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Past Project

Student Privacy Initiative

In both formal and informal educational settings, increasingly powerful and innovative ICT products and services—many of which depend on cloud computing technologies, particularly Software as a Service- (Saas) based tools—offer tremendous potential for schools to provide educators and students with new platforms and tools to shape, improve, and expand learning experiences, even in the face of continually shrinking budgets.

However, the significant benefits that cloud-computing technologies may afford do not come without associated tradeoffs and potential costs. Specifically, in education just as in other sectors, customers moving from on-premise products and services to cloud-computing solutions must grant the cloud provider access to potentially vast amounts of customer data. Significant questions about precisely what information the vendor might access and collect and what the vendor might do with this information are rapidly emerging in a number of areas where cloud services are being deployed, and educational settings tend to illustrate and amplify many of the most critical privacy questions and concerns.

Against the backdrop of these opportunities and challenges, the Berkman Klein Center Student Privacy Initiative—part of our growing suite of Privacy Initiatives—will begin and sustain a multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder conversation on student privacy. This Initiative, led by Executive Director Urs Gasser, will consider privacy and technological issues in a grounded way that accounts for how they may intersect with existing policy regimes as well as with emerging developments in educational theory (e.g., connected learning) and institutional practices (e.g., refining technology policies within an individual school), each of which may raise new costs, risk factors, and opportunities. Moreover, on the commercial side, the Initiative will take into account emerging business models and pressures tied to data collection and “big data”, trends that only increase the stakes associated with this inquiry. By bringing together representatives from these diverse perspectives alongside students, parents, and teachers, the Student Privacy Initiative hopes to consider student privacy and “the cloud” in a holistic way that balances the needs and objectives of each group. We endeavor to ultimately hone a shared set of good practices designed to support the many potential benefits of cloud-based technologies in educational settings.

Our Work 07

Dec 8, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

State of Student Privacy

with Urs Gasser, Sandra Cortesi, Dalia Topelson Ritvo, Paulina Haduong, and Leah Plunkett

The Berkman Center’s Student Privacy Initiative will be taking stock of our student privacy work to date and exploring future directions. At this luncheon, the Berkman team will… More

Jul 30, 2015

Student Privacy: The Next Frontier

Emerging & Future Privacy Issues in K-12 Learning Environments

Building off several prior working meetings which mapped and considered the implications of the new and rapidly evolving ecosystem of networked technology being used with… More

Jun 3, 2014 @ 12:30 PM

Framing the Law & Policy Picture: A Snapshot of K-12 Cloud-Based Ed Tech & Student Privacy in Early 2014

Leah Plunkett, Alicia Solow-Niederman, and Urs Gasser

The Berkman Center’s Student Privacy Initiative team presents a snapshot of K-12 cloud-based ed tech and student privacy in early 2014 before turning to pragmatic law and policy… More

Jun 2, 2014

Framing the Law & Policy Picture: A Snapshot of K-12 Cloud-Based Ed Tech & Student Privacy in Early 2014

This paper provides a snapshot of key aspects of a diverse—and heated—law, policy, and implementation debate that is taking place in the rapidly evolving cloud-based ed tech… More

Jan 15, 2014

K-12 Edtech Cloud Service Inventory

Created for and informed by the co-organized Berkman Center and Consortium for School Networking working meeting on November 19, 2013, this document aims to provide individuals… More

Jan 15, 2014

Student Privacy and Cloud Computing at the District Level: Next Steps and Key Issues

This report offers recommended next steps and prioritized open issues in the K-12 educational technology (edtech) space, with a special emphasis on two topics: (1) law and policy… More

Jan 15, 2014

Youth Perspectives on Tech in Schools: From Mobile Devices to Restrictions and Monitoring

This research brief, prepared by the Berkman Center’s Youth and Media project for the co-organized Berkman Center and Consortium for School Networking working meeting on student… More

People 06


Related Projects & Tools 01

Privacy Initiatives

The Berkman Klein Center has long been home to a number of cross-disciplinary initiatives that investigate privacy and privacy-relevant questions in the digitally networked… More