Technology is at the core of our society today, and it’s being incorporated into our classrooms. Schools worldwide are now using apps to track student grades, behavior, disciplinary issues, attendance schedule, collecting the data into profiles. Parents have raised concerns about how the data collection practices protect their children’s privacy.
There are many privacy concerns regarding apps which do not guarantee children’s privacy. This puts student data at risk. The information is potentially valuable to both marketers and hackers. “Security protections must be strong if a child’s safety and future chances of success are not to be undermined,” says Rachael Stickland, co-chairwoman of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. “The personal information of students is meant to be used only for educational purposes, but such private data has been collected and passed around outside schools much more broadly.”
Sometimes, the apps replace the simplest of school routines. In his school, 12th grade student Christian Chase is expected to use technology to communicate with his own teacher during class time, instead of asking the rather simple question, “May I go to the bathroom?” Christian logs his request on his laptop instead of simply raising his hand.
Another app, ClassDojo, is widely used in both the US and the UK for behavior tracking. Teachers add and subtracts points from students throughout the day for good or bad behavior. Parents can review their child’s points at any time.
There are many more apps being used as well. Examples include Seesaw, a student portfolio app where the parents can see the progress and achievement of the students; Addito, where teachers record attendance, plan timetables and calculate the grades of the students on their smartphones and tablets; Show my homework, which was created to monitor homework easily for teachers; and Showbie, an “assignment and grading app to help teachers easily & quickly distribute assignments, handouts, links, etc. to students.”
Andy Phippen, professor of social responsibility in IT at Plymouth University, says “many teachers and parents have not considered whether children’s data will be kept private.”
Beyond student privacy, there are also concerns about how the apps could contribute to shame and anxiety. Andy Christopher Miller, honorary professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Nottingham and the University of Warwick says, “One of the consequences of the public display of results is that you end up shaming kids if they’re not doing as well. That has knock-on effects in terms of their self-esteem, as well as their motivation and behavior.”
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