Student Privacy: The Next Frontier

Emerging & Future Privacy Issues in K-12 Learning Environments

July 30, 2015

This report offers recommended next steps and prioritizes open issues in the ed tech and connected learning space, building from and reflecting upon a conversation organized by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society's Student Privacy Initiative. This working meeting was envisioned as one in a series of conversations which deepens our understanding of emerging and future privacy issues in K-12 learning environments, both formal and informal. Future conversations may focus on specific topics within the broader spectrum of issues relating to student privacy; this particular working meeting prioritized practicality over theoretical discussion, emphasizing the evolving experiences of K-12 administrators, educators, and students.

In order to evaluate the challenges and opportunities fostered by the next generation of ed tech, participants were asked to consider the following four layers of the ed tech ecosystem, each of which informs the others in myriad ways: technological infrastructure, data, organizational structures, and norms and values. Keeping these layers in mind, discussion ranged widely across numerous themes, reflecting the participants’ diverse backgrounds and perspectives. This report seeks to summarize the conversation’s main themes and highlight suggestions for future action. In the following section, the main themes and observations are considered, including issues dealt with explicitly and at length, in addition to those that more quietly (and perhaps implicitly) surfaced at multiple points during the day. And although the third section concerns suggested areas for moving forward, these are meant to be understood as key highlights, and not a comprehensive summary. An appendix of student perspectives on topics relating to student privacy are also included.

About the Student Privacy Initiative

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society's Student Privacy Initiative, led by Executive Director Urs Gasser, explores the opportunities and challenges that may arise as educational institutions consider adopting cloud computing technologies. In its work across three overlapping clusters – Privacy Expectations & Attitudes, School Practices & Policies, and Law & Policy – this initiative aims to engage diverse stakeholder groups from government, educational institutions, academia, and business, among others, develop shared good practices that promote positive educational outcomes, harness technological and pedagogical innovations, and protect critical values.

To learn more about the project, please visit http://cyber.harvard.edu/research/studentprivacy.

About the Privacy Series
Starting in Fall 2015, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is highlighting a series of talks, papers, and other activities focused on data privacy. In recent years, concerns about government surveillance and Big Data have focused national and international attention on questions of online privacy. With this series, we aim to illuminate many of the legal, economic, technological, and behavioral issues at play when it comes to data privacy, to foster discussion among multiple perspectives, and to explore alternative mechanisms for balancing consumer privacy with the potential benefits of Big Data.  

Last updated

March 8, 2017