The education system is continually trying to keep up with the technological advancements present in the world today through the incorporation of technological devices, forms of teaching and instruction for students, teachers, and administrators. However, careful analysis and investigation in the application of technology in schools reveal significant privacy concerns (Alim et al., 2017). Effective education currently requires students and teachers to use various computer devices for teaching and learning which poses a threat to the privacy of students and teachers. When they use these devices, and teaching aids, more than the learning activities is collected and stored for an indefinite period. Such information includes their personally identifying information search as their names and dates of birth. The information also includes their browsing history, behavioral data, contact history and location data (Alim et al., 2017).
Greene (2019) further expounds on the issue through the identification of how the privacy of schools is under risk. Every individual who goes through the school system is exposed to computer-based technology that has the potential of recording and storing every activity they engage in using these technologies. People will assume that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) keeps such information safe. The act initially disallowed the sharing of information by schools to any other government agency. However, the law became week in 2008 and 2011 when it allowed the authorization of sharing of such information to government organizations by the school district (Greene, 2019). It means that even as schools opt for these technologies to keep up with the advancement in education, they are at increased risk of private information reaching other organizations which put the privacy of schools in general at significant risk. Schools currently lack the power to protect themselves, teachers and students effectively from the leakage of their information to other organizations.
Polonetsky and Jerome (2014) show that student data is applicable in numerous school and educational related activities that eventually benefit the students, teachers and the school as a whole. Some of the instances where student data is applicable include school busing, course scheduling, course assessment, online homework, standardized testing, learning apps, PTA fundraising and school yearbooks (Polonetsky & Jerome, 2014). Even as schools put available student data to good use, these schools are often reliant on outside sources and organizations for the provision of services and technologies they use. It means that in one way or the other, the outsiders will have access to student data which they may sell or use for marketing purposes without the consent of students or the school. Such security exposures are indicative of how the current changes in technology bring about increased risk in the privacy of student data and the safety of the students and schools.
Many states recognize the security risks that the loopholes available in privacy policies for students present. The federal government has made a move towards reducing these risks, but it is not enough (Levin, 2015). It is why states are working on and implementing student data legislation that helps strengthen the laws that govern the access and use of student data. One such bold move was demonstrated by ExcelinEd developed the Student Data Privacy, Accessibility and Transparency Act in 2015 which represents the best form of a policy initiated to strengthen the student data protection laws and policies across the states (Levin, 2015). It is an indication that despite the presence of a high rise in how school and student privacy may be breached, States are aware of the predicament and are gradually working towards strengthening the available federal laws that protect the school and student data.
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