No. 4 on our list of key ed-tech trends for the new school year is the need for K-12 leaders to navigate a data privacy minefield
School leaders must talk openly about privacy and address parents’ concerns proactively, before it’s too late.
[Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories examining five key ed-tech developments to watch for the 2014-15 school year. Our countdown continues tomorrow with No. 3.]
After the high-profile demise this past spring of inBloom, a controversial nonprofit organization that aimed to build a national, cloud-based student data system to improve education, school leaders face a puzzle: How can they balance the privacy concerns of stakeholders with the need to collect and analyze information about their students?
Amid an onslaught of criticism from parents and data privacy advocates, states that had signed agreements with inBloom began to pull out of the initiative last year, and the group shut its doors in April. Now, ed-tech observers are wondering what inBloom’s collapse will mean for other efforts to personalize instruction using cloud-based data systems.
As school leaders turn to software companies for help in collecting and storing student data in the cloud, privacy advocates worry about what will happen to the information—and whether it might be used for marketing purposes.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act governs the use and disclosure of students’ personal information, but it can only penalize schools for non-compliance. The law doesn’t include any direct authority over software providers—which is one reason many policy makers think it’s time to update FERPA for the digital age.
(Next page: How new legislation intends to modernize FERPA—and the biggest lesson that school leaders can learn from the inBloom fiasco)