There is nothing better than walking into my local grocery store, or better yet, an Apple Store and getting the “Welcome Don” greeting on my phone. I get the newest specials and deals right as I walk in the door. I think most realize that this type of personalization comes with a price…a lack of privacy. As an adult, I have consciously decided to allow certain stores and apps to track my movements so I can get this personalized service. Privacy is a different monster all together for the students in our schools. There are both state and federal regulations that govern when we can provide and how we use student data. As a technology integration specialist, I work with both the technology and curriculum departments. I love having a foot in both because I can be that bridge between the back end of the tech side and what teachers need to do their jobs. One of my roles is to help monitor all of the privacy policies for the numerous apps that are requested and eventually pushed out to all of the 3,000+ student iPads.
When I first started in this role, I had to dig into the Terms of Service as well as the privacy policies for each app developer. It was overwhelming! I would try to catch all the nuances of the various policies, but we eventually decided to go with a company that would do the details work. We chose Education Framework. This company does a wonderful job, but I find myself not actually reading the privacy policies anymore because someone else does. As I work to complete my ISTE Certification, one of the assignments is to explore the policies of some of the apps that we use.
My district uses Buncee, Seesaw, Flipgrid, and Edpuzzle quite heavily. What did I find as I explored the user agreements and privacy policies? It was not surprising that all four of these services take privacy and data sharing seriously. All four of them are signatories of the Student Privacy Pledge (the pledge). In a nutshell, the signers of the pledge agree not to collect student information beyond what is needed for the service to work. They also agree to not sell or disclose information to outside sources for the purpose of advertising. Those of us entrusted to judge educational services should be happy to see the companies with whom we work willing to sign this type of commitment. The Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) is another certification that checks for compliance to state and federal regulations. My research shows that Buncee and Edpuzzle have that certification. After this research, I am confident that these products are keeping student data safe and private.
So what’s the point of all of this. Mostly it is awareness. If you are an educator who has had an app/service denied that you would like to use with your students, there might be a good reason for that denial. On the other hand, before submitting an app/service for approval, do some homework on the privacy and terms of service policies. If you find that they have signed the Student Privacy Pledge and/or are certified by iKeepSafe, include that in your request.