The new school year starts next week for most schools across the country. As part of the first line of defense in protecting student privacy, teachers need to be ready to spot the implications of new technology and advocate for their students' privacy rights.
Our student privacy report offers recommendations for several stakeholder groups. In this post, we'll focus specifically on teachers. Teachers play the role of intermediaries between students and the technology being deployed in classrooms. In addition to administering technology directly to students, teachers can integrate digital literacy and privacy education across their existing curricula.
Make digital literacy part of the curriculum. Ensure that students are learning basic digital privacy and security techniques while utilizing new ed tech tools, including creating strong passphrases for their online accounts.39 Additionally, when applicable, convey that the data the students submit as part of their educational activity (including, for example, search terms, browsing history, etc.) will be sent to another entity and they should therefore exercise caution in sharing sensitive personal information.
Advocate for better training for teachers. Teachers’ own digital literacy and privacy training is often overlooked when new ed tech services are introduced to the classroom. The best way to sharpen your expertise and protect your students is to enhance your own professional privacy knowledge. Advocate for training within the school/district or seek out support from external resources.
Get parental consent. Refrain from signing students up for services without getting explicit written consent from parents.
Pick ed tech tools carefully. Exercise caution when choosing what devices, platforms, services, or websites to use in the classroom. When tools are available for free on the web, for example, it can be tempting to adopt and use them in an ad hoc manner. However, each tool may pose different risks to students’ personal data. Instead, go through your school or district’s approval process, or seek additional opinions, before adopting new ed tech tools.
Find allies. If you are concerned about a particular technology and its privacy implications, find allies amongst your colleagues. Seek out other staff who share your concerns and coordinate with them to better advocate for student privacy across your school or district.
Want to learn more? Read our report Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy for more recommendations, analysis of student privacy law, and case studies from across the country.