoOpen Launch Wrongly Implies that All Digital Educational Resources Are Openly Licensed

The U.S. Department of Education initial launch packet of its #GoOpen initiative incorrectly leads the public to believe that the only way they can make the “transition to digital learning” is by using open educational resources. This will be news to the many school districts that have been using commercially developed digital instructional materials for years. Many of these digital commercial materials provide rich, digital-native content rather than simple PDFs or text on basic websites. Here are just a few of the many examples of digital commercial materials:

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The Too Often Hidden Cost of OER

A group of community colleges recently announced the launch of an initiative to develop or restructure some associate degree programs to utilize open educational resources (OER) in place of traditional textbooks. In part, the initiative is intended to address college affordability by reducing or eliminating the cost of instructional materials for students. In announcing this new initiative, the organization touted that the instructional materials would be free but seemed to gloss over the cost to develop and implement these OER and programs. In fact, it will initially cost $9.8 million. This tab will be picked up by a handful of philanthropic organizations directing the initiative, but one has to consider what will happen to these materials and programs when the money is gone. Will governmental entities suddenly pick up the cost to update the materials on a regular basis? Will institutions require their faculty to invest their own time in researching, reviewing, or sourcing these OE ...

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Protecting Student Data with Strong, Flexible Security Measures Is a Must

For educational agencies, institutions, and third-party service providers, protecting student information from unauthorized use or access is paramount. SIIA believes that every party handling student data should implement and maintain strong administrative, physical, and technical safeguards reasonably designed to protect the types of information they hold. For years, third-party service providers have been maintaining strong security measures for two big reasons. First, it is in the best interest of an education service provider to act in the best interest of students and schools, including by using information only for the educational purposes tasked with and maintaining strong security measures. The digital instructional materials and educational software industry is highly reputational. Success and failure is built not just on product efficacy and improving student outcomes but trust between providers and the students, schools, and parents they serve. Second, school service p ...

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