In addition to classroom management tools, there are many comprehensive online resources available to schools to help them better understand online security and how to protect student data.
“The Department of Education has a Privacy Technical Assistance Center that’s designed to give districts an understanding of what [data privacy] problems are and how they can mitigate those problems,” says Hughes. “Small districts or small schools might not have dedicated IT resources, but there are a lot resources available online that will help give [educators] an understanding of how to follow best practices.”
Before any school implements technology or allows students to use technology that involves collecting student data, every stakeholder in the district should have a strong understanding of the risks involved in using these web-based tools, as well as how they can protect students from having their private data stolen or compromised.
2. Do Your Research
There are numerous web-based products available to K-12 schools, and each and every product has various ways in which they collect and protect data. In order for schools to feel confident in the product they are purchasing, they must research the vendor and product and develop a strong understanding as to how their students’ data will be protected.
Hughes also adds that many vendors have signed the Student Privacy Pledge, a pledge introduced by The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) that is intended to safeguard student privacy regarding the collection, maintenance, and use of student personal information.
The pledge states that vendors will protect student data by not selling student information or targeting ads to students. Furthermore, the pledge requires that signatories enforce strict limits on data retention and use data for authorized education purposes only.
With 209 different vendors having signed the pledge to date, it is important schools strongly consider choosing a vendor that has signed the Student Privacy Pledge, as their signature binds them to protecting student data.
In addition to understanding vendors’ privacy policies, schools must also ensure that any web-based tools they are looking to purchase or implement have been properly assessed before making a purchase.