Washington, DC

Student Data: The Challenges and Opportunities

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June 20, 2014
 - 
Capitol Hill, Washington, DC


Overview

June 20, 2014
 - 
Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

With the support of Congressman Jared Polis, FOSI convened a panel on Capitol Hill to talk about the challenges and opportunities offered through the collection of student data. The hour-long discussion was moderated by Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI and featured John Bailey, Executive Director of Digital Learning Now, Richard Culatta, Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the United States Department of Education, Aden Fine, Chief Privacy Officer at Edmodo and Sarah Holland, Senior Analyst, Public Policy and Government Relations at Google.

With all of the recent press attention, proposed legislation and general discussion on the topic, the room was packed to learn more about what companies were doing with children's personal information, why student information was collected and how that data was then stored. Panelists also discussed how data could be used to help students and to boost classroom attainment.

Richard Culatta outlined the recent guidance issued by the Department of Education around the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, he also reiterated that communication between schools and parents is essential. Schools and companies need to talk to parents about how they are using childrens' information and importanly how the data is protected. John Bailey detailed the recently released Aspen Task Force on Learning and the Internet report, entitled, "Learner At The Center Of A Networked World.” Bailey also talked about the reasons behind the InBloom collapse and the lessons that can be learned from it, importantly he highlighted the need to ensure that privacy is baked into the development of educational technology and that the privacy policy is clearly communicated to all. Sarah Holland described Google Apps for Education and how the service is being used in classrooms, the service allows students to collaborate and communicate remotely with each other and with their teachers. Holland also addressed recent news stories about the scanning of emails by Google, she explained that through Google Apps for Education no emails are scanned for advertising purposes. Finally, Edmodo talked about their bottom-up approach to designing technology for the classroom, Aden Fine said that using this approach, and empowering teachers through the use of technology, Edmodo was able to improve learning outcomes. Edmodo ensures that they have direct relationships with the parents, teachers and students.

All of the panelists agreed on the importance of dealing with facts not hypotheticals and keeping parents informed about the uses of their children’s data. Ultimately the panel concluded that the opportunities offered through data collection and incorporating technology in the classroom must be retained, while children’s personal data continues to be protected.

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