As an educator in the digital age of cloud-based educational services, I am often frustrated that I am unable to embrace the free and easy to use tools that Google Apps for Education offers, or other cool educational software services because of fear of student privacy violations or non-compliance with district policies and procedures. However, as a leader in educational technology, I am interested in developing solutions that meet everyone’s needs—the solution includes awareness, responsible use, and adherence to laws such as SOPIPA.
Given the complexity of the above issues, steps that will need to be put in place in my school district require communication and transparency to all stakeholders. First, notification of recent SOPIPA requirements and FERPA guidelines for schools and districts for how to interpret and apply the law in this new digital age; second, district school-wide trainings for teachers, students, non-certificated school employees, and other stakeholders; third, revision of parent notification and consent forms to include children over the age of 13 to reduce potential SOPIPA violations, as COPPA is better defined. Finally, if a district does decide to embrace Google Apps for Education, Microsoft Office products, or other cloud-based educational services, a careful agreement needs to be worked out in advance to limit or eliminate SOPIPA, FERPA, COPPA, or CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) violations. For example, Google’s alleged practices of intercepting and data mining of student emails.
Until such time that amendments are made to FERPA or additional bills are enacted that reduce the ambiguity in student educational data privacy laws and likelihood of accidental violations of student-data privacy, schools sites and districts need to focus on awareness and be proactive in terms of potential student-data privacy and security violations.
Benjamin Herold (September 30, 2014). “‘Landmark’ Student-Data-Privacy Law Enacted in California” and “Google Under Fire for Data-Mining Student Email Messages”. (March 14, 2014). Education Week (Digital Education Week’s Blogs). March 8, 2015. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2014/09/_landmark_student-data-privacy.html and http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/03/13/26google.h33.html#
Ujifusa, Andrew (April 15, 2014). “State Lawmakers Ramp Up Attention to Data Privacy.” Education Week (Digital Education Week’s Blogs). March 8, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/16/28data.h33.html?qs=ujifusa+data+privacy#