Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly

Digital learning aids have long been on the market, but the latest learning apps are getting cleverer – cheap to download, easy to use and marketed directly to teachers without the hassle of being approved by school boards. In this age, schools have no control, and often no idea of what teaching and learning aids are being used in their classrooms, posing a huge risk for the students. Not only is the students’ learning often unmonitored, their personal records are often available for public access. Recent data breaches in several school districts have frightened teachers and parents alike. Many school districts are privately testing and often banning some of the most popular teaching apps, but the multi-billion dollar industry is not taking a hit. Most of the companies are offering teachers free access to apps that excel in adaptive learning, tailored to each individual student; for the teachers, the pros simply outweigh the cons.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Natasha Singer:

At school districts across the country, the chief technology officers responsible for safeguarding student data are tearing their collective hair out. Scores of education technology start-ups, their pockets full from a rush of venture capital, are marketing new digital learning tools directly to teachers — with many offering them free to get a foothold in schools. That has enabled educators nationwide to experiment with a host of novel ‘‘adaptive learning’’ products, like math and foreign language apps that record and analyze students’ online activities to personalize their lessons. But the new digital tools have also left school district technology directors scrambling to keep track of which companies are collecting students’ information — and how they are using it. more