Are you considering student data & privacy when selecting #edtech tools?

Whenever you sign up to use a new web tool, you are often asked to accept the Terms of Service of that site. If you are like me, you probably just hit “I accept” without reading all of that fine print. As part of the ISTE Certification I am pursuing, I’ve had to consider the implications of this when it comes to choosing web tools to use, especially for use with students. The ISTE Standards for Educators Digital Citizen Standard 3d, asks educators to “model and promote management of personal data and digital identity and protect student data privacy.” I’ve realized that this is a crucial step I was missing when I evaluate edtech tools.

For instance, consider these two coding sites for students: CodeCombat and Code.org. Both have engaging coding activities for students, but when you look closer at their Terms of Service and Privacy Policies, as Common Sense Education did, there are clearly differences.

commonsensecoding

It’s helpful to have a resource like Common Sense’s Privacy Evaluations because evaluating privacy policies can be tedious, confusing and time consuming. Yet, it’s up to us an educators to do our due diligence to ensure we are protecting our students online. If you don’t think this a concern, I urge you to consider Barbara Kurshan’s Forbes article,
“The Elephant in the Room With EdTech Data Privacy,” which raises concerns with #edtech giants like GSuiteEdu and PowerSchool.

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In the St. Louis area, one school district that has been a real leader in this area is Mehlville. Last September, Alicia Landers,  Director of Curriculum Technology, shared the work they’ve been doing in the district to protect student privacy at an Education Technology Association of St. Louis meeting. Alicia said, “We take every precaution to protect our students in the physical world; we should also do everything we can to protect them in the virtual world, too.”

When they adopted Google seven years ago, they started considering the data privacy issue. It is Mehlville Board policy that any teacher teaching with internet will teach digital citizenship. Alicia created a cheat sheet checklist for herself for evaluating an app, web tool or site before adopting it for their district. Non-negotiables included collecting and selling data and the inability to access, edit and delete data that has been collected.

_FERPACOPPA Cheat Sheet
They also developed a flowchart for teacher-use only or student-use, but it turned out to be too complicated, so they wanted to streamline the process, but evaluating sites was so time-consuming, that they actually went to an outside source for doing this work, Education Framework. They are a startup that will review apps for you for FERPA & COPPA compliance for a per student price. One really great feature is the “request for improvement” button where it will send an email on behalf of you to contact the company. ABCya actually is now FERPA & COPPA compliant now thanks to this process. In fact, as of September 2017, 27 out of about 100 companies Alicia contacted this way have actually responded and improved their compliance.

When they rolled this out to staff, there were some who mourned the loss of some tools, but teachers ultimately understood that student safety is foremost. Tech staff gave the teaching staff list of approved tools/not approved tools with explanations. Teachers can still use apps that are not on the approved list as long as they are not creating student log ins or sharing personally identifiable information of students. They also created a Google form for teachers to ask for new tools to be approved (usually a 2-day turnaround from Education Framework). They’ve also done work to teach staff about privacy issues and to
provide ideas on how to teach digital citizenship including small, teachable moments.
Mehlville changed their Acceptable Use Policy for students and teachers, with a link to approved apps. Washington, MO schools, where Alicia’s husband works, have also been working with Mehlville in this process. Alicia would love to get with other like-minded folks to continue work in this area including digital citizen ideas. You can connect with her on Twitter @AliciaAjl.

If you liked to know more about protecting student data privacy, Alicia recommends these resources:

https://tech.ed.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Student-Privacy-and-Online-Educational-Services-February-2014.pdf

https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/sites/default/files/resource_document/file/TOS_Guidance_Mar2016.pdf

https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/resources/protecting-student-privacy-while-using-online-educational-services-model-terms-service

https://ferpasherpa.org/educators/

 

 

Protocols for Effective Student Feedback in @GoogleDocs

During Plan Smarter, Not Harder with Edu-Protocols, Jon Corippo (@jcorippo) shared lesson design advice as part of #DitchSummit, a free digital conference from Matt Miller (@jmattmiller) author of Ditch That Textbook. One of the things Matt and Jon discussed was protocols for helping students become stronger writers. Having been an English teacher before I became a librarian, this is a topic near to my heart, and I believe using Google Docs effectively is one of the best ways to grow writers. In fact, it’s something I often present at conferences, so I thought I would turn my presentation into an infographic to describe what I think are the best workflows. Enjoy!

 

effective-googl_27040459 (1)

10 Questions to Ask to Evaluate a Tech Tool #DitchSummit Day1

Today is day one of #DitchSummit, a free digital conference from Matt Miller (@jmattmiller) author of Ditch That Textbook. Today’s guests, Tanya Avrith (@TanyaAvrith) & Holly Clark (@HollyClarkEdu)are talking Technology and Pedagogy. We want to have strong pedagogy behind our edtech choices.

So, in response, I thought I would share 10 questions I ask when I am evaluating a new tech tool to decide if I want to integrate it.

Questions to Evaluate tech

What student outcome will this tool help you accomplish? If you aren’t starting with this question in mind, then don’t bother to read on! We never want to use tech for tech’s sake. Evaluating any ed tech tool should always start and end with this question.

Is it well designed and intuitive for the user? If Steve Jobs were still alive, would he approve of the way the tool is designed? We never want the Learning Curve > the Payoff of using it. As Holly said today in the #DitchSummit, it’s about simplicity. You want to use tech tools that are simple and easy to use, so your students can quickly go to a tool and use it.

