Education Week - May 20, 2015 - (Page 28)

COMMENTARY Making the Right Commitment to Student-Data Privacy " By Cameron Evans F rom student-identity theft to the sale of student information for corporate gain, there is no shortage of news about challenges associated with the growing presence of technology in our nation's schools and classrooms. And while these challenges affect organizations across all industries and social sectors, constrained financial resources make school systems particularly vulnerable. Moreover, although federal legislation, the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015, has recently been introduced in Congress, strong legal protections for student data do not yet exist. Given the risks, one may ask: Is it worth investing more in technology in our schools? In fact, the benefits are huge. With the cloud-based tools available today, educators can personalize student instruction to a degree that wasn't possible just five years ago. These tools can engage young minds in new ways, including many that no one has even thought of yet. By moving us past the days of assembly-line education plans based on a single textbook, they can allow us to make sure that no student has a lackluster learning experience, and that each is well prepared for the career path of his While awareness is better today, there is still a surprising willingness for people-adults as well as children-to share data when they shouldn't." or her choosing. Does that sound optimistic? It's an ambition within reach. Over the nearly three decades I've worked in education, I have had a front-row seat as technology has become an integral part of the classroom, and I am confident that by collecting the right data, schools have the power to transform students' lives for the better. Nevertheless, the risks are real, so it is also important for educators to dramatically rethink the approach to student-data privacy they've taken over the last 30 years. Back in the 1990s, when I served as chief information officer of the Del Rio and San Angelo school districts in Texas, there was much greater naiveté around protecting data, and student data in particular, for a number of reasons. Outside of libraries, Internet access in schools was primarily used by administrators to share data with the state for funding purposes. Students and parents rarely knew what data schools had about them on file or who might have access to that information. Because computers were rarely connected online, paper files were the norm, as were unsecured campuses. Meaningful measures to better protect educational data didn't pick up until the turn of the millennium, after the world raced to avert Y2Kspurred data-management vulnerabilities, "always on"-or Internet-ready-computing became commonplace, and online identity theft started to rise. Banks and other commercial enterprises were quick to invest in data privacy, but schools lacked the resources to do so, leaving students especially vulnerable. Suppose a 5th grader has her Social Security number stolen and used fraudulently to apply for credit cards and loans? She might not discover it for years, and enter adulthood at a serious disadvantage. While awareness is better today, there is still a surprising willingness for people-adults as well as children-to share data when they shouldn't. Not long ago, I was checking in to a hotel when PAGE 24 > CAMERON EVANS is the U.S. chief technology officer of Microsoft Education. Based in Dallas-Fort Worth, he advises public schools and universities across the country on technology infrastructure, student-data privacy, and technology use for classroom instruction. Is the Public Ever Really Private? By Jules Polonetsky & Joseph Jerome T he recent flap about companies and schools monitoring social media to catch students posting exam questions or answers raised a fundamental question: Do we have any privacy rights when we are in public? On one hand, we are generally aware that when we are in public, anyone can see us or possibly overhear our conversations. When we post information online, it is possible for anyone to see it. But many of us also assume that if we are in a crowd, or if we post something online to our friends and followers, no one else is really paying attention. Most individuals can count on a degree of obscurity that leaves them with some feeling of privacy, even if not absolute, or somehow incomplete. This imperfect sense of obscurity helps explain the public reaction when we focus on the ways we are monitored and tracked on social media. Take Twitter, for instance. Twitter has been archiving every single tweet sent since 2006 with the Library of Congress. Twitter tells users that their tweets are public, and is even open about the fact that it sells the massive stream of tweets to companies and researchers. Users may think no one will notice or care about a single tweet, but that is not always the case. In fact, teachers commonly use Twitter to show students how photos posted to social media can quickly go viral. If any place online should be considered a public space, it is Twitter. Yet, despite this, when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security planned a social-listening program in 2012 to scan online for threats of violence or other emergencies, the outcry was fierce. Critics were concerned that the program would listen not just for clear threats, but for any criticism of the government. The department implemented its program, but only after it made clear its criteria, to explain that officials would only be monitoring for appropriate threats. Monitoring by companies also seems to trouble social-media users. A 2013 survey by Netbase and J.D. Power and Associates found that 32 percent of consumers have no idea companies are listening, and consumers still believe that they "should be able to talk about companies online without that company listening in," according to the survey. Despite these concerns, social-media monitoring PAGE 24 > JULES POLONETSKY serves as the executive director and cochair of the Future of Privacy Forum, a Washington-based think tank that seeks to advance responsible data practices. JOSEPH JEROME serves as the policy counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum, where he works on educational privacy questions, smart technologies, and ethical uses of information. " "It is clear that we don't yet know how to strike the right balance between monitoring and tracking." | INSIDE | 22 WHY NOT PRACTICE WHAT WE PREACHED? 23 Q&A WITH SIR KEN ROBINSON 28 | EDUCATION WEEK | May 20, 2015 | 24 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Chris Whetzel for Education Week

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 20, 2015

Education Week - May 20, 2015
Gifted Programs Miss Disadvantaged Students
Army of Scorers Tackles Common-Core Tests
Groups Aim to Smooth Student-Police Relations
U.S. Senate Proposal Puts Spotlight On ‘Open Educational Resources’
Civil Rights Data Detail Increase In Complaints
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Accountability Measures for Traits Like ‘Grit’ Questioned
Long-Term Gains Seen for Kids Who Move Out of Poverty
Blogs of the Week
Selective Public Schools Struggle to Diversify Enrollments
Illinois Policymakers Scramble After Pension Law Struck Down
Student-Data Use a Key Issue In Debates Over Privacy Bills
Blogs of the Week
Why Not Practice What We Preached?
Education Has to Be a ‘Human Business’
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Making the Right Commitment to Student-Data Privacy
Is the Public Ever Really Private?

Education Week - May 20, 2015