With technology storming the learning sector like never before, concerns over the privacy of classroom are on the rise. The educational software and applications industry has been growing at a staggering rate and is currently valued at around 8 billion dollars. Educational institutes are constantly experimenting with new technological tools that are supposedly designed to improve the learning experience for children and more importantly, make the job of the educator easier. Unfortunately, there is no structured regulation regarding the use of these software applications in schools and a lot of questions have been raised about the security issues that these programs pose in ensuring the privacy of the classroom. In most case scenarios, parents or students are not required to provide their consent for creating, storing, or distributing the huge volume of records that are currently being generated in schools. This could dramatically affect preserving the privacy of classroom.
When it comes to privacy of classroom, another significant aspect worth noting is the volume of content in the form of apps being used by parents and children. If a recent research is to be taken into consideration, more than 10% of all app downloads in the Apple App Store is comprised of learning applications. This would point towards a surge in interest to explore and try out the latest learning applications within a growing demographic that is becoming tech savvy. What is deeply concerning here is the lack of regulation of data sharing guidelines for these various software platforms. Most people just skip the “Permissions Screen” and just download the app without asking any questions. Very few people actually ask why, how, and when student information is being shared. The tremendous amount of data being collected from students and the end to which this data is being used is definitely something we need to be cautious about. Parents and students alike need to understand why privacy of classroom is a crucial issue.
Today, there are a multitude of classroom management software that is supposedly aimed to provide an effective monitoring system for the behavior and implementation of discipline among students. Many of these applications do not address need to ensure privacy of classroom. Although on the surface, this would definitely be a positive tool for educators reaching out to a high number of students, there are negative impacts that such a system can have on students and their learning experience. Any software works on the basis of observed trends and algorithms. It’s basically about recording information, identifying a trend, and working it through an algorithm to arrive at certain conclusions. This could result in the pigeonholing of students and risk them being “typecast” in a certain “category.” They could be put on a certain pattern of learning, which is specifically designed for a “category” and will stay on that track long after he or she has undergone a significant change in his/her behavioral and disciplinary patterns. This is another reason why preserving privacy of classroom is important.
Classroom in the Open
Apart from obvious concerns of the privacy of classroom, there are privacy issues that spill out of the classroom. A lot of school buses have video cameras installed in them that monitor students from the time they get on until they get down at their designated stop. Are children comfortable being monitored? Who handles the video clips and how securely are they being stored?
It is the collective responsibility of educators, software providers, and parents to ensure that the privacy of classroom is maintained and that any data that needs to be collected go through a transparent and secure system that does not affect the overall quality of learning.
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