Does it have guides, tutorials, help sections or tech support for you to contact? Even if a tool is pretty intuitive, we still may questions when learning to use it. How helpful have the makers made it to find answers to those questions?

Does it work well or the same on multiple devices? Even if you are a one-to-one school, this can still be an important question. Having a good mobile version really makes a tool versatile in terms of when, where and how users access it. If an app is only available on Apple or Android, it shrinks the user base.

Does it allow for collaboration between users? Collaboration is a key 21st century skill. If my students cannot collaborate with each other or me when using the tool, then it’s usually a deal-breaker for me!

Does it integrate well with other tools? As a GAFE school, I love when students can use a tool by signing in with their Google account, so they don’t have to remember a bunch of log ins. More than that, it’s also great to be able to easily “app smash,” to use two tools together. Matt mentioned an example of this today from Tanya and Holly’s book, The Google Infused Classroom, where students use Bitmoji and the Google Chrome extension Talk and Comment to make their Bitmoji “talk” and explain their thinking on a project.

Does it allow the user to do something “more” than they could without it? Speaking of Bitmoji, if you can’t draw much beyond stick figures, like me, it’s a great tool to allow one to make professional-looking cartoon drawings. With every tech tool we integrate, we always want to keep the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model in mind, to be sure that we aren’t merely substituting with tech but making something possible that we couldn’t have done without the tech. This also goes back to what our speakers on #DitchSummit were saying today about making sure that the tech we use is giving students a way to make thinking visible, to hear from every student in the class and have them share their learning. As Matt said, these are the “Superpowers” of edtech in the classroom that allow us to take learning to the next level.

Does it offer advantages over a similar product you are already using? I love Schoology, but many teachers at my Academy were already using Edmodo when I came to the school six years ago, so I really had to weigh the benefits of introducing a new platform. Now, both of those learning management systems have been supplanted with Google Classroom for us as we became a GAFE school. It’s not to say that you have to be using the same tech tools as everyone else, but I also think you don’t always want to jump on the bandwagon of the newest tool just because it is new.

Is it free, low cost, or at the least, offer a free trial? If it’s not free is it worth the expense? I don’t know about you, but we don’t have a huge tech budget, so if I can find a tool that is free or “freemium” (free version with paid premium version available), I am usually going to pick that over a tool that costs money. A tool really has to be offering something I can’t get anywhere else before I am going to shell out $$$.

What can students create with this tool? If the answer is “nothing,” then this is probably not the tech tool for me and my students. I want my students to be creators not just consumers of technology. So, I will always favor the tools that allow students to actively create something rather than just being passive users. It’s important for educators to prioritize these higher level uses of tech if we want to prepare them to be future ready graduates.

A final thought from Matt Miller about choosing the right ed tech tools: “There’s so much out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but only grab hold of the things you think can really move the needle for learning in your classroom.”

Trending now in #STL #edtech from @ETAofSTL members

etatopics

At our Welcome Back meeting for ETA of STL, the Education Technology Association of St. Louis, we asked our members what is happening in their districts and what topics they would like us to cover at ETA meetings this year. Above is an AnswerGarden of their responses.

In thinking about how technology integration can transform learning, SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition) is a big topic to kick off the school year, and one that my Academy has been using to frame our technology pd. Many ETA member districts participated in a summer #METCpd SAMR institute sponsored by Edplus.  They brought in Dr. Ruben Puentedura, who developed the framework. They will also be partnering with the Clayton School District to offer a free SAMR unconference on Saturday, Sept. 9.

STEAM & MakerEd continue to be big topics in the region as well. Mehlville School District opened MOSAIC this year, a new school of innovation for elementary students, and Ferguson-Florissant has a new middle school STEAM Academy. South Technical High School has a new makerspace this year, which we hope to be visiting at a future ETA meeting. For those looking for professional development in this area, you might check out the year-long STEM Academy or the new MakerEd Academy being offered by Edplus.

Chromebooks seem to be the 1:1 device of choice in area, with many districts rolling out new or additional Chromebooks including a K-12 program for Winfield, 1:1 Chromebooks at North Technical High School, and Rockwood District rolling out Chromebooks to 6-9 this year. In Ferguson-Florissant the STEAM students are 1:1 with new Dell touch screen fold-able Chomebooks.

Digital Citizenship and related topics are also in focus this year. Our next ETA meeting on September 20 at Hancock Place will be centered around Digital Citizenship, Digital Footprint, and Student Data Privacy. Educators may want to follow the lead of Orchard Farm School District, who is hosting a  Teen Digital Citizenship day for their students October 13. METC’s middle school summit on digital citizenship is Sept 21, and Oct 6 is DigCit Day: Moving Beyond Internet Safety .

As always ETA members are looking for innovative and “new big ideas.” I’m excited to join Tierney Brother’s free STL Tech Tour on October 24. If you are interested in joining in, you should contact Dawn Shuler (dawnshuler@tierneybrothers.com).

It’s sure to be another busy year in #STL #edtech, but we hope you will take time out each month to join us for my favorite local #PLN: ETA of STL.

 

“We Learn Better in this Way”

This week on Teaching Like it’s 2999, Jennie Magiera shares her 5th grade students’ video submission to The White House Student Film Festival (whose deadline is today). Jaylen, Jean Paul, Grevelle and Latrell did an awesome job turning Lorde’s hit song, “Royals” into a music video about their love of digital learning. Go here to watch the video and learn about their process for creating it, including the use of a shared Google Doc to transform the lyrics. WTG, guys!