The Electronic Frontier Federation is “dedicating to defending your rights in the digital world.” A recent report they have compiled analyzes student privacy (K-12) — or lack thereof — in light of school-provided technology and school-required accounts with various ed-tech vendors. In the 3-part report, they talk about the laissez-faire approach many schools take with regard to student relationships with the outside vendors, they discus the relevant laws and also make recommendations for change.
In light of recent legislation that allows ISPs to sell subscriber data, this becomes an even more interesting question. A Wisconsin congressman, James Sensenbrenner, recently opined that this shouldn’t be a problem because “Nobody’s got to use the Internet.” However, if I require my students to sign up with an online provider to view or participate in an educational module they make available, or to use a tool that they supply, they don’t really have a choice… and are probably also quite unaware of the potential consequences.
What do you think? How can we better protect student’s privacy as we’re required to do by FERPA? How can we better educate students about their own rights and responsibilities in this matter?
ELI is the Educause Learning Initiative, and Educause is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology. So when ELI publishes the results of a survey about Key Issues in Teaching and Learning, you know the items identified will all be technology-related. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting list, and their historical list on which you can see the movement of items across the years in terms of priority by surveyees, is even more interesting.
My own major frustration continues to be in the extremely uneven and very basic misunderstandings, lack of knowledge and lack of ability that my students when it comes to using computers. They consider themselves exceptionally proficient, but are quickly out of their depth when faced with a different machine, a different network, a different application or operating system. And their troubleshooting skills are generally very poor. I don’t think that fits on this list, but I sure wish someone would begin to consider the critical importance of RELIABLY being able to use a computer in this day and age!
Public Broadcasting Systems’ “Nova” television program has published a CyberSecurity Lab online game that educates the user about the importance of complex passwords, how to identify phishing attempts and even a little bit about coding and network security in general. There’s a very nice educator’s guide for using this resource, too. I’m going to include it in all my computer lab classes this fall!