Embrace Personalization and Privacy

Privacy remains a national and educational headline issue–for some valid and some self serving reasons. National security and credit card scandals raised the visibility of privacy. Self-inflicted wounds of ill-conceived data ventures didn’t help.

Attack blogs and sensational press have created more heat than light. A case in point is a recent Politico article that screams about potential problems of marketing burger ads to kids but admits there haven’t been any problems. Stefanie Simon, known for harvesting out of context quotes, opens the piece with an utterly ridiculous claim, “The NSA has nothing on the ed tech startup known as Knewton.” Jose’s hyperbole doesn’t help, but Simon has a track record of making the worst case possible.

Following the introduction of about 100 bills in state capitals, senators Markey and Hatch released a “discussion draft” amendment to FERPA. Addressing privacy as a national issue obviously makes more sense than having 50 different approaches. However, like many of the EPIC and Common Sense bills floating in state capitals, this bill includes automatic deletion language, similar to a California bill (discussed here), that requires schools to destroy data when kids leave the class.

Kill switch. The bills that demand deleting data when a student leaves the classroom pose three potential problems:

  • Transfers: Nonprofit MIND Research Institute is transforming math instruction with a visual game-based program that has supported impressive gains in more than a dozen city initiatives. One under-appreciated benefit of the citywide initiatives is that when a student moves from one school to another they can pick up where they left off. The kill switch provisions means that kids start over on on every app every time they move.
  • Portable records: Like health records, students should have a portable education record that allows teachers to personalize learning from day one–that’s the premise of the Digital Learning Now SmartSeries paper Data Backpacks, Portable Records & Learner Profiles. The kill switch provisions eliminates the potential for portable education records.
  • Parent management: The Department of Education’s My Data Button initiative has for two years encouraged districts to make student data available to parents so that they can manage a comprehensive student record. The kill switch provisions makes it less likely that parents will get data or be able to use it to share information with a tutor, an after school program, or a new teacher.

Read the entire article by Tom Vander Ark on Getting Smart at http://gettingsmart.com/2014/05/embrace-personalization-privacy/

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