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This Week in Student Privacy: 10/28

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L.A. Unified Superintendent of Schools John Deasy Announces Resignation
Last week, Superintendent of Los Angeles schools John Deasy announced his resignation. Deasy faced 'strong criticism' over the troubled rollout of [his] $1.3-billion effort to provide iPads to every [L.A. Unified] student, teacher and campus administrator' and his $130+ million student records system which 'bec[a]me a technological disaster'. L.A. Unified saw 'a continued rise in student performance during a period of financial cuts' under Deasy’s leadership; however, 'could not overcome election day setbacks, poor relations with teachers, and the… technological debacles.' Ramon Cortines, Deasy’s predecessor, has been named interim Superintendent.

'LearnSphere' Raises Student Privacy Questions
According to Education Week, 'LearnSphere,' a research effort (which, in some ways, resembles the 'ill-fated' inBloom) by several prominent universities 'to redesign and scale up a massive repository for storing, sharing, and analyzing learning and behavioral data that students generate when using digital instructional tools,' has raised 'new questions in the highly charged debate over student-data privacy.' Supporters of the project feel that 'facilitating the sharing and analysis of [student data] for research purposes can lead to new insights about how humans learn, as well as rapid improvements to the digital learning software now flooding schools.' Skeptics of the program, however, have 'warned that rapid expansion in the collection of students' digital data, even when done primarily for research purposes, is fraught with potential problems related to notification, consent, and data ownership.'

CoSN and AASA Release E-rate and Infrastructure Survey Results
Last week, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) released its second annual E-rate and Infrastructure Survey. The survey, which CoSN and AASA 'intend… to inform the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) upcoming decisions about long-term funding through the E-rate program,' 'reveal[ed] troubling gaps in U.S. school districts broadband and technology infrastructure.' According to the survey 'only 9 percent of the districts [surveyed] have adequate bandwidth to fully meet the demand for online assessments and digital content anticipated over the next 18 months.' The survey 'identifies affordability and adequate funding' as the most 'significant barriers' ed tech leaders face in their efforts to achieve 'sufficient Internet connectivity [in] schools.'

Additional Articles/Resources

  • Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Brad Smith co-wrote an Op-Ed piece for The Hill on the corporate student privacy pledge signed by prominent ed-tech companies including Microsoft, Edmodo, and Gaggle. Check out our last two newsletters for more information on this story.
  • Rappler’s Jee Y. Geronimo reports on a student privacy incident at St Theresa’s College in Quezon, Philippines. Several students were punished by the school for posting bikini-pictures on their Facebook accounts.
  • Flocabulary Product Director Aliza Aufrichtig wrote a piece for EdSurge about the importance of digital citizenship.
  • Last week, Common Sense Media hosted its Digital Citizenship Week. For more information, visit the Common Sense Media website.

This update was compiled by Hannah Offer. Hannah is a senior at the Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences and a research assistant for the Student Privacy Initiative.

